The Penguins are the scene-stealing cutesy, rascally side characters from the hit DreamWorks animated franchise "Madagascar." They first had their own TV series on Nickelodeon. Now they have their own spin-off feature length film. At first I was not so sold on watching this since I did not really like them too much in the original films. However, since the kids wanted to, I relented. I actually had a lot of fun watching this.
The film begins with the Penguins as kids in Antarctica. Skipper, Kowalski and Rico (they did not explain how they got these names) were already unconventional little penguins who sought danger and adventure, unlike the others. Skipper is already the never-say-die leader. Kowalski is already the brilliant inventor. Rico is already the crazy one, swallowing tools to regurgitate later. The three rescued a penguin egg from being supper for seals, and from that egg out came cute Private. From there, the film jumps from the Penguins launching off from a cannon from the circus at the end of "Madagascar 3" into an adventure all their own.
Like all other spy movies, the Penguins' tale would crisscross the globe. It starts with a caper to steal Cheezy Dibbles in Fort Knox, to Venice, to Shanghai, ending in a climactic showdown in New York against the main bad guy, a disgruntled octopus named Dave, a.k.a. Dr. Octavius Brine (voiced by John Malkovich). Because he had a big grudge to grind against all penguins, he concocted a wild plan of international dimensions to turn the people of the world against the cuteness of penguins. Of course, our team of cute spy Penguins are right smack in the middle of all the action. The cutest of them all, young Private, also wants to prove his worth to his team.
An elite undercover inter-species task force "dedicated to helping animals who can't help themselves" called the North Wind also gets into the picture to save the endangered penguins. This group is headed by a handsome Siberian husky whose name is Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), and counts a polar bear, a harp seal and snow owl as members. The tension between this group and our Penguins adds spice to the story. The ultra high-tech gadgetry North Wind uses adds considerable visual excitement.
As evidenced by the delighted kiddie shrieks and guffaws in the cinema yesterday, kids of all ages loved the silly story and animated visual effects. Adults will enjoy all the celebrity name puns ("Nicolas, cage him!") and other fast witty repartee which may just fly over the heads of the younger viewers. Don't leave right away when the credits start to roll as there are some additional scenes within featuring King Julien and Mort. This turned out to be more fun and entertaining than I expected. 7/10.