Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Feet (2006)

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It’s not often that a movie can be incredible for children and even reasonably tolerable for adults. Happy Feet, however, employs a typical animated, children's movie storyline but entwines parable, symbolism, and allegory to bring much more value as a film. Will young kids pick up the deeper meanings behind the characters and their actions? Who knows, but if they do notice anything beneath the surface and begin to ask questions, Happy Feet has considerable value. In the Antarctica of Happy Feet, penguins are all born with a song unique to their personality. The main character, Mumble, is dropped while in the egg and is born unable to sing a note but has better dance moves than Emmitt Smith. His striking difference leads to isolation and persecution, and a cast of interesting characters join him on the resulting journey to find acceptance. None of the characters are as funny as the Penguins of Madagascar, but each is much more complex and contribute more to an evocative story. Happy Feet has an A-list of celebrity voiceovers including Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving, and even Fat Joe, but none are very noticeable. This may be a plus, though, as none of the characters are looked at as a cartoon version of the person doing the voices. Robin Williams voices a few characters and turns in his least annoying voice-over performance since playing the Genie in Aladdin. The only other notable film by director George Miller was the Mel Gibson cult-classic Mad Max. However, the entire production team also created Babe, one of the best films of the 1990s. Although Happy Feet doesn't quite live up to Babe-status, it is similar in that is an entry in the under-12 genre that appeals to an audience of all ages. Happy Feet has received acclaim and criticism for both subtle and blatant messages about issues such as the environment, but it is Happy Feet's depth as a story and talking point that make it something that should be seen by both children and adults. It isn't just another computer animated movie designed to make money at the box office, and has earned a spot in the conversation with legitimate cinema.

Good For: kids, a date, someone babysitting, hippies

Bad For: people who enjoy littering, zoo employees

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