Penguins (2019) Movie Script

NARRATOR: Antarctica.
The coldest, windiest place
on our planet.
Half of the year,
there's total darkness.
The sun doesn't rise at all.
For the most part,
it's completely devoid
of life.
But each spring, that changes.
NARRATOR: Meet Steve.
Two feet tall and 15 pounds
of freewheeling
Adelie penguin.
As a five-year-old male
coming of age,
he's going to be facing
some serious obstacles
in the months ahead.
But not to worry.
"Obstacle" is
Steve's middle name.
Although Steve's
made this trek before,
in previous years,
he was mostly just along
for the ride.
But he's not that same
carefree kid anymore.
This year, he'll be joining
adult society.
He has no clue
what he's getting into.
All he knows is,
he's running late.
All the other
experienced males
in Steve's colony
are way ahead of him
on a 100-mile annual journey
across sea and ice to
Antarctica's rugged shores.
They're returning home
in advance of the females
to set up camp
for the mating season.
And they number
in the millions.
Adelies spend
the entire winter
out in the Southern Ocean.
But now that
spring has arrived,
they're seeking dry land.
Because dry land
is the only place
they can start a family.
And it's not just
any old patch of land
they're heading to.
They're returning to
the place they were born.
Their only job is to find a
good place to set up a home,
raise their chicks,
and then head back
to the sea again
before winter.
It's a monumental
polar expedition
that favors the early bird.
And Steve is the last one
to the party.
Wait, what?
Oh, no!
No, no, no.
Emperor penguins?
Entirely wrong species.
Hey! Any of you seen
a half a million penguins,
about my height?
Similar build.
A-ha! An obstacle.
Hey, there,
I'm looking for...[SQUAWKS]
I don't know
what that means.
I'm gonna go over here,
talk to someone else.
Just trying to
ask a question.[SQUAWKS]
Excuse me?
Do we know each...[SQUAWKS]
Actually, it's Steve
with a...[SQUAWKS]
Hey, kid, wake up.
Have you seen a colony...
I'm just asking...
Ow. Stop that.[SQUAWKS]
Ow. Ow.
Stop. Ow.
I just got beat up by a baby.
This is not going well.
Please? Anyone.
Yeah! Yeah, uncomfortable.
Yeah, okay.
Not panicking,
not panicking.
This is crazy, this is crazy.
This is crazy,
this is crazy... Whoa!
I'm good. All good.
This is just a bad dream.
Oh, hey!
There they are.
Guys, wait up.
NARRATOR: Finally, Steve
has reached his destination.
The big city.
It's a tough place
for a first-timer.
Everyone's just arrived,
and they're all fighting
for their own little patch
of ice-free rock.
And young newcomers like Steve
need to watch their step.
First order of business,
find a nice, quiet
nesting spot to call his own.
Even though he was born here,
Steve's never had to stake
out his own place before.
But it shouldn't be that hard
to find a good spot. Right?
[AS STEVE] Hey, fellas, what's up?
New in town, just,
uh, you know,
looking for
a good nesting spot.
So, if you hear of anything... Mmm-hmm.
Ouch. Please don't bite me.
Thank you. Ouch.
NARRATOR: The older,
more experienced males
have held these
prime nesting spots
for years.
And they will protect
their turf with their lives.
[AS STEVE] Staying calm.
Not panicking.
Not panicking.
All right, I'm sorry.
Well, that was,
uh, competitive.
All right. Next challenge.
NARRATOR: There's only
one thing more precious
to an Adelie penguin
than exposed ground.
There's not really anything
else to collect here.
They use the stones
to build their nests.
Each one raises the nest
a little bit higher
off the ground,
making sure their eggs
will be protected
from the cold snow.
By the time Steve gets around
to starting his collection,
most of the good ones
have been taken.
He has to work double time
just to catch up.
It's paying off, though.
He's building himself
quite an attractive
little nest.
Maybe too attractive.
[AS PENGUIN] Ah, welcome
to the neighborhood.
Thank you.[LAUGHS]
[AS STEVE] Hmm. Could've sworn I had more.
Oh, well.
Wait a minute.
