Disneynature: Penguins

We all think penguins are cute, but when you watch these guys saunter around in Antarctica, with Ed Helms doing the narration and voice of “Steve” — it takes the cuteness up to 11. And he gives us just the right amount of enthusiasm and humor in his voice. How could you not laugh when Steve goes to collect a rock for his nest and as we watch him waddle away, Helms is saying under his breath, “I should probably work out some more.”

One of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a movie all year, was watching the mating calls, and having them segue into REO Speedwagon’s ballad “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” Seriously, I had tears rolling down my face I was laughing so hard (side note: best use of that song since The Way Way Back with Ed Helm’s Offfice co-star Steve Carell).

We get to see Adelie penguin Steve trying to catch up to the thousands of penguins on a 100 mile journey to build nests and attract a mate. As we watch them slip and slide my wife leaned in and said, “Why do they slip on the ice? You think they’d be used to it by now.”

She would crack me up again later, as they were all lining up to go down a steep glacier and she said, “That reminds me of people lining up at Comic Con.”

One of the pleasant surprises this movie had was that it didn’t give us a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo, and went for a cute story that all ages will adore. Now, that doesn’t mean they don’t give you some interesting information about Penguin life. They do.

As a voting member of certain film groups, it made me wonder if this would even qualify in the documentary category. And with the trailer for the live action Lion King before this started, it made me wish more movies were made this way with animals. It can’t be hard to have screenwriters give you good material for various animals.

There’s a scene where Steve is dutifully collecting rocks to build a bigger nest (the higher the better, so the eggs are away from the cold snow). Each time he brings one back, another penguin glances over, waits for him to walk away, and goes over to steal a rock. What we hear Helms say about this is a crack up. And, it does end up in a little scuffle (and it’s not the only fight you’ll see; things can get ugly when folks are looking for mates).

There are also some scary moments with leopard seals and killer whales, but everything else is pure joy.

The cinematography by Rolf Steinmann is gorgeous. One shot at dusk, with the silhouettes of penguins, is incredible. Another aerial shot of penguins running in the snow was stunning. In fact, all the panoramic views were gorgeous.

The movie was only 75 minutes long. That’s probably perfect for the young ones that might have a short attention span, but I wanted to spend another 75 minutes with these cute little fellas.

Bring the whole family. And, by going to see a Disneynature film, a portion of the money goes to conservation groups.

4 stars out of 5.

 

 

 

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