Australian Council on Children and the Media

Penguins of Madagascar

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Short takes

Not recommended under 5; parental guidance recommended 5-7 (Violence and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Penguins of Madagascar
  • a review of Penguins of Madagascar completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 December 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 5 to 7 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 7 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Penguins of Madagascar
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Some scary scenes
Length 92 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) are penguin spies. One day when they are kidnapped by an evil scientist, they discover that their old zoo mate Dave the Octopus has been kidnapping penguins around the world and is planning to turn them all into monsters. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private must work together with The North Wind, an undercover organisation, to save the penguin population and defeat Dave.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Loss of a parent; separation from family

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Leopard seals try to eat the penguins
  • The penguins blow up a ship with the seals still on it.
  • Guards point guns at the penguins but the penguins knock the guards out with some sort of gas
  • Dave the Octopus is violent towards the penguins. He captures them, puts them in cages and uses a giant machine to turn them into monsters.
  • Dave and the penguins fight each other throughout the film.
  • The North Wind members use guns and explosions to attack Dave
  • Private is shot by Dave’s special gun and it appears that he is dead, but later we discover that he is okay.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The penguins fall off the edge of a cliff, but they are not hurt
  • Dave the Octopus is an evil villain and may be scary for young children
  • The penguins dangerously jump out of flying planes without a parachute
  • Dave’s lair shows hundreds of penguins trapped in cages, this may disturb young children

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be scared or disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The film is part of the “Madagascar” franchise, with plenty of associated merchandise

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Kowalski the penguin falls in love with Eva the owl. They flirt with each other a little and at the end they kiss.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Government agents are shown drinking champagne

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Penguins of Madagascar, which is a spin-off from the Madagascar movies, is an entertaiining action comedy. It is ideal for children over the age of seven. Because of the violence and scary elements of the film, it is not recommended for under fives and parental guidance is recommended for the five to seven age group.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • “Looks don’t matter. It is what you do that counts”
  • Never leave a colleague behind


Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • bravery
  • loyalty

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the real-life consequences of using violence to solve conflicts.

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