Overview: Four penguin brothers implement a mission to halt the plans of an evil octopus. Dreamworks Animation; 2014; Rated PG; 92 minutes.
Lessons Learned: As the main squadron of mission implementation, the quartet of tuxedo-clad birds embark on their most imperative operation: to save their fellow zoo-inhabiting penguins from the demise of Dave, AKA Dr. Octavius Brine. Dave, an octopus and previous zoo-mate of the brothers, in years past, became neglected and overshadowed by the darling penguins. Filled with revenge, he attempts to turn all penguins into hideous monsters. Penguins of Madagascar fails to achieve its main goal of jamming various stories into ninety-two minutes: a revenge/coming of age/Mission Impossible-inspired/rise of the underdog/humility of the arrogant tale. I understand this movie is a method to covertly instill some sort of values into children, to gain some sort of lesson learned. However, it is almost alarming that the main message communicated is the importance of physical appearance. Remember kids, the important thing is to be cute.
Penguins and The North Wind: Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, Private,Classified, Short Fuse, Eva, Corporal, and Dave–the heroes and the villain. From this exhaustive list, the words “too much” echo once again. The minor members of The North Wind team can easily be eliminated, even if it means fifteen seconds less of humor from each supporting character; they are not memorable nor does their presence provide a pivotal basis for the movie. A solo, multi-talented Classified would be more effective and also convey the importance of teamwork. Although the movie title implies a story arc centering around our favorite penguins, more could have been done in pre-production to reduce the unnecessary scenes and redirect the main goals of the movie.
Flipping Punny: By default, Penguins of Madagascar is targeted at kids. Frequently in animated movies, writers attempt to offer some sort of relief for adults. In Penguins, if the adults are paying attention, there are enough puns that will make their heads spin. Often, there will be an uproar of laughter from the children, followed by a solo laugh from me. “…Venetian blinded… Nicolas, cage them! Elijah, would you…” The first few times, the laughter was genuine. As time progressed, the same style of jokes repeated in a seemingly infinite loop. Here, we have another example of quality versus quantity. Unfortunately, the movie heavily relies on weak, but countless, puns as its main source of comedic origins; growing tiresome, predictable, and inevitably, not funny as the movie concluded.
Final Thoughts: Penguins of Madagascar sets impractical goals for it to achieve, leaving a sense of overcompensation in every aspect. Perhaps the penguins will be more successful in their next mission.