March of the Penguins (2005)

March of the Penguins
Morgan Freeman (narrator)

Directed by Luc Jacquet

Summary: A feature-length National Geographic documentary about the life cycle of the Emperor Penguin, complete with never-before-seen footage of the animal in its Antarctic habitat.

Ok, so I rented this one from the library as a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was standing in the check-out and it caught my eye in the new release DVD bin. Determined to force-feed my girls some proper science in addition to the "Blue's Clues" they so happily devour, I grabbed it. Here are five things I learned from March of the Penguins:

1. Happy Feet is a complete and utter ripoff. Well, a sanctioned ripoff at any rate. Keven and I noticed at least a dozen instances where the animation from Happy Feet was taken directly from this documentary footage. Turns out that Warner Bros. distributed both films, so we're guessing that's why no one cried foul, and why this animal documentary received nationwide theater distribution and an Oscar.

2. No one should trust Happy Feet for much of anything regarding the life cycle, mating patterns, or family structure of the Emperor Penguin. Dude, real penguins don't even tap dance or sing like Elvis. So bummed.

3. People who go to the Antarctic in winter--with its 100mph (160kph) winds and -80F (-62C) temperatures--are crazy. But their dedication pays off. The footage is absolutely breathtaking.

4. Morgan Freeman's voice is warm and delicious.

5. Preschool girls are far less interested in documentaries about Emperor Penguins than anything with animation, dancing and singing. Ilsa continuously complained that Morgan Freeman's warm and delicious voice was annoying, and then she complained about the long periods of silence. They wandered off to play about halfway in, but I stayed and watched because the whole thing was so damn fascinating.

UPDATE: The girls just looked at my computer and saw the DVD cover.
Juliette: "That's March of the Penguins!"
Ilsa: "Can we watch it, mommy?"
Me: "Really?"
Ilsa and Juliette, jumping up and down: "Yes!"

Hahaha...my nefarious plan is working.

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