I was bored numb by this movie. Foolish me, I actually believed the previews that showed it to be a comedy filled with Robin Williams' voiced antics. Okay, so there are a few of those moments, but the best of them, I already laughed at during the trailers. The rest of the movie is animation in love with itself and a cringe-inducing environmental message.
Mumble (Elijah Wood) is an emperor penguin who can't sing. I know, the logical question would be, so? Since when do penguins sing anyway? Well, in this movie, that's how they find a mate; by singing their heart's song, which will be answered by another's song. What Mumble can do, is tap dance like Savion Glover, but just like the reindeer of the north pole, the emperor penguins of the south pole are apparently very intolerant (must be something about the cold weather that makes animals close-minded). They ridicule Mumble. His father, the Elvis-voiced Memphis (Jackman), tries to get him to suppress these dance tendencies. In an effort to prove himself to his people and to win the flipper of the girl he loves, Mumble vows to discover why the fishing grounds are drying up and put a stop to it.
The animation in this movie is top notch; as it shows you over, and over again. There are LOTS of scenes of Mumble sliding down ice hills, swimming through water, waddling through snow storms, etc., etc.. To me it felt like the makers of this movie thought, "Wow, that looks great! Let's throw that in the movie." or "Hey, we can make them do that!?! That looks AWESOME!?!" Okay, so if you enjoy looking at pretty visuals for an hour and half, this is the movie for you. Me, I want character development, a good story and to be entertained.
Robin Williams is the only highlight of the movie. His Ramon, an Hispanic regular penguin, is the one good thing this movie has going for it. He's so funny that when his character is introduced it almost seems as if he just walked in from a different movie completely. And I wish he could walk back to it and take me with him.
As if the retreaded plot and the generic pop songs (yes, it's a musical, sort of) weren't enough, the movie attempts to tack on an environmental message at the end. Only it's one of those stupid touchy-feely messages, the kind which gives the environmental movement a bad name. It seems that according to this movie, mankind needs to, not fish smartly to plan for the future, but to stop fishing completely because penguins can dance. That's right. When mankind discovers that the penguins can dance, they decide to ban fishing. Apparently the humans in this movie will do anything for an animal if he can dance.
I would much rather watch a movie with crappy animation, but a great script, than a movie like this that looks great, but is mediocre in just about every other respect.
Dear God in heaven, Happy Feet sucks!!!!!!! Like Scott, I was lured in by commercials that led me to believe that it was just a cute film about learning to appreciate diversity. As we left the theater, my 12 year old asked me what the movie was about. I responded that it was liberal propaganda about how mankind is evil and traditions are wrong.
He was confused by my answer, so I explained that in this movie, humans are only shown polluting the ocean, taking all of the fish and imprisoning Mumble in a zoo. It glosses quickly over the fact that a human found Mumble on the beach, barely alive, and saved him. As far as traditions go, The old Penguins are shown objecting to Mumbles dancing. It is never explained that they are in fact in the right. Penguins, in real life, communicate by making singing type noises to identify each other. His dancing may be cute, but it is a worthless trait for a penguin to have.
Oh wait, as Scott explained, Mumble's dancing communicates to humans and thus they stop fishing. Happy Feet should have borrowed Madonna's song Music, in which she sings, “Music-brings the people- together.” They could have changed the lyrics to, “Dancing- brings the species -together.”
I watched this movie in a near packed theater and no one laughed. The Latino penguins were mildly cute but the sexual innuendoes were a bit above “G” rated. At one point a chief Penguin, named Lovelace, walks behind his mating pile of stones with several female penguins and asks, “who wants to go first.”
The two action sequences were exciting enough but they are completely out of place. The presence of the seals and Killer Whales show the hypocrisy in this movies animal right's message. They directly kill penguins. They intentionally eat them. They would, if they could, eat as many as possible. Does Mumbles dancing convince them to change their ways? Of course not.
Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhh! I am getting a headache overanalyzing this stupid movie. Just save yourself the time and money and watch Rudolph instead of this mess.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. (2006)