The Critics Roundup: ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ and ‘The Homesman’

A new Western and a bunch of wacky birds.
The Critics Roundup: ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ and ‘The Homesman’
Hilary Swank in 'The Homesman'

Everyone’s favorite fictional superspy penguins are back and starring in their own movie this December. Penguins of Madagascaris an origin story of sorts, sharing the story of how Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico found their good friend Private, and how that new relationship gave this silly crew some purpose. Along the way, they battle the man threatening their extinction, but of course, there is much fun for the kids (and adults, too.)

PluggedIn’s Bob Hoose notes that Penguins of Madagascar appears to be a family-fueled adventure. “You’ve got us, and we’ve got each other. And if that ain’t a family, I don’t know what is,” new friend Private is told by Skipper. But Hoose says, “The quick-paced-and-shallow tale doesn't really give kids much to think or care about.” In fact, Hoose believes there is a lot of sly “personal political agendas and/or sexual leanings in the midst of kid-fare fun,” including some questionable actions between the penguin spies. Variety’s Geoff Berkshire says this “franchise spinoff is a limp attempt at cute and cuddly international intrigue.” The Madagascar penguins “prove altogether less irresistible” in this “frantic, peppy, in-your-face slice of irreverent toon action.” Berkshire explains: “DreamWorks practically patented the idea of conceiving and marketing animated pics like live-action comedies intended to appeal equally to adults and kids, and while this latest pic dutifully tows the company line, it’s also far too juvenile and generic to be of much interest to anyone over the age of 9.”

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July/August
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