Jerry Shepherd is a 'dogman' at the Antarctica outpost of the National Science Federation. The year is 1993 and winter is coming on as it is late January, and of course the seasons are the reverse of what they are in the northern hemisphere. Jerry has eight wonderful huskies and malamutes specifically trained for 'mushing' all over Antartica, for rescue missions and the like. They are remarkable, resilient animals and of course the real stars of this movie are these dogs. Though "March of the Penguins" has the same setting and ethos of the cold forbidding, dangerous Antarctica, this movie has human stars as well, but as various of the reviews at "Rottentomatoes.com" have pointed out, the animals are more human and show more emotion than the humans for the most part. Compared to these dogs, even those penguins look like stuffed shirts.
The movie is just short of two hours in length, and is PG, which I am sure Disney was relieved to hear, because clearly this is a family film that one would want to take even small children to. The heart and pathos of the story is caused by the fact that due to a winter storm, the dogs had to be left at the NSF post while all the humans escapted to New Zealand and beyond for the winter. How and whether the dogs would survive for over six months on their own until Jerry and friends could return provides us with the meat of the story. The producer was wise enough to remember that cute or courageous animals always upstage humans, and so one should give the bulk of the story to the animals.
As one watches these dogs manifest time and again many qualities one could wish humans normally manifested (courage, loyalty, affection bordering on unconditional love, comradery, sacrifice for others, and an uncanny knack for survival), one realizes quite clearly why so many people love animals more than they love people! It also leads one to ponder whether we might not think of considering such animals as role models ahead of most humans. It also reminds us that while God created human beings to rule (rather than ruin) the world, it does not follow from this fact that we have nothing to learn from the lower orders of creatures. There is perhaps also a subtle message in this film about how we need to treat such animals with the respect they deserve as fellow creatures of God. Fortunately Jerry Shepherd gets the point, and it is his dogged determination and doglike loyalty to his dogs that proves to be the redeeming feature of this film. This one is for everyone, and is the first real feel-good film of 2006.