Just in time for Earth Day, Disneynature is celebrating with the release of PENGUINS, a full-length feature film showcasing the Adélie penguins of Antarctica. Having taken a year to make, Disney filmmakers obtained rare footage of wildlife over beautiful arctic planes to bring to life this feel-good coming of age story. Audiences accompany Steve, a five-year-old male Adélie, on his journey as a first-time father in this educational family-friendly comedy.
Audiences of all ages will find PENGUINS to be very funny. The choice to personify Steve creates a very relatable and comedic character. Adult audiences can relate to many of the struggles Steve is going through adjusting to a new stage of life. Whereas children will likely enjoy the more slapstick humor of Steve literally fumbling in his new role. The narration by Ed Helms is well executed and well written. Allowing audiences to be privy to Steve’s thoughts creates many humorous moments throughout the film. Steve embodies the stereotypical corny dad figure that is struggling to find his paternal instinct and mature into fatherhood. There is some perpetuation of the “bad dad” stereotype depicting fathers as being less competent than mothers as parents. However, although Steve’s incompetence is emphasized throughout the film and is in stark contrast to his female partner Adeline’s, Steve is also portrayed as incompetent in comparison to other male penguins who appear to be more experienced than him. Steve is a relatable and loveable character somewhat due to his role as an underdog. Thoughtful music choices create comedic moments in the film that also heighten his dad-like qualities. There is also the natural acting of the penguins that is, at times, very funny particularly within the context of narration.
Another major highlight of this film is the beautifully captured landscapes and rare wildlife footage. Stunning snowy Antarctic planes and ice-capped waters provide the backdrop for the film. In addition to Adélie penguins, audiences can witness Emperor penguins, whales, sea lions, leopard seals, and predatory birds which provide a good understanding of life in the Arctic. Knowing close to nothing about Adélie penguins and Antarctica, the film was very enlightening. Overall, the film provides a fair amount of educational aspects without feeling like a documentary, likely due to the high amount of comedic moments and well-written narrative. Also, the film tastefully captures the realities of mating and predatory animals without being graphic or inappropriate. The picture-perfect filming, educational aspects, and comedic moments make this film well suited for people of all ages.
PENGUINS is highly enjoyable with something for everyone. Disneynature creates a compelling narrative using real-world footage that can be appreciated by people in any stage of life. With high-quality filming and production, a strong well-written narrative, and natural setting with adorable penguins, this film has widespread appeal. PENGUINS arrives in theaters April 17, 2019.