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Overall Rating
3.27

Awesome33.12%
Worth A Look: 16.56%
Average: 17.2%
Pretty Bad: 10.19%
Total Crap: 22.93%

9 reviews, 103 user ratings


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Happy Feet
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by Collin Souter

"That'll do, Penguin"
5 stars

Happy Feet is a big, wondrous, happy movie. It reminded me of how lucky I am to be alive at this point in time to witness just how far we’ve come with regards to technology and how it has helped filmmakers and artists to tell particular kinds of stories. By now, we should all be incredibly jaded and not the least bit surprised when we see a computer animated movie that looks this beautiful. Yet, every once in a while something will come down the pike and blow my mind with just how much we can do and how much filmmakers still have yet to conceive. Happy Feet does this while going several steps further with its storytelling, execution and overall adventurous spirit.

George Miller directed Happy Feet, his first directorial effort since 1998’s Babe: Pig In the City. Both films overflow with visual wonderment and elaborate action set pieces that boggle the mind. Miller possesses an endless amount of imagination for a director who has been making action movies and dramas for the past 30 years (he’s responsible for all three Mad Max films). There seems to be no stopping him. Miller fills every world he creates with astonishingly rich detail while taking chances with the material.

Some would say, though, that this time around Miller treads familiar territory. Admittedly, there exist many parallels between Happy Feet’s storyline and that of the first Babe movie. Both films center on outsiders with uncommon talents. Babe the Pig wanted to herd sheep. The protagonist in this film, Mumble (Elijah Wood), is a penguin who can’t sing like all the other penguins, but who can tap dance better than any of them. Babe inadvertently brings the animal world and the human world together by showing off his talents and by just being a good-natured soul. So does Mumble. In both films, there are many rules and a natural order to how things work in the animal world and to break these rules would be frowned upon, maybe even catastrophic.

In this world, every penguin has a heart song, a song that everyone can sing, celebrate and enjoy. Because Mumble cannot sing, he has no song of his own. His voice resembles that of Jim Carrey’s “most annoying sound in the world” from Dumb and Dumber. Since penguins have not yet discovered tap dancing, they look upon him as a freak of nature. As he gets older, he has a hard time fitting in, but gets much support from his mother Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman). Not so much, though, from his father Memphis (Hugh Jackman), who can’t help but feel a sense of shame and disappointment in his son.

But Mumble forges ahead and joins up with the other penguins his age for a journey across the tundra of Antarctica to search for fish. On the way, he tries expressing his true feelings for his childhood sweetheart Gloria (Brittney Murphy), who has the most beautiful singing voice in the land. After interrupting one too many songs with his own voice, Mumble becomes an outcast. Soon he walks alone and eventually meets up with a group of shorter, feistier penguins (two of which are voiced by Robin Williams) who accept him and treat him as one of their own. A cataclysmic event brings the penguin world in touch with the human world and a quest for answers regarding these “aliens” pushes the narrative into slightly darker and unpredictable territory.

This sounds like a lot to cram into a 98-minute animated film, but you’d be surprised by just how much breathing room the movie has to warrant the occasional dance number, all of which have more weight, more energy and more style than anything in Dreamgirls. The animators clearly studied the footwork of professional dancers and applied the nuances with staggering detail. The sequences have been edited and constructed with such precision and care that I wouldn’t be surprised if there occurred a rise in the amount of kids signing up for tap dancing lessons after seeing this film.

This goes double for the action sequences and the film’s overall look. Unlike, say, the Ice Age movies, Happy Feet goes to the trouble of applying a rich tapestry of color and design to create a world that actually looks fantastic, while also having an organic feel. The blue water that surrounds the icebergs is a deep, dark blue and looks absolutely freezing. The wide shots of thousands of penguins dancing bring to mind the shots in the Lord of the Rings movies of Sarumon looking over his army. It’s an exhilarating sight, one I can’t wait to see on IMAX.

But Happy Feet will likely illicit some criticism for a couple things for which I do find fault with regards to many animated films made these days. Much of the music comes from radio standards by Prince, Stevie Wonder and other pop stars instead of creating new songs for the penguins to sing. I can understand people having a problem with this, but since the pop culture references stop there and don’t dominate the rest of the movie, I had an easier time accepting it. The writers don’t spend too much time trying to work in jokes that only adults will understand. Even Robin Williams, who has become a cliché in casting for animated ventures, doesn’t dominate his three roles with his own brand of shtick. You know it’s him, but this time it’s not about having him there.

