Unique Family Film: Adventures of the Penguin King


PENGUINKING_FinalPoster-IP8bI recently saw a really unique film: The Adventures of the Penguin King. It looks like a documentary but it is narrated by Tim Allen so, as you can expect, there’s a lot of humor involved. What makes it so unique is that the story is told from the point of view of a penguin, rather than an outside (human) observer. Seeing the life of a penguin from this perspective is especially great for kids because it gives them a chance to see how animals live in a place none of us will likely ever travel to. It’s also great for parents because it shows how animals and humans are similar in many ways since they deal with many issues that human parents deal with.

Adventures of the Penguin King is about a young King Penguin named Rex who wants to start a family on the remote sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. (South Georgia is part of the Sandwich Islands which are to the east of Falkland Islands – which are to the east of Argentina). Rex meets a female penguin (Patty) and together they have a baby chick (Junior, who is just adorable!) But their life is a difficult one and their days are spent at sea trying to find food, surviving the cold winter weather and avoiding predators.PenguinKing_6The film starts out slow but picks up after about 15 minutes and that’s when it really starts to get fascinating. It really portrays a unique look at the lives of penguins. It seems that King Penguins and humans have some similarities and the plot is, in fact, full of drama.

One of the most emotional scenes is when Rex and Patty’s egg hatches and the baby chick emerges. As soon as he is born he constantly needs to be fed and protected from predators. There are some very powerful scenes, for example when Rex and Patty leave Junior with a group of other young chicks so that they can go catch fish. He is scared to be left without them and cries for them but there is no choice; they both need to fish in order to survive. Another powerful scene is when the Southern Giant Petrel, which is a large bird that looks a little like a seagull, tries to attack Junior, who is completely helpless.PenguinKing_5Director and executive producer, Anthony Geffen, sent a team of researchers to South Georgia to spend months to observe the penguins and their behavior before filming started. Thus a composite character was created. Rex’s character is nothing short of endearing as a cool, hip penguin and his character is very well written. Obviously there’s no dialogue in the film, just Rex’s inner dialogue – his thoughts to himself and the narration. It is written by Philip Lazebnik, who also wrote Mulan and Prince of Egypt, among many other films. In many documentaries the narration is monotonous and just states facts. Here there’s an actual story with plot and it’s a lot more down to earth. There’s plenty of humor in the script and you need a professional comedian to deliver the jokes, but you also need a good actor. Tim Allen is both.PenguinKing_8The film is rated PG and in my opinion, not recommended for young kids; I would say it’s more for tweens and older kids, as there’s a scary scene involving an Orca whale that I think would be too terrifying for a young child to watch. And seeing the predators hovering over the baby penguin chicks is not easy for anyone  to watch, but sadly it is a part of life when you’re part of the food chain. I found those raw scenes enlightening and in fact, I think the entire film is enlightening, not just with the portrayal of penguin behavior, but also with the obvious parallels of penguin parents and human parents (although, thankfully, on a completely different scale).

Adventures of the Penguin King is currently playing at select theaters and is available on VOD and Digital platforms.

Click here to watch the trailer or the entire film.

I was not compensated for this post. I received a copy of the film for review.


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