2006 Best Animated Feature
Plot: Mumble is a retarded penguin because his father, Elvis the Penguin, dropped him when he was in the egg. And before you start, I'm well aware that "retarded" is considered politically incorrect, and I apologize for its use here. I don't like the word much either, and I almost never use it. I'm doing my best to get some blog traffic, so maybe throwing the R-word around will get some people involved in those advocacy groups who are always ticked off with Lady Gaga or Lebron James to accidentally find their way to my humble little blog. And I'm going to do my very best to make this one of my best-written reviews ever so that once the advocates for people like Lady Gaga and Lebron James get here, they'll read this and be hooked. And then, boom! Readers! Anyway, back to Mumble. While all the other penguins use their singing voices and over-produced pop songs to find the perfect mate, something that Morgan Freeman told me is actual legitimate scientific information, Mumble can only tap dance. He's an outcast, and some of the other penguins, each inexplicably with different accents, blame him for the lack of fish. Mumble runs off with some Hispanic penguins to find some aliens who might be responsible for the famine.
First off, who's the audience for a PG-rated movie like this? I can't imagine this appealing to most adults despite the modernization of some pop tunes from their childhood (like the Artist Who's Now Known As Prince Again) to make them sound like annoying modern pop tunes. And I'd think the plot would be too confusing for children, and there are some pretty intense scenes that might make it inappropriate for younger viewers. I did watch it with Sophie, however, and she seemed to fall asleep just fine during it. Plus, I don't normally think about Prince as a good soundtrack choice for a kiddie flick. It wouldn't surprise me if the Dreamworks people decided to throw "Darling Nikki" in their next feature though.
Secondly, I'm just going to say it: I'm sick of penguins. I've seen them marching while Morgan Freeman tells me all about it. I've seen those annoying little guys in Madagascar and in the television spin-off that my girls used to annoy me with all the time. And although it's extremely unlikely that somebody will force me to watch the upcoming Jim Carrey Mr. Popper's Penguins movie, its existence still makes me tremble and weep. Don't get me wrong. If I'm at a zoo, I enjoy seeing the sad little penguins in their glass box as much as the next guy, mostly because it makes me feel superior as a human being and gives me a chance to wallow in my awesomeness, so to speak. I'm the guy at the penguin exhibit who's torn his shirt off like Hulk Hogan and flaunts his stuff, flexing and beating my chest and trash-talking the birds. "Emperor, my ass! Check out these nipples! Do you birds even HAVE nipples? Booyah!" And to answer your question: Yes, I have been forcefully removed from zoos. Unfairly, I might add. I've seen a giant turtle having an orgasm at that same zoo, and you're tell me that my nipples are inappropriate for children's eyes? What's wrong with this world? Back to the penguins--these animals are animated very well (more on that below), but all penguins kind of look the same (I know. . .borderline penguin racism there!) and there's not enough variety in their movements to make them interesting for the duration of this too-long movie.
The animation is second to none. The Antarctic setting and all of the animals look terrific. There's a great realism to these characters and their surroundings, and if they weren't talking in weird accents and performing choreographed dance routines, you'd almost mistake them for the real thing. But really, what's the point? I think I like my animated movies to look animated. I'm not sure cute penguins would have made this a better movie but it might have made the characters more likable. I didn't like a single one of these penguins--not the three or four voiced by Robin Williams, not the protagonist voiced by one of those Hobbits, especially not his parents, not his girlfriend. None of them. They just aren't likable, and the disjointed adventure that Mumble goes on is predictable and bland. A few of those aforementioned intense action sequences make little sense scientifically and only work to clash with the realistic look of the movie.
Cars actually should have beat this for Best Animated Picture. Or Monster House. There are things that annoy me about both of those movies, but the onslaught of pop music and black and white dance choreography drove me bonkers. It was like a more-polished Dreamworks movie with a story that I couldn't care about. And very very loud. There's a nice message in this movie that's hammered into you like you're a baby seal being clubbed to death by whoever hilariously clubs baby seals to death (again, the right search might bring anti-seal-clubbing advocates this way), but after so many penguin movies, I'm not sure I'm ready to keep this particular bird alive anyway.
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