Disney’s new ‘Penguins’ finds the warmth in a bird family’s Antarctic life
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Just in time for Earth Day on Monday, Disneynature Films has released its newest documentary, this time about the Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Intended for both kids and adults, this nature documentary brings a warm perspective to the cold life of penguins in Antarctica.
Narrated by Ed Helms (“The Office,” “The Hangover”), the film follows Steve, an awkward yet relatable Adélie penguin. In contrast to the majesty that Morgan Freeman brought to “March of the Penguins,” Helms’ narration brings goofiness and warmth, providing a humorous balance to the harsh reality of the cold and challenging environment the Adélie penguins face in Antarctica.
The “Penguins” film crew spent four years immersed in the elements of Antarctica, collecting hundreds of hours of film that would then be used to tell the 76-minute “coming of age” story. Through the cinematography, the audience gets a chance to experience up close the competing grace and awkwardness of the Adélie penguin as it unfolds both on land and in the sea.
The film follows the penguin family through all kinds of obstacles — everything from the weather to near misses with killer whales and leopard seals. Helpful tip: Stay seated through the credits. You’ll see a spectacular behind-the-scenes about the making of the film that the studio plans to release at a later date as another movie.
The result is an endearing documentary, capturing both the wonder of Antarctica and the drama of the everyday life of penguins. Some parts of the movie drag a bit, and at times Helms’ bounce between scientific narrator and the first-person voice of Steve is a bit awkward.
Kids will enjoy the story’s humorous moments punctuated by a couple barf jokes — always popular with the under-12 crowd. Meanwhile, their Gen-X and millennial parents may find the story of the struggles of parenting familiar. They might also have flashbacks to their own childhoods through a soundtrack featuring artists like REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake.
The film is rated G for all audiences, but a brief note to parents with children who are especially sensitive to intense scenes in movies: This is a nature movie, so there is some penguin vs. penguin violence as well as scenes with the penguin’s predators that can get slightly intense. None of the scenes are especially graphic, but they might warrant a chat with your child before you see the movie so they know what to expect.
Disneynature Films presents a documentary directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wilson. Rated G. Running time: 76 minutes. Opens Wednesday at local theaters.