Penguins: Ed Helms livens up Disneynature Film

Steve in Disneynature's Penguins.

With comedic narration provided by Ed Helms, Disneynature’s Penguins is able to offer some lively insight into the lives of Adélie penguins.

Earth Day traditionally means the release of a new nature documentary from Disneynature.  This year’s offering takes us to the cold of Antarctica and go after our funny bone in the way that Helms narrates the film.

We’re quickly introduced to Steve.  He is a 5-year-old Adélie penguin making his way back home to Antarctica after the winter.  It’s not an easy journey as he comes of age.  During this particular trek, Steve’s main mission is to find a mate.  Steve is able to find one in Adeline but it’s not so easy at first.  He gets lost early one and becomes one of the last men to set up a nesting ground in the exposed rock.  Even at that, building a nest comes at the risk of losing rocks because of thieves.  Easier said than done, of course.

To get to the big city, Steve first encounters Emperor penguins.  This doesn’t go as smoothly as one could hope.

When the females come around, Steve and Adeline start their penguin mating rituals.  This results in two eggs to be hatched at a later time.  When the eggs do hatch, the two have their work cut out.  The two of them switch places in journeying out for food.  But more to the point, we learn all the ins and outs of what happens in the span of a few months.  It isn’t just that they have to get their chicks ready for their first winter.  Their first few months are a whole lesson in terms of survival.  There are other predators at bay who will stop at nothing to eat their dinner.  Whether it’s killer whales or leopard sales, there’s always a danger looming nearby.

Helms doesn’t just narrate the film.  In fact, he takes things a step further by providing the voice of Steve.  Helms does so in a way that only Helms can.  I love the fact that Helms mixes up the narration with Steve’s inner voice.  It’s a classic Disney touch in this sense.

While the finished film runs just under 80 minutes, this is certainly not an easy film to capture.  Not when filmmakers are battling sub-zero wind chills.  It may be easy for the beautiful creatures to tolerate the weather but not so much the case for humans.  Even in getting the footage, one can only ponder what they put themselves through to get the perfect angle.  My cap is off to them!

All in all, Penguins gives us an entertaining account of the incredible journey that Steve goes on in becoming a first-time father.

DIRECTORS:  Alastair Fothergill, Jeff Wilson

Disneynature opens Penguins in theaters ahead of Earth Day on April 17, 2019. For every ticket sold, Disney will make a donation to the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN). Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.