Directors: Eric Darnell/Simon J. Smith
DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox
The penguins – formerly of Madagascar and its sequels – now have their own movie, so scene-stealing were they. I gave up on the Madagascar franchise at the right time (I didn’t have kids then, there was no reason to stay, or return) but as one of the movie-going uncles on a recent family holiday I was curious enough to see how this worked. It pretty much doesn’t.
It is just a giant toy commercial, nothing that unusual about that – that’s how most animated films work. For the handful, or two, we rave about as being game-breakers and thought provoking there are hundreds being made that exist purely to push products be it spin-offs for TV or separate new movie franchises or just for toys, books and whatever else can be branded.
And so that’s not new – but Penguins of Madagascar is almost maddeningly ADHD as it ploughs on, largely plot-less, as if Adam Sandler was on board the writing team trying to shoe-horn tedious gags into the mouths of unlikeable characters with as little set-up as possible.
These penguins are ludicrous fucking jerks.
And yet the cinema howled with laughter.
The best moments came from suave wolf leader (the now ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch) and a wonderful John Malkovich as the octo-villian. (There was a genuinely funny Skype gag, someone might be rushing to point out that it was – technically – ageist though).
Rush-released to meet the Christmas market – which it no doubt nailed – there’s really not a lot happening here. Meaning your kids will love it. Meaning you’re a moron if you do too. Meaning, just like with The LEGO Movie I’m the fucking Grinch. The one and only.
I loved the Werner Herzog cameo. And the popcorn we bought beforehand.
I’m not a total fucking arsehole, I loved the grinning faces of little Ms. Niece and Master Nephew after. But at five and six they are supposed to love this. It has all they require: cartoon penguins. Seems the writers of the film figured/knew that was all they needed too.