By JOHN DeFORE
The Hollywood Reporter
Published: 05 December 2013
Hollywood is used to the phenomenon in which two identical-sounding films hit theaters within months of each other — be they killer-asteroid blockbusters or literary biopics — often with each spoiling the other’s chances with ticket-buyers.
Such would seem to be the case with the nature documentary Adventures of the Penguin King, which like the recent Imax short Penguins observes the breeding habits of king penguins on the Antarctic island of South Georgia. The earlier film was narrated by Sir David Attenborough and this one by Tim Allen, but the stories are uncannily alike.
Here, the producers trade the first film’s unsatisfying gimmick (its cinematography wasn’t well suited to Imax-size projection) for another: 3-D. For Adventures, the Penguins filmmakers take the same general approach as they did the first time: telling their elementary-school audience we’re watching a single penguin and his mate (buried in the credits is the disclaimer, “featuring several King Penguins”) in order to anthropomorphize the mating cycle and gin up suspense when orcas and other predators approach.
But where Attenborough’s script lent an air of dignity to the shorter film, Allen’s reading of Philip LaZebnik’s cutesy narration has a canned feel, and is unlikely to connect with viewers too young to appreciate clichéd humor about the joys of bachelorhood versus the duties of parenting.
ADVENTURES OF THE PENGUIN KING (C)
Directed by Anthony Geffen. PG (brief mild language). 76 mins.