PENGUINS (2019)

Penguins movie poster
In the cold Antarctic wilderness, a male Adélie penguin named Steve joins others of his species on the journey to the nesting grounds. After the trials and tribulations of building a nest, Steve seeks and finds a mate to start a family with. Becoming a first-time father of two, he finds that raising kids can be difficult. Harsh storms and predators, such as the gull-like birds called skuas and leopard seals, get in the way of an idyllic life. But this determined penguin is up to the challenge.

Breathtaking cinematography coupled with a heartfelt story make
this engaging documentary one of the best Disneynature films. Writer David Fowler's penguin family tale is energized by narrator Ed Helms, who handles the drama and humor with ease while making Steve a character worth warming up to. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson (also producers along with Roy Conli, Mark Linfield and Keith Scholey), balance out the dangerous moments of life with an equal amount of levity. Escaping ferocious predators and enduring a chilling snow storm provide the tension, but not enough to scare young children. Among the laughs are Steve taking a beating from a baby emperor penguin nearly twice his size and a sequence with our hero out looking for stones to add to the nest while a sneaky neighbor steals his already-gathered rocks. The impressive landscape footage is truly award-worthy, captured by 16 principal photographers over a few years. Harry Gregson-Williams' memorable musical score compliments the outstanding visuals and some pop tunes lighten the mood. Steve romances his true love Adeline to REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling". Also listen for songs by Whitesnake, Average White Band and Patti Labelle. The flightless, well-dressed birds do march in this film's opening and comparisons are sure to be made with "March of the Penguins". But the focus here is on one penguin and his family. Of all the films in the series, this joyful entry for young and old alike is the closest in tone to Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures (minus the animated paintbrush). It entertains and educates without getting preachy. "Penguins" is a happy feat for Disneynature. (4/5 CAMS)

Rated G
Running Time: 76 minutes

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