Death March Of The Penguins
A surprise box office hit, this Oscar-winning documentary about the elaborate mating and birthing cycles of the Emperor penguin was the feel-good film of the year. To most people. Personally, I found it a little depressing, probably because the movie reminds me of how many of my relationships end in isolation, misery, and a frozen corpse lying on an ice floe. But that’s more a personal problem, and I’m not going to let it affect my opinion of the film. Which is, of course, that it sucks.
This movie is like a cute baby seal waiting to be clubbed. It’s self-consciously cute and charming, like it’s begging to be immortalized on a McDonald’s Happy Meal Cup. It’s not that penguins lead a particularly harsh, gritty existence that’s being glossed over to sell movie tickets to Sunday afternoon family outings, like the Nazis in Sound of Music, or any movie with black people. It’s just that they’re trying to make a monstrously stupid animal seem noble. It is not impressive that penguins can survive in the most inhospitable environment on earth. It is miserably dumb. These animals are too stupid to die, so they engage on long, pointless marches to the middle of nowhere and back six or seven times a year, just so they can birth pear-shaped babies that usually die immediately. Sometimes they get tired of marching, and they slide around on their stomachs, which is sort of cute until you notice that one out of every two birds is smeared with the shit of the other fifty percent.
March of the Penguins is a capably made film, with beautiful photography. I suppose my hostility stems from the fact that the film is so shamelessly manipulative and childish that it feels like a TV ad for Euro-Disney. The English narration, delivered by Morgan Freeman, is simplistic and trite, and gives the distinct impression of being poorly researched. But all is meant to be forgiven as soon as we see the first cute little bird waddling its way across the ice shelf, and smell the gentle scent of shit stink wafting from its chest.