Angry Penguin, The (2004)

Director Joel Baldini, Adrian Padbula, Thomas Vogel
Writers Joel Baldini
Starring John King, Sophie Angelle
Genre Psycho
Run Time (minutes) 11:01
Country

Talk us through it

A childless couple find an apparently abandoned penguin in an alleyway in Melbourne. Naturally they decide to adopt him, and take the penguin back to their flat. At first things seem to be working out, but our Couple discover not all is as it seems.

The dude seems to be bonding with the Penguin, they go out to kick the football around, utilise local park equipment, and get on the turps. However the Chick is starting to have doubts, especially when the Penguin starts taking photos of her in the shower, and there was that bus stop drug deal that she saw.

Is the Penguin what he appears to be or is there a darker element to the aquatic avian interloper?

Review

"He took photos of me in the shower!" - Unnamed

There's something delightfully na´ve about The Angry Penguin that transcends the startling mediocrity of the short. Just when you think you can consign this one to the bin you get caught up with the gonzo film making in use. There doesn't appear to be much of a budget, special effects aren't happening, and it doesn't appear that we have a professional movie crew. In short, no pun intended, The Angry Penguin presents as a particular bad film school vid that sort of piques your interest.

Having no budget we're not likely to get anything approaching an actual Penguin, animated or otherwise. To their credit the movie makers simply plough on regardless and hope the Audience will keep up with them. It's not every day that a movie presents the villain as a plastic blow up Penguin of the sort obtainable from the National Geographic shop. The Directors collectively simply ask too much of us to believe that the lump of plastic that various real characters drag around is in anyway not an inanimate object. While appreciation a possible nod to Ed Wood Jnr and the infamous octopus, I was still bemused as to whether or not at least one Director thought they might just get away with the whole thing. If, as Stephen King claims, suspension of belief is like lifting a heavy weight, then The Angry Penguin goes for about two tonne of pig iron here and I wasn't able to get that into the air to be honest. Not entirely sure how the film makers could have got around this hurdle to be honest as even simple animation requires some sort of a budget.

Having said all that there are still a few occasions in which our feather antagonist of the plastic variety comes through and delivers. Dear god in heaven I'm not about to praise the work of a plastic fantastic am I? Well okay the Penguin here has far more emotional range than Timmy Cruise or Jessica Simpson, but still it's a lump of industrial product. I had a smile on my dial when the Dude, really wish they had of given these characters names, confronted the Penguin about possible drug use. The Penguin slyly covers his fix with a wing; yes our Dude isn't the most aware person on the planet. Equally it's not every day that you see a psycho cleaver waving plastic Penguin, there has to be some merit in that whole concept. To a certain degree our Directors manage to pull it off, if only Writer Joel Baldini had of thought up a voodoo angle. Oh and cast Karen Black somewhere in there.

In the final analysis the Directors don't have the budget or the cameras to get anything much happening and pretty much shoot from static angles allowing the action on the frame to flow. It's not award winning work but we'll forgive the Directors as you really can't do much with a non-existent budget. At least they go for a split screen on occasion to show the differing reactions to key scenes.

Fixed camera angles can work for some movies, but you need a very strong script to keep the Audience.

Writer Joel Baldini has one simple obstacle to overcome, will the audience believe a couple would adopt a penguin of all things they find in a back alley in deepest darkest Melbourne? The overriding answer there is a big no, but Baldini forces the pace, not allowing the Audience to dwell on the salient question hanging out there, and is remarkably successful in doing so. As stated above, a voodoo thing could have nudged the ball over the boundary rope. Where Baldini does earn praise is with his use of the bounding between the Dude and the Penguin, and it's a reflection of bogan male behaviour in Australia. Our odd couple head down to a local wine bar and in the best traditions of boorish male behaviour proceed to get drunk while the Chick waits at home with a nicely cooked romantic dinner slowly congealing on the table. It's the one effective scene in The Angry Penguin's running time and it's worth dialing into the short to watch.

Quick note on the penultimate scene and we'll wrap it up. Hitchcock's shower scene in Psycho is still widely regarded as one of the best constructed murder scenes ever shot, and it's still being widely emulated for a variety of reasons. In The Angry Penguin the Directors have gone for the same approach as Hitchcock due no doubt to budgetary considerations. We have the same attempt at quick cutting to fool the Audience into believing they are seeing far more than they actual do. Unfortunately the Directors in The Angry Penguin have their pacing completely off and are not overly successful in the scene. They needed to speed things up between cuts, and slow down for a few crucial elements, rather than shooting the whole thing at a preordained speed. The use of a red filter wasn't overly compensating either I must say.

The final scene, which brings a full circle aspect to The Angry Penguin, is one of the more visited bars on cheap horror making street and does nothing for the overall movie.

Neither John King (the Dude) nor Sophie Angelle (the Chick) can actually act. At best we get shrill wooden performances from I guess either film school students or mates of one of the myriad Directors. One of the mistakes that's always going to happen when you get Directing by committee is lack of direction for your cast members, there's no one saying this is what they want from a scene. The Angry Penguin falls into this hole and can't claw its way out.

I was actually quite impressed with the soundtrack in use during the short and full credit for the music selection even though it didn't really match the visuals or pacing of the actual movie. Tracks are supplied by Proem, King Delamare, Zac Curran, and DJ Lim Jeka. If you like heavier music then you'll want to check this aspect out.

Unfortunately I was unable to find an embed of the short, sorry for that, but if I haven't put you off too much then you can catch it at Nice Shorts, Australia's premier short film site.

ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...

Interesting concept, poorly executed.