Penguins can’t fly, but they can dance. Except for Erik (Ava Acres), he’s a fluffy little fellow that is having a bit of trouble getting his groove on. So his Dad, Mumble, voiced by Elijah Wood and Mom Gloria, voiced by Pink, try to help him along. But, he drags his tail out of Emperor Land and wanders off with his friends to hang out in a place where dancing is not important. But these new penguins have become enamored with a new breed of penguin Sven (Hank Azaria), who can fly. Sven seems prophet like, as he also explains the green appearing through the ice. To Erik dancing seems a bit passé when it comes to the thought of flying. So Eric quickly falls under the spell of the new penguin, until dad shows up to put on the buzz kill and drag his behind home. The trip back to Emperor Land should be a straight shot but the glacier is experiencing some shifting.
Director George Miller doesn’t over do the peril the characters face on their journey, knowing that the audience for this film is most likely grandparents and their very young grandchildren. When Emperor Land and all the Penguins are threatened, a spirit of team work emerges. Heroes and posers are exposed for just who they are, a good lesson for kids and parents. That grandparent factor may be why the musical numbers seem to lack pizzazz. The music could have been a bit louder, as there were plenty of tots competing against the movie for attention. The show barely drowned them out. One more musical number showcasing Pink would have been a treat.
Robin Williams voices two characters in the film, both ethnic characters. That whole bit seems tired, and out of place. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt voice two krill who break free from the crowd, in an attempt to move up the food chain. This is the opportunity for a secondary storyline to entertain the parents with wit and the kids with physical comedy. This one falls flat, with Damon and Pitt. It is a missed opportunity for the next generation of comedians to create a couple of memorable characters. Perhaps that would have competed too much with Williams’ over the top performances.
Overall this film is sends a message about climate change, the environment, and respect for your parents that is way over the heads of the kids that will most likely see it. The animation is stunning, and there are a few live action shots mixed with animation that are seamless. These scenes make you realize that throughout the film you have taken the extraordinary animation for granted, and it is what we come to expect in an animated film.
Run Time: 100 minutes. Rated: PG.