This is a great, although slightly bizarre movie. There’s so many points to it. Completely harmless, fun for all the family, and almost as importantly.. fun for the youth group too!
In Chapter 2 (among others), we come across the Penguins worshipping the Northern Lights (calling it ‘The Great Gwyn’). Memphis and the other penguins are praying to it, for success, offspring and fish.
The Bible says God detests idols. We must make sure that nothing comes between our relationship with Jesus.
Your Heart Song
Chapter 4 (11.23-13.55) is where we learn about the penguin’s ‘heart song’. This is the song that penguins sing to attract a mate. But it’s become something much more – it’s an expression of their heart and personality. Gloria tells us that ‘we have to find our heart song, who you truly are..’ She (Brittany Murphy) has an amazing voice. Mumbo, however, doesn’t have a good voice, only a earth shattering squawk. He’s told by the teacher that he’s ‘hardly a penguin at all’ which is a very hurtful thing to say. The other penguins laugh at Mumbo, except Gloria.
You could use this to talk about the person that God has made you, having different gifts, about what is in your heart. You could even use it as an anti-bullying type clip.
Chapter 6 (17.30-18.44 when the birds land) – Mumbo is up on the hill, alone, doing what he loves – dancing. Robin Williams, on voice over talks about Mumbo being ‘where a funky little fella could be himself..’
We can look at being yourself, being who God made you to be. Sometimes, you just need to be true to the person that God has made you. Sometimes, like Jesus, this means getting away from the crowd, alone. For others, this may also mean practicing and developing the skills God has given.
Chapter 8 (26.25-28.38) – Mumbo and Gloria share an underwater and on land dance. Er, lovely!
In Chapter 9 (28.40-31.23), we find that Mumbo is trying to join in the ‘graduation’ style party going on. Gloria is singing a song, and Mumbo is trying to join in. However, his tuneless effort are not appreciated by the other penguins and he’s left out in the cold. You can extend this clip on a bit if needs be.
The ‘chief’ penguins (the elders) have a great and unwavering religious faith in the ‘Great Gwyn’. We find this illustrated in Chapter 16 (53.53-58.19). In this segment, the penguins have been inspired to dance by Mumbo and his new found friends. However, there are disapproving looks from on high from the elders who see too much frivolity and not enough religious service. The chief penguin tells Mumbo, ‘Youre backsliding has brought scarcity upon us’ and ‘we can only survive when we are in harmony’. He accuses Mumbo ‘and your foreign friends’. Another penguin chips in that the ‘Great Gwyn giveth and taketh away..’
The religious / church references are intriguing. Some people might take them personally. But hang on. The church is like this too often. We are seen like this too often, sometimes with good reason. There can be no escaping that fact. But we know the church is so much more than this, and that many churches bear no relevance to this pompous religiosity! But this is a good clip to check ourselves.
Alternatively, we could look at Jesus and the Pharisees in the New Testament. Pick almost any time when they tried to make trouble for Jesus and how he answered / dealt with them.
Overcoming Adversity / Teamwork
Chapter 20 (1.07.29-1.08.31) shows a clip of the penguins fighting through a wind storm on the ice. A great short clip on teamwork. Of course, you can simply extend it at the beginning and end to make a longer clip and then just extract this point!
Determination / Commitment to Succeed
Clip is Chapter 22, (1.13.28-1.18.16). This is where Mumbo shows his great determination to ‘find the aliens’ (humans) and talk to them to enable the humans to understand about taking too much fish away from the penguins, with their great nets. He follows a ship across the ocean. The scene starts with Lovelace saying, “Don’t make me come in the water” and ends when Mumbo is picked up on a beach.
If we showed this kind of commitment to Jesus and our faith, we really could change the world.
This movie has a strong story about human responsibility to the enviromnent. A good scene would be the very final chapter where Mumbo has been released with a transmitter on the back. The humans come and watch the penguins. Mumbo (who’s restored his relationship with his dad, another theme) – is told by his dad to start dancing. All the penguins start dancing, then the humans follow. This in turn leads to a ban on human fishing in the area. As Christians, we have a responsibility to this world. I don’t know what the truth is about the environment, but it is clear that something is going on and we can no longer bury our heads in the sand.