I never did see Madagascar, so I may be biased, or perhaps I'm missing some in-jokes. But I usually love watching penguins, especially animated penguins. Penguins make anything funnier. So why was A Christmas Caper so terrible and unfunny?
First of all, I don't think you should spring Christmas-themed shorts on people without warning them, especially before a film that all kinds of families will want to see. I didn't know the short was tacked onto the Wallace and Gromit movie: no one seems to mention it in reviews (probably because of its awfulness). Believe it or not, we don't all celebrate Christmas and some people don't like being subjected to someone else's religious holiday without warning, particularly as early as the first week of October.
Second of all, I was offended by the stereotypical little old Jewish lady character who, it turns out, is buying a Christmas present for her dog. Was someone not thinking? I don't think I misread the stereotype; after the movie, my boyfriend admitted he felt the same way.
And finally, I've had more than enough of the kind of pretend-vulgar humor that only works if you're young enough not to be allowed to use vulgarity. The "shiitake mushrooms!" pseudo-cussing didn't make me laugh in Spy Kids and it has become tired and old. The intended humor throughout the short was loud and dumb and about as subtle as the smell of Stinking Bishop cheese.
I mean, the photos hanging on the wall in the opening credits of the Wallace and Gromit movie got bigger laughs than the Dreamworks short. And Feathers McGraw, the penguin in the Wallace and Gromit short The Wrong Trousers, could kick these penguins' lame computer-animated butts any day of the week. I wish I could tell you all to avoid this short film at all costs, but you're more or less a captive audience if you want to see the excellent film that follows it.
I didn't quite understand why Dreamworks would include a short that was so obviously mismatched with the type of humor in Wallace and Gromit. It wasn't until I got home that I realized this short wasn't created for pure entertainment like, say, Pixar's Tin Toy or the old Wallace and Gromit shorts. A Christmas Caper is an ad in disguise for the DVD of Madagascar, which will be released on Nov. 15, and for future sequels and direct-to-DVD releases. The only people who laughed at all during the short were the little kids behind us, who now have Madagascar characters in their heads and can nag their parents for the DVD for Christmas. Buy them Wallace and Gromit merchandise instead, please.