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Watch Penguins of Madagascar (2014), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Sep 6, 2022
Watch Penguins of Madagascar (2014), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Watch Penguins of Madagascar (2014), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

 

Penguins of Madagascar (2014)

Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private join forces with undercover organization The North Wind to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine from destroying the world as we know it.

Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Trailer

 

Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Reviews

The scene-stealing penguins from the “Madagascar” franchise get their own movie in the appropriately titled “Penguins of Madagascar.”

One would think a little of these crazy creatures would go a long way. And indeed, this family-friendly animated comedy from co-directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith is predicated on a single joke: the idea that these overconfident penguins—who fancy themselves as super spies—are completely bumbling and inept, yet they manage to wriggle out of every tricky situation not only to survive but thrive and save the day.

But the pacing is so zany, the jokes are so rapid-fire and the sight gags are so inspired that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the infectious energy of it all. The script (credited to John Aboud, Michael Colton and Brandon Sawyer) finds enough avenues into that one joke to make the premise seem, if not consistently fresh, at least enjoyable. And the formidable voice cast, featuring John Malkovich and the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch, takes this silly work absolutely seriously, and that’s one of the most amusing bits of all.

“Penguins of Madagascar” serves as both an origin story and a spin-off, as it follows these adorable animals on an adventure of their own. (The zoo animals from the original series, voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith, are nowhere to be found.) We begin in Antarctica, where a long line of penguins is waddling across the merciless, snowy terrain to nowhere, because (as even they acknowledge) they’re not allowed to think for themselves. This is just what they do—and what the documentary crews expect them to do, in a knowing jab at the over-saturation of penguin-related properties over the past decade or so.

Once the familiar, raspy tones of Werner Herzog’s narration kick in, describing the penguins’ dismal state in his typically wonderful, dramatic way, we know we’re in for a whole ‘nother level of humor aimed exclusively at the adults in the audience. Yes, all animated movies are crammed with self-referential jokes and cheeky pop-culture references, but “Penguins of Madagascar” does this consistently well. The fact that so much of the word play is so intentionally groan-worthy—including a running bit involving celebrity names—is part of the fun.

The slick Skipper (voiced by series veteran Tom McGrath) is the foursome’s self-appointed leader. Kowalski (Chris Miller) is the brains of the operation and the group’s resident pessimist. Rico (Conrad Vernon), the least developed of the four, essentially swallows things and makes grunting noises, but he’s useful in a pinch. Then there’s the soft and innocent Private (Christopher Knights), the de facto little brother, whom the other three have known from the moment he hatched.

During one of their covert missions, they find themselves taken captive by Dr. Octavius Brine (Malkovich), a mad scientist who’s actually an evil, shape-shifting octopus in disguise named Dave. Seems he’s been tracking the four penguins all over the globe, resentful of the fact that they keep stealing his thunder at various zoos and aquariums. His goal is to capture as many penguins as possible from around the world and zap them with a serum that will turn them into monstrous versions of themselves and make them seem less cuddly and appealing to the masses.

(This was essentially the motivation of the dastardly El Macho in “Despicable Me 2,” by the way. He kidnapped nearly all of Gru’s minions, shot them up with high-tech jelly and turned them into an army of evil, purple minions to help him carry out his nefarious plan. I have a 5-year-old; I’ve seen this movie a lot.)

Skipper and his pals try to thwart Dave’s plan, but also on his tail (or his tentacles) is a group of legitimate animal super spies led by a wolf whose name is Classified, in a bit of who’s-on-first humor. Cumberbatch voices the character with total authority and gravitas, and to think that he has this and the voice of the fearsome dragon Smaug from the epic “Hobbit” franchise in him—as well as the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing in this week’s “The Imitation Game”—speaks to his limitless versatility.

Basically from here, it’s spies vs. spies in a series of wild action sequences, and the antics wear a bit thin after a while. “Penguins of Madagascar” seems just about right at 90 minutes, and couldn’t have run much longer. Still, if you’re running around doing your holiday shopping and looking for a brief respite, you’ll be glad you went for a ride with these flightless birds.

