Written by Warren Coleman, John Collee, Tyler Coppin
George Miller, Judy Morris
Directed by George Miller
Running Time: 1:49
for some mild peril and rude humor.
Happy Feet may have made a lot of money and won an Academy Award, but I was kind of bored throughout most of the film.
Apparently penguins have a the ability to sing, and when you find a penguin of the opposite sex whose song you like, that's your soulmate. Unfortunately, if you can't sing and instead like to dance, the penguin community looks down upon you. Such is the fate of young Mumble, a penguin who can't sing, but can dance like Savion Glover. He is banished from his community but with the help of some friends, finds out who has been stealing all the penguins fishes and comes back home a triumphant hero.
Happy Feet had some good music, I'll give it that. And the penguins look and sounds rather cute when they're born. But after that, there wasn't a lot for me to hang my hat on. Once Mumble grew up (into the voice of Elijah Wood) I didn't really enjoy the movie after that. One of the problems is that all the grown up penguins looked the same. Once they spoke you could tell the difference, but otherwise they all blended into each other. I didn't even think the animation was all that great. I can understand that it's a little hard to truly animate a penguin, but they did a reasonably good job doing the penguins in Madagascar so I don't think it's too much to expect a good job here.
Then there was the story that was forced upon us. It couldn't just be about a penguin living out his own dreams and being his own penguin. Nope, there had to be a conservation angle, one where humans are portrayed as the bad guys. See, the penguins believe in a God named 'Guin, and it seems 'Guin isn't very happy with the penguins, and is holding back the fish they usually eat. The truth however, is that humans have been taking all the fish. Well our young Mumble decides it is up to him to talk to the humans and make them understand. Of course penguins can't communicate to humans, but that doesn't stop Mumbles. As you might imagine, it's his dancing that somehow gets through to them. I won't ruin the story any further, but let's just say his triumphant return made no sense to me at all. If this was just a happy-go-lucky kind of film, I could forgive the nonsensical story line, but it felt like the filmmakers were trying to make this a 'serious' film that just happened to have talking penguins. It was a little over the top an unnecessary.
The movie did have some redeeming points. As I said before, the newborn penguins were cute as they stumbled around trying to get their feet under them and learn their heart songs. Seymour and his rap song was arguably the best part of the film. And Robin Williams is always a treat when he's allowed to go nuts and do voices. He does at least two characters here (although I believe he may have done a few 'uncredited' voices as well) and he was pretty funny. The rest of the voice work was so-so. There is one nice deleted scene with Steve Irwin which they finished after he died. So I'll give tribute to him (although his voice was also used for a character which did make the final cut.)
And, as I also said before, the music was good. They must have spent a fortune on securing the rights to all the songs they use. At times it felt like a really long music video. I realize though that without all the music, there's a good chance I wouldn't have enjoyed this film at all. Look, I enjoy animated movies and will generally watch them over and over again. But in this case there was no real substance to the film, no matter how hard they tried to beat some substance into our heads. I just wasn't captivated. There was nothing new in the film and a dancing penguin can only take you so far.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Happy Feet was just OK. I was never really into the film and beyond the cute baby penguins and the music, there was nothing to hang my hat on. In the immortal words of Randy Jackson 'it was just so-so dawg.'
Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home – Now from only a month!