It's a great nature story, even without the sound track
embellishments. Every Spring,
literally millions of Adelie penguins converge on the place of their
birth, on a rocky promontory by the ocean.
The males all arrive first, and stake out their spot.
They hunt rocks to make a nest, which they gather one at a time in
their long beaks. Though
graceful and powerful swimmers, they waddle on land, their flippers
outstretched for balance, walking on webbed feet that slide on the ice,
which means they slip and fall a lot.
But that's OK, they can also slide on their bellies, using their
flippers for traction. The
veteran males defend their chosen spot like an old church deacon sitting
in “his” pew. They're also
known to poach rocks from other nests when somebody's back is turned.
At last, it's time for the females to arrive, and they, also, come
from the sea, where they've spent the winter, but now they return for the
annual ritual. They find their
mate and soon she's sitting on the eggs so they won't freeze.
Once they hatch, both the Mom and the Dad are involved in the
feeding. They take turns
jumping in the water and feeding on fish and plankton, and the chicks eat
the parents' regurgitations. Since
they only have about a month to fatten up and mature, the parents are
constantly busy with continual feeding.
Then, when the brief summer comes to a close, the chicks molt, are
introduced to the water, and everybody swims away.
To meet once more in the Spring, same time, next year.
We follow one particular Adelie penguin, named “Steve,” who
appears to be somewhat of a loner, and makes a habit of being late to the
party, but he manages his duties instinctively.
The narration by Ed Helms alternates between straight explanation,
and a folksy kind of anthropomorphizing,
but it's well-co-ordinated with the images on the screen.
Some purists might also quibble with choice of background music,
but really, it's about the penguins, and their remarkable annual
pilgrimages. Yes, there are
dangers, from predators like killer whales and leopard seals, and even
birds, but this Disney movie doesn't dwell on the violence, just reminds
us that it's there in Nature.
This is definitely one the whole family can enjoy together.