January 20, 2015

The Penguins of Madagascar (2014)

a bunch of career voice actors and John Malkovich, Bennedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong

Remember when I complained that pretty much all sequels are a bad idea? This also applies to spin-offs. You know, at least Disney has the decency to make their spin-offs straight-to-DVD. That's why most people have probably never heard of The Lion King 1 1/2 or Leroy and Stitch. Those movies may be awful, but at least they're not charging $12/ticket to watch it.

Dreamworks, on the other hand, is responsible for 4 Ice Age movies, 4 Shrek movies (not to mention its own spin-off, Puss in Boots) and this series - all released in the theater. Not to mention The Croods.

In some ways, it's sort of understandable this movie was made. Not only was the franchise successful enough to milk 3 movies from it, but much like the minions of Despicable Me, everyone's favorite characters in Madagascar were the penguins. Well, them and Julian. And for the first forty-five minutes or so, the movie was pretty decent. It had clever humor, a passable plot with lots of action, and really played up the fact that everyone finds penguins irresistibly cute. I mean, not as much as pandas, but penguins are pretty cute too.

But then... time stopped. At least, that's what it felt like. I must have checked my watch 20+ times during the last half hour of the movie. It's like it just wouldn't end. I understand that people have certain expectations with regard to the length of feature films, but this movie felt like it stretched an hour plot into an hour and a half movie just so people wouldn't feel ripped off. Except that the extra half hour is really what made the movie horribly disappointing, so that's ironic.

Oh, and while I'm impressed that Ken Jeong has managed to parlay 15 seconds of nudity in The Hangover into an actual career, I think we can all agree his "talent" is better suited to stereotyping Asian people than voicing cute, furry animals. 

Final word: I have a feeling the upcoming Minions movie will be highly reminiscent of this experience.

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