Pebble and the Penguin
September 28, 2010
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it, so you don't have to! Today we're gonna look at a film by Don Bluth— (Picture of Don Bluth is shown) God damn it! How come he keeps turning up here?!
(Posters of Don Bluth's films are shown during the Critic's narration)
NC (voiceover): I mean, it's not like the guy isn't a good director. He directed some great movies like The Land Before Time; An American Tail; and The Secret of NIMH, one of my all-time favorite films. But much like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger, for every good film he's made, he's also made bad ones. And not only are they bad, they're weird. Unbelievably weird.
NC: Case in point: The Pebble and the Penguin!
(Title card and footage of the film plays)
NC (voiceover): If you took a combination of NyQuil and Vicodin and decided to watch Happy Feet for an hour, this is probably what you'll see. Yet another strange and often clumsily animated film that wants to look nice as opposed to make any logical sense.
NC: It’s weird, it’s sloppy, I have 20 minutes to waste. So let’s take a look.
Narrator (Shani Wallis): There is a charming tradition observed by the Adelie Penguins.
NC (voiceover): OK, which British chick will have little to no character outside of narrating is this?
Subtitle: Shani Wallis
NC (voiceover): Shani Wallis? Who’s that? (A picture from Oliver! is shown) Ah, the woman from Oliver!
NC (voiceover): So she talks about how penguins use a pebble to give to their loved ones as a mating ritual, which starts off our tale of The Pebble and the Penguin, as the storybook explains. (the book then appears to have music in it) Oh, I mean, as the songbook explains. Apparently, the film is so cheap, it couldn't afford a storybook, so it resorted to the sheet music instead! So as the credits roll, we get a unique but still very strange opening. It’s the penguins swimming and singing through the sheet music of the movie which looks nice, but what the hell's the point of it?
NC: Are they gonna go tap dancing through the script next, marking off all the bad lines they don’t like? The script would be only a page long if they did that!
Female penguins (singing): Now and forever, we'll do like birds do.
NC (voiceover): By the way, is it me or does this sound like the meeting song from The Great Muppet Caper?
Male penguins (singing): Now and forever, I'll show her I care.
(A clip from The Great Muppet Caper is shown)
Guests: The first time you see her, no magical change.
NC (voiceover): What hack songwriter wrote this, anyway? (Barry Manilow's name appears in the credits) Ah, that explains a lot. From the brilliant mind who brought you "Marry the Mole" [from Thumbelina]!
Female penguins (singing): We'll have a little world where whatever...
NC (voiceover): In fact, that’s probably why Manilow agreed to do this film. He’s sick and tired of people saying his kids songs are unoriginal, so he shouted, (as Manilow) "You show them my music, notes and everything! Then they’ll see I really wrote this shit!"
(A circle made by rolled music sheets appears in the middle and spins to show the female penguins)
Female penguin: Knock it off. Romance has nothing to do with it. Listen.
(The circle spins again to show another female penguin, Marina)
Marina: You know, I don’t think a pebble should that be important.
(The circle spins again)
Another female penguin: Marina, if you don’t care about the pebble, how would you choose?
(The circle spins again, with NC editing in Henry Winkler as Fonzie from the credits of Happy Days)
NC (voiceover): So our narrator finally starts to introduce us to our characters.
Narrator: Of all the penguins in all the world...
Rick Blaine: (from Casablanca) She walks into mine.
Narrator: ...the most romantic was Hubie.
NC (voiceover): So this is Hubie, played by Martin Short. He's in love with a female penguin named Marina, played by Annie Golden. They make awkward small talk that's supposed to represent their relationship, as an evil penguin named Drake, played by Tim Curry, watches over them.
Drake: Marina doesn't know it yet, but she’s going to be my wife!
NC: (as Drake, raising his arms) I didn't get these peng-roids for nothing, you know. (kisses his "muscle")
NC (voiceover): So as they sit on top of that... thing from The Nightmare Before Christmas, they start to sing a song so forced and contrived, they would make it into a Teddy Ruxpin cartoon.
Hubie (singing): Sometimes I wonder what the colors mean.