Happy Feet is about a lot of things and has a lot on its plate. I don’t consider this a fault, but an advantage over several animated films this year that have been about little more than animals being smart-asses. Miller and his crew infuse the movie with so much visual splendor, heart and emotion that it ends up being one of the richest moviegoing experiences I’ve had all year. Its messages concerning identity, change and co-existence with those different from you will not miss children’s ears, either. So, really, what’s not to be happy about?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15277&reviewer=233
originally posted: 11/20/06 14:50:34
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User Comments

6/25/18 Louise More like 'Crappy Feet'. Cringingly awful! 1 stars
6/28/11 DR CGI's darkest hour. Boring, bad script, poor song placement. Worst animated film I've seen. 1 stars
10/23/09 stan wonderlost Mr. Mumble gets 3 taps on the egg before birth and is tapped and taps toward the end. super 5 stars
6/20/09 Dan Terrible. Dull. Disjointed. Hard to watch. 1 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner My daughter loves this movie! 5 stars
7/04/08 TreeTiger I could only stomach about 30 mins. of this artificially sweetened CGI-crap..! 1 stars
5/18/08 PAUL SHORTT TECHNICALLY IMPRESSIVE. OTHERWISE - STAY AWAY, BIG TIME! 1 stars
10/25/07 Natalie robinson its great great great great great 5 stars
10/18/07 anonymous I luv this movie! 5 stars! 5 stars
9/14/07 Tracy my kids loved this! They liked the dancing (Savions moves) 5 stars
7/30/07 maddy its great and its got a lot of emotions 5 stars
6/25/07 Clara Such a good film, but a little bit boring at the end ! 3 stars
6/22/07 cool3457 the film has penguin sex in this. 1 stars
6/08/07 aloysius could'nt agree more, movie is a piece of total s*%t! 1 stars
5/11/07 Marissa To all the people who didin't like it F#*# U its the best movie ever 5 stars
5/08/07 Molly Beich Clever and original and gorgeously animated. I loved the pop culture references. 5 stars
4/27/07 Michelle Penguins shaking their butts to attract a partner for sex? Who wants their kid to see that? 1 stars
4/23/07 S.M The beginning was great, but the movie was prolonged and annoying. Like Spielburg's "A-I". 2 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini very cute 4 stars
4/08/07 David Cohen Silly ass one joke movie for people who found "March..." too icky 1 stars
4/01/07 John A Habig Along with Over The Hedge and Hoot one of the best kids message films out 5 stars
3/20/07 Shanique This movie was like the best animated movie that I have ever seen in my life. 5 stars
3/13/07 the wizz Should be called CRAPPY FEET! Just about tap dancing and dumb singing. Very disappointed! 1 stars
3/07/07 chienne R U serious? This won an Oscar?? Nic kills everything she's in. HELLO? I HATED i!t 1 stars
2/27/07 N3GRiiTA TH3 B3ST MOVii3!!! ii LOV3D iiT 5 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Glorious animation, light story undermined halfway thru by heavyhanded envrnmntal message. 3 stars
1/31/07 Paul After the first 30 minutes -animation wore off and it became boring! 2 stars
1/20/07 Steve McKay Excellent review. The story was thin, unoriginal, heavy-handed and even offensive to many. 2 stars
1/17/07 Jan Hannah Absolutely loved it. So very clever. 5 stars
1/16/07 Lorna this is cool i saw it with my dad and i loved it 5 stars
1/15/07 Brian What is "weird" about this film? And what sexual content? Chill out you rednecks! 5 stars
1/13/07 John Howard Terrific animation, dodgy soundtrack and shallow storyline 2 stars
1/12/07 AJ very very good see the movie 5 stars
1/11/07 denise EXTREME Fright! loaded w/ sex inuendo! 3 yr old CRIED thru movie! so AWFUL- left after 1hr 1 stars
1/10/07 Daniel L sex. undertones: mild and harmless. Scary scenes: May frighten young children. 3 stars
1/09/07 Alyson I know the plot was jumpy, but it was held together well though may have needed more edits. 5 stars
1/09/07 dobbo felt like lord of the rings ?<and i luv that movie> but with penguins? 3 stars
1/09/07 pam 4 different writers wrote four different movies about penguins needing sex. Throw in some m 1 stars
1/07/07 paula zzzzz 1 stars
1/04/07 Alice I just loved it, breathtaking animation!Loaded with sexual content??You have issues!!! 5 stars
1/04/07 Jen My sons (4&8) did not like it. I agree with this review. 3 stars
1/03/07 Kate Re sexual innuendo - that's how little penguins are made, u no... 4 stars
1/03/07 David Great Animation + No Story = Eye Candy. No logical story was discernable. 1 stars
12/31/06 Jennifer I thought it was not appropriate for my son; he was terrified at times 1 stars
12/31/06 Nick Best Cinema I have seen in a long time! And I see a lot of Cinema! Jaw Dropping. 5 stars
12/30/06 S.Lawrence Ironic: Its about celebrating differences, and people hating it 'cause its different 5 stars
12/30/06 Jean Graphics - amazing, story line - very disapointed 1 stars
12/29/06 zach this film review is boring. and annoying. and too long. but mostly boring. Happy movie! 5 stars
