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The Pebble and the Penguin Review

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A lovable but introverted penguin named Hubie plans to present his betrothal pebble to the bird of his dreams.

★★★★★

Producer Don Bluth’s second collaboration with composer Barry Manilow (after the drab Thumbelina) is a simple tale of penguin meets penguin, penguin loses penguin and penguin battles against the odds to win said penguin back. In fact, it’s loosely (very(ital) loosely) based on the real-life courtship ritual of the Adeli penguins at the South Pole. The male has to find a pebble so exquisite that no right-minded girl penguin could refuse his advances and they are mated forever — till gory-death-at-the-jaws-of-a-leopard-seal they do part.
But poor Hubie’s (Short) attempts to obey the calls of nature and pick-up his penguin, the shapely Marina, are severely curtailed when Drake (Curry), an evil composite of a dozen Disney baddies, casts him away on an iceberg so he can get his flippers around her. To add to his bad luck, Hubie is then captured by a fisherman and finds himself destined for the zoo, but with the help of the spunky Rocko (Belushi), he escapes and they start the long journey back, pebble in hand, to find Hubie’s beloved.
Interspersed with a clutch of instantly forgettable Manilow-penned songs and lacking the gloss finish of anything from the Mousedom, the appeal here is limited to the tiniest of tots. Even with Belushi in full swagger and Curry at his most tongue curlingly fiendish, the characters never quite find a third dimension to really bring them to life.
The animation, particularly an impressive killer whale attack, is up to scratch and it certainly has bags more laughs than Pocahontas, but it’s unlikely your average six-year-old would come out humming any of the tunes or remember anything by bedtime.

Kids only.