Disney Nature presents this kid-oriented documentary about the lifestyle of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Ed Helms (The Office) narrates and provides what is essentially voiceover for our hero penguin, affectionately named Steve. Steve begins the movie on his way to the penguins’ mating grounds, where he’ll build a nest of stones and try to attract a mate. He hits it off with a lady penguin and they brave brutal weather together to hatch two eggs and raise two babies. The film reaches its climax when the parent birds escort their offspring to the ocean, crossing dangerous patches of breaking ice where deadly leopard seals prey on all penguin-kind.
Penguins isn’t as thorough or compelling as 2005’s stellar March of the Penguins, but for a documentary about a different breed of animals and one geared for a younger audience, it’s pretty good. As soon as we meet Steve, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. He waddles across immense terrain, slipping and falling down, but always getting right back up. It’s all too easy to give our empathy over to these adorable, brave, stalwart little animals. Kids might enjoy Helms’ silly voiceover track, but adults will enjoy the gorgeous photography. And if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate knowing ahead of time — yes, there are some penguins killed by predators in the movie, but it’s not very graphic and shouldn’t upset little ones too badly.