NC (voiceover): Uh, why don't you figure out what that lyric means first? It's like saying, "I wanna figure out what the sounds smell like."
Hubie (singing): ...like your eyes. (normal) Oh, where was I?
NC (voiceover): (referring to Marina's tight-looking choker) Uh, is that choker trying to choke her?
Marina: I don't think it's nonsense at all. Even if you are a bit wacky.
Narrator: The rookery buzzed with excitement. All the bachelors took to the beaches to find their engagement pebbles.
NC (voiceover): You know, it's a shame this came out when it did. 'Cause I can so easily see Morgan Freeman narrating all this. (as Morgan Freeman) Here we see the penguin [Hubie] trying desperately to get a life. His antics fall short to underwritten slapstick and heavily confused timing. Thus, he will not find a mate. He will spend the rest of his years knowing that his sperm will never carry on.
Hubie: (noticing a star) Star light, star bright. First star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.
NC (voiceover, as star via an answering machine): This is the wishing star. Our attorneys advise you to stop ripping off Disney or we'll sue you for the little that you have. Thank you and never call us again. (normal) Thankfully, the last son of Krypton is sent to Earth as Hubie plans to use one of the scorching hot rocks... that doesn't seem to burn him at all... as a pebble for Marina. But, unfortunately, Drake catches him before he can see her.
Drake: So nerd, I hear you wanna be a big ladies’ man.
NC (voiceover): Boy, Tim Curry’s American accent is almost as good as his Romanian accent, isn't it?
Herkermer Homolka: (from Congo) Free now from the chains of Ceausescu, traveling the world, doing good.
NC: Is it wrong to say the muscle bound penguin sounds more credible?
Herkermer Homolka: (from Congo) No! No!
(Back to the film)
Drake: Hope you can swim.
NC (voiceover): Well, he [Hubie] is a penguin. So while in the water, he comes across the world’s FREAKING LARGEST SEAL! And don't think this means penguins are just small, no. We see them compared to the size of humans. They are regular size. This seal must have been like a radioactive mutation experiment at Seaworld!
NC (voiceover): So because of the storm and the seal, I guess he can’t swim back. So we cut to... him in a cage--hi, when did that happen? When he comes across a bunch of other penguins who also somehow knitted their own clothes.
A penguin (Singing): If you love the great indoors/ Welcome to the Good Ship Misery.
NC (Voiceover): God, don’t people talk anymore? You can buy a pack of Skittles and it would result in a musical number.
Penguins (Singing):The boots have got the place so hot/That to your spot you've got the rock and roll.
NC (Voiceover): Also has anybody noticed? They’re out of their freaking cages! Just leave! Stop torturing us with Manilow’s rejected commercial jingles.
Penguins (Singing): And then we all throw up.
NC (Voiceover): Just then another penguin is thrown to the cellar named Rocko, played by James Belushi.
Rocko: Who’s with me? Who’s for busting out of here? Bunch of bird brains, seal bait, get me out of here!
Hubie is looking in his pebble. A stererotypical "magic score" can be heard.
NC (Voiceover): So Hubie, through his magic space pebble, can see what’s going on back home.
A blurry screen is shown. Drake is giving Marina a pebble.
Drake: I want you to be my mate.
Marina: Drake, I love Hubie.
Drake: I deeply sympathize.
NC (Voiceover): Dude, the scene is so blurry you can host a Barbara Walters special on it.
Drake: Remember, you must choose a mate before the full moon mating ceremony or be banished. That's the law.
NC (Voiceover): Really? They had to make a law about that? Was there really some penguin who was just refusing to mate, so they had to create a law to enforce it? Sometimes, I don’t want to know about the animal kingdom.
Hubie: Sir! Take me with you.
Rocko: You talking to me?
Hubie: Yes, sir, I am.
Rocko: Don’t call me 'sir'. Call me Rocko.
NC (Voiceover): So Hubie and Rocko work out a plan to get themselves off the ship.
Rocko jumps out of the cage when it is opened by a man. The man is tripped down, with his head in a fish bucket.
Man: Come back here, you, come back!
NC (Voiceover, mocking the man): You're gonna be Gorton's Fisherman Fishsticks and like it!
