Don Bluth/20th Century Fox/Blue Sky review: The Pebble and the Penguin

My opinion right after watching the film

My opinion right after watching the film is that…….. oh my goodness, it is definitely for the best that this studio closed down. All 4 of their last films were abhorrent in several sanctions, and even a lot of the earlier work I found to be less-than-stellar. Now yall see why it took me like 3-4 months to review these last 3 movies?

Production

After Beauty and the beast became a huge success, Don Bluth and his people decided that they should target the dating crowd and preschoolers, with the films tarting production the same month said movie was released. Don Bluth spoke highly of this film and Troll in Central Park to the press and the film industry, and the film was supposed to be released in the summer of 1994, but it was moved to April 1995 to probably avoid competition with The Lion King.

There were several issues with the production of this film, like MGM demanding certain changes, and the animation fell behind, with additional colouring needing to be done in Hungary. Everything regarding the production got so bad to the point that Don Bluth and Gary Goldman left the declining studio during the production. They went to set up Fox Animation Studios (which opened in August 1994), and demanded to be taken off the credits as directors.

Story

The movie starts with a storybook narration of how the males select a pebble to give a female, and if she accepts, they mate. Of course we get a corny an painful song about mating season, and I see how Bluth still does not know how to differentiate songs between movies. During this opening song, they also forced these random and unnecessary CGI effects that are so painful to get through. Our main character Hubie (Martin Short) is in love with the beautiful Marina (Annie Golden), who have a painfully awkward interaction, but of course our main villain Drake (Jim Belushi) wants her too. He could not pick up a pebble because all of the others beat him to this, and I am just over how corny this film is.

After receiving a special pebble, Hubie is running around looking for her, only to be bumped into Drake, who uses terms like “nerd” and “loser”, while Hubie uses terms like “bully”. I almost never mention dialogue in my reviews, but it is so horrible in here that I have to mention it. Anyways, Hubie is thrown into the water, and it’s hard for me to take our villain or protagonist seriously.

He is trapped in a cave on a boat, and while speaking about his predicament to the other penguins, he calls Marina his “girl”, where they barely had a conversation. I am really just not liking her lack of agency or character.  So the crystal can cause him to see Marina, who is talking about how she wants to marry Hubie to her girls, instead of the “hunk” Drake. With the help of Rocko (James Belushi) and the other penguins, they escape a boat called Misery (where an entire song that was miserable for me to listen to, was sung).

So they end up on a beach with humans, and decide to work together to get what they want. Marina has 8 days to choose a groom, or she will be banished, which is actually very sexist by the way. So things continue in the manner that they have for the last half hour or so on both sides of the plot, and this continues for another half hour, as the film shoves in the most blatant alligator scenes and filler that I’ve ever seen. Hubie and Rocko are running fro a seal who is trying to eat them, which of course they escape from. A bunch of whales attack them, causing his pebble to go missing, and Rocko to go missing. Of course Drake loses the battle (he was crushed by a boulder), Rocko stays in Antarctica, with Hubie and Marina getting married.

I am gonna say it right here. I planned to review the two Fox films that were Bluth’s final films, and then move onto Blue Sky, but I can only watch so many bad films in a row, and I cannot bare myself to get through Blue Sky, after it already took me months to get through Bluth’s terrible 4 90s films. When the heads took their name off the project, it says a lot about what….. abhorrent trash this film is. Dan, yall were not exaggerating with this being beyond traumatic.

Characters

I’ve said this for the last several reviews, but there are barely any characters in this movie. Hubie is just the shy guy who has to grow courage to go after love, Marina is the generic love interest who is used as a tool to be fought over with no depth, Drake is the douchey villain who comes off more as a high school bully that hasn’t aged well, and Rocko is just a decent-at-best comedic relief. At least they knew not to add many characters.

Animation

The animation has most notably gone on a downhill trend, and it is so clear that they had very little money. The CGI is cheap, the backgrounds are a lot more basic than usual, and even the character designs/movement are not on the same quality. It was just very awkward and uncomfortable to me watching the animation in the film.

Music

Even for most of their good movies, the music in Don Bluth’s pantheon has not been the best, and at this point, it’s just really interchangable. Nothing memorable at all about the score or the songs in this film, and I remember jittering quite a bit. Pointless songs, horrible singing, and meaningless lyrics.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on April 12th, 1995, it made $3,983,912, which was too much of a flop for them to recover from, though the studio was closing down before the film was even released. I don’t believe it was released internationally, and was overshadowed by A Goofy Movie anyways.

It was dragged all around by the few people who managed to watch this film, as they hated the dumb songs, colour-coding for its heroes and villains, silly and gimmicky plot, and no characterization. Overall, it was a cheaper product than most direct-to-dvd films, and most people see this as a huge failure.

Reception Today

Nothing has changed with its reception over 2 decades later. Damn near everyone loathes this film, it is blamed for being the end of Don Bluth’s studio, and partially killed his interest in animation, despite his two follow ups at Fox.

Score

Story: 3/10

Characters: 2/10

Animation: 5/10

Music: 3/10

13/40 = 33%

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