Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Happy Feet

Happy Feet is a very average animated film with some brilliant animation. Robin Williams does his thing, everyone learns an important lesson, and the world keeps on a spinin.’

Penguins mate by singing, if this animated tale is to be believed. A penguin looks deep in his or her heart and finds the heartsong which will be sung and will attract a mate. Two of the most musical penguins Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman) come together in just such a moment.

Their son however is a disappointment. Mumble (Elijah Wood) can’t sing, and has this odd habit of tapping his feet, and dancing to a beat that only he can hear. He is in love with the lovely Gloria (Brittany Murphy) but without being able to sing a lick, he can’t win her heart or find a place in his world.

Outcast, Mumble befriends a small group of smaller penguins (Johnny A. Sanchez, Lombardo Boyar, Jeff Garcia, and Robin Williams) who appreciate his toe-tapping and befriend him. Together with his new friends Mumble sets out to discover the reason for the fish shortage and comes face-to-face with a strange new alien creature - Man.

The animation is outstanding and top notch. The only animated film that’s looked better all year is Pixar’s Cars, (read my review) which is now available on DVD. The detail in the stark Antarctic, and the creatures themselves, is breath-taking. Too bad the story doesn’t keep up with it.

The ugly duckling story is nothing new as the outcast returns as the hero and finds the love and respect he should have had all along. It’s been done many times before, and the film doesn’t really add anything new to the tale. Also, many children,and more than a few adults, may find the pace of the film mind-shatteringly slow at times.

It’s a great film to look at, but the story meanders and although there’s a nice moral at the end about excepting people with differences, it doesn’t come off as well as it should. Still it will entertain for most of it’s 98 minute running time for older elementary school kids.

A final note for parents: At the screening I sat next to a 4 year-old girl and her parents. Within 20 minutes she was bored out of her skull and began begging her parents to leave, which of course they didn’t leaving all of us to “enjoy” the film and her incessant nagging for the rest of the film. Moral, keep the younger ones at home for this one.

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