The ship is sailing dangerously through a harsh storm, as a dramatic score is played. The Critic plays the theme from Gilligan's Island here:
Song: The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed!
NC (Voiceover): So, as they perform Penguin Amistad, they get off the ship and swim for some Hawaiian island.
Rocko: Your lost and I'm looking at a dead penguin.
Hubie: Getting back to Marina is all that matters to me. I mean, Rocko, look. I dream about her night and day! I see her face when I close my eyes!
NC: I do things when that happens! Things that my...penguin minister says makes Baby Jesus cry.
NC (Voiceover): So while Rocko refuses to help Hubie - by the way, hi, unfinished vine! (a green arrow points to a sloppily animated vine that appears to be attached to nothing) - Hubie gets Rocko to admit what he's really been looking for.
Rocko: I got something.
Hubie: What is it?
Rocko: (points upwards) You're lookin' at it. (A seagull is flying around)
NC: You wanna...bonk a seagull?
Hubie: You, you wanna fly?
Rocko: Don't laugh!
Hubie: (laughing) You've gotta j-just accept it!
Rocko: No! I'm gonna fly, and no-one's gonna stop me! I'm flying!
NC (Voiceover): So Hubie convinces Rocko that he knows a penguin named Waldo - last known photograph (a page from Where's Waldo? appears) - who can help show him how to fly if he gets him back home.
Rocko: Captain! Full speed ahead! Here we go!
The pair's journey is charted on a map, as the Indiana Jones theme plays.
NC (Voiceover): Meanwhile, at... (snickers as he sees the obviously evil lair) Frankenberry's house, we see Drake continues to try and put the moves on Marina.
Drake: No? Oh, I get it. You're joking. Hahahaha! (singing) Don't make me laugh.
NC (Voiceover): Oh good! Another song! The endless musical of West Ice Story can fucking continue!
Drake: (singing) Say yes, my love, and go with a winner.
NC (Voiceover): Is it weird to say that during this song, all I'm thinking about is why penguins have hands?
Drake: (singing) Don't make me laugh! Hahahaha! / Or slap my knee!
NC (Voiceover): Blah, blah, blah, Tim Curry is evil. So we go back to our heroes, who found a...very odd island of wood, as Hubie admits a sad secret that he's been keeping from Rocko.
Hubie: I...Rocko, there's something you should know.
NC: Your Modern Life is no longer in re-runs.
Hubie: Waldo isn't real. I needed you to show me the way home. I didn't think you'd do it if I just asked.
Rocko has a Heroic Blue Screen of Death.
NC: Next you'll be telling me the cake is a lie!
Rocko: You! You decided to lie to me! To drag me through three thousand miles of water and killer whales!
Hubie makes choking noises as Rocko strangles him. Rocko starts laughing. NC makes confused faces. The scenes of the penguins are interspersed with scenes from Evil Dead 2 of Ash laughing.
Rocko: You're either the greatest romantic hero of all time, or you're the stupidest penguin who ever lived!
Ash fires a gun and the penguins run away screaming.
NC (Voiceover): So because they...laughed for no apparent reason, I guess that means they're friends again. Makes sense to me. Meanwhile, back at home, we find that musical numbers don't need to have a point or a lead-in anymore. No, they can just start and come out of nowhere.
Marina: (singing) Sometimes I close my eyes, and say a prayer...
NC: She's sad. Next!
NC (Voiceover): We get yet another chase scene with the world's largest seal, which seems to be Don Bluth's new underwater cats. (Dragon from The Secret Of NIMH appears briefly. The giant leopard seal approaches the penguins with an evil look on its face. The penguins swim frantically up some stairs, and Hubie drops the stone) What's taking that seal so long anyway? Is he just enjoying his time shitting around with them?
Dirty Harry: (audio dubbed over the seal) I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots, or only five? You've got to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?
NC (Voiceover): So they swim swim swim around until they finally outrun the beast, which results in yet another argument.
Rocko: You risked your life to get back to that chick and give her that blasted pebble! You're crazy! You're insane! You're...amazing!
NC (Voiceover): Boy, Rocko really seems to moodswing to the convenience of the plot, doesn't he?
Rocko: Get outta my face. I didn't say anything like that.