  • Christy Lemire    –  Roger Ebert
  • Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for RogerEbert.com since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years and co-hosted the public television series “Ebert Presents At the Movies” opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor.

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Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Credits

Penguins of Madagascar movie poster

Penguins of Madagascar (2014)

Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor

92 minutes

Cast

Tom McGrath as Skipper (voice)

Chris Miller as Kowalski (voice)

Christopher Knights as Private (voice)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Classified (voice)

Ken Jeong as Short Fuse (voice)

Annet Mahendru as Eva (voice)

Peter Stormare as Corporal (voice)

John Malkovich as Dave (voice)

Conrad Vernon as Rico

Director

  • Eric Darnell
  • Simon J. Smith

Screenplay

  • Michael Colton
  • John Aboud
  • Brandon Sawyer

 

Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Plot

Ten years ago, Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski are penguin chick brothers in Antarctica. Upon seeing a runaway egg roll away from their colony, the trio rescue the egg from leopard seals and are set adrift on an iceberg. When the egg hatches, the trio adopt the baby penguin as their brother, Private.

In the present, the penguins leave Circus Zaragoza to celebrate Private’s tenth birthday by breaking into Fort Knox to get a snack called Cheesy Dibbles from a vending machine, while Private desires to be recognized as an official member of the team, but is ignored. The penguins are subsequently kidnapped and taken to a submarine, where they are confronted by an octopus named Dave, who explains that he once lived in the Central Park Zoo as a star attraction until the penguins upstaged him with their cuteness.

After being repeatedly upstaged by more penguins and passed between zoos and aquariums as an unwanted animal, a bitter Dave disguised himself as a human scientist Dr. Octavius Brine to enact his revenge. Rico swallows a vial of Dave’s bioweapon – the Medusa Serum – and his snow globe collection before the penguins escape.

Fleeing through Venice while being pursued by Dave’s henchmen, the penguins are rescued by the North Wind, an inter-species intelligence agency consisting of Classified, the wolf leader; polar bear weapons specialist Corporal; harp seal demolitionist Short Fuse; and snowy owl intelligence officer Eva. After Rico shows the North Wind the serum, Dave hacks into the North Wind’s computers to reveal he has more of it and more penguins start vanishing from exhibits all over the world. Upon deeming the penguins a liability to the mission, Classified darts and puts them on a plane bound for Madagascar.

The penguins escape the plane and, using Dave’s snowglobes, deduce that the Shanghai Zoo is Dave’s next target. Skipper’s team forms a plan to stop Dave and Private reluctantly agrees to be the bait. The other penguins manage to trap Dave with a dinosaur skeleton after creating a water leak in the aquarium, just as the North Wind shows up.

However, Dave escapes through a drain and captures Private and the rest of the Shanghai penguins, prompting Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski to hijack the North Wind’s jet to pursue him, but it is blown up after the North Wind attempts to interfere. At Dave’s lair, Private learns that Dave is planning to use the Medusa Serum to turn penguins into mindless and disfigured monsters, so that the public will hate and exterminate them.

Upon reaching Dave’s hideout, the penguins and the North Wind clash over their different plans to infiltrate the submarine, before Skipper finally admits the North Wind to be more qualified and relents. The penguins distract the octopus guards while the North Wind sneak inside, but both teams are captured.

Dave tests the Medusa Serum on Private, but he escapes with a paper clip he swallowed earlier at the last second, causing Dave and the rest of the penguins to believe he has been vaporized. Private frees the North Wind from torture devices and tries to convince them to help save the penguins, but they refuse, causing him to storm off on his own.

Dave uses the Medusa Serum to transform all the penguins, and, as Dr. Brine, unleashes them on New York City. In the chaos, Private obtains Dave’s ray, chases down Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico and restores them to sanity. As the penguins and the North Wind battle Dave and his henchmen, Private inserts himself into Dave’s ray using the power of his cuteness in order to restore the other penguins to normal, though leaving himself mutated and Dave shrunk and trapped inside one of his snow globes, which a little girl plays with.

