The hilarious paramilitary penguins of the Madagascar flicks have their own movie, and it is gloriously bonkers. Like, Looney Tunes levels of cartoon madness. You will laugh your homo sapiens head off. Penguins of Madagascar is closest in tone to what I called the “animated anarchy” of the third film, Europe’s Most Wanted… about which, I said two years ago, it felt as if the “cool, smooth nonsense of the penguins’ outrageous schemes… was allowed to take over the entire film.” Now this has actually happened, and there was much rejoicing. The plot is entirely superfluous. All you need to know is that Skipper (the voice of Tom McGrath: Mr. Peabody & Sherman), Kowalski (the voice of Chris Miller: Monsters vs. Aliens), Private (the voice of Christopher Knights: Megamind), and Rico (the voice of Conrad Vernon: Puss in Boots) go up against an octopus supervillain (the voice of John Malkovich [Red 2], quite possibly the role he was born for) with the help of an actually competent team of Arctic-animal superspies who go by the supercool moniker of The North Wind and are led by the wolf Agent [Redacted] (the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch [The Imitation Game], who settles it: he can do no wrong). Along the way there will be delicious and forbidden golden snack food, “some music — something chasey,” Skyping with bad guys, a cuteness ray, and tons of hilarious wordplay and one-liners. If there is a red button, it will be pushed. If there is brainless conformity, it will be rebelled against. You will encounter Werner Herzog as the philosophical narrator of a nature documentary. You will witness the Dreamworks logo transformed into a collapsing glacier, because that happens. This may well be a guidebook for all penguins facing destruction of their natural environment. Get out there, my little flightless friends, and seek “adventure and glory like no penguins have ever seen before.”
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