One, two, three,
four, five...
One, two, three...
Maybe if I...
Oh. He'll just...
What if... No.
Maybe I could... No.
How am I supposed to...
What's with
all these neighbors?
They just come along
and steal stuff.
You know what?
Just stay calm.
Don't play their game.
NARRATOR: Steve's got
to finish his nest fast
because out on the sea ice,
another several hundred
thousand Adelies
are headed his way.
A few weeks behind the males,
the females are now
returning, too.
Just like the males,
they've been out at sea
all winter.
They are the second wave
of the great homecoming.
And when they get
to the colony,
they're gonna wanna see some
progress on those nests.
Adelie penguins return
to the same nest site
every year
in the hope of finding
their same partner.
Which means a lot
of these guys are singing,
"Welcome home, darling!"
There's nothing more
attractive to the ladies
than a good crooner.
So, Steve lets it rip.
All right, ladies.
Open for business.
Oh, look at these two
lovebirds, hitting it off.
Good for you.
Oh, here comes one.
Is she looking at me?
she's looking at me.
Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh!
She's coming this way!
Hi, there. My name's Steve.
And she's walking away.
NARRATOR: Sometimes
the most beautiful songs
are the sad ones.
Looks like this just
isn't Steve's year.
Hold on a minute.
Hi. I'm Steve.
NARRATOR: Steve, meet Adeline.
It's more than just
a beautiful courtship ritual.
Steve and Adeline will
use these initial moments
of intimacy
to memorize
each other's voices.
After this,
they'll be able
to find one another
amongst the crowds...
[WHISPERS] forever.
Well, well, well,
adulthood seems to be
off to a good start.
Romance. Courting.
He needs to keep
the good vibes rolling
and do whatever it takes
to impress Adeline.
It's all about the rock.
[AS STEVE] Yeah, I should
probably give her
a few more options
to choose from.
Wonder if she thinks
I'm attractive.
Collect a few rocks...
Stack up a few brownie points.
Gonna start a family!
I could build a tree fort!
Man, she smells great, though.
I gotta start working out.
Here, take a look
at this one.
Uh... You like it or...
Okay, all right.
All good.
Back to it.
NARRATOR: Adeline requires
the right rocks to provide
the perfect protection
for any chicks
they might have.
He gets an "A" for effort.
But a "D" in physics.
It's okay. Adeline's patient.
Steve will get there
in the end.
Steve hasn't left the colony
for over a month,
so he feels he's long overdue
for a little rest
and relaxation.
In late spring, the sea ice
begins to break apart.
It's a perfect opportunity
for a refreshing swim.
A few hours out in the water
does wonders for a penguin.
It's all they need
before returning
to their household duties.
It's like spring break.
Just colder.
some peace and...
[AS STEVE] Whoa! Jeez.
NARRATOR: When you spend
every waking moment
surrounded by thousands
of fellow penguins,
solitude is a luxury.
So, Steve's looking
for a quieter spot,
away from the crowd.
He just needs to wash off
the dirt and grime
from all that hard work.
Then, it's off to enjoy
some alone time.
Gotta admit,
those were some sweet stones
I picked out.
NARRATOR: Killer whales.
Riding on icebergs!
NARRATOR: Two hundred times
bigger than an Adelie,
they are Antarctica's
top predator.
You don't wanna take
your chances with these guys.
The killer whales have been waiting
for the ice to break up, too.
These channels provide
the perfect route
to their fishing grounds.
And no one wants
to become a snack
along the way.
Ah! That was awesome!
Hey, guys, I had an idea.
Where are they all going?
So peaceful out here.
That's why I keep coming back.
I wish I could fly.
NARRATOR: Back at the colony,
Adeline has been busy.
Two precious little packages,
which Adeline and Steve will have to keep
as warm as possible over the next month.
Because as spring
turns into summer
in Antarctica,
the winds begin to build.[WIND HOWLING]
They're called katabatics.
Winds drawn
by the warmer ocean
out of the colder interior.
And they can reach
150 miles an hour
in an instant.
It's a hurricane-strength
Even those used to
tough Antarctic conditions
know it's bad news
to be caught exposed.
