A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What's the story?
American businesspeople invest in the Russian military's failing hockey team and transform the newly rebranded RED PENGUINS into a money-making sensation. It's the 1990s, and the timing seems auspicious because Russia has just transitioned to democracy and opened up to capitalist investments. But the Americans find that they're up against a series of insurmountable challenges and dangers. At first, the marketing maverick sent to oversee the team's revival, Steven Warshaw, enjoys dazzling success, drawing huge stadium crowds with eccentric halftime shows featuring strippers, bikini contests, zoo animals, and luxury giveaways. But the corruption, criminality, and chaos of the setting, and the disloyalty of local partners, eventually undermine the team's viability as a business venture. The documentary mixes archive footage with interviews, in English and Russian, with more than a dozen key people involved in the story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Russia's transition to democracy as it's depicted in Red Penguins. What do you know about this historical period? How could you learn more?
The interviewees tell different stories about the past. Who did you trust more, and why? Do you think a documentary maker has a responsibility to tell all sides to a story? How can he or she try to substantiate what sources say on camera?
Steven Warshaw was wildly successful at marketing the Red Penguins initially. What did you think of his unconventional methods?
At the end of the documentary, one source says "Americans destroyed the Soviet Union." What do you make of this critique? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: August 4, 2020
- Cast: Howard Baldwin, Viktor Tikhonov, Steven Warshaw
- Director: Gabe Polsky
- Studio: Gabriel Polsky Productions
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: History
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence/bloody images, sexual material/nudity, some strong language and a drug reference
- Last updated: August 12, 2020
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