For me the film can be viewed in to ways. The first is as a children’s animation and the second is as a contemporary political analogy. As far as being a good children’s film goes, I don’t think it is funny enough and lacks the adventure of the likes of Finding Nemo. The penguins are cute though and it is funny to see a penguin tap dance. I think the film is much more successful in its subtle look at modern political, racial and religious tensions. The film goes to great lengths to have its lead character treat religion as superstitious nonsense which is very brave for a children’s film. Mumble is at logger heads with the religious establishment throughout the film and tries to uncover rational explanations for questions that the rest of the colony attributes to their penguin god. Like the fantastic Wall-E, the film has strong ecological themes. It is a damming study of the problems caused by human activity in and around the Antarctic.
Where the film’s solid political stance falls down is in its racial stereotyping. The only black inspired penguin is portrayed by Robin Williams as a jive-talking religious preacher while Mumble is joined by four Latino inspired penguins that are all party animal, women harassing Adelie penguins. The female Adelie’s are even more stereotypical than the males. I think that this type of stereotyping is lazy at best.
The songs are all fairly modern and well performed and the dancing is funny. Unfortunately, not much else is. The jokes are cheap and fall flat. Also the films central romantic thread feels a bit forgotten. On the plus side the animation looks great. Some scenes look real and the film makes great use of camera angles.
Overall, the film is a bit of a letdown. While I think its attitude towards religion deserves praise and the animation is very good, it is quite boring and not very funny. It has a good idea at its centre and I liked the central character but little else.