March of the Penguins… Again

The Discovery Channel has been advertising the “Oscar winning” film The March of the Penguins. The documentary has also won numerous other awards… Proof, by the way, that awards indicate nothing as to whether a movie is actually worth seeing. And just in case you think I might have been sucking on sour grapes, I have some very good reasons why March of the Penguins is mediocre.

Basically, it doesn’t actually tell a story. It tries, yes. But really it just shows us penguins. Lots and lots of penguins. And we’re supposed to be sad that some of them die.

These penguins are just the unnamed amongst the many, and it’s hard–actually impossible–for me to work up any great sympathy for a million bazillion penguins.

Now, show me one close-knit family of penguins, and that’s something I can sympathize with. The hardest thing you’ll have to do to make sympathetic penguins is make them seem human. And you can only do that if you zoom in on individuals and tell their story. March of the Penguins doesn’t do that.

It’s still a good documentary, mind you. But I’m not going out of my way to see it, no matter how many awards it’s won. Because I’ve already seen it, and i know what level of mediocrity to expect.

Want an alternative recommendation? Rent Broken English instead: A “too much like real life” film about a woman so desperately lonely, she gives up on real life. Maybe I like it so much, because I can really sympathize with Nora Wilder. Regardless, I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve seen it since it came out on DVD, and I still want to watch it again. It’s the best Parker Posey role ever.



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