Movie Review: ‘Penguins of Madagascar’

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Penguins of Madagascar Movie Review

Private (voiced by Christpher Knights), Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Rico, and Kowalski (voiced by Chris Miller) in ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ (Photo © 2014 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

“Hello, are you my family?” asks Private (voiced by Christopher Knights), the newly hatched baby penguin. “You don’t have a family and we’re all going to die,” replies Kowalski (voiced by Chris Miller). “What’s the matter with you, Kowalski?” yells Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), the leader of the three young penguins who’ve just adopted Private into their family as their origin story is revealed in the opening sequence of the animated adventure film, Penguins of Madagascar.

Fed up with hearing the same song every day (“I like to move it, move it”) and realizing Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, and the rest of the gang no longer need their help, the Penguins launch themselves out of the circus and head out on an adventure. It’s not long before they run into Dr. Octavius Brine – otherwise known as Dave (voiced by John Malkovich) – an evil mad scientist who it seems has an old score to settle with the feathery little guys. Blaming them for his loneliness and failures, Dr. Brine intends on destroying all the penguins everywhere with his new secret weapon.

With a few choice moves and dodges, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private manage to escape aided by their new allies, a secret undercover organization called “The North Wind” led by Wolf Agent Classified (no, his name isn’t ‘Classified’ – it’s classified…understand? Don’t worry, neither do the penguins). It seems The North Wind has been tracking Dr. Brine to try and uncover his evil plan and then attempt to stop him before he can carry out his evil deeds. So, having a common interest in wanting to stop Dr. Brine a.k.a Dave, the Penguins reluctantly team up with the North Wind to help save penguins everywhere.


Silly, funny, and chaotic, Penguins of Madagascar is a bright, colorful, enjoyable rollercoaster of an adventure for both children and adults. It has a top notch voice cast, with John Malkovich bringing Dr. Brine to life and Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of agent Classified. Of course the real stars this time out are the four black and white birds Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private who provided the biggest and funniest laugh-out-loud moments in the three Madagascar films as supporting characters. And, actually, the fact this is a spin-off from Madagascar works against Penguins of Madagascar as while it has plenty of crazy fast–paced antics, word play one-liners, and slapstick, it doesn’t really have an original story to tell nor does it really have as much heart as the films that spawned it. In fact, it seems to borrow from a much stronger animated film, The Incredibles.

Still, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, frantic action, and four cute but smart-aleck penguins leading the way, Penguins of Madagascar is pure fun for kids and adults alike.

GRADE: B-

Penguins of Madagasacar is rated PG for mild action and some rude humor.

– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty

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Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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