×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Pebble and the Penguin

Despite a heartwarming story, some lively songs and professional animation, "The Pebble and the Penguin" isn't likely to cause sleeplessness at the Disney animation unit. The Don Bluth production is a sweet, enjoyable romantic tale more likely to succeed as an afternoon diversion on homevideo than on the bigscreen. Theatrical prospects will be a modest prelude to upbeat ancillary revenue.

With:
Voices:
Hubie - Martin Short
Marina - Annie Golden
Drake - Tim Curry
Rocko - James Belushi
Narrator - Shani Wallis

Despite a heartwarming story, some lively songs and professional animation, “The Pebble and the Penguin” isn’t likely to cause sleeplessness at the Disney animation unit. The Don Bluth production is a sweet, enjoyable romantic tale more likely to succeed as an afternoon diversion on homevideo than on the bigscreen. Theatrical prospects will be a modest prelude to upbeat ancillary revenue.

Apparently inspired by a National Geographic documentary, the tale concerns a shy, love-struck and good-hearted penguin named Hubie (Martin Short) who’s hopelessly smitten with Marina (Annie Golden). But he has competition in the form of the macho, strutting Drake (Tim Curry), who vehemently, if dispassionately, seeks her as his mate for life.

At about this point the ethnography kicks in. There’s an old penguin ritual in which the male presents his intended mate with a wedding pebble. Hubie finds a spectacular, emerald-like bauble cast off from a meteor. But before he can give it to his beloved, he’s swept out to sea as a result of Drake’s treachery.

Hubie, who’s caught by faceless traders, has 10 days to make his way back to the Antarctic enclave to pledge his troth. Otherwise, Drake can claim Marina.

The script by Rachel Koretsky and Steve Whitestone is a straightforward formula romance. The separated lover faces man, beast and rival to tie everything up in a neat, heartwarming finale. He’s abetted by another tuxedoed character, the gruff, streetwise Rocko (James Belushi), who dreams of defying the odds and flying. He’s the comic relief.

Thrown into the mix is a song score by another hopeless romantic, Barry Manilow. Like Disney animated offerings, the music replicates Broadway and vintage Hollywood fare with a balance of ballads and character tunes. And, as with other recent toon tuners, the standout songs arise less from skill than by repetition.

On a craft level, “The Pebble and the Penguin” has a handsome, effective veneer. But aficionados will quickly note that its sequence involving Hubie and a pod of killer whales is not up to the precision of the comparable sea menace from the classic “Pinocchio.”

Thankfully, Bluth understands that brevity is the soul of wit and dispenses with the shaggy yarn in sprightly fashion. It’s a painless idyll unlikely to linger long in one’s memory.

The Pebble and the Penguin

Production: An MGM/UA release of a Metro Goldwyn Mayer production of a Don Bluth presentation. Produced by Russell Boland. Executive producer, James Butterworth. Screenplay, Rachel Koretsky, Steve Whitestone. Supervising

Crew: Cameraman (Technicolor), supervising editor, Thomas V. Moss; score, Mark Watters; supervising composer, Barry Manilow; production designer, David Goetz; special effects supervisor, David Tidgwell; 3-D computer animator supervisor, Tom Miller. Reviewed at Todd-AO Sound, L.A., April 5, 1995. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 74 min.

With: Voices:
Hubie - Martin Short
Marina - Annie Golden
Drake - Tim Curry
Rocko - James Belushi
Narrator - Shani Wallis

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, with $135 million of that from China, where it opened on [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold War” for Amazon. The project has earned him a nomination for [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content