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PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR

SYNOPSIS: Skipper (voice of Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) join forces with undercover organization The North Wind to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine from destroying the world as we know it.

Review by Louise Keller:
Penguins play charades, dress in lederhosen, dance Irish style and wear mermaid suits in this fast moving, high energy, witty and inventive 3d animation whose central plot involving a revenge seeking octopus is couched in themes that reinforce the importance of family. It's a mishmash of ideas, some derivative, while the film plays out like a series of hilarious sketches in different settings, make good use of visual humour plus chuckle-inducing one liners and will thoroughly entertain young and old.

The opening Antarctica sequence begs comparison with Happy Feet but after high ones (the penguin equivalent of out high fives) and a fast forward of 10 years, the four zany penguins, including the cute newly hatched baby break into Fort Knox start their adventures in earnest. The incongruous events concerning cheesy dibbles from a vending machine with legs result in a Venice escapade and a face-to-face confrontation with Dave the purple Octopus (voiced by John Malkovich) who has bad teeth and evil intentions. He is also disguised as a genetic scientist. Nicolas Cage them, roars Dave ... (There are also similar William Hurt, Kevin Bacon and Hugh Jackman references.) Enter the North Wind elite undercover task force, a James Bond-esque team led by a wolf who calls himself Agent Classified (marvellously voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) and supported by an explosive expert seal (Ken Jeong), a polar bear (Peter Stomare) and a long lashed pretty owl called Eva (Annet Mahendru).

Madcap trips to Rio and Shanghai follow as the penguins set out to save their flesh and feathers, after discovering that Dave has kidnapped hundreds of penguins intending to zap them with his deadly Medusa Serum. Jealousy drives his thirst for revenge; they were more popular than he was at the various zoos around the world where they co-existed. It's the shame the penguins at the heart of the story are not more lovable and charismatic - it's the villainous Octopus and classy Agent Classified that carry the show. The final twist reinforcing that looks are less important than actions is a curious tone on which to end, but there is no shortage of fun along the way. Madagascar doesn't figure highly in the plot either.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (PG)
(US, 2014)

VOICES: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare, Andy Richter, Danny Jacobs, Sean Charmatz, Werner Herzog

PRODUCER: Lara Breay, Mark Swift

DIRECTOR: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith

SCRIPT: John Aboud, Michael Colton, Brendon Sawyer

EDITOR: Nick Kenway

MUSIC: Lorne Balfe

PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2015







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