Two Left, Happy Feet by Elena

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.

3 Responses to “Two Left, Happy Feet by Elena”

  1. Grammy Says:

    I was disappointed in Happy Feet, too. Robin Williams sleazy remark to his beautiful bevy of lady penguins, “Let’s go to my pleasure couch. Who wants to be first?” — was totally out of place in a children’s movie. Also thought the environmentalist slant (The fishermen are taking all the penguin’s food. They are starving the penguins. etc). Felt more like an indoctrination film than entertainment.

  2. Cari Whiddon Says:

    Ok, here’s the scoop on this family film, from Cari Whiddon’s household. It’s about an adorable blue-eyed Empire Penguin named Mumble (Elijah Wood) who is born without a singing voice and therefore unable to have a heart song and find true love. This is a major requirement to the Empire Penguin World. Therefore, poor Mumble becomes an outcaste and goes in search of unanswered questions to bring back to his tribe and save the movie.

    We thoroughly enjoyed many parts of this movie. There were incredible swimming and underwater scenes. The music, singing and dancing had us happy in our seats. However, my four year old twins were quite board halfway through the film and scared by several intense scenes. Even I jumped when the monster-like seals chased our beloved Mumble. Which he narrowly escapes but had my kids in the aisle ready to leave.

    Overall I would suggest this film for children 6 yrs and up. There was an important environmental message that slipped right over my children’s head but may be suited for older aged children.

    I give this film 3 Moms On Edge Smiley faces.

  3. Nadya Kish Says:

    I, too, wish Happy Feet was what it could have been. I have almost a 4, 6 and 8 year-old and none of them seemed “enchanted” with it. They did dance around for 15 minutes after the movie like Mumble, but that was it. Sad and disappointing. I also noticed mumble did not look like the others. By any chance, when his dad dropped him in the snow, did he pick up a different type of penguin egg that happened to be buried there? Why else would there be so many differences (physical and characteristic) between him and his tribe?

    My children did come off with some sad questions once the “environmental awareness” scenes started…ones I wasn’t prepared to answer going to see a “Happy” animated movie about a penguin.

    I know they toss in some adult personas and language to keep the adults entertained, but…

    Ok, I could go on, but its a movie.

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