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The Baltimore Sun

The Pebble and the Penguin

Wednesday April 12, 1995

     "The Pebble and the Penguin" is pure enchantment, a beguiling animated fantasy of assured style, boasting some rousing new songs by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman and the aptly cast, highly expressive voice talents of Martin Short, James Belushi, Tim Curry and Annie Golden.
     Narrated by Shani Wallis, this charmer for all ages from veteran animator Don Bluth's company is all of a piece.
     Rachel Koretsky and Steve Whitestone's screenplay turns up a penguin mating ritual in which a male penguin presents a pebble to a female penguin: If she accepts, they're mated for life. The shy, timid Hubie (Short) comes up with a gorgeous, emerald-like gem to place before the beautiful, demure Marina (Golden), but before we can discover whether she'll accept, the looming, villainous penguin Drake (Curry) has propelled Hubie into a journey that takes him all the way from the Antarctica to Bounty Island in the South Seas.
     How will Hubie ever get back in time to give Marina the jewel by the time of the Full Moon Ceremony? And if Marina should refuse Drake she will be banished!
     For Bluth's formidable team of artists and technicians, the writers have come up with a series of terrific confidence-building adventures for Hubie and his hearty, stalwart new pal, Rocko (Belushi), a Rockhopper penguin with a topknot and fierce eyebrows.
     The penguins and other animals are drawn in the straightforward Disney style, but what's such a plus are the film's simple yet elegant stylized backgrounds that make an imaginative use of pure, clean colors and give the film a crucial contemporary feel.
     Manilow and Sussman have written a love song, an anthem in the full-bodied Manilow manner, "Sometimes I Wonder," which could become a cabaret standard as well as part of Manilow's concert repertoire. For Drake they've come up with the suitably menacing "Don't Make Me Laugh," which makes full use of Curry's penchant for comic evil, and there's a jaunty song-and-dance tune for Hubie and Rocko, "Looks Like I Got a Friend." Rounding out this animation winner is Mark Watters' lively, romantic score.

The Pebble and the Penguin, 1995. G. An MGM presentation of Don Bluth Ireland Ltd. production. Producer Russell Boland. Executive producer James Butterworth. Screenplay by Rachel Koretsky & Steve Whitestone. Supervising editor Thomas V. Moss. Supervising composer Barry Manilow. Original songs by Manilow and Sussman. Score Mark Watters. Production designer David Goetz. Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes. Hubie as voice of Martin Short. Rocko as voice of James Belushi. Drake as voice of Tim Curry. Marina as voice of Annie Golden. Narrator as Shani Wallis.

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