Most of us have realized by now that comedian Bob Saget, in real life, is far removed from his squeaky-clean Full House persona. With a penchant for profanity and adult humor, he's crafted a crude career by taking this ball and running with it---or in the case of Farce of the Penguins (2007), fumbled and lost a few yards. This latest project is an adult oriented send-up of 2005's wildly successful March of the Penguins, which starts off on the wrong foot and waddles slowly towards the finish line. It might've worked on some level as a short film, but Saget's lazy attempt at a mockumentary completely wears out its welcome as an 80-minute feature.
Here's the setup: Farce of the Penguins is comprised of stock penguin footage, sprinkled with crude CGI effects and other images; the resulting mixture is paired with celebrity voices attempting to breathe life into their characters. In the case of the latter, they fail miserably. The cover art---as bad as it is, on principle alone---at least hints that these dirty birds look different from one another, but Farce of the Penguins is essentially a crude joke marathon dubbed on top of a National Geographic special. Samuel L. Jackson provides a few laughs as the omnipresent narrator (replacing Morgan Freeman in March), but the chuckles are few and far between.
The wasted voice talent (or in some cases, non-talent) includes Lewis Black, Jamie Kennedy, Carlos Mencia, Jason Alexander, Tracy Morgan, Norm MacDonald, Christina Applegate, Alyson Hannigan, Dane Cook, Jon Lovitz, Whoopi Goldberg, James Belushi, John Stamos, Damon Wayans and many, many more. Saget himself plays lead penguin Carl, a sad sack who's attempting to shed his mate-'em-and-leave-'em instincts...much to the dismay of his more detached buddy, Jimmy (Lewis Black). Most of the supporting characters are one-note stereotypes (lisping homosexual, sassy black woman), thrown in to pad out the endless fart jokes and middle-school camaraderie.
It's hard not to laugh at a few gags; sadly, they're lost in a vast sea of off-target humor, so Farce of the Penguins simply isn't worth the journey. Apparently, Saget's film was slated for a theatrical release (originally rated "R", after a few gratuitous scenes were trimmed), though it's now been demoted to direct-to-DVD status. In all honesty, it's highly doubtful that this lazy attempt at comedy would've filled any seats...but we'll never know, will we?
The DVD presentation is courtesy of ThinkFilm, pairing the main feature with a decent technical presentation and a few appropriate extras. It's certainly not blind buy material, but at least this one-disc package offers added material for those who (*shudder*) enjoyed the film. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for widescreen displays, Farce of the Penguins only looks as good as its stock footage will allow...which, for the most part, isn't half bad. The chilly color palette holds up well and black levels are decent, but there's a notable amount of grain on display in certain areas.
The audio presentation gets the job done, pairing the film with your choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes. Both offer clean, clear dialogue and good channel separation, though the former displays a more robust atmosphere during musical cues. Optional Spanish subtitles are included during the main feature only.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the talky animated menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. The 80-minute main feature has been divided into 14 chapters, while no obvious layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is housed in a standard white keepcase and includes no inserts of any kind.
First up is a feature-length Audio Commentary with director Bob Saget; predictably, it's full of name-checking and relatively minor tidbits. Those who actually make it through the main feature probably won't be itching for a second round, but this track is here if you're looking. On a related note is "To the Earth's Ice-Hole and Back" (15:21), a tongue-in-cheek interview with Saget. He candidly discusses working in such a difficult environment and dealing with the filthy, disgusting creatures. There's also a clip from one of the more risqué deleted scenes from the film, detailed below.
Next up is a collection of Bonus Footage (5 clips, 7:08 total), including "Jimmy & Carl: The More Gratuitous Walk", "Marcus: The More Gratuitous Intro", "The More Gratuitous Jimmy's Bitch-Slapping of Carl", "Vicky & Melissa: More Gratuitous Girl Talk" and "The Most Gratuitous of All". Most are simply cut for excessive profanity, though the final clip contains some truly disturbing full-frontal penguin nudity. Available with optional audio commentary by Saget.
Closing things out is a Behind-the-Scenes Montage (11:15) featuring plenty of recording studio footage, as well as a trio of Trailers for the main feature (red band, censored red band and green band, 2:18 each) and a few Previews for current and upcoming ThinkFilm releases. All bonus features have been presented in widescreen (both anamorphic and non-enhanced) and 1.33:1 aspect ratios and include no subtitles or Closed Caption support.
Tawdry but tedious, Bob Saget's Farce of the Penguins is a lazy attempt at comedy that struggles to fill 80 minutes. The misleading cover---suggesting an animated film, or at least a more visually ambitious one---will leave a bad taste in the mouth of unsuspecting viewers, while the grade-school potty humor should put off everyone else. The endless list of celebrity voice talent is uniformly wasted, from the central characters all the way down to the one-liners. ThinkFilm's DVD presentation isn't half bad, serving up a decent technical presentation and a few modest extras. Still, when the main feature is this bad, comedy fans are better off spending their money elsewhere. Skip It.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.