Shrimp Cocktail, Taco Salad
Brown-Bagged Halibut with Papaya Salsa served over Rice, Steamed Broccoli
I wanted to love Happy Feet, the animated film based on the Emperor penguins we learned about in the fabulous documentary March of the Penguins. Through much of the feature I did love it.
The singing is fun with epic remakes of 70’s tunes by favorites like Earth Wind and Fire and Queen as well as many current hits and catchy Latin songs.
The computer graphics are really amazing; feathers that look fuzzy or have sheen, water that glistens and bubbles, snow that is powdery, icy and sparkly. The animals look and move beautifully and pop visually against the gorgeous and well-lit scenery and there is a pack of wacky penguins lead by “Ramon” (Robin Williams) whose comedy steals the movie.
The story starts out sweetly. All Emperor penguins are born with beautiful voices used to sing a “heartsong” that they will use to find their soul mate. Our protaganist penguin “Mumble” (Elijah Wood) hatches completely tone deaf but with “happy feet” that tap dance all over the frozen landscape. Actually I didn’t find the dancing all that impressive-penguin’s legs are really short and ungraceful and I couldn’t figure out how the tapping sound was generated off of the snow. I kept thinking that it should sound muffled…
Anyway, because of Mumble’s inability to sing and the weird thing he was doing with his feet he is ostracized from the clan. I thought that the grown up Mumble was a little creepy looking too, scary blue eyes and ugly mottled feathers — not anything like the silken and sleek looking adult males.
The unhip, puritanical and stereotypic sounding elders make him a scapegoat. Blah, blah, blah old people don’t get it, they are stuck in their ways, they don’t understand dancing, what’s wrong with kids these days? We get it, we have heard it a million times, remember Footloose?
The ostracised Mumble leaves the penquins and his true love “Gloria” (a dull Brittany Murphy) and vows to find the “aliens” that are stealing all of the fish.
What happens next is a garbled, confused and circuitous trip that leaves Mumble literally insane. Suddenly this charming little love story turns into a frightening cross between Finding Nemo and a Greenpeace documentary about saving the planet. Man is really, really bad…or is man good…Emperor Penguins are bad…or are they good…are we saving the seals and the whales or are they bad? Stop overfishing, global warming, zoos, Puritans…I don’t know, I couldn’t figure out the message.
I guess all of that is irrelavent because my kids didn’t pick up on any of it. The environmental plot went right over their heads.
My kids liked the singing and the dancing which is where the movie should have stopped.
Two smiley faces for “Happy Feet,” which could have been a lot better.
The father of a girl in my son’s preschool class apologized to me today as I was getting out of my car in the school parking lot. He felt badly for reprimanding me the day before after hearing from his daughter that my son had allegedly pinched her while on the playground.
The day of the alleged pinch I immediately apologized to the man and his daughter for my 4-year old’s behavior. I asked my son to apologize to the girl, but he said that he had not pinched her and so wouldn’t apologize. The father and I got into our respective cars, with me saying a final apology.
In the car I questioned and then listened to my boy’s side of the events and he said again and again that he didn’t pinch his classmate.
I told him that because he had never given me a reason not to believe him, I believed him. It was a case of his word against hers. (His teachers hadn’t reported the incident to me while I was picking up my kiddo.) I told him that it was very important to be honest with me because honesty builds trust.
What was my responsibility as a mother? Should I have immediately assumed that my son was telling a lie because another parent said so? I certainly don’t want to be one of those mothers in denial about her child’s bad behavior.
The next day, after the father apologized to me, I told my son about it when we got buckled into the car. My son quickly asked whether I told him that he hadn’t pinched her. I said that I hadn’t.
I told him exactly what I said to that father. I explained that I was glad that he had spoken out for his daughter. She was really lucky to have such a great daddy who cared and loved her enough to defend her. I told him that the daddy was a great role model and was teaching his daughter how decent men behave.
I hope that my son learned something from this experience. I hope that he learned about honesty, good behavior, trust, and decency. I hope he learned that I am his advocate and that he can trust me. Oh, yeah, I hope that he didn’t pinch that little girl…