The Pebble and the Penguin

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I see four penguins here and one of them has teeth. And that's only the start...

Don Bluth's epic story about a bunch of singing penguins who fight Tim Curry.

Adélie penguins engage in elaborate courtship behavior where the male builds a nest of pebbles to attract mates. Tough for Hubie, as he has no pebble with which to win the affections of the lovely Marina. After Hubie finds an emerald, his rival Drake steals it from him and attempts to feed him to a Leopard Seal. Hubie escapes and winds up on a ship with the cranky Rockhopper, Rocko. Together, the two penguins return to their island home and settle things with Drake.

Perhaps The World Was Not Ready for a movie about penguin romance. You wonder how well this could have done in the wake of Happy Feet...


Tropes used in The Pebble and the Penguin include:

"You idiot! You almost got me killed! What's the matter with you? You risked your life and you're back to that chicken, give her that blasted pebble! You're crazy! You're insane! You're, you're amazing!"

  • Determinator: Hubie, once he's got some backbone.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Rocko learns to fly off screen and saves everyone from falling.
  • Disney Death: Rocko
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted, while Hubie does send Drake falling a good ways, he turns out to still be alive and comes back for one last attack. Which causes his lair to collapse and kill him.
  • Duet Bonding: Subverted with Looks Like I Got Me A Friend: A song in which Rocko is initially reluctant to participate, but when Hubie holds his breath in and nearly kills himself, Rocko finally gives in and admits that he has a little bit of a liking for Hubie.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Inverted with Drake, he's probably the most frightening penguin you'll ever meet.
  • Executive Meddling: MGM/UA took over the distribution of the film late in its production, after Warner Bros. disowned Bluth's studio because of the failures of Thumbelina and A Troll in Central Park. Scenes were then cut, characters were removed, and voices had to be re-recorded. Bluth was so upset with the results that he opted to pull an Alan Smithee and have his name taken off the credits, and accepted an offer to work for Fox Animation, where he finally had a brief change of fortune.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Drake gets squashed by a falling rock. If you freeze-frame, you can see his cape and some of his crushed body still sticking to the rock as it rolls away.
  • Feather Fingers: All the penguins have either arms and hands or hands on their flippers instead of normal flippers.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Marina and Drake's whole relationship, especially during "Don't Make Me Laugh". (see Fridge Horror on the Fridge tab) Even as a kid, you suspect there's something very, very strange happening here....
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Referenced in Roger Ebert's review of the film. In fact, that's pretty much the entirety of his "review" — just him ranting about this very trope, with only one paragraph that's actually about the freaking movie.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: A few of the penguins, including Drake, are of the shirtless variant.
  • Hartman Hips: All of the female penguins, bordering on Humanoid Female Animal. Said hips, as you can see in the poster, are way the hell up where Marina's wishbone should be.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After being informed of Hubie's unique plight on the 'good ship Misery', Rocko exclaims, "If he had any guts he wouldn't have let them take him alive."
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Goodness glaciers!"
    • "I guess this means we'd put our differences on ice!"
      • For that matter, most of Hubie's part of "Looks Like I've Got Me A Friend."
      • Although Rocko's line "I'd like to put you on ice!" is a nice recovery/comeback to Hubie's "differences on ice" line.
  • Jerk Jock: Drake. In fact, his characterization can be summed up as "Gaston as a penguin".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Notably Rocko.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The titular pebble.
  • Mood Swinger
  • Nice Hat: Hubie always wears a red hat.
  • Not Quite Dead: After Drake falls from a spiral staircase in what appears to be a Disney Villain Death, he later appears prepared to throw a huge boulder at the heroes. He's quickly pancaked by his tower coming down on top of him.
  • Off-Model: The animation is ghastly, especially considering that it's a Don Bluth film. There's one scene at the end where they apparently forgot to draw a character's head.
    • Also during Hubie's song. His waist is cut off for a few frames.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Tim Curry's attempt at a Jerk Jock American accent doesnt really hold up.
  • Pop Star Composer: Just like Thumbelina, Barry Manilow ended up doing this one. And just like Thumbelina... Y'know, maybe Don Bluth and Barry Manilow don't make such a good combination.
    • In spite of it though, many people who don't like the songs can still admit the first song and 'Don't Make Me Laugh' are actually pretty well done.
      • Don't forget the song Hubie sings to Marina at the beginning of the movie.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Hubie and Rocko.
  • Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying: Starting with the penguins who hardly look like penguins and those three little flying birds (maybe they're meant to be Sheathbills, but...)
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Played straight. The women are given curvy figures and big eyelashes and pretty blue eyes. But the male protagonist is given eyes that are so sugar-coatedly girly and cutesy that with another voice actor he could probably pass as a woman.
  • Those Three Birds: Show up for about three scenes and otherwise the writers kind of forget they exist, sort of like the Jitterbugs in Thumbelina.
  • Tim Curry: Plays Drake. Despite the film's highly lukewarm reception, most people agree that he plays the villain nicely. Though he could probably do this kind of role in his sleep.
  • Toothy Bird: Drake could probably bite through a coconut with his ridiculous looking chompers. All of the penguins have eerily humanlike prominent teeth, but Drake's the toothiest of them all.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Drake.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Villain Song: "Don't Make Me Laugh". Tim Curry does the singing, so it's no surprise that it's the most fun song in the film.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Hubie and Rocko at first.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At one point, Drake discusses his actions with a pair of skuas, who are never seen in the film again.
    • While we're on that, the three penguins who appeared with Drake in every other scene are nowhere to be seen during the final battle.
      • Considering their nature, it wouldn't be surprising that they ran off during then.