And the Adelies struggle
to return to the colony.
Separated from the others,
Steve quickly
becomes disoriented.
Out here, there is
no shelter from the storm.
Even in the colony,
everyone has to hunker down.
Parents must not let
their eggs get exposed
to the minus-40-degree
wind chill.
The pummeling snow
buries all in its path.
Including Adeline
and her eggs.
And there's a real possibility
that Steve
will never see her again.
Three days after they began,
the winds subside.
Adeline has survived
and remarkably
kept her eggs alive.
But she has no idea
where Steve is.
[AS STEVE] Adeline!
[AS ADELINE] Steve? Steve!
NARRATOR: The bond
between these two lovebirds
grows stronger every day.
The katabatic winds
signal the beginning
of the very short
Antarctic summer.
As the sea ice breaks up
around the continent,
the most productive ocean
on the planet
emerges from below.
The Southern Ocean
that surrounds Antarctica
briefly attracts
millions of animals back
to feast in its rich waters
full of plankton and fish.
It's a rare time
of plenty for all.
And Steve and the other males
are taking full advantage,
feeding and fattening up
for the coming weeks
of summer.
With the sea ice now gone,
it's like a giant pantry
full of food
right at their doorstep.
Just in time
for any new hungry mouths
that might appear.
And Adeline has got her
timing just right.
Steve's fishing trip
with the boys
has made him late
for the most important event
in his life.
Okay, just stay calm.
You're gonna be fine.
You got the nest built,
then the mating thing...
Whoops! Excuse me.
Laid the eggs, eggs are in the nest.
[PENGUIN SQUAWKS] Yeah. Pardon me.
Picked up the fish for lunch.
It's all gonna work out!
NARRATOR: Maybe Steve's not
the most punctual partner,
but the belly full of fish
he's brought home
more than makes up for that.
And it couldn't have come
at a better time.
Adeline is fast running out
of food.
It's her turn
to go fill up on fish.
So, they trade places.
And Steve nervously steps
into the role of father
for the first time
in his life.
He has no idea
what he's doing.
But his instinct
is telling him
to regurgitate his lunch
into his kid's mouth.
So, he does.
Steve and Adeline
will now share
the chick-feeding duties.
Compared to
everyone else though,
they're still behind.
Most of the other families
are well on their way.
Child-rearing is really
the only game in town
right now,
as the parents of many species
join the race
to raise their families.
South Polar skuas
are attracted
by the same exposed rock
as the Adelies.
They also migrate here
to have their chicks,
taking advantage of
the short, bountiful summer.
But when it comes to
providing for their chicks,
they are two
very different species.
Steve's job, as he
understands it anyway,
is basically
barf on the chick,
then flatten it into the
rocks to keep it warm.
The skuas, however,
take things to the extreme.
Skuas are penguin predators.
They take advantage of
distracted parents.
But Steve's attention
is fully on his family.
Especially now that
his second chick
has hatched out.
The threat can come
at any time
from anywhere.
As the chicks grow,
so does the pressure
on Steve
as a first-time father.
He has to feed
and fatten them up
before winter arrives,
forcing the Adelies back out
into the open ocean.
This is the role
he's been preparing for
his entire life.
Steve and Adeline only have
a small window of time
before the sea freezes over
and cuts off their route
to the ocean.
If the chicks are to survive
the winter,
they must quadruple in size
over the next month.
So, Steve needs
to show Adeline
he can put food on the table.
It's time to beef up
those kids.
Steve has to work hard
for each belly
full of fish and krill.
Each meal time can involve
a 100-mile round-trip.
Steve can't
do it alone, though.
Both parents have to work
round the clock
to keep their chicks fed.
A month into his new life
as a father
and Steve has made this trip
up the hill to feed his chicks
countless times.
By now, they spend most
of their time unattended.
Steve will only pay them a
visit every couple of days.
So their brief meetups can get
pretty lively.
[AS STEVE] Come and get it!
Come and get it!
Come and get it!
Whoa! Whoa!
Okay, let's take turns, huh?
