Netflix A-Z: Penguins of Madagascar (2014)

Next up on Netflix A-Z is our P selection! It really wasn’t much of a decision here! I haven’t seen an animated film in a while and I just needed time to relax and just be entertained.  Mind you, I’m a fan of Madagascar to a certain extent but my feeling towards Madagascar is something like my current feeling of Ice Age. However, Madagascar has always been able to entertain me a little more.  I guess that’s a plus so there are higher hopes of a spin-off movie working.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Penguins of Madagascar (2014)

Penguins of Madagascar

Director: Eric Darnell & Simon J. Smith

Voice Cast: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare

Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private join forces with undercover organization The North Wind to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine from destroying the world as we know it.-IMDB

 The goal of most animated films is to entertainment.  Penguins of Madagascar should have one goal: entertaining families.   Animations are aimed towards a younger audience usually and Madagascar franchise has always had that sort of appeal.

Penguins is a hard one to pinpoint. It really is a sequel to the previous Madagascar since it shows them escaping the circus.  It gives it some continuity and context to what is going on.They definitely have comedic value. This animation should be probably more engaging for children especially with the cute and cuddly penguins and the not too long run time mixed with constant action and some funny visual comedy. Its also quite colorful and energetic.  For adults watching this, it still has a fun value and the humor has its smart moments especially using actor names in the context of sentences. We had a good laugh over catching those bits.

Penguiins of Madagascar

While our heroes are the silly penguins and its a lot based on their absurd and spontaneous plans, it adds in a villain just for them called Dave who is an octopus that lost its popularity at zoos because of penguins. Dave disguises intelligently as a successful scientist and while being a villain, he also is pretty old school especially when he is being voiced by the talented John Malkovich and is bad at technology. In contrast, our side heros is an elite group called the North Wind put together but a wolf, polar bear, seal and snow owl. An abnormal group still but one that has some fun moments when interactimg with the penguins since they are rather more professional and uptight and the penguins are not. All this is to say that the balance and character design is done well.

Penguins of Madagascar

One of the outstanding parts of any animation are their voice actors and this cast has some big names that add a lot more to the characters. I previously mentioned John Malkovich as our villain. I’ve always thought that he has a rather distinctive voice and he just grasped the character of Dave so well that it actually made us find him rather fun to watch.  In North Wind, there is Benedict Cumberbatch (which I totally did not recognize before), Ken Jeong and Peter Stormare.  While I don’t think that the North Wind group in particular was a huge part of the movie or even memorable, I do think that Ken Jeong and Peter Stormare did a good job as their roles as the dorky (and sometimes angry-ish) seal and the big softy polar bear respectively. On that note, our stars of the show Penguins hold a few familiar looking names but none other than Chris Miller than I seem to recollect however, they are enthusiastic and energetic and breathes a lot of life into the Penguins we know and love from the Madagascar series, keeping them as fun to watch.

Penguins of Madagascar

Overall, Penguins of Madagascar was a fun and entertaining watch.  It doesn’t take a lot of attention to understand whats going on because it has a simple plot.  I can say that because I watched this 2.5 times over three days but each time I was doing something else and still enjoyed it but didn’t get lost despite missing different parts.  Its a nice one to put in the background.  However, I do believe there is some appeal to kids because of its bright colors and energetic characters along with a rather action-packed and/or silly parts that are put rather frequently throughout the film.  Penguins of Madagascar is a good one!

Have you seen Penguins of Madagascar? Are you a fan of the Madagascar franchise?

The Duff (2015)

The Ugly Truth landed on Netflix recently and despite acknowledging that its far from a great romantic comedy, I happened to turn it on while I was cleaning and you know what I realized? One, I miss watching Gerard Butler.  Where did he go? Don’t even tell me about Gods of Egypt trailer.  Second and more importantly, I miss romantic comedies or just comedies, in general.  Its been lately about action and thrillers and horror.  I find myself rewatching old comedies more and more and nothing released catches my eye nowadays.  But then, can you blame me? It’s probably why I sit around and watch things like San Andreas and Sharknado.  Point is, I wanted to watch a comedy and had heard that The Duff was pretty good and had bought it during Boxing Day so I decided to give it a watch 😉

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Duff (2015)

the duff

Director: Ari Sandel

Cast: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Nick Eversman, Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, Romany Malco

A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts. – IMDB

I’m not the hardest crowd to please when it comes to teen comedies.  Okay, well, maybe I am, especially when it includes comedy.  I like smart stuff and things that make me feel like there was some thought in it or just you know, making fun of incidents that you can picture or relate to.  I haven’t been in high school since forever but it has to be believable that they are in high school, right? The DUFF does a really decent job at making an enjoyable and funny comedy.  I never knew what a DUFF was and never heard of the source material its based on.  Regardless, The DUFF was really fun to watch.

The DUFF

The DUFF stands for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”.  Its the easy and approachable one in the group that isn’t as pretty as her group friends is and Bianca Piper learns about it one day.  The DUFF is a little of coming of age and a little about finding yourself and not caring about the labels and just being happy with yourself in its core.  Sure, its still a teen comedy so there’s some friends and fights, mean girls and gossip and rumors and a cute jock that turns into someone who is a little deeper.  However, in its little simple cliche-like exterior, it carries a story that mixes up a little of Easy A and Mean Girls.  It never quite reaches the awesomeness of those two movies but it does really resound and makes you connect with Bianca. It holds a good message and has some silliness that her character carries which can makes us like her and cheer for her. They really add some nice touches of the story like enhancing social media like ending the credits with the social media handles (Twitter/Instagram) for the cast as they are listed out along with blooper reels.

The DUFF

Mae Whitman, who I’ve never seen in anything else, is absolutely great as Bianca.  She makes us love and connect with her character as she tries to find herself and break out of being the DUFF and getting the guy instead of being her friends.  As she works alongside her neighbor, who is that cute jock I mentioned before called Wesley, played by Robbie Amell, they have some really cute and funny moments as they can convince us that the most uncommon and opposite people actually work really well together. I personally think there’s a moment where they grow fond of each other really quickly and some dialogue is kind of like, “Duh? Is that even a question?” when they say it but for the most part, I can forgive it because it is a story about the awkward teenager.  Robbie Amell and Mae Whitman play their characters well off each other and that is what counts.  I had some decent laughs and some pretty endearing and feel-good moments.  On the note of Robbie Amell, aside from the Amells having some pretty great looking genes, they also are rather decent actors.  At least, I’m liking it quite a bit.

The DUFF

The DUFF is full of talent that supports this young cast. For starters, Allison Janney plays the divorced self-help mother of Bianca who is a little odd but does end up being rather funny in her own way.  Her best friends are new to me played by Bianca A. Santos and Skyler Samuels and for the small part they are in, they are rather likable as well. Bella Thorpe, which I recently saw in a cameo in Scream: the TV series as the high school mean girl also plays a full-on mean girl here called Madison.  And she takes it with so much dedication.  The last mention goes out to Ken Jeong who plays a teacher that runs the school newspaper that really supports and guides Bianca through this whole thing even if he is really weird.  I’m always a little iffy about Ken Jeong’s humor but somehow it works well here.

Overall, The DUFF is truly an enjoyable and feel-good teen comedy that holds a good message about being true to ourselves and ignoring the unnecessary labels.  It has good humor and a lot of not so subtle references.  Its been a while that I’ve found a teen comedy that works and has decent rewatchability value and this one definitely has it.  As I’m writing this, its after watching it a second time and fully loving it all over again.

Have you seen The DUFF? Did you like it? What is your favorite teen comedy?