This was more thoughtful and appealing than I ever expected. And the colors and animation were gorgeous, especially in 3-D. TV Eyes 3-D Glasses: Watch any movie in 3-D Everything was more vivid and impressive. Penguins on a tropical island should have been ridiculous, but it wasn't. It was a very lovable, heartwarming story. The settings and background were very lush and detailed and the ocean scenes, sunsets and waves were all rendered fantastically well. There's one scene at the end where the young penguin finally gets to go "in the tube" that mystical experience that all surfers long for where you are actually inside the wave, with the water rising up as a wall beside you and arching over your head, completely encasing you in an enchanting microcosm of water and light. And this looked great in 3-D! It really enhanced it. I saw the movie first in 3-D then went back and watched it regular to compare. There was no comparison, the scene and the visuals are much more powerful in 3-D. At least to me.
This is really a coming of age story. The usual "young man finding his own path and strength" type movie. It's done so well you don't even notice they're penguins half the time. But there's also loads of laughs. Chicken Joe is worth seeing this movie for all by himself. He's your typical, mellow, surfer dude. Even down to the slouch and the language. But unlike most TV "dudes" he's not at all irritating. In fact, he's wonderfully funny. He's so calm and unruffled that he even takes being kidnapped by cannibals in stride. (And rememeber, he "tastes like chicken") But he's a great friend, and his adventures alone in the jungle are hysterical.
The one group of people who also contribute greatly to this movie, are one's you never see, the camera crew. They follow Cody and Chicken Joe around all over the place "filming" for posterity. And they come in for their own portion of abuse in the antics they are observing. Even the cameraman is not immune to cannibals. And a lot of their "off camera" comments are totally funny.
This was a good hearted, thoughtful, feel good movie, mixed in with lots of pratfalls, goofy takes and unlikely adventures that keep it fun for the kids and the young at heart. The scenery is beautiful, the characters are diverse (they're not all penguins) and the surf culture background is well researched, even down to giving some of the penguins Hawaiian tattoos.
It's those kind of details that make it great. Definitely worth a watch. (Warning! You may never get your younger kids to STOP watching it.) And definitely see it in 3-D, it adds a lot. This is not just another Happy Feet (another great movie that you should also see in 3-D, very cool.) The two movies are far apart in tone, but should definitely sit side by side on your shelf. Great fun!