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In Movies & TV

"Happy Feet" trip up in final scenes


Sometimes being abnormal isn't a bad thing. Why should conformng be the most important thing in someone's life? If fitting in and going along with society means giving up hopes and dreams, maybe normality isn't the best thing.

"Happy Feet's" Emperor penguins spend their lives living in harmony, figuratively and literally. To find their soul mate, these penguins must find their heart song -- the song that attracts a mate. Without a heart song, a penguin is destined to be an outcast and alone.

Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) cannot find his heart song. He actually can't carry a tune, any time he tries to sing it comes out as a loud squawk. What he does is tap dance, and that's nothing normal in his community.

He becomes inquisitive about the outside world, especially in regards to the fish shortage the penguins seem to be having. He befriends a group of smaller penguins and they travel around looking for answers. Mumble seems to think that everything has to do with the featherless penguins that have taken over certain parts of the land.

Mumble plans to prove he's correct and he's not about to let the rest of the community stop him from doing what he loves.

"Happy Feet" is basically the penguin version of "Footloose," minus Kevin Bacon. The technological aspects to the movie are admirable and exciting. Director George Miller used motion capture in order to animate the dancing penguins, specifically using famed tapper and choreographer Savion Glover as the movie's primary dancer.

But the lightheartedness of the movie abruptly stops just before the ending as the message turns from a story about a penguin to a message about conservationism. Save the penguins, stop drilling, stop fishing and so forth near their habitat. There's also a jarring introduction to live action characters -- humans to be exact -- when "Happy Feet" had leaned only on animation up until this point.

Overall, "Happy Feet" seemed more like an adult animated feature than one for children, with more jokes directed to the older crowd like Mumble's parents being a play off of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis named Norma Jean and Memphis (voiced by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman).

Anyone under the age of 7 won't be able to enjoy half of the movie. There's even a few rather scary portions that drove a few children that saw the preview to tears, including a scene involving a sea lion chasing Mumble and trying to eat him and some not-so-friendly looking elephant seals with Australian accents.

For older children it is a good feature film. Anything having Robin Williams voicing an over-the-top character is always appreciated; in "Happy Feet" he actually voices three. Jackman's Memphis can be annoying with his fake impersonation.

An interesting actor that lent his voice to a character is the late Steven Irwin, who voiced one of the Aussie elephant seals. His voice isn't that recognizable, but stick around for the credits and his name appears.

The music is really good overall. Brittany Murphy, who voices Mumble's crush Gloria, gets to show off her singing skills on songs like "Somebody to Love" for a wider audience, one that may not have heard her with Paul Oakenfold on "Faster Kill Pussycat."

If "Happy Feet" had ended without the idealistic conservation storyline, it would have been saved. It would have been a better message to stick with being different isn't a bad thing.


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Talkbacks

kitty | Nov. 16, 2006 at 10:55 a.m. (report)

I like penguins! I like movies. I like popcorn. Do penguins like popcorn?

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