“PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR” My rating: B (Opening wide on Nov. 27)
92 minutes | MPAA rating: PG
Some of the best moments in the three “Madagascar” films were delivered not by the stars — a lion and his zoo buddies — but by four peripheral figures.
We’re talking about the penguins, a bunch of madcap Marxists (of the Groucho variety) who have somehow gotten it into their fuzzy little heads that they are an elite military unit. Despite their overall incompetence, at a crucial moment these diminutive black-and-white commandos always come up with an outlandish plan to save the day.
The penguins have enjoyed their own animated TV series, and in DreamWorks’ “Penguins of Madagascar” they seize the big screen. If you’ve managed to overlook them so far, well, they’re kinda great.
Part of it is their distinct personalities, even though they look pretty much alike. The leader Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath, who created the characters) is a distillation of every movie drill sergeant ever. He spits out rapid-fire orders (Skipper’s mouth moves much faster than his brain) but has a soft spot for his “men.”
Kowalksi (Chris Miller) is the idea man, expected to come up with an appropriate plan for any contingency. Rico (Conrad Vernon) has a voracious appetite: He’ll gulp down just about anything, only to regurgitate those items days later when they are needed.
Finally there’s Private (Christopher Knights), the new kid, still finding his way and fawned over by the others.
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“WARM BODIES” My rating: B- (Opening wide on Feb. 1)
97 minutes | Audience rating: PG-13
The zombie romance “Warm Bodies” probably shouldn’t work.
In fact, for the first hour I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to work.
Well, that’s what I get for underestimating Jonathan Levine, maker of “The Wackness” and the sublime cancer comedy “50/50.”
“Warm Bodies,” you see, is a “Romeo & Juliet”-type romance about kids from two warring factions. Seriously, it even has a zombie-human balcony scene.
R (he can’t remember the rest of his name) is a hungry zombie wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Julie (short for Juliet, naturally) is a human survivor, one of several hundred who live behind a walled-off section of the city. Her dad is the guy in charge.
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