I have seen few movies as disappointing as was The Penguins of Madagascar. The four penguins who were the surprise stars of the Madagascar movies, and who got their own TV show as a result, should have had no problem at all carrying a full length movie.
And yet, that assumption proved to be wrong. It is not just that this movie does not have a ridiculously brilliant animation feature in it such as the balloon take off scene in Up, or the creation of the ice mountain scene in Frozen. This movie has no unique story. Let me put it kindly, if you saw Despicable Me 2, you have already seen the Penguins of Madagascar movie.
However, there is a lesson to be had in this movie; actually two, but one is more interesting than the other.
The movie intends to cover a vocation theme in that of the team of 4 penguins, each plays an important role, however Private has difficulty determining what his role is; he is not smart like Kowalski, or a leader like Skipper, or psycho like Rico. Private has hidden talents, first an undying loyalty to the other 3; and then a cuteness that ultimately saves the day. This point is painfully drilled in when Skipper refers to Kowalski and Rico as important and valuable members of the team, but never says the same of Private until the end, calling him the most valuable member.
But the true lesson of the movie centers on pride, and the need for humility. Skipper needs to learn humility as it becomes obvious that he, and the other penguins are not able to defeat the evil Octopus Dave, but need help. Skipper must admit that his plan to rescue Private is inferior to that of the other team.
Skipper must also admit that his leadership, Kowalski’s brain and Rico’s muscle cannot save the day, but that Private must sacrifice himself to save the penguins.
And perhaps that is the ultimate lesson for the Penguins franchise, aka Dreamworks: pride and humility. It is ok to be proud and to gloat over a surprise success in that 4 bit actors in a movie can become a popular sensation, warranting a cartoon series and a full length movie; but be wary that not everything those penguins touch will turn to gold.
The script for this movie is proof of that.
And if I were directing The Minions movie coming out this summer, I might go over the plot just one more time before the release date to make sure it is worthy of a viewing audience.