Silly Symphonies

film 36 of 61

Peculiar Penguins

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

Here’s a good bit. The show-off boy penguin chases that cute fish, who introduces us to this blowfish, who gets captured and eaten by that lady penguin. This is on its way to becoming a compound gag, but there’s some character significance to it too. Penguins are the main characters in this film, but we’ve momentarily established sympathy for this fish, such that it’s upsetting when this lady penguin consumes one of them. Who’s side are we on now? These mixed feelings lead us to the conclusion of this very well calculated compound gag, and also to a way out of this conflict of sympathies. The lady penguin suffers a series of hysterical swellings, then gets delivered by a swift kick in the rear. (There goes Disney, again.) Out comes the blowfish, and everything has turned out okay! You’d normally have to be Patsy Kelly to get away with this kind of thing.

That’s good then. Otherwise, dullsville! And these cartoons are stretching toward ten minutes too, which makes for a lot of dull. Thematically? Well, they establish a would-you-like-to-swing-on-a-star idea with their theme song, and then go on to enact one of the direst of Disney clichés—check out the courtships in Bambi, or that Currier and Ives sequence in Melody Time—in the area of boy/girl relations. You know—the kind of thing that makes these movies appropriate for children to watch. The girls manipulate, even going so far as to caress in a calculated manner that sends the boys into semi-orgasmic conniptions. I am sorry for saying that so o’er-pointedly, but look at the films for yourself! The enraptured young man now gives an accidental offense, followed by a fit of pique from the female, and a little life-threatening jeopardy (an Antarctic shark here) to up the ante and then restore equanimity. So it’s deadly dull, and dangerous too.