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film review

Penguins is a coming-of-age story about an Adélie penguin named Steve who joins millions of fellow males in the icy Antarctic spring on a quest to build a suitable nest, find a life partner and start a family.Photo: Jeff Wilson/Walt Disney Studios


Directed by: Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson

Written by: David Fowler

Featuring: the voice of Ed Helms

Classification: G; 76 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

Danny DeVito in Batman Returns notwithstanding, penguins are adorable. Especially a hapless-but-persevering one named Steve who stars as the flippered protagonist in a sweet, playful coming-of-age documentary from Disneynature. Educating young audiences as it entertains just about anyone, Penguins features the droll narration of Ed Helms and some great Antarctic cinematography. It’s all about the annual mating cycle of the smallish Adélie breed. The conditions are as harsh and icy as a singles bar at last call, and seems it’s a seal-eat-penguin world at the bottom of Earth. Some interesting soundtrack choices were made; apparently it’s better to introduce Whitesnake to kids sooner rather than later. As fun and as informative as Penguins is, however, one might question the one-sided nature of the film. Although we are told both the female and male parent share in domestic duties, mostly we see Steve doing the heavy lifting, while partner Adeline sits on eggs. Seems like an antiquated portrait of home life, and perhaps not the best message. After all, when it comes to making house, it’s not all black and white.

Penguins opens April 17.