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Penguins of Madagascar (3D)


Stars: Voices: John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Peter Stormare, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru

Director: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith

First thing to get straight – all the way through this family friendly romp I was waiting for the four feathered heroes to turn up in Madagascar as per the title.

As usual, I was wrong. While the comic adventures of the kick-ass quartet take them from Antarctica to Manhattan via Venice, the desert, Shanghai and Kentucky, the title refers to their genesis in 2005’s animated hit Madagascar.

Now they’re stars in their own wrong.

And their mission?

Which, of course, they accept, is to save mankind from the mad machinations of tentacled octopoid villain Dr Octavius Brine who, aided and abetted by his daffy sidekicks, is determined to change the world to what he wants it to be. Penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private join forces with the undercover organization The North Wind and eventually, to nobody’s surprise, Octavius is blown out of the water…

Like the egg that gives birth to the fourth penguin at the start of the show, the film is everything it’s cracked up to be, a merry mix of pratfalls, corny comedy, verbal wisecracks (I particularly enjoyed the submarine mariner’s command “Drew Barry – More power” and generally amusing mayhem) and enjoyable, absolutely right over-acting by the vocal cast behind the attractive 3D animation. It’s that rare family film, one that most kids should enjoy a great deal while accompanying adults should not need recourse to liquor or sleeping pills to get through.

The voices animating the animated are well chosen. John Malkovich chews enough scenery to destroy a year’s run of Phantom of the Opera on stage (Oh, how I wish that he would!) and is fun as Octavious and what a pleasure, too, not to have to see currently over-lauded Benedict Cumberbatch who speaks for the head of The North Wind.

The Dreamworks Animation is up to standard, ditto the 3D. Happily the film is sufficient good fun to be just as entertaining when shown flat.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
91 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Dec 2014