Friday, December 5, 2014

Penguins make feathers fly at box

December 5 2014
to march of the penguins1 . March of the Penguins
WE ARE lucky at the southern tip of Africa. Penguins are animals we can experience in real life. But, for many people out in the rest of the world, they have to rely on their TV screens to catch up on the antics of the best-dressed birds in the animal kingdom.

They’re cuddly in appearance, seemingly unafraid of humans, and their two-tone tuxedo colouring lends them to animation. Plus that little waddle. So cute.

Danny de Vito put in a surprisingly pathos-laden turn as The Penguin, aka Oscar Cobblepot, in Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns sequel (and Robin Lord Taylor is getting great reviews for his Penguin role in the tv series Gotham) and there’s even a penguin in Fight Club (oh yes, there is. Go and watch it again). And who could forget the scene- stealing Wheezy in Toy Story 2 (1999)?

Add penguins to your movie and you are going to make money and win awards. Point in case would be March of the Penguins (2005), a Best Documentary Oscar winner which picked up a worldwide box office of $127 392 693 according to

Though some may have faulted the French documentary for anthropomorphising the behaviour of the emperor penguins, there is no denying the feature’s spectacular cinematography, haunting soundtrack and majestic narration courtesy of Morgan Freeman.

The next year Happy Feet won Best Animated Film at the Oscars and boxofficemojo says it made $384 335 608 globally.
to happy feet Happy Feet Warner Bros. Entertainment
You’ve seen Surf’s Up (2007) with its penguin that couldn’t swim, Jim Carrey playing dad to six baby penguins in Mr Popper’s Penguins (2011) and remember the dancing penguins in Mary Poppins?

But what about the following films?

Farce of the Penguins (2006): a parody directed by Bob Saget featuring R-rated commentary on live-action footage of real penguins. Yes. Seriously. Unfortunately even the addition of comedy stalwarts James Belushi, Dane Cook and Jason Biggs did not help.

Wallace and Gromit in the Wrong Trousers (1993) : this second Wallace and Gromit stop animation Oscar-winning short revolves around a plot cooked up by a mysterious penguin. Feathers, said penguin, has since made cameos in other Aardman Animation features.

The Pebble and the Penguin (1995): animated film featuring music by Barry Manilow. The unusual setting of Antarctica and the voice cast really tried, but none of the critical reviews online seem impressed by the script.

Pingu: the claymation tv short sometimes reruns on CBeebies. The episodes go back as far as 1985 and the little character is the very definition of cuteness. But, it is strangely unsettling that David Hasslehoff released a rap song, Pingu Dance, in Switzerland in 1993, sampling Penguinese. 
to pingu1 Pingu .
Encounters at the End of the World (2007): only Werner Herzog could possibly find and film a real-life, honest to goodness suicidal penguin. Herzog said he didn’t want to make a film about fluffy penguins. So a suicidal penguin it is. And, this film is referenced in Penguins of Madagascar.

Oh, and watch out for the penguin cameos in 50 First Dates, Definitely Maybe, Good Luck Chuck, Maid in Manhattan and the list goes on. Penguin Pool Murder? It’s a real movie.


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