For his heroism, Private finally earns his place as a qualified member of the team and Classified congratulates the penguins and apologizes for misjudging them. As a reward, Classified gives the penguins jetpacks, which they use to fly back to Circus Zaragoza.

In a post-credits scene, the penguins use Mort’s cuteness to restore Private to normal. Mort is apparently unaffected by the ray at first, before quickly swallowing King Julien whole, to the latter’s amusement.

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Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Box office

Penguins of Madagascar grossed $83.4 million in North America and $290.2 million in foreign countries for a worldwide total of $373.6 million.[9] The film’s production budget was $132 million, which, according to the DreamWorks Animation’s president Ann Dally, excluded “incentive-based compensation.” By the end of 2014, the studio had to take a $57.1 million write-down, primarily related to the performances of Penguins of Madagascar and another DreamWorks Animation film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Penguins of Madagascar was released on November 26, 2014, in North America and Canada across 3,764 theatres. It earned $6.25 million on its opening day and $3.95 million the next day on Thanksgiving Day.[37] It earned $10.5 million on Black Friday.[38][39] The film underperformed during its opening weekend earning $25.4 million and debuting at #2 at the box office behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, for which 3D accounted for 24% of its opening-weekend gross.

The opening-weekend audience was evenly split among those under and over the age of 25, with 58% and female accounted 51%.[40]

The film was released in China on November 14, two weeks ahead of its North American debut, and earned $11.3 million from 3,500 screens, debuting at number two at the Chinese box office behind Interstellar ($42 million). In its opening weekend, the film earned $36.5 million from 47 markets.[42] Overall, the top openings were in Russia ($8.2 million), Korea ($6 million), Italy ($4.63 million), Germany ($4.2 million), and Australia ($3.68 million). The film’s opening in Germany was the second-highest for an animated film in 2014, behind How to Train Your Dragon 2.

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Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Critical Response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Penguins of Madagascar holds an approval rating of 74% based on 117 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family.”

On Metacritic, the film achieved a score of 53 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.[46] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A−” on an A+ to F scale.[39]

Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying “Granted, it’s no classic, but a sassy script and good-natured voice work from Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich should keep kids and grownups entertained over the holidays.” Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a B, saying “Frenetic and frequently funny, Penguins Of Madagascar represents the DreamWorks Animation franchise style—which boils down to self-aware, but naïve, talking animals who learn kid-friendly life lessons—at its most palatable.”

Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying “The lack of originality is offset by sheer silliness, including Classified and Skipper’s Abbott and Costello-style argument over whether there’s a long I in ‘diversion.’ The word fits the movie.”[49]

Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying “Once again the Madagascar team have come up with a winner – a nice way to kick off the Thanksgiving and holiday filmgoing experience for the whole family.”[50] Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film one out of four stars, saying “Penguins of Madagascar is a lazy, noisy ADHD-addled collection of animated clichés guaranteed to give anyone older than 5 a headache, even if you don’t see it in optional 3-D.”

Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying “While there are plenty of madcap antics to fill a feature, all that manic energy ultimately proves to be more exhausting than exhilarating.” Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C−, saying “Penguins of Madagascar aims primarily for the kiddies, racing from one frenetic action sequence to another like some haywire Walter Lantz cartoon.”

 

Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Accolades

List of awards and nominations
Award/Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
42nd Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production Mitul Patel, Nicolas Delbecq, Santosh Khedkar and Yash Argawal Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Ravi Kamble Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Craig Kellman, Joe Moshier, Stevie Lewis and Todd Kurosawa Nominated
51st Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Picture – Animated Tighe Sheldon, Paul N.J. Ottosson, Dennis Sands and Randy K. Singer Nominated
28th Kids’ Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith Nominated
11th St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Nominated

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Penguins of Madagascar (2014) Movie Info

Plucky penguins Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) — the most elite spies ever hatched — join forces with a chic undercover organization known as the North Wind. Led by highly trained, handsome and arrogant Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), this special inter-species task force must stop a many-tentacled villain, Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), from destroying the world.

 

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