Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review: "Happy Feet"

I have a two-year-old that loves penguins, so if there's an animated movie with penguins, we're probably seeing it at some point. I happen to like animated movies myself, so I'm not that opposed. Except when we run into one like this.

Mumble, voiced by Elijah Wood, is an emperor penguin that can't sing - the only one, apparently. But he can dance. His lack of vocal ability makes him an outcast, and he's shunned because of his love of dancing. The elder penguins even blame the lack of fish on Mumble's dancing. Of course, we know that's actually caused by overfishing by humans, and of course, Mumble is the one that will discover that and set things right because that's how these kinds of movies work.

The problem is, the environmental message in the second half of the movie falls flat because the filmmakers fail to make me care about their animated penguins in the first half of the movie. There are pretty pictures. There are some funny gags and some fun moments during the singing, but I'm just not invested.

OK, so it's a cartoon, and adults are not really supposed to have an emotional investment, but I should at least care about what happens to Mumble, and I don't.

My son liked the singing and dancing penguins, and an action sequence where they're chased by a leopard seal, but even he lost interest when Mumble's out on his own trying to save the world. That whole storyline just seems to drag and drag the movie down with it. While I understand and applaud the filmmakers trying to make an environmental statement, they might have been better served to deliver the fluffy kids' movie about being yourself that "Happy Feet" started as.

Get "Happy Feet."

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