Kid Tested – Uncle Approved: “Penguins of Madagascar” (2014)


First published in the Holyoke Enterprise 2/11/16

I saw Madagascar as a double feature at the drive-in in Fort Collins along with Batman Begins. Strange double-bill, I know, but I was certainly tickled by the the animated flick and knew it would be a big hit with kids. What I didn’t expect was the huge success of the secondary characters, the Penguins. They were so funny in fact, that they spawned their own spin-off TV show in 2008. I’m always weary of spin-offs because they’re usually just low-rent, “can’t afford the stars from the the movie so we’ll find someone who sounds like them”, toy-selling half hour-excuses to make a little extra scratch from the success of the movie (I’m not a bit cynical, promise). But everything I heard about the cartoon was positive, even glowing in the reviews. So when the movie version popped up in Netflix, I thought I’d give it a shot.

Our heroes Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are back in a new adventure, this time spanning the globe as they are mixed up in the sinister plot of Dr. Octavius Brine, aka Dave the Octopus, who hates all penguins and seeks to turn them all into hideous monsters. With the help of the North Wind, a secret organization of exotic Arctic animals, the Penguins must defeat Dave and save all the penguins in the world before it’s too late!

What a cast! Joining our four heroes (voice actors I’m not familiar with) are the likes of John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Peter Stormare, and German filmmaker Werner Herzog because why not? Filled with great jokes and sight gags, Penguins had me laughing the whole way through. And it’s actually a pretty great little spy story. We jet-set from Antarctica to Fort Knox, to Venice, to Shanghai, to New York City as our flightless heroes do battle with innumerable eight-legged-henchmen, fall in love, and learn to be the leaders and “valuable members of the team” they always wanted to be.

Not at all scary unless weird mutant penguins keep you up at night (which would be understandable) and very funny for both kids and adults, this is one of the few non-Disney animated movies I wouldn’t mind watching again. Although again and again? I’m not so sure. But my sister loves it, so I imagine she’s seen it at least 300 times. In a week.

If you liked Madagascar and like the cartoon The Penguins of Madagascar, you’re going to love this movie.

Snack Packs



Rating: Five out of five Snack Packs

Lincoln L. Hayes used to write for the Holyoke Enterprise back in the day. He now lives in Vermont where he continues to pursue an acting and filmmaking career. He made a Star Wars video that the Internet seems to like. Find it at

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