Penguins of Madagascar: Movie Review
Vocal cast: Tom McGrath, Christopher Miller, Christopher Knights, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Werner Herzog
Director: Eric Darnell, Simon J Smith
The Penguins spin-off from the Madagascar series couldn't be a more perfect piece of screwball insubstantial entertainment for the kids in all of us.
Skipper, Rico, Private and Kowalski head out into the big wide world but soon find their lives are in danger when an old enemy, an octopus called Dave (voiced with glee by John Malkovich), appears on the scene.
Forced to team up with the North Wind, a splinter spy group headed up by Benedict Cumberbatch's wolf, the penguins must try and save the day from Dave's bitter campaign.
Penguins of Madagascar is frenetically silly, ADD entertainment of the highest order which packs in silly gags for the kids and some adult moments for the rest of us.
From the Werner Herzog documentary crew trailing penguins opening through to Dave's use of Hollywood star names to bark out orders (Hugh, Jack, man the pumps being just one example), the film's clearly got its heart in the zany camp rather than the long -term emotional fulfillment area.
Which is probably a good thing, because the paper-thin story only falls apart around the two-thirds' mark as it hits a lull that is only noticeable due to the lack of throwaway gags and globe-hopping antics.
Coupled with a tacked-on last minute "message" about how looks aren't important and it's what's inside that counts as well as being a valued member of a team, the final third of the Penguins of Madagascar loses some of its prior zippy pacing as it heads towards the finish line.
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich are terrific in their respective roles; Malkovich's suitably rubbery voice gives some tentacles to Dave and Cumberbatch plays a little looser with his smart and superior TV personalities to give his Wolf (aka Classified) the uptight yin to Skipper's looser yang.