Tap-dancing penguins could never have been pitched if the mega-hit doc
Marching Penguins (2005) had not caught the imagination of every
breathing human. Only this time around Happy Feet is not a doc but a
high-class animation (from the director of the very humane Babe) and
much more anthropomorphic than Marching Penguins because these are
Besides the themes of individualism and environmental destruction,
Happy Feet's special effects take animation as close to 3-D as could be
possible in a 2-D medium. One scene with frolicking penguins careening
down a mountain has the sight and sound of rapid descent so authentic
as to make me cringe at each turn for fear of flying off the snow into
the sky. The colors are luminous and the long and helicopter-like shots
stunning enough to make you feel you're watching IMAX.
Mumble (voice of Elijah Wood) has no singing voice, so he can't sing a
"heart-song," the signature croon of a male to attract a female for
life. But as Nature frequently compensates, that boy can dance. A
hard-to-accept-it dad (Hugh Jackman) laments, "It just ain't penguin."
The adventures of this hippity-hop outcast bring him to a band of
diminutive Latinos headed by a savvy Ramon (Robin Williams), who helps
him to find his inner heart-song in his feet and eventually the source
of fish depletion (the "aliens" are a familiar race of buccaneersus).
Along the way Mumble finds soulful love with Gloria (Brittney Murphy),
a young lady strong in song and belief in Mumble. Speaking of song,
much of the score, while replete with pop standards from the likes of
the Beach Boys and Sinatra, adapts several gospel tunes to accentuate
the theme of a savior being rejected by his own kind.
Happy Feet is a happy film that features cutting-edge CG while it
teaches young and old about tolerance and talent. This is the season
for the tuxedo crowdshaken and stirred.
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