Hubie: You do like me!
Rocko: I don't like anybody.
Hubie: Oh yes you do! And I knew it all along!
Music starts to play
NC (Voiceover): Oh God no! No no no, not another one!
Hubie: Hey, Rocko! I guess this means we put our differences on ice?
NC (Voiceover): Alright, I'll take that joke. I'll even laugh at it, hahaha, but please, not another one!
Hubie: (singing) Look how we get along...
The Critic screams and beats his hands against his head.
NC (Voiceover): Please! No more! I'm done! I'm done with these fucking songs! There's like a bajillion of them in this movie! Can't you just say things? Can't you just speak for one minute?!
Hubie: (singing) We'll find our way through stormy weather / just you and me until the end...
NC: If you'll excuse me. I feel rather dirty. I'm gonna take a bath for a minute.
As the ghastly friendship song continues, the Critic runs himself a bath, unplugs a toaster, and gets in with the toaster. An electric shock is heard as the screen flickers and goes dark, making it look like he committed suicide.
NC (Voiceover): So if you're still alive after your brush with death, the penguins catch a ride on yet another ship. How do they keep finding all these ships? But they run into a hungry bunch of whales, looking for some penguin chow.
As the penguins climb a cliff and the killer whale leaps out of the water, the Free Willy theme plays.
NC (Voiceover): So after the whales finally piss off, we see that Rocko apparently got killed in the process. (sarcastically) Of course he did.
Hubie: Oh, Rocko.
NC (Voiceover): Well, after that 100% not-fakeout, we see that Drake has kidnapped Marina to force her to be his bride.
Drake laughs as he carries a struggling Marina into his cave.
Hubie: Get your filthy flippers off my girl!
Drake laughs while holding his pecs
NC (Voiceover, as Drake): Man-tits away!
Drake and Hubie fight and Hubie gets one-shotted.
NC (Voiceover): Well, yeah. What did you think was going to happen, dumbass?
Birds: Get up! Get up! Now open your eyes!
Hubie: I didn't come three thousand miles and lose my best buddy to be stopped by the likes of you!
NC (Voiceover, as Hubie): I came to lose my virginity!
Hubie: C'mon! (He beats Drake up)
NC (Voiceover): So he defeats Drake and - oh, what a surprise. Rocko isn't dead! Yeah, you really had me going there, movie, good one.
Drake (tossing a large rock at Hubie): Say your prayers, you... (his cave starts to crumble)
NC (Voiceover, as Drake): No! My conveniently shaped location!
Drake is crushed under a rock.
NC (Voiceover): Dude, that was a pretty harsh death! I mean, just because you don't show blood doesn't mean it's not gruesome!
NC: In fact, let's put some blood in that scene and see how it looks.
Drake dies again, now with extra blood.
NC: Yeah. Disturbing.
Hubie and Marina fall, but Rocko saves them.
NC (Voiceover): Yeah, what they don't show you is the angle he's really going.
The screen is flipped and the penguins fall to their doom.
NC (Voiceover): No, of course Rocko can fly now, breaking the laws of nature and gravity because...he ate a fairy, I don't know. But he seems to have saved the day. So Marina and Hubie get together, they fly into the sunset, and they all wear Santa hats because...I guess this was a Christmas film.
NC: That's The Pebble and The Penguin. So did any of it work?
NC (Voiceover): Well...how do I put this? Out of all the bad Don Bluth movies, this one is probably the least bad. It almost works. The voice acting's not bad and while the animation can be sloppy, it's still Don Bluth animation, which is always impressive. It just gets lost in the generic story and those few really weird turns that either work to Bluth's advantage or don't, and in this case, they don't. It's not really a film I'd recommend for kids, as there are much better films to show them, but as is, it's not terrible. And if a kid really wanted to see it, I guess there'd be no harm.
NC: And besides, it's just false advertising. When I hear the title 'The Pebble and The Penguin', this is what I expect to see.
(i.e. Danny DeVito's Penguin from Batman Returns and Pebbles from The Flintstones)
NC: Now that would have been an interesting crossover. I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to.
Tag: Hubie: 'I wonder what the colors mean...'