March of the Penguins

Documentaries are the surprise hits of the summer, and none is scoring bigger ($16 million and counting) than Luc Jacquet's wondrous look at the emperor penguins of Antarctica. They waddle, swim, waddle, eat, waddle, get buffeted by blizzards, waddle, flirt, waddle, procreate, waddle, hatch eggs, waddle, watch their chicks confront the perils of vation and of attack birds, waddle, face death from leopard seals, waddle, find love against all odds. Morgan Freeman provides the sturdy narration. But the mushy stuff that Jacquet imposes on his magnificent document often feels more like Disney wish fulfillment than nature's plan. Michael Moore might want to look into this before more animal docs steal his thunder.

From The Archives Issue 351: September 3, 1981