NARRATOR: Meal times
are hard enough as it is
without the neighbors' kids
coming around
looking for handouts.
So, Steve cleverly starts up
a game of "Follow the Food."
Which is also a great way
to separate
his chicks from the others.
When did they get so fast?
All right, what do you say
we take a little break? Yeah?
I'm serious. Stop this.
Quick, turn left![CHUCKLES]
Oh, come on.
Excuse me.
Excuse me, help! Help!
All right, this has gotta end.
Engage power thrusters.
Adeline, little help?
NARRATOR: It's high summer,
and the colony is bathed
in 24-hour daylight.
Though the temperature is
hovering around freezing,
by Antarctic standards,
it's actually pretty warm.
Especially for chicks
covered in down.
With most of the adults
away out at sea,
the chicks
crowd close together
in creches for protection
as the skuas are
a constant threat.
They hunt in pairs,
looking for
the weakest and smallest.
The older chicks
are more likely
to be part of a creche
at this point,
which offers
some strength in numbers.
But the younger chicks
are more vulnerable.
And Steve and Adeline's are
some of the youngest around.
Oh, no! Oh, no!
Hey! Hey!
Get away from my kids.
Get outta here.
Go eat your own kids.
Oh, jeez,
they just want food again.
All right! Okay. All right.
You want some barf?
Here's some barf. There you go.
Got some nice barf for you.
All-you-can-eat barf.
Work for it, boys.
It's good, right? It's good barf.
Oh, goodness. Um...
Adeline, uh, one of
the chicks needs you.
I'm just gonna go
pick up some fish
for the kids.
Trying to do your best.
I don't know.
Maybe I'm not
picking the right fish.
They never barf up Adeline's barf.
What is that smell?
Oh, no.
accidentally wandered
into the elephant seal
And it's mating season
for the largest and
stinkiest seal in the world.
It's definitely not
the kind of courtship
Steve's familiar with.
Everyone here is looking
for a mate.
[AS STEVE] Uh... No.
No, no, no. No.
Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.
All right, what was
I supposed to be doing?
Fish. Chicks. Parenting.
Right, back to it.
NARRATOR: As summer
draws to an end,
Steve and Adeline spend
more and more time away
on fishing runs to
bulk up their chicks
for the coming
winter departure.
The young ones are left
on their own.
Which is just as well
because they're beginning
to molt
their downy brown
baby feathers,
leaving them itchy and cranky.
For some,
it's also an opportunity
to try out some fresh looks.
Losing your cold-weather
feathers in Antarctica
is always a gamble, though.
By fall,
the weather once again
becomes the dominant force.
Snowflakes are a totally new
experience for these chicks.
They are blissfully unaware
of the danger
this shift in the weather
brings with it.
It's a change that leaves
Steve and Adeline anxious.
This late in the season,
the chicks have grown so big,
their parents can no longer
protect them
from the elements.
Adeline knows that soon,
they will have to
fend for themselves.
Abandoning his family
is the last thing
Steve wants to do right now.
But he has no choice.
The chicks have to eat.
As bad as things are
here on land,
the greatest danger
is still approaching.
Winter is knocking
on their door.
And far out at sea,
the ocean is starting
to freeze over again.
This is the change
that Steve and Adeline
have been preparing
their chicks for
the entire time.
Soon, the continent
of Antarctica
will be completely surrounded by solid ice,
cutting off the Adelies'
access to open water
and, therefore, to their food.
So, the whole colony
is moving down to the shore
to make final preparations
before their departure.
First item on the list,
they must introduce
their chicks to the sea.
For their entire short lives,
they've been confined
to the patch of bare rock
where their parents
built their nests.
So they've never
experienced water before.
And yet, in no time at all,
they have to ready themselves
for the biggest journey
of their lives.
Swimming out on the open sea.
What they need is a strong,
reliable adult
to show them how it's done.
Whoop! Pardon me.
Excuse me, excuse me.
Relax, Adeline, I got this.
Watch and learn, kids.
Come on! It's perfectly safe.
I'm thinking
there should probably be
a lifeguard on duty.
[SHOUTING] Always remember,
whenever you're on the water,
the key is to stay calm
and don't panic.