12/29/06 Lamemovie Great graphics but lame, jumpy plot. Cute, then scary n dumb. Song lyrics not fo'kids 1 stars
12/29/06 Kimberly Pretty cute, hard to ffollow @ times, movie hops around & seals are scary for kids 4 stars
12/25/06 Deb Just plain fun with great music and brilliant Robin Williams! It's a must see. 5 stars
12/22/06 Rob Pff...silly phillistines. You'd probably be better off with Clifford the big red dog. 5 stars
12/20/06 Jon Boyce Banal. Bilious. Boring. 1 stars
12/19/06 DAWWWG degrading to penguins 5 stars
12/19/06 Luke How could anyone hate this movie? It'd be like hating ice cream. 5 stars
12/18/06 Jamie Are yall freaking kidding me? I saw maybe ONE sexual innuendo. Please get over yourselves. 5 stars
12/17/06 Alex Weird, Weird, Weird, are hallucinogenics coming back into vogue in H'wood? 2 stars
12/16/06 Monica NOT appropriate for children. Loaded with sexual content & scary at times. 1 stars
12/15/06 alistair just horrible - kids hated it 1 stars
12/14/06 D. Kickham This was a sweet & touching movie. Valid environmental issues. 5 stars
12/14/06 R Porter A complete mismatch of ideas, not worth your money. 1 stars
12/14/06 Allison Awesome!My 8 year old loved it & we talked about environmental issues for an hour afterward 5 stars
12/13/06 ian bishop absolutly awesom u yanks have not got a clue 5 stars
12/13/06 Louise Stupid film - HATED the soundtrack! 2 stars
12/12/06 rob intresting, good but weird 4 stars
12/12/06 birdy figgis Dreadful! Horrible, inappropriate for kids soundtrack 1 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany even better the second time 5 stars
12/11/06 kristi This movie was aimed at the wrong audience, and is not appropriate for kids. 1 stars
12/10/06 sharelunker Liberal, environmentalist wacko, religion-bashing, Hollyweird crap. Please don't go! 1 stars
12/10/06 Craig Confusing, overcute, retarded and irritating. 1 stars
12/10/06 cheyenne it was kool i wanna see it again 5 stars
12/09/06 carol way too weird for me, my daughter 6 loved it, i didnt think the lyrics were appropriate 2 stars
12/09/06 Djegovsky Great, you must see it! 5 stars
12/06/06 Awoman I though the movie was great. It had it's bumps,but what film doesn't. I loved it. 5 stars
12/06/06 meagan my daughter hated it, too dark and more for adults not worth the $ 1 stars
12/05/06 scotty the best animated movie of the year!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/05/06 Paris I'm 13 years old, and I agree with the people who say it has too much innuendo. 4 stars
12/04/06 zzzzz..... Horrible...instead of a cute "fitting in" movie, we got "save the penguins!" 1 stars
12/04/06 mart the begining starts out normal and cute, but by the time it gets to the middle, weird 3 stars
12/04/06 karen gay !!!!! DO NOT SEE !!! 1 stars
12/03/06 Helen Too dark/threatening for little kids. Too much sexual inuendo. 1 stars
12/03/06 Charlene Javier I loved Gloria the most!! 4 stars
12/01/06 Mumble from Happy Feet What is wrong with you people, this is an awesome movie, there wasn't any bad content! 5 stars
11/29/06 Abby It had so much sexual content i hated it. It was funny but you should have rated it R 1 stars
11/29/06 Mel One million penguins--many more cliches and sterotypes to count... 1 stars
11/27/06 bullit16 So bad .. on so many levels. Just awful. 1 stars
11/27/06 Jason Terrible. Heavy handed propaganda. Too many ethnc stereotypes. 1 stars
11/27/06 amani wow 2 stars
11/27/06 Al Gore Loved it. How wonderfully inconvenient!1 5 stars
11/26/06 Dawn This movie was horrid..there were more sexual inuendos in this than the cat in the hat. sic 1 stars
11/26/06 Amanda Amazing, it has something in it for kids and funny jokes in it for the older folks as well 5 stars
11/25/06 Caroline Some parts funny but mostly kids were bored and I left mad because I had paid to see it. 1 stars
11/25/06 Snooze Except for the stunning Computer Generated work, Sat. morn. cartoons might be better. 2 stars
11/23/06 Tiffany Losco My daughter and I loved this film. It was funny, and great. My dad even liked it. 5 stars
11/22/06 kelly omgosh so cute and funney i loved it! AMAZING movie! 5 stars
11/22/06 Theresa I agree 100%. Don't waste money to see this in theaters. Only 30 min of cuteness. 2 stars
11/22/06 jdean62 Should have watted for the DVD...better yet cable! Ok it was ok for kids !! 3 stars
11/21/06 Siren It was wonderful, amazing, I absolutely loved every moment. The DVD is on my wish list!! 5 stars
11/21/06 AnnetteB Orndorf's review is right on. Ran too long also Zzzzz Don't be duped by the "Cute" factor. 3 stars
11/20/06 michael classic flix 4 stars
11/18/06 Quigley Very, very weird, but in a good way. Visually awesome and very original; occasionally funny 4 stars
11/18/06 Raymond Scott It's okay, but a little Robin Williams goes a long, long...long way 3 stars
11/18/06 Spencer Cameron This movie is a very good family movie. I hope all of you on e FilmCritic like it. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Nov-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 27-Mar-2007

UK
  08-Dec-2006 (U)

Australia
  26-Dec-2006 (G)




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