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 Publicity Stills of "Happy Feet"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Animation
Director: George Miller
Voice Talents of: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Released By: GVP
Rating: G

Opening Day: 23 November 2006

Book: Read our review of the HAPPY FEET: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE

Soundtrack: Read our review on the original SOUNDTRACK

Synopsis :

Animated penguins! Elijah Wood voices the character of a misfit Emperor penguin who can't sing his mating song to his girl so he learns to tap dance instead.

Movie Review:

It has been confirmed. Penguins are a force to be reckoned with, period. They captured our hearts in March of the Penguins, scared us silly with their murderous ways in Madagascar and now they return to the silver screen attempting to melt our hearts and tire our feet in well, Happy Feet!

If anyone has thought of staying from this film lest it be an animation for children, think again. Happy Feet will intrigue any adult as much as it would leave children in awe. The film dives head first into themes like finding one’s individuality, fitting into a society that scorns the different and of the plight of penguins where humans are involved, issues which are still relevant to the adult life. Also, there are a number of scenes that might prove a tad too overwhelming for children and could possibly lead them to question aplenty.

Happy Feet is about Mumble HappyFeet (Elijah Wood), offspring of Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman), a penguin who finds great pleasure in tapping his feet but cannot find his heartsong. The heartsong in question is something that all penguins possess and essential to finding the right partner in the near future. Looked upon as being different from the rest, the young Mumble finds it hard to make friends and spends time by himself, dancing away.

When Mumble’s dancing starts to affect the other penguins, he is chastised by Noah the Elder (Hugo Weaving) for being the cause of a famine that has plagued the entire penguin community. He is banished when his pleas that “aliens” have taken their fish are ignored. In wanting to prove the truth, he ventures on a journey that takes him beyond the vast landscape of ice and one beyond any penguin’s limit.

Quite honestly, Happy Feet is yes, a musical about penguins that dance and how love and friendship play a part in their lives. However, the film is so much more than that. It is obvious that a lot of thought had been put into making the film instead of just focusing on just the animation. This fortunately, is a welcome change considering that there has been an influx of animation films most of which, unfortunately, possessed an extreme dearth of quality in theirs plots.

Despite having a worthy plot, Happy Feet treads slowly like the hatching of an egg. The film starts off slowly with the courtship of Memphis and Norma Jean and introducing the audience to the life cycle of a penguin. It is only much later in the film that the primary issue of the famine comes into the picture. Also, the character dynamics only gel when the Amigos (Robin Williams and gang) come into the fray providing much needed laughter. Then there are the monstrous and vicious preys from both the sky and the water that provide much suspense and intrigue to the film. Eventually, the tempo does pick up and reaches a crescendo only for the moment to be broken with a typical Hollywood ending.

The star-studded cast on the other hand, does not fail. As a musical, the singers are top notch in the form of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Brittany Murphy, voicing Gloria, the object of Mumble’s affection. And the rest of the cast is brilliantly casted that one cannot recognize the face behind the voice and in this instance, the chameleon, Hugo Weaving. Ultimately, Robin Williams, voicing two characters is the element that bonds the film with his over the top antics, which serve as a welcome distraction.

Happy Feet is an animation that dares to tread on new waters in introducing serious themes. For a film that celebrates the individuality of its main character, it mirrors that of the makers of the film. However, one should be prepared to take sides, to accept the film about a penguin’s journey to both redeem and find himself or a film that prides in its own ambition in thinking a bit too big with its ideas. I say, watch it for what it is worth. It is a guaranteed cinematic experience that one will not forget.

Movie Rating:

(The penguins in Happy Feet will tappity-tap their way into your hearts!)

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri


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