It seemed rather odd to me that films like "Happy Feet" and "March of the Penguins" have enjoyed great success in theatres and yet, when a penguin movie for adults comes along, the movie is sent right to DVD. After watching it, the film's release strategy makes more sense. Written and directed by "Full House" star (and notoriously raunchy former stand-up comic) Bob Saget, "Farce of the Penguins" takes documentary footage of penguins and adds human voices and a lot of dirty jokes.
The core of the thin story follows two male penguins, Jimmy (voiced by Lewis Black) and Carl (voiced by Saget) as they head the long distance to the mating grounds. In-between, they have little side adventures with other penguins and native creatures (including bizarre moments with James Woods voicing a snowy owl that acts as something of a shrink for the Saget character.) Essentially, it's actors providing voices for a thrown-together story (there is actually a scene where it's discussed how much work went into the script and the film then cuts to a monkey typing - it should be funny, but it seems a little too real to be amusing) made out of archive penguin footage. Samuel L. Jackson actually provides narration.
"Farce of the Penguins" is often funny, although the problem with that is that, for every funny joke about what penguins have to go through, there's ten or more that are so horribly bad that some actually get an unintentional chuckle. The film's bathroom humor (there's about a thousand poop and fart gags), incredibly bad songs and sex jokes start to get repetitive after a while, making this start to seem like a long 80 minutes.
Voice work isn't great, as Saget's voice work is plain and dull. He's backed up well by Black, although even Lewis Black can't make this material work. Woods is memorable in his few moments, and Christina Applegate is decent as the penguin that will become the object of Carl's affection.
Although I will admit that "Farce of the Penguins" does have a few genuinely funny bits, most of the film is so terrible that, while it does manage a few unintentional laughs, one also wonders how Saget managed to get so many names to participate, given how tired this material is, essentially using the same few gags over and over.
VIDEO: Thinkfilm presents "Farce of the Penguins" in 1.33:1 full-frame. The archive footage used is, aside from a few soft and grainy moments, crisp and clear. No pixelation, edge enhancement or other issues were spotted.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, with every dirty joke coming through loud and clear.
EXTRAS: Commentary from Bob Saget, behind-the-scenes montage, never-before-seen footage with commentary and trailers.
Final Thoughts: "Farce of the Penguins" is one of those films where you wonder what everyone involved was thinking. The material is largely terrible (and sometimes worse), the voice work is just okay and the 80 minute running time feels like about twice as long. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a decent set of extras. Skip it.
The Film D