Farce of the Penguins (2007) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for pervasive crude sexual content and language
Running Time: 80 min.
Cast (voices): Bob Saget, Samuel L. Jackson (narrator), Lewis Black, Christina Applegate, Mo'Nique, Tracy Morgan, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods, Harvey Fierstein, Jason Alexander, James Belushi, Jason Biggs, Dane Cook, Dave Coulier, Golbert Gottfried, Alyson Hannigan, Jamie Kennedy, Jon Lovitz, Norm MacDonald, John Stamos
Director: Bob Saget
Screenplay: Bob Saget
Review published January 19, 2007
Dozens of small, excitable penguins = one giant, sleep-inducing turkey.
Writer-director Bob Saget (Becoming Dick, Dirty Work) should give a special award to anyone who actually manages to sit through all 80 minutes of this tedious one-joke premise that really should have been no more than a 2-minute short film on YouTube. Even then, it wouldn't have been all that funny, but it would certainly have to be easier to endure than this seemingly endless moron-athon. Supposedly, the idea for the film came about as Saget watched March of the Penguins and he unconsciously started doing ad-lib voice-overs throughout, and the people around him though, "Boy, you're so funny, Bob! You should record these brilliant pearls of comedy down for future generations to admire every dripping of genius that emanates from your prodigious, unparalleled mind for laughter!... Bob...um...is there any more whisky?".
Imagine if you will, 2005's sleeper hit documentary if the penguins all had human voices, human attitudes, and human senses of humor. That might be cute, but these penguins are all about the sex, potty humor, and more sex, as the males go on a 70-mile trek to get some female penguin tail. There is a love story here, mostly told through the point of view of Carl (voiced by Saget), a lonely penguin who just knows he'll meet his soul mate on the other side. Christina Applegate (Surviving Christmas, Anchorman) voices the would-be object of his desires, Melissa, who spends much of her time bemoaning the tedium of this extended mating ritual. Re-creating the story as told in March of the Penguins using clips from other nature documentaries, Saget pieces together this romantic comedy, along with many special voice appearances from recognizable actors and comedians throughout.
I'm not sure how Saget managed to get so many celebrities to join him in making this film, or in getting a studio to produce it, but somewhere along the line, someone surely should have told him that it wasn't particularly funny. Perhaps he only showed them one or two clips of it, as the concept might hold as mildly amusing when viewing any particular 30-second segment. At 80 minutes, you'll definitely feel like the 70-mile trek were being viewed in real time, as the film recycles through the same jokes about sexual inadequacy, penis size, flatulence, and whatever else Saget, and your typical 13-year-old boy, finds amusing. Except that even teenage boys know when enough is enough.
Farce isn't animated, although there are a few low-grade special effects shots thrown in when the situation calls for it. Mostly, it's just clips of penguins standing around, with the voice actors adding some dialogue in voice-over fashion. When more than one penguin is on the screen, you can't tell who is who, but given that the penguins don't actually do anything, it doesn't really matter. Most of the dialogue talks about how much these penguins want to get laid, or are complaining about how freakin' cold it is -- gags that aren't really funny the first time you hear them, and certainly don't get much more clever through their constant repetition.
It doesn't take much time before Farce of the Penguins outstays its welcome, and given that we don't really give a non-flying f*ck whether Carl and Melissa actually do manage to get it on, there's absolutely no incentive to watch the film to its inevitable conclusion. Watching March of the Penguins with your own friends and adding voice-overs might prove more entertaining than hearing Bob and the rest of this conglomeration of not-that-funny comedians do the same.
I didn't laugh once. Not for the first joke, not for the last, not for any of the hundred or so quips in between. Without a single laugh, Farce of the Penguins may be one of the most worthless films ever made. Watching footage of everyone involved in the idea behind this dreck marching off a cliff like lemmings would be a nature video I'd find infinitely more amusing.
©2007 Vince Leo