Yes, it’s another film about beloved Antarctic waterfowl, but there are a few features that distinguish Disneynature’s “Penguins” from the colony.
The titular birds have been the subject of many a documentary and narrative feature since the Oscar-winning “March of the Penguins” 14 years ago. The new pseudo-documentary/nature narrative “Penguins” treads lightly on much of the same icy ground but with a distinctly comedic approach aimed squarely at kids who weren’t yet born when “March” came out. It follows a young Adélie male dubbed Steve (narration by Ed Helms) as he goes through the penguin mating cycle, now familiar to many grown-up viewers.
“Penguins” appears to take liberties for narrative purposes, but it does convey nature facts kids may find fascinating. With sometimes spectacular cinematography, it captures penguins fighting over nesting sites, stealing building materials from one another, warbling mating songs and feeding their young. There’s peril from predators and, mostly, from the unforgiving cold. The underwater footage is particularly impressive.
The film gets laughs from a script emphasizing Steve’s awkwardness and the soundtrack’s use of ’80s power ballads. Of course, nothing in it is as endearing as the birds themselves. The mere sight of their fat bodies waddling across the ice gets the warmest response of all.
Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes
Playing: Starts Wednesday in wide release