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Nov. 21, 2006

Party with the penguins

by Mary Donahue, Online Managing Features Editor
Warning: this movie may cause audience members to get out in the aisles and dance. As hard as it may be, please refrain from this behavior, as it obscures the view of other audience members. Thank you for your consideration.

Following the release of the sleeper hit "March of the Penguins" in 2005, Hollywood producers seemed to realize the selling potential of these cold-weather birds. "Happy Feet," the first of a string of animated penguin movies and soon to be followed by surfing penguin movie "Surf's Up" in 2007, has the potential of becoming a blockbuster hit just based on the "cute factor."

We are met with the quest of Mumble (Elijah Wood) to find his heart song, the song that will get him a mate. Unfortunately for Mumble, his heart song comes in the form of a toe-tapping, feet-slapping dance. Shunned by his father Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and other penguins for his unorthodox talents, Mumble befriends the carefree Ramón (Robin Williams) and his sidekicks, the Amigos (Carlos Alazraqui, Johnny Sanchez, Carlos Alazraqui, Lombardo Boyar and Jeff Garcia), a comical group of Adelie penguins. Together, the group searches for a way to redeem Mumble and get him accepted back into the waddle (a group of penguins on land).
"Happy Feet" proves that dancing penguins cannot fail at entertaining.
"Happy Feet" proves that dancing penguins cannot fail at entertaining.

The jukebox musical is set to a surprisingly good soundtrack, featuring recognizable songs by The Beach Boys, Queen and Stevie Wonder. These songs were covered by Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy and Robin Williams (who knew they could hit the notes?), as well already established singers Pink, Jason Mraz and Patti LaBelle.

While "Happy Feet" will certainly get both adults and children smiling with its beguiling soundtrack and loveable characters, the movie is not without flaws. Director George Miller apparently could not decide on just one plot to follow, dragging three or four mini-plots together into one large hodgepodge. What manifests as the major plotline of the movie doesn't begin until the last half hour of the two hour movie, and with such little direction, the plot is often slow.

What the movie lacked in plot, it made up for in style. The animation for "Happy Feet" is breathtaking, and includes spectacular landscape shots of the Antarctic tundra. The illustrations of both the penguins and other animals, including fearsome leopard seals and killer whales, were almost disturbingly realistic; all except for Mumble who retains his adorably downy coat throughout the movie. This along with Mumbles "slide of foot" is apparently a result of to Memphis's heinous error of dropping Mumble while he was an egg.

"Happy Feet" may not be perfect in even the most basic part of a story, the plot, but it can almost be guaranteed that no one will walk out of the movie not smiling and tapping their feet. It just proves that dancing penguins cannot fail at entertaining.

"Happy Feet" (108 minutes) is rated PG for some mild peril and rude humor and is playing in area theaters.



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  • jennifer (View Email) on December 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM
    i freakin love that movie my friends say i'm obbsest with the movie(lol) but this movie is the best of all movies,i'd watch it over & over if i could...mumbles is my favorite chatacter!!! He shows that u don't have to be like every one ells to fit in,some people are made to stand out!
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