Say hello to my slightly larger friend:
And boy howdy did I need it.
So this is it. Out of all the movies Don Bluth ever made, this is the one he disowned. He is not listed as a director. The film was originally credited to Alan Smithy, the name directors used (before Joe Esterhaus ruined the fun for everyone with his awful "An Alan Smithy Film") when their own film is so terrible that they are too embarrassed to put their own name on it. If I'm lucky, this will have been the nadir of this here Don Bluth Month project. I really hope it is.
Because good God, this movie is terrible. I could see why Bluth turned away from it almost immediately: there are times when the animation is just downright sh**ty. I know bad animation bothers Don Bluth more than story problems, because even something like "Rock-A-Doodle" has excellent effects and character animation.
In "Penguin" the animation, particularly of the characters, is either inconsistent or downright ugly. Oftentimes, it's both. Seems they farmed the animation duties off to some other, cheaper studio. The characters freely change size and perspective while standing still. They shimmer in and out of existence. They even occasionally appear as immobile still frames that may "twitch" once and again; the effect is less like the kind of fluid, lifelike animation Bluth was trying to keep alive and more like something mind-scarring from a Japanese horror film.
There is even a scene, late in the film, where they forget to draw a major characters head. 'Nuff said.
Add to this the fact that the penguin character designs are downright ghastly. Why do they all have such prominent teeth? Why is Marina given a pair of human-like hips way the hell up near where her wishbone should be? It's "Happy Feet" all over again, with all the creepy almost-anthropomorphic penguins running about. Why the hell is it so easy to mess up the cuteness of a penguin?!
And the story is... man, you know what, f*** it! I don't even remember it!
That says a lot. As I mentioned before, story problems do not appear to bother Don Bluth too much. I might have hated "All Dogs Go To Heaven", but at least it's memorable because it has some insane fever-dream logic at work (the scene where the infamous King Gator suddenly reappears as a singing big gay unstoppable force of nature for example). It's not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but at the very least it is fun to make fun of, and to wonder what kind of deranged mind came up with it.
"Penguin" is just irredeemably boring and tedious, with ugly, unlikeable characters, a story that goes nowhere, and songs that feel like an obligation in the fact that they just keep showing up and stalling the plot. There's one in particular that almost made me want to gouge my ears out with a skewer, in which Hubie and Rocko sing about how friendship is nice or something. It goes on forever. In the duration, we learn that the two characters are exactly like what we thought they were before (though we do learn that Hubie is more annoying than we thought we did, so yay for whatever character development we can get). Also, during the song they advance a physical distance of about twenty feet on their adventure from New Zealand to Antarctica.
I guess the more important question is this: how in the hell do you go from "The Secret of N.I.M.H." to this?!?
Up next, "A Troll in Central Park". Please, please at least let the animation be better in this one?
Art of the Day!
Got something on canvas now...