Hello, Spongey here
This isn’t a Christmas movie. but it takes place in the Artic CLOSE ENOUGH!
Penguins are really popular. Why? no clue. the penguin is an animal that people just love. I like Penguins too, but the amount of movies they get is insane. Surfs up, Pebble and the penguin, March of the penguins, Madagascar (and the tv show). the list goes on!
But in the middle of this penguin madness came a film that tried to be a bit different. and it was…got mixed reactions. Some critics loved it, while some thought it was just dumb
As for me…it’s a bit of both.
What do i mean? Let’s find out/
This, is Happy Feet
The movie opens IN SPAAAAAACE as we pan in to earth. With this we get a song, which we find out is being by some penguins,. specifically, a female named Norma Jean, and a male named Mephis.
Thus, we have our first two positives.
1. The animation is solid. it’s done with a mix of CG and motion capture, which also makes the penguin look decently real, and every bit is vibrant and colorful.
2. The songs. It’s a jukebox musical, but all the songs are well choose and fit in the story
To add to this, Norma is voiced by Nicole kidman, and Memphis is Hugh jackman. They sing a love-ish song thing that is pretty cool and sweet. The narrator (who sadly is not Morgan freeman) informs us that they fell in love, fucked, and got an egg.
So Mom leaves for fishing season, while dad stays for egg time. However, the winter is really cold, which isn’t good for Memphis. Infact, he drops the egg in the snow, which exposes it to the elements. Thankfully, he picks it up. Oh, i’ll touch on this bit later.
So months later, the eggs hatch. except for Mephis’. However, the baby’s foot does pop out after a bit. But only the feet, so right now, it’s a walking egg. Thankfully, he fully hatches/
This is Mumbles, and his kid self is voiced by EG Daily. He taps a lot.
“I wouldn’t do that around other folks. it just ain’t penguin”
Should i pull out my new GAY ALLEGORY ALERT gag or not?
Later, the mothers arrive home. Mephsis and Norma reunite and it feels so good. She meets mumble and it’s all happy. Later, we cut to the penguin kids at a school.
See, every penguin has to sing, as the opening implied. The penguin teacher tells them that they need to find their “heart-song”. Mmble tries to sing, but fails.
This is being overseen byNnoah the elder, who is so not the villain. Nope. And the fact that he’s voiced by Hugo weaving is a total coincidence.
Anyway, mumble has no heart-song which upsets everyone. So…he has a disability due to being dropped.
The teacher tells this to his parents. So mumble is brought over to this other teacher. But despite her best efforts, he fails.
She catches him tap dancing, and tells him not to do that. The fact he can’t sing is funny, since EG daily sang as Tommy a few times in the Rugrats movies.
But he ends up tap dancing some more which again, displeases this teacher. His parents tell him that he should still try, but not too hard. Mom doesn’t even mind that he’s different,
So Mumbles hides out somewhere so he can tap dance in peace. However, 4 evil birds show up to try to eat him. Birds eat penguins now? Well if mice can eat rabbits…
Mumbles sees that the boss bird has a little band on his leg, and…he actually answers his question about what it is.
…Dude, aliens in a penguin movie would be the BEST THING EVER.
Yeah, he tells mumble that he was captured by aliens and they dissected him. when he woke up, he had that band thingy. After that they keep trying to eat mumble, but he falls into a crevice, so they can’t get to him. they fly away.
Later, the kid penguins are singing in a choir for the teacher. except mumble of course, as he in the back of the cless. the narrators talks about deep stuff as he looks to the sky
Okay, i’m liking this so far. This is shaping up to be a deep, if cliche, coming of age story. If it goes this way, it’ll be Pixar levels of good!
We cut to years later, as Mumbles is now voiced by Ellajih wood. So Wolverine gave birth to frodo? AWESOME!
Mumbles is watching his friend graduate school. However, another penguin is telling Hugo weaving that the kid is a bad omen. Either way, Mumbles is following his class on a field trip
They are swimming around in the water. Here we see Gloria, the love interest, voiced by Britney Murphey. she and Mumble hang out a bit and have fun, while also showing off the animation.
However, he is attacked by those damn birds again and is carried off but he safely falls to the ground.
After that pointless bit, we cut to that night, as the other penguins sing at graduation. However, mumble accidentally interrupts with his singing. They aren’t happy and tell him to piss off.
He is hanging out at a small iceberg the next morning, when he is attacked by a leopard seal. So if the birds and penguins can talk…why not the seal?
This shit happens too much. Even finding nemo is guilty of this, with the whale!
