It has been a long time, a really long time, since I truly hated an animated feature film.
I hated Penguins of Madagascar. I hated Penguins of Madagascar so much that when the studio rep contacted critics after the film's promotional screening in Indianapolis asking for quotes they could give the studio, I replied with "If I had a kid who liked Penguins of Madagascar, I'd sell the kid."
Now then, truthfully, I'm exaggerating a bit. I'd actually give the kid away to high seas Madagascar penguin pirates.
What did I hate about Penguins of Madagascar?
Everything. Absolutely everything.
I hated the vocal work. I hated the script. I hated original score. I hated the jokes. Oh, how I hated the jokes.
What did I like about Penguins of Madagascar?
Have you not been listening?
I hated it. I hated everything about it.
The film, in case you're completely oblivious, is a spin-off of the already fairly middling Madagascar films, films that have unfathomably turned profits mostly owing to the fact that parents are desperate for anything that will entertain their children that doesn't involve a purple dinosaur or a gay tubbie or a singing undersea sponge.
For the record, I'd rather watch a 24-hour marathon of the purple dinosaur, gay tubbie and undersea sponge in an animated porno than ever have to sit through this film again.
Yes, I really hated it that much.
Penguins of Madagascar is a little over 90-minutes of animated overload that, quite fortunately, is a complete waste in 3-D because the only thing that's really going to pop out at you will be your child's arm when they yawn from complete and utter boredom.
Penguins of Madagascar is a lazy, unimaginative, and completely impersonal cinematic affair centered around a quartet of penguins - the authoritarian Skipper (Tom McGrath), not so bright Rico (Conrad Vernon), the even-keeled Kowalski (Chris Miller), and the youngest and most insecure of the group, Private (Christopher Knights). It's a caper flick with the penguins zipping all over the globe attempting to stop the dastardly misdeeds of Dave (John Malkovich), a mad scientist and blue octopus all rolled into one. Of course, the penguins aren't the only one searching for Dave - Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), a sneering wolf or dog or whatever is sort of a James Bond type if James Bond were an incompetent animated character.
What passes as competent writing here are lines such as "Nicolas Cage them" and "Elijah Wood you please take them away" among several other celebrity puns including such well known celebrities as Parker Posey, Halle Berry, and others. Werner Herzog makes a rather surprising and cool vocal cameo here, while along the way you may recognize another voice or two.
For the most part, Penguins of Madagascar is filled with non-stop babbling and little if any emotional variance among it. At one point, I found myself nearly nodding off and after the screening learned I wasn't the only one. Lorne Balfe's original music is histrionic and overwrought, while the film isn't so much edited as it is constructed like one massive run-on cinematic sentence.
Exhausting, uninvolving, and painfully overloading, Penguins of Madagascar may be that rare animated feature actually worthy of Razzie's attention.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic