Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Pebble and the Penguin


Starring (voices): Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Annie Golden, Tim Curry

Rated G

I can think of only two possible audiences for "The Pebble and the Penguin:" those who pass the time by eating paste and those who have undergone frontal lobotomies.  This is the most idiotic, brain-dead animated movie I've seen since "Norm of the North."  Granted, that was almost exactly a year ago, but I have to admit that this piece of crap isn't quite as aggressively obnoxious as last year's stinker.

The film uses real behavior of the adelie penguin.  Considering the final result, they should sue.  Male adelie penguins choose their mates by offering the female a pebble.  If she accepts, they mate for life.  Shy, stuttering penguin Hubie (Short) has the hots for Marina (Golden) and she for him, but he can't get the courage to give her a pebble.  Since Hubie and everyone else knows that Marina loves him, you would think that he would be able to figure out that Marina would accept a dog turd from him and call it a day, but no, that would prevent us from suffering through the indignity of watching the entire rancid 74 minutes.  In any event, Hubie has a rival, a muscle bound villain by the name of Drake (Curry).  Marina wants nothing to do with him since he is incapable of loving anyone except himself, but he won't take no for an answer.  When Hubie finds a lovely green emerald that falls from the sky, he knows there's no way that Marina can turn it down.  Unfortunately Drake throws him into the sea and plans to keep Marina for himself.  Now Hubie has nine days before the end of the ceremony in order to get back Marina.

I could go on for hours on what is wrong with this totally worthless motion picture.  The film never establishes a narrative flow, going from plot point to plot point like a drunk driver on a windy country road.  The animation makes after-school specials compare well to Hayao Miyazaki.  The characters lack consistent personality or motivation.  The plot is both nonsensical and trite, relying on contrivance after contrivance to move the creaky plot along.  There is a sense that criticizing a movie whose target audience hasn't even entered kindergarten for a lack of plot or character development is akin to getting mad at your cat for not finding the cure for cancer, but even by the loose standards of discount family movie fare, this crosses the line.

Surprisingly, the film is filled with talent both in front of and behind the camera.  Well, since this is an animated movie, they're all "behind" the camera, but you know what I mean.  Known funny men Martin Short, Jim Belushi, and Tim Curry provide the voices, and the film was directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, who made, among others, "The Secret of NIMH."  The songs were written by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman.  It goes without saying that none of them appear to want to have anything to do with the project other than collecting a paycheck.  The voice acting is bland and the songs are insipid and annoying.  Don Bluth hated this movie so much that he demanded that his name be removed from the credits, but that doesn't excuse him,  All his earmarks are present, such as the exaggerated body language and the ballad over the end credits. 

A movie like this is a travesty.  Not just because it's so awful, but because it was so obviously going to be awful from the start.  Bluth should have known better than anyone that this was going to be a train wreck and pulled the plug before any careers were put in jeopardy, much less cause the suffering of viewers and critics such as myself.  But he didn't, and instead of being able to falsely tout it as his "lost masterpiece" for marketing and ego purposes, he released it so we can all see it for what it really is: a genuine piece of shit.

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