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The Top 8 Movie Penguins

Penguins should have more movies. They’re funny, cute, and always ready for a hug (especially the handmade variety available here). Here are my picks for the top 8 movie penguins.

Pablo the Cold-Blooded Penguin. Released as part of “the Three Caballeros” in 1945, Pablo is a penguin who doesn’t like the cold, so he conspires to get away from the cold weather to get to the warmth.

Chilly Willy’s first animated short wound up on the big screen in 1953. Like Pablo, Chilly Willy doesn’t like the cold either. That doesn’t mean that Chilly was copied from Pablo; it’s possible, but it’s equally likely that a penguin who doesn’t like the cold is funny. Chilly Willy had a longer run than Pablo and lived to be seen on Saturday Morning Cartoons regularly. He also has a memorable song.

Penguin from the Batman movies is the ultimate bad guy. Burgess Meredith probably played the best version of the penguin as dapper villain with a squawking laugh; Danny Devito was also memorable for his disgusting and more penguin like villain in “Batman Returns.

The Madagascar Penguins have had a heft run that includes four movies including one of their own. This team works as comic relief with their pseudo-military organization.

Mumble is a penguin who doesn’t have a heart song. Instead, he has “Happy Feet.” Fortunately for the penguin colony and the Earth, his happy feet get him international attention and spark a worldwide debate about the fate of penguins and global warming. (Even those, who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo over making life better for everyone, are represented in the argument that follows.) Most of the film Mumble spends as an outcast in search of meaning; then he gets what every outcast wants, acceptance and a leadership position in his colony. The messages in the film overlap, and it’s an interesting juxtaposition of new creativity versus old creativity. Plus, there’s a kickin’ soundtrack and Robin Williams.

Wheezy’s appearance in Toy Story 2 was enough to set off the events of that film. He triggered Woody’s insecurities while putting Woody in a position to get stolen from a yard sale. Being part of a billion-dollar franchise is nothing to, uh, wheeze at. Wheezy also appeared briefly in Toy Story 3.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins was a mediocre movie based on a book that was better. At least the penguins got to wreak havoc on Jim Carrey.

Billy Madison’s giant penguin hallucination is funny and a little freaky.

Honorary Penguin: Benedict Cumberbatch – any actor, whose work is pronouncing words and who can’t say penguin, deserves this honorary position.

Which penguin is your favorite? Which one did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

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‘Dumbo’ Takes Flight in Dark Fantasy

Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” is a cavalcade of stars with visually stunning environments that pays homage to the original while remaining wholly its own thing. With a visionary like Burton at the helm, it should come as nor surprise what direction the film takes. It is surprisingly dark, surprisingly, adult, surprisingly terrifying, and perhaps most surprising of all, endearing.

Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Danny Devito, and Colin Ferrell are great. I particularly enjoyed seeing Joe Gatt (whom I met at Malta Comics and Pop Culture Expo in Malta); he’s the man.

Dumbo pokes fun at Disneyland and provides a look at animal cruelty. It’s “pink elephant” segment is amazing to behold, especially considering the cinematic origin of the scene.

Burton’s “Dumbo” won’t provide a template for “the Lion King,” “Aladdin” or any of Disney’s other creativity lacking tentpoles, but it should. Bringing something new to the story is what keeps it fresh. Bravo to Burton and his beautiful pachyderm portrait.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company,” which includes “Frozen 2” plots Disney probably never considered. “Disneyland Is Creativity” is available today! You can also preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.