Wait…it does talk! But he just says mumbles would taste good with ketchup…really. Sigh, that was a total dreamworks gag. and this movie was almost timeless!
However, like Perry did, he stops evil while dancing. Well, tap dancing anyway. So he escapes the seal and meets up with some other penguins .aka THE MOST ANNOYING CHARACTERS IN THE MOVIE.
Weill, mostly Ramon, voiced by robin williams. he has a Mexican accent, and he is extremely annoying, always talking fast, and in jive talk,. Ugh
They ask Mumble to hang out with them. They are quite wild, which Mumble likes. Infact, they are bachelors and hit on some latina penguins. Told ya they were annoying.
However, the ladies see mumble dance, and they approve. They talk to him about his talents, annoyingly. Yeah, i told ya, they are so damn annoying. And this movie was going so well…
They hang out a bit, which leads to a long bit which only serves to pad the run time. But it’s pretty, so there’s that.
During this, mumble causes an avalanche which makes a excactor tumble out from a glacier. After that, they get back on land.
The others don’t care about the odd alien tech they saw, but they tell mumble that he can visit the guru Lovelace, who knows all.
Thus, we meet Lovelace, ALSO voiced by Robin Williams. But unlike ramone, he’s actually funny. He has this kind of deep voice, but is oddly fun and likable.
Mumble asks him about the aliens, and upon hearing that, he says he saw “mystic beings”, which also makes him turn on his genie voice.
This doesn’t help mumble at all, and lovelace isn’t fond of him.
“Let us all go forth and multiply”
In other words..
yeah, It’s mating season. I guess lovelace was like “fuck this shit, let’s go fuck some bitches”
He tells the others about the whole singing issue. But they think they can get him to sing well.
Back with Gloria, she is the center of attention, and even sings her heartsong, which is awesomely done. Then, Ramone barges in, starting a song of his own, which is the first cool thing he does. Well actually, he sings while mumble lip syncs, fooling Gloria.
Just like a real singer!
However, Mumble is found out right away, and she isn’t happy. Just then, as she sulks, she starts to sing,, and mumble provides background dancing. After a bit, she starts to sing in protest, which turns to praise and it launches into a huge awesome musical number.
The song being “Boogie wonderland” and I really like how this fits into the story, and how they realize they found their heartsong. It’s very well done.
Hell, even Ramone drops his annoying-ness to provide some nice back up! They really show off the animation, and it’s great..
Sadly, the noise is stopped by Hugo weaving, who does not approve. Te thinks THEY ARE FAILING, in other words.
Hugo weaving says that their a food shortage, and he thinks it is punishment from the dog’s for mumble’s dancing.
“Happy Feet can’t cause a famine!”
Yeah, it’s decent enough for everyone!
He tells hugo about the aliens, and they think he’s insane. So you’d think his dad would approve of the dancing, right?
Nope. turns out, wolverine’s a bit of an asshole. He buys into hugo weaving’s crap. Mom doesn’t buy into it, cuz she’s not an asshole
“When he was an egg, i dropped him”
…Oh, now i get it. He feels guilty. You know, the mental disability allegory is pretty obvious now.
MUMBLE: it doesn’t make any sense!
Exactly. so Dad and hugo weaving tell him to stop this, but mumble refuses. So thus, he is banished. Gloria doesn’t approve, but it’s too late. In a sort of depressing scene, Mumble sulks off.
Okay, i like this. After all, it’s leading to some good character stuff. But everyone was fine with mumble during that epic dance number. Hell, only dad and Hugo weaving aren’t into it, so the others could have been like “bitch please”
Either way, mumble leaves. he’s gonna head back to lovelace to see if he can help. however, they see that lovelace is chocking on plastic rings. See, lovelace has had them on his neck as a magic necklace thing.
Only now it’s a problem? Whatever, he is dying, and they help him breathe again. Lovelace confesses that he got stuck in the rings while swimming near the forbidden shores. Said shores are beyond the land of the elephant seals.
(EDIT FROM THE FUTURE: Originally I said “Robin Willaism is drying”. This joke did not age well to say the least and it has been changed. I apologize for hindsight being a bitch)
So Mumble and crew are headed there to see what’s what. But then, Gloria shows up, wanting to go with him. But in cliche fashion, he tells her she can’t come.
“It’s not you, it’s me”
Oh god, no. He’s trying to shake her off. She still wants to go since facing danger is HAWT. He shakes her off by insulting her singing
OH NO HE DID’;T
She thinks he’s being serious, so she walks away. Ramone tries to cheer him up with song, but Mumble tells him to shut up .AMEN
They make it to the shore but bump into two elephant seals. They tell him that if he goes out, the aliens will kill him. See, the Aliens are taking the fish, and thus, the penguins food.
