The Pebble And The Penguin

"Movie Magazine International" Review

By Monica Sullivan

Our favourite fairy tales as children are supposed to say a lot about us. Why, for example, would a die-hard urbanophile like yours truly read "Heidi" 75 times as a kid? As an adult, I realised it was because Heidi was granted her dearest wish by a kindly doctor who understood what her nightly sleepwalking meant: she wanted to be returned to her best friend, her grandfather. But sleepwalking isn't exactly a short cut to your heart's desire. So many fairy tales like "Thumbelina", "The Little Mermaid", "Sleeping Beauty", "Cinderella", show the hero doing brave &/or wonderful things, while the heroine waits patiently for him to discover what a jewel she is &/or how incomplete his life is without her.

Don Bluth's "The Pebble And The Penguin", heartily enjoyed by the two little girls who saw it with me at a kiddie matinee, is more of the same old story. The girl penguin Annie Golden remains in the clutches of the mean old villain played by Tim Curry, while the hero penguin Martin Short and the sidekick penguin Jim Belushi sing Barry Manilow duets and have exciting adventures together. They also develop a real friendship, something the poor heroine never gets to experience. No room in the plot for that, I suppose, a pathetic excuse for the guy thang that is so pervasive in movies made for kids & grownups alike. (Any deviation from the formula and you're looking at a chick movie and fewer bucks at the box office).

That night, I finally caught up with Wolfgang Peterson's "Outbreak" and watched Dustin Hoffman frantically try to save Rene Russo from a fatal virus. Hoffman argues with stubborn Generals Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman as he races through the sky with antibodies in a helicopter piloted by yet ANOTHER guy. Hoffman couldn't switch roles with Russo because (a) he's making more money and (b) audiences wouldn't accept a fairy tale like THAT. The other fairy tale has been ground into most of us from birth. It's only 1995, so why can't I wish upon a star for some NEW fairy tales for the 21st century.

Copyright 1996 Monica Sullivan

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