What is a covert superspy team of Penguins to do? In the quest for the elusive snackfood Cheesy Dibbles, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private set off on an adventure to break into Fort Knox and steal the cheesy goodness. Private wants to be is a meaningful part of the Penguin team. Since his rescue as a small egg he has been merely the cute one who makes faces for the group leader, Skipper. As the group works to get their prize at Fort Knox they encounter Dave (John Malkovich), an Octopus posing as human Dr. Octavius Brine who is bent on revenge for the penguins’ cuteness destroying all his chances of zoo happiness. After being kidnapped and taken to Venice, the Penguins escape and encounter the elusive spy team The North Wind. A wolf code-named Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his crew are loaded with the latest spy gear and training, but they certainly don’t have the Penguin Team’s moxie. The groups must team up to help defeat Dave and prevent his dastardly plan to use the Medusa Serum and ruin the cuteness of penguins everywhere.
The film is not only child friendly, but there is more than enough to keep an adult’s attention span running. Whether that is the tongue in cheek jokes involving the names of celebrities or the reference to Planet of the Apes, the adult humor is alive but not offensive. For the sensitive viewer, a brief period of the film involves monster-like penguins running around New York City. While they are green, growl and have everything from lobster claws to antlers, the morphed penguins are not all that terrifying. There was not a single tear in our child-filled theater.
John Malkovich’s voice is easily recognizable and he brings a sinister but not overwhelmingly frightening persona to Dave. Benedict Cumberbatch excels as Agent Classified, but seems to have a slight inability pronouncing the word ‘penguin.’ It is hard not to be charmed by the voicework or the animation.
Penguins of Madagascar is in theaters today. I highly recommend bringing your children to see if on a break from your Black Friday quests.