The Pebble and the Penguin
By Nancy Davis Kho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Animated penguin tale heavy on romance, peril.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A deep if lopsided friendship develops between two unlikely characters, causing one to risk his life for his friend's sake, even after he has been lied to. A developing romance is marked by loyalty and understanding in the face of teasing and threats from outside parties.
Violence & Scariness
The main character is threatened by a bully, a leopard seal, and a pod of killer whales in suspenseful animated scenes that, at least in the latter two cases, convincingly mimic real threats on a penguin's survival.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The entire plot is predicated on Hubie getting back to Marina for mating season, so although nothing graphic is shown the topic is ever-present.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the main character has a stutter for which he is teased by a bully, but it becomes less noticeable around his friends and girlfriend. The same bully is a menace throughout the film, most disturbingly as he kidnaps the object of his romantic affection. When persuasion has failed, a character holds his breath to get his way. Depictions of animals roughly handled on the way to zoo captivity may trouble young animal lovers. Also, scenes of pursuit by leopard seals and killer whales are intense, probably more so than children under age 7 will want to watch.
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Where to Watch
Based on 4 parent reviews
I have fond memories of this one
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Fallow your Heart is the message that is presented
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What's the Story?
The first animated film starring the formally dressed fowl, THE PEBBLE AND THE PENGUIN follows the adventures of hero Hubie (voiced by Martin Short, an Antarctic penguin determined to win sensitive Marina (Annie Golden) as his mate for life by presenting her with a pebble (the real-life ritual of Adelie penguins). Captured by an expedition team collecting birds for zoos, nerdish Hubie must escape and evade his captors as well as a bully rival, leopard seals, and killer whales in his quest. With help from new friend Rocko the Rockhopper penguin (James Belushi), Hubie takes on all kinds of perilous challenges and even lies to Rocko in order to get home to Marina in time for the all-important Full Moon Mating Ceremony.
Is It Any Good?
The homeward voyage is fraught with physical danger, and scenes of pursuit by leopard seals and killer whales are intense, probably more so than children under age 7 will want to watch. Almost equally scary are the scenes of the scheming bully Drake (Tim Curry) as he threatens, first verbally then physically, the true-hearted Marina.
Penguin animation came a long way in the 10 years after this film was released. But for their coloring the main characters look like they might be ducks or, in Drake's case, an eagle. But the background animation of capricious weather conditions is lovely, as are the top-notch original songs by Barry Manilow and Mark Watters.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the birds aboard the bad ship Misery. Do you think animals are better or worse off in zoos than in the wild? Can you think of any arguments that people on the opposing side of the debate might have? The movie highlights lots of different types of penguins -- make a trip to the library to learn more about their habitats and habits.
- In theaters: April 11, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: April 11, 1995
- Cast: James Belushi, Martin Short, Tim Curry
- Directors: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Run time: 74 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: general audiences
- Last updated: April 8, 2023
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