Dreamworks animation has never really done it for me. Either it is trying to hard to have cute slick Pixar-style characters but they never move correctly, like Shark Tale or the Madagascar films, or they have slightly weird off-putting characters but the motion and visuals created are perfect, like the Croods. Penguins is much like any of the other Dreamworks films, in that the characters are sometimes cute, sometimes ugly, sometimes move really well and sometimes move really weird. But to combat all of that, they wrote a script that works with the cute/ugly stuff and the cartoony movements versus the more Disney-styled real movement of the penguins. It is a weird bag. A good, weird bag.
What's the story? You learn the origins of the Penguin characters from the Madagascar films, then you skyrocket (not joke) into the story as they do a heist, are captured by an evil Grinch-mouthed John Malkovich-ian octopus that has some kind of large evil plan for the penguins. Then they meet with the North Wind, another spy agency except they are a real one! Personalities clash, plots are schemed, morals are learned, action is had!
This movie would be perfect if Terry Crews was in it. As a human. Non-CGI.
Terry Crews is perfect and I wanted an excuse to use this happy dance gif, is what I'm saying.
This film is very pulpy and cartoony, which is fun. I love a good pulp adventure and I like my spy stuff to be treated more fun and silly, cutting some of the talky talk mumbo jumbo politics stuff and getting to the James Bond action and such. The characters of the Penguins are completely realized, full fledged characters, as should be expected from their 4th film and a television show under their belt. Malkovich is funny and over the top, which are two things I never thought I'd say about him. The actual morals of the film are kind of standard kids faire ... but they are done in a very interesting, subversive way to begin with and then it becomes a literal plot point instead of a symbolic one for our heroes to deal with. The plot twists and turns and has great fun.
I feel like I need to say something negative about this movie. I feel like it doesn't quite stack up ... but it totally does stack up in every way. Hilarious lines and jokes, great emotions, a clever plot, great morals, Penguins is a really good movie. Check it out.