Years back, when Don Bluth and a small band of fellow animators left Walt Disney Pictures because the company was too restrictive and traditional, it seemed to promise great things for animation. Instead, over the years, Bluth's body of work (An American Tale, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Rock-A-Doodle)
is the strongest argument possible for the genius of the Disney studio. The Pebble and the Penguin
features some beautifully animated sequences in this tale of a penguin separated from his true love who must battle his way back to Antarctica. The characters are great and the voice talents of Martin Short (as the penguin of the title) and James Belushi (as the tough guy, exotic-penguin pal) are terrific, but, as usual, Bluth fails to bring it all together in a finished film. It lacks dramatic structure and narrative drive: Songs and animated action pieces are narratively connected but the film doesn't feel as though it is an organic whole. All the elements are here, they just don't come together. When I reviewed The Goofy Movie,
I harshly rated it and was reprimanded by several parents who told me their kids loved it, which is what an animated feature is all about. The Pebble and the Penguin
doesn't work and I can't imagine watching it 50 times as we've done with Aladdin.
Though my son liked The Pebble and the Penguin
at the movies, I'll bet he didn't like it enough that we'll have to rent it as many times as Aladdin.