Flipping fun in Penguins of Madagascar

This spin-off from the funny Madagascar series is good fun – but don’t expect many inside jokes

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Penguins in peril! From left: Private, Skipper, Skipper, Kowalski and Rico

If you’ve seen any of the Madagascar films, you know those adorably crafty penguins deserve more than a few show-stopping scenes. Now, the four characters are finally the stars of their own movie.

Penguins of Madagascar takes us through the story of the cunning quartet, following their adventures after Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

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Yes, you read that right – unlike what is advertised, Penguins of Madagascar is not about the origin story of Skipper (voiced by Tom Grath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico, and Private (Christopher Knights).

Alright, it does have one scene that shows how the first three came to adopt Private as their own brother. And it’s as adorable and exciting as you can imagine. From there, the movie skips ahead to their escapades in present time.

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Silly, Kiddie Fun

You can still expect lots of guffaws though, especially if you’re taking kids along! Penguins of Madagascar is chock-a-block full of slapstick humour, with the penguins up to their usual antics and hair-brained missions.

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New characters are also introduced into the picture: the capable agents of North Wind, an animal-witness protection agency modelled after the Central Intelligence Agency.

“Sherlock” actor Benedict Cumberbatch voices the tough commander Classified

 

Together with North Wind – which features a giant cuddle-loving polar bear (Peter Stormare) and a dominant wolf voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch – the penguins must fight against the nefarious Dr Octavius Brine.

Jokes to Look Out For

What’s a good comedy without some inside jokes? With the introduction of the slimy Dr Brine, the film also tosses in some witty quips for older fans to enjoy.

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Dr Octavius Brine emerges from the penguins’ past for revenge

For example, it’s stocked with amusing Hollywood mentions. Dr Brine has many squid minions conveniently named after famous stars. In one scene, he refers to actress Drew Barrymore when he barks the command: “Drew, Barry, more!” In another, he alludes to actor Nicholas Cage with, “Nicholas! Cage them!”

But don’t look any further for other references or cheeky sleights of hand. Unlike the original Madagascar movies, Penguins of Madagascar doesn’t sport many other winks and nudges at older viewers.

Seeing in Black and White

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Owing to its fast-paced sequences of fin-slicing and flipper-kicking espionage, Penguins of Madagascar also doesn’t offer much in terms of giving these beloved flightless birds deeper characterisation.

The movie is centred very much on the rise of Private as a valued member of the team, as he attempts to prove his worth to the leader, Skipper.

Considering how the four have been in cahoots since three Madagascar movies ago, it’s surprising that Penguins of Madagascar chooses to set Private’s development so late in the timeline.

Nevertheless, this is a feel-good movie. After all, it’s stuffed to the brim with cute cuddly penguins and other puppy-eyed animals – so warmth and fuzziness is pretty much guaranteed!

By Pamela Chow

Penguins of Madagascar [TBC]

Directors: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith
Starring: Tom Grath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong
Genre: Comedy
Run Length: 92 min
Release: 27 Nov

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