The Plastic & The Penguin Image

Living in the coldest climate in the world is tough enough. The last thing you need is an unnatural, human-made crisis to muck things up. Henry West’s short documentary, The Plastic & The Penguin, takes us to the southernmost continent of Antarctica as the gentoo penguins face their greatest threat — microplastic pollution.

The Plastic & The Penguin is not your traditional documentary. It tells the story of a young gentoo penguin searching for help for his sick mother. She is deathly ill from being poisoned by ingesting microscopic particles of plastic polluting the Antarctic coast. The young penguin wanders amongst his colony and eventually to a small boat of men desperately seeking aid.

“…a young gentoo penguin searching for help for his sick mother.”

The endearing story of cute animals is directed toward the younger set. It’s constructed using footage of a gentoo penguin colony spliced together to tell a more linear narrative. The film encourages us to consider where our plastic pollution ultimately ends up. A simple voiceover by a young actor gives voice to the inner thoughts of our water-fowl hero.

The adult critic in me wants to point out that the short itself lacks cohesion as, most likely, it was pieced together like a collage using footage collected by the documentary crew. In other words, the team did not go to Antarctica looking to tell this story. If I wanted to be even more petty, the final voiceover needed a little more work in the acting department.

At five minutes, the story does move briskly, and the overall point is made effectively, even if it doesn’t meet the artistic standards of this elitist critic. Then again, I’m confident The Plastic & The Penguin wasn’t made to score high on Rotten Tomatoes but made for a much bigger cause. On that front, and considering how the little ones will probably enjoy it, there’s more than enough here to warrant an easy recommendation.

The Plastic & The Penguin (2021)

Directed and Written: Henry West

Starring: Gentoo Penguins, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

The Plastic & The Penguin Image

"…the little ones will probably enjoy it..."

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