Penguins of Madagascar (PG). Consistently funny and a candy-colored visual treat, “Penguins of Madagascar” will amuse kids 6 and older, as well as teens and adults. The pun-filled script earns far more guffaws than groans. Filmgoers will know the penguins from their sly mischief as supporting players in the animated “Madagascar” films. This movie is never very scary: Dave, the villainous shape-shifting purple octopus, inspires few shudders; he’s more of a grudge-holder than a killer. The penguins’ tale opens in flashback: Skipper, the order-barking leader; Kowalski, the pessimist; and Rico, the swallower of stuff bigger than he is, break away from the single-file march of their Antarctic brethren in pursuit of a stray egg and adventure. Cute little Private hatches on an ice floe and they adopt him. Ten years later, the four are robbing a vending machine when they encounter Dave. He tries to abduct them as part of a plot to turn all zoo and marine park penguins into monsters. Skipper aims to foil Dave, but the penguins must compete with a covert team called the North Wind. (92 minutes)
THE BOTTOM LINE: One visual joke shows a harbor seal swallowing a seagull, and another shows a wildlife documentary team shove Skipper, Kowalski and Rico off a cliff to get a better shot. Later in the film, the penguins face a machine that looks as if it could chew them up.
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