Ready to get "Happy?"

Nov. 22, 2006, midnight | By Kate Harter | 17 years, 8 months ago

Animated film will bring laughter and joy

Not many films can leave viewers with a happy feeling as they exit the theatre, and not many can boast of keeping the audience laughing throughout the entire film. But "Happy Feet," directed by George Miller, does just that: leaves its audience with stomachs that ache from laughing but hearts full of delight.

"Happy Feet" is the story of Mumble (Elijah Wood), a penguin who, after being dropped by his father while in his egg, doesn't seem to have his own "heart song," which helps one penguin find his soul mate. Mumble does have a natural beat and style of dance that is unique to him, but the absence of a heart song is unheard of in the penguin world, and for all of his life, Mumble is an outcast who just wants to be accepted by his peers—especially Gloria (Brittany Murphy)—and his father, Memphis (Hugh Jackman). When Mumble goes on a quest to prove himself to his community, he meets up with a bunch of new penguins from a whole new area, who are determined to help him and be his companions. After his excruciating journey, Mumble learns that he needs to accept his difference and take advantage of his talent in dancing.

There was excitement in the audience way before the movie itself actually started; partially because kids were gearing up for a night of laughter, but also because the trailer for the newest Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" debuted before "Happy Feet." An audible gasp went through the crowd when this preview came on, adding to the mounting enthusiasm. The long-awaited teaser for everyone's favorite wizard got the crowd even more pumped up, to say the least. And "Happy Feet" did not let anyone down.

One of the most important aspects of the animated flick is its soundtrack, compiled by John Powell and Jamal-Ski. The songs used in the film definitely added to the quality of the film and made viewers want to get up and dance with Mumble as he tap-dances away. Songs by the Beach Boys, Prince, Williams and Pink and Lupe Fiasco, make the movie that much more enjoyable. Murphy and Jackman also sing their own songs in the film.

The script for "Happy Feet" is expertly crafted and contains line after line of hilarious silliness that gets the audience going every time. "Let me tell something to you," a funny little penguin, Ramón (Robin Williams), repeats multiple times in a heavy Spanish accent, each time eliciting peals of laughter from the young crowd.

Also extremely satisfying is the animation. The characters can challenge the great art in other animated films such as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo." Each penguin is different, and it is amazing to see hoards of penguins when the camera slowly zooms out to show the whole community. What the audience sees is almost comparable to "Mulan," when thousands of soldiers are dashing down the mountains, ready for battle.

There are some big names in "Happy Feet," including some that the viewers may never think of as doing animated characters. Along with Wood, Murphy and Jackman, fellow well-known names include Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams (who lends his voice to a few characters) and the late Steve Irwin, who obviously knew a good role when they saw it.

If you've been in need of a little cheer, a good cure for your wintertime blues would be "Happy Feet." Even if you aren't in need, this film will fill you with even more cheer than you thought possible.

"Happy Feet" (87 minutes, showing in area theatres) is rated PG for mild peril and rude humor

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