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Happy Feet

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“Happy Feet” mightn’t be the grandiose family film that the U.S box office (top of the charts for two weeks in a row – making a packet in its first weekend) would have you assume, but it’s still a fun ride – even if it does try and unify “Babe” with “An Inconvenient Truth”. Tough feat.


Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Robin Williams, Hugo Weaving, Brittany Murphy, Steve Irwin, Magda Szubanski, Anthony LaPaglia

Finally, Brian Henson does justice to the veteran Muppet himself and builds a movie around Kermit’s famous ‘Happy Feet’ song. It’s a foot-tapping, knee-shaking puppet pop concert as “Happy feet, I’ve got those happy feet Give them a low down beat And they begin dancing I’ve got those ten little tapping toes ..” screams through the speakers of your local multiplex.

Or not. Nope, you should never assume. If titles really told you what the movie was about, “Pulse” would’ve had some life in it, “An Inconvenient Truth” would’ve encompassed news footage of Mel B and Eddie Murphy, and “White Noise” would’ve featured Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie in the cast.

“Happy Feet” isn’t so much cotton as it is cartoon. And though the feet will still be tapping, the knees will still be shaking, and animals will be a-singing… it’ll be penguins, not frogs on lead. But then, who wants strings attached anyway?

The film is set in the Antarctic and fixes on a young Penguin, Mumble (Elijah Wood), who discovers he’s the only one among his waddling clan that doesn’t have a singing voice. He also looks a little different to the others, and so he’s ultimately run out of town. Whilst on a mission to find his voice – he’s more of a tap-dancer than a singer, it seems – he stumbles upon what could be an alien invasion.

“Happy Feet” is a marvellous looking film that took some four years to take shape. It’s seriously one of the best-looking animated films you’ll ever see – the backdrops are beautiful, the character detail is superb, and the blend between toon and human (near the end of the film, a few humans enter the picture) is textbook. Breathtaking stuff.

Unfortunately, the groundwork isn’t as sturdy as the paint job. On the outset, it seems to be a light and fluffy film with plenty of giggles, plenty of awww moments and some spectacular dance sequences but then, about mid-way through, it takes the form of an environmentally-conscious preacher and begins bashing into our minds the merits of keeping penguins alive (?). Considering the film set out telling the story of an exiled penguin who was out to find his singing voice, it’s a severe shift in tone to start going all Steven Seagal.

Having said that, there’s still a lot to like about “Feet” besides the top work of the animators. The characters are as cute as hell – baby Mumble will steal your heart – and the voice performers are all fantastic, particularly Robin Williams who provides the voices of two very diverse characters. It’s also a showcase for Brittany Murphy, who proves she has a terrific set of lungs as she belts out classics like “Somebody to Love”. Also keep your ears peeled for the late Steve Irwin, who voices an Elephant Seal, in his trademark tongue.

“Happy Feet” mightn’t be the grandiose family film that the U.S box office (top of the charts for two weeks in a row – making a packet in its first weekend) would have you assume, but it’s still a fun ride – even if it does try and unify “Babe” with “An Inconvenient Truth”. Tough feat.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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