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"Penguins of Madagascar" Review

I've never bothered with any of the Madagascar movies, but my girlfriend has seen them and no, she's not a 12-year-old, thank you very much. When recounting them to me, she'd always rave about the subplots involving "psychotic penguins" which made the main characters pale in comparison. Eventually the penguins from the Madagascar movies got their own TV series, Penguins of Madagascar (which is generally a hoot) and money being money, the inevitable Penguins of Madagascar movie had to be made which has led to this film, A Time For Killing, A Time For Dying, whoops, I mean Penguins of Madagascar. (What, no "The Motion Picture"?)

Penguins of Madagascar opens with with three penguins - Skipper, Rico and Kowalski - chasing down an egg which hatches to become Private. We leap ahead a decade to them in the middle of a convoluted scheme to break into Fort Knox, where they bypass the mountains of gold bars to get to their true target: A vending machine in the break room stocked solely with the discontinued movie version of Cheetos, Cheese Dibbles.

Alas, the snack machine was a honey pot for they are immediately captured and flown by helicopter to Venice (Italy, not California; because that could totally happen) where they encounter the evil scientist Dr. Octavius Brine who reveals himself to be actually an octopus named Dave who resents the penguins inherent cute and cuddliness and intends to use an evil machine to decutify all the penguins in the world. (If you're wondering where an octopus gets a submarine and scientific knowledge, you're in the wrong place.)

Eventually the penguins escape and chases ensue with them reluctantly joining forces with an outfit called North Wind which includes a wolf, a polar bear, a seal and a snow owl who have a secret base and jet plane and WHO IS PAYING FOR ALL THIS STUFF?!?!? Ahem...hijinks ensue, blah-blah-woof-woof.

There are some huge LOL moments in Penguins of Madagascar as well as plenty of throwaway site gags and jokes for the parents watching with their spawnlings. (e.g. When Skipper learns that the passenger plane they've literally crashed into is heading for Paris, he blurts, "France? Not with their tax laws!" and opens the emergency door to bail out of the jet.) But there's simply not enough laughs for a 90-minute movie to make it a mandatory watch.

I've always marveled at how TV sitcoms can cram in gags at an average of 3 or 4 laughs per minute while movies seem to settle for a joke every 3 to 4 minutes. Four episodes of the Penguins of Madagascar series will have more laughs than the comparable feature film's running time.

While the score is middling, there are enough laughs to make it worth watching; just not enough of them. BTW, I've deliberately left off the voice cast members because it's a hoot to see who voiced the characters. My girlfriend identified a couple that I hadn't.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable. (It's on Netflix.)


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