REVIEW: “Penguins” is a kid-friendly, hilarious nature film

Steve is a male Adélie penguin on a 100-mile annual expedition to Antarctica’s shore.

For the past few months, he’s been out at sea with his fellow Adélie penguins, simply trying to survive. But now that spring has arrived, he’s heading to the place he was born—the place where everypenguin he knows was born—in order to breed.

It’s not as simple as it sounds. For starters, Steve just entered adulthood. (He has never had to find a mate.) Then there’s the problem of locating a spot on a shore with millions of other penguins. (All the good spots are taken.) Finally, there’s the pesky problem of protecting the egg and then feeding the chick. (How do you do that?)

But Steve is ready to learn. He’s also ready to rely on his instinct—which comes in handy when he has to barf food into the mouth of his hungry chick.

Disney’s Penguinsopens this weekend, telling the “coming-of-age” story of Steve, a two-foot-tall, 15-pound penguin who is slower than most other Adélie penguins but who makes up for it with a resolve and determination to keep his babies alive.

It is the 10th movie from Disneynature, which releases a kid-friendly nature-themed film every year or two, often around Earth Day. Penguins(G), though, contains nothing controversial, and all sides of the environmental political debate can enjoy it. Actor Ed Helms directed it.

It gives us the same type of awe-inspiring cinematography seen in Planet Earthor Frozen Planet, minus the evolutionary talk that concerns many parents.

My 3-year-old son tagged along with me, cackling from beginning to end. I laughed a lot, too. It is nearly the perfect kid-friendly nature film.

Warning: minor spoilers!


Minimal. Penguins hit one another. Birds eat one or two penguin eggs. Killer whales and leopard seals hunt penguins. (We see a leopard seal pull a penguin underwater.) All of Steve’s family members survive. 


None. The word “mating” is heard a few times. Steve wonders if he’s “attractive” enough. We hear the phrase “love birds.”

Coarse Language

None. Oh my gosh (2), geez (2).

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

A penguin throws up. We hear two popular mainstream songs: REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling and Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again.

Life Lessons

Steve teaches us about determination, perseverance, caring for your family and fatherhood.


It’s hard to watch Penguinsand not see God’s handiwork in a creature — the Adélie penguin — that survives and thrives in a harsh climate.

These penguins (there are millions of them!) return to the same shore every year. They set up camp at the same spot. Often, they find the same mate. Perhaps like Steve, it’s all new to them. Yet they work by instinct. They build a nest out of rocks. They regurgitate food to feed their young. They play dead when caught by a predator, hoping it will get bored and let them go. (It works!) 

And let’s not forget their value as champions of comedy. It’s as if an intelligent designer created them, simply to make us laugh.

Random chance caused all of this? I’m not buying it. The penguins operate the way an all-powerful God designed them to work (Luke 12:24).

What Works

The cinematography. The drone shots. The underwater scenes.

What Doesn’t

I prefer my nature documentaries without Whitesnake rock songs, thank you.

Discussion Questions

1. Name three positive character traits of Steve.

2. Was Steve a good father? Why or why not?

3. Name three things you learned about penguins.

Entertainment rating:4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating:4.5 out of 5 stars.

TEXAN Correspondent
Michael Foust
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