First let me say that my enjoyment of the movie was affected by the company I had while watching it. We saw it as part of our five-year old’s Bday party, and had a dozen young friends of hers to keep track of while we watched the show.
I know, more brave than brainy.
The movie features a penguin who can’t (really really can’t) sing. But he’s got great foot work and a sweet personality . . . which is getting him nowhere in life. Mumble (aka Happy Feet) is a bit of a maverick throughout his school days, and takes off on his own in what would correspond to his teen years. He makes some friends, has adventures, etc., and finally attains the acceptance (and girl) he craves.
Pros: The penguins manage to be graceful, sassy, and cute all at once. The music is upbeat and catchy–we had kids dancing in the isles–and the idea of a heart song is lovely. It’s got some funny lines the older crowd will appreciate, and the eco message stops just short of ruining the show. The plucky personality of Mumble is enjoyable, and parents everywhere will relate to the penguin parents’ consternation at finding their son not picking up the school curriculum.
Cons: It ran about a half hour too long for the kids. The writers also seem to have shoved together two story lines without achieving a great merge. The first story is that of Mumble, the misfit penguin and his desire to win the heart of Gloria. The second story is an older-audience theme of exploration, where Mumble goes in search of ‘aliens’ in hope of finding out where the fish have gone. The second story doesn’t get going until well into the movie, and the explanation that the penguins are starving doesn’t jive given that they seem carefree and content. The solution to the fish problem is a little trite, but not too heavy-handed for the movie to work.
Overall: A good film, maybe even a great film (with the right company) for its category. Toy Story 2 is a favorite of mine, but even it’s got a slow scene in the middle. Certainly Happy Feet is worth watching, and the kids will fall in love with Mumble. Make sure your theater has good seating, and be prepared to come home toe-tapping.