Got it?
Look, kids, it's fun!
I promise!
Whoo-hoo! Whoa!
I don't need help.
[LAUGHING] It's not that cold
once you're in.
Oh, yeah!
Whoa! Hey! All right!
Hmm. You see?
You just keep your cool,
don't panic
and everything's fine.
Great job, kids. Great lesson.
Great lesson.
NARRATOR: The time for
swimming lessons is over.
Now, there are
more immediate concerns.
The wind has pushed
the drift ice into the shore
and sealed in
the entire coastline.
It can happen
in a matter of hours.
It's even caught the adults
by surprise.
Many of them
have gotten trapped
in the ice floes
while fishing.
Including Adeline.
This leaves Steve
solely responsible
for the chicks' safe
departure from the colony.
And, as if the task
weren't difficult enough,
the mass of shifting ice
has cut off access
to the ocean.
This is yet another
new environment
the chicks
have to contend with.
And while they're busy
learning to swim through it,
they have no idea of the
danger lurking beneath.
Leopard seals.
The broken ice has created
the perfect habitat
for this ambush hunter.
If the chicks can make it out to
sea, they'll be safe.
In open water, leopard seals
have nowhere to hide.
The bigger pieces of ice
provide the chicks
with some protection.
Finding a chunk with any space
left on it is the hard part.
The seals are attracted
to any nervous thrashing
around in the water.
So, any baby penguin
who starts panicking
makes itself a prime target.
A couple of seals can kill
nearly 100 penguins in a day.
Steve knows this is
do-or-die for the chicks.
Adeline's made it
across the pack ice
to the open water.
Steve needs to get
the chicks
out there to safety.
[AS STEVE] It's okay, kids.
I've dealt with leopard seals before.
Just pay close attention
and follow my lead.
stay calm and don't panic.
NARRATOR: Steve makes it
out to Adeline.
Now their chicks must attempt
the crossing on their own.
If they can make it out
to their parents,
they'll have access
to the open sea.
It's the greatest test
they've ever faced.
The best they can do
is follow
their father's example.
One of the chicks makes
it safely to firmer ice.
The other one, however,
is not so lucky.
His only hope is to play dead.
If he remains perfectly still,
the leopard seal
may lose interest.
It worked.
With the open water in sight,
the chicks are now
out of danger.
They've grown up fast,
and there's nothing more
their parents can do for them.
They'll now head north,
along with
all the other Adelies,
into the open ocean
where they're happiest
and safest,
leaving the trials
of land and ice behind
until spring returns again.
Over the coming weeks,
Steve and Adeline
will continue to push north,
as well.
But, ultimately, they too
will go their separate ways.
They'll face the next
six months on their own
in the Southern Ocean.
If all goes well,
they'll see each other again
next spring.
Steve did a pretty good job
for a first-time father.
He found a great partner.
He made her a beautiful nest.
They raised two healthy
chicks together.
Who knows?
With a little luck,
he could pull it off again
next year.
Many penguins won't survive
to see another spring.
The Antarctic winter is
the harshest on our planet.
To make it through,
you need stamina,
and a little bit
of whatever Steve's got.
[AS STEVE] Like this?
You want me to walk like this?
Does this look good?
You didn't get the slip, did you?
What? Why do you guys get jackets?
It's freezing!
I guess this solves
the mystery
of why our kit is covered
in penguin poo.
NARRATOR: [AS STEVE] Somebody say "action."
Oh, forget it.
Here we go. Whoa!
Ha-ha! Perfect ten.
Which way was
the penguin colony again?
Oh, man,
I messed it up.
That was my bad.
Let's do it again.
Do it again!
[LAUGHS] That's the best
you're gonna get, guys.
All right and here we go.
You're not even
pointing the camera at me!
This is... We're done. I think we're done.
Eh, putting this down right here.
All right. Heading home. Heading home.
Good night, Sophie.
Great day. Great day. Whew!
Oh, I can't wait to get back
to the hotel and my hot tub.
We have absolutely
no visibility.
Oh, the stench! [LAUGHS]
I'm going to be hiding
in the colony like this.