But despite this, Mumble and crew run past and head off. They face extra cold winds, and other dangers. They travel across fast territories. More stuff happens but i’ll skip to when they reach the shore.
Long story short, they end up in the water, but then lovelace (who came with them) gets his rings off, and they outrun a killer whale too. Nore whales show up and it’s a really awesome action scene.
They outswim the whales and Lovelace tells them to fuck off. Then some big ass boats show up and yep, they find the aliens.
Ramone wants to go home, but Mumble wants to go after the aliens. he tells ramone to go home as he swims after the boats. Mumble is awesome.
after almost being killed by the boat’s propellers, he keeps swimming after them, but falls asleep. when he wakes up, he has been rescued and kept at Marine World with some Magellanic Penguins
And that’s when it hits you: The aliens are human. This is an environmental film
Snd that’s where this movie’s biggest problem comes in. In the first half, it was a decent coming of age story about a penguin learning to be different. Then in the 2nd half it makes a turn and becomes a green aesop for no fucking reason.
They are just preaching at us for no reason. Director George Miller says that in the original script, that wasn’t there. half way through production, they put the human crap in.
“You can’t tell a story about Antarctica and the penguins without giving that dimension.”
Yyou were telling a perfectly good penguin story in the first half of this movie without that dimension. If you want to make an environmental film, that’s fine. But don’t mix it with a TAP DANCING PENGUIN movie at the last minute!
It’s like they took two different plots for this movie and jammed them together. The switch to the human stuff is jarring and it really drags the film down.
Also, the humans are badly motion captured.
Mumble tries to tell the human what they are doing, but they don’t speak penguin. Wait, so if you eat fish, you kill penguins?
How long is he in there? 3 months. If the narrator didn’t’ tell us, I wouldn’t know. It’s like in the dark knight rises. It feels like weeks rather than months!
So he starts to go insane, and it’s kind of heartbreaking to see that, but eh. Oh, Fun fact: this movie was going to have REAL aliens instead of humans.
THAT would have been awesome!
So then, one of the creepy CG humans taps the glass, and Mumble start to tap dance to it. A crowd sees this and epic dancing ensues.
Then due to this, he is put back in the wild with a tracking device. Uh, so dancing means put that thing back where it came from?
He leads the humans to his colony to prove to the penguins that aliens really are taking the fish.
Hugo weaving doesn’t buy it. but then they seeMmumble’s tracking device, and now they get it. Then they find out that Hugo was a lying an asshole. Hugo thinks that Mumble bringing the humans there is a bad thing.
Mumble convinces the penguins to dance to get the humans attention, despite hugo’s protest. Even Mom and Dad like mumble again!
Mom tells him something is up with dad. See, dad got really depressed and became a loner when he thought Mumble was dead. he regrets what he said.
See, this is the sweet stuff I want.
But the dad perks up and they all end doing a big awesome dance number! This works and the humans show up. With the humans there, the penguins dance their message out. Even hugo weaving joins in!
The humans film the dancing, bring the footage back home and the whole world debates about the whole fishing issue. Here, the humans are real actors, and not motion capture. Thank god.
With that, the governments stop fishing, and the penguins are safe. Mumble and Gloria actually hook up, so they avoided the romantic misunderstanding! Yay!
So a bit later, we see them in a huge musical number, as the movie…stops. Yeah there’s no resolution, no one even talks. We don’t even see that how mumble learned the movie.Tthe fish get saved, and they dance. end!
Well, it’s over anyway.
This movie was….decent. Just…decent
On the positive side, the animation is great, the soundtrack is good, and the songs fit in the story. The characters are likeable and the motional journey Mumble goes through is riveting.
on the negative side, Ramone is annoying, it drags in the middle, and the environmental stuff is heavy handed and out of nowhere. The ending needed work too.
That stuff does drag the film down, so I can’t say it’s too great. But…it’s still semi decent.
The first half alone makes it worth while. There, it was fun , cool ,and really well done. I honestly would watch it again, because it is just that decent. Sure, i have a few issues, which drag it down, but overall, it’s watchable.
I’d watch it on TV, but i doubt I’ll be buying the DVD anytime soon.
My recommendation? Check it out if you want. If it’s on TV, it wouldn’t kill you see it.
But if you ask me, it did NOT deserve to win the Oscar for best animated feature. This beat Cars, for god’s sake! Say what you will about cars, but it’s better than tap dancing penguins!
Oh, and there’s a sequel. I’ll review it some other time, but not now.