SLAMDANCE 2021 Screening – Wonderfully quick paced and perfectly succinct, Peter the Penguin is everything that makes short films great. There’s nothing left to the imagination, and no need for any further explanation. It is exactly what it is, and what it is is nearly perfect.
Nigel (Chris Butler) is about to meet his partner Rachel’s (Alex Kapila) daughter for the first time. He anxiously shows Rachel the little stuffed lion he’s picked out to give Emily (Mia Hemering) as a peace offering and a happy first impression. To his surprise, Rachel shuns the gift, letting Nigel know Rachel is into penguins now, and besides, that little stuffy is much too small. When they’re met at the door by Emily, she’s in distress. Something terrible has happened to her favorite stuffy, Peter the Penguin. Nigel tries to take her reaction in stride, but is stunned when Rachel flies into hysterics herself. His impression on the girls diminishing rapidly, what can he possibly do to make this terrible loss up to them?
Ten-minute short film Peter the Penguin is an exercise in the absurd–playing like a delightfully absurd Monty Python sketch. Stretched and warped reality gives way to the graphically gruesome and laughs give way to stunned gasps as the truth behind this mother-daughter duo is revealed.
One thing I love about films like Peter the Penguin is that in spite of absurd, fantastic plots, every single performer takes their part totally seriously. There is no mugging to the camera, no wink or tip of the hat. This is as real as it gets, and serious through and through–just like Rachel and Emily’s intense love and concern over Peter, this is deadly honest reality.
Peter the Penguin is currently playing at Slamdance 2021.
7 out of 10