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Penguins of Madagascar

For spy masters, the penguins—Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private—do not offer a lot of surprises in their first solo mission. It’s not hard to imagine several more, possibly VOD, missions). When a vengeful octopus named Dave aka Dr. Octavius Brine (v. John Malkovich) starts kidnapping the world’s penguin population, a professional team of spies, the North Wind, are thwarted by the penguin protagonists. The North Wind—made up of a wolf named Classified (v. Benedict Cumberbatch), a polar bear named Corporal (v. Peter Stormare), a harp seal/demolitions expert named Short Fuse (v. Ken Jeong) and a snowy owl named Eva (v. Annet Mahendru)—are a fun addition to a universe that has always been low in the animated franchise pecking order. A whole penguins feature proves again that just because supporting characters are more fun than the main characters does not by default mean those lesser characters deserve their own movie (keep that in mind, Minions). This slight, entertaining time waster feels like one of Disney’s direct-to-video sequels from the ’90s/’00s. Kids will love this energetic pun-fest even more on constant DVD-peat; parents, prepare for the penguins.