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On Christmas Eve, Private slips out of the zoo for some last-minute shopping. In the city he's mistaken as a cute chew toy by a mean old woman named Nana, who gives Private to her vicious dog, Mr. Chew. On a mission to rescue their penguin pal, Skipper, Kowalski and Rico risk life and flipper as they take on Nana and Mr. Chew with an explosive solution that will leave you laughing out loud. Written by
Note: This was originally written when "Christmas Caper" was released with "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" in 2005 before there was a page for this short film. Please forgive the dated references.
Matched with "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" is a CGI animated short, "A Christmas Caper" staring the Penguins of this summer's "Madagascar". This is about a group of four militant penguins who live in the Bronx Zoo. It's Christmas Eve, and the youngest penguin, Private (Christopher Knights), feels bad for the zoo's resident polar bear who is alone. Private sets out to find him a present. When the rest of the group realizes that Private has gone missing, they set out to bring him back. Ultimately, they must rescue their junior member from an elderly Manhattan resident and her bloodthirsty miniature poodle.
There were moments of humor, but no tone seemed to hold the entire production together. The scene on the street with the souvenir vendor was easily the funniest. There the penguins "blend in" with a group of nuns and inexplicably regurgitate dynamite. However, the whole affair felt misplaced as a prelude to the kind of story to be told in "Wallace and Gromit". Although the computer animation is eye-poppingly good, the penguins move frenetically and spend most of their time shouting at each other. It will probably satisfy any 5-year-old on a sugar rush, but wild behavior by itself simply doesn't amount to humor.
The story resolves with a nod to friendship over presents, but it seems less genuine when the entire cast of "Madagascar" characters is suddenly there to sing a goodbye song. How coincidental that the DVD release happens to be only a month away. The Christmas theme also seems aimed to prime kids for the shopping season. Aside from the fact that penguins fit well in snow and ice, couldn't this have been set during some other time of year, perhaps say, Halloween?
If you're late for "Wallace and Gromit", don't sweat it. This will pad the start time, so you can grab a snack for the real show.
3 out of 10 for "A Christmas Caper"
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