Stinky "Feet"

Nov. 27, 2006, midnight | By Soraya Chanyasubkit | 17 years, 6 months ago

Newest penguin movie freezes audience to boredom

Dancing penguins. Tap-dancing penguins. The idea in itself is ridiculously hilarious. Add singing penguins, rapping penguins, Latino penguins, drugged penguins and any other kind of penguin possible, and how could this movie not be funny? Except somehow, some way, director George Miller managed to screw up — big time. "Happy Feet," Miller's newest creation since "Babe: Pig in the City," is not just stale and unentertaining, it's utterly, painfully boring.

Advertisements touted the film as the plight of a tap-dancing penguin, Mumble (Elijah Wood) in a world where singing Emperor penguins reign supreme. And, of course, he befriends the best singer in Emperor Land, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). But beware: they lie! The plot has little to do with penguin love or ostracism — it is actually just one big subliminal message to save the environment. "Happy Feet" is essentially a message disguised as dancing and singing penguins to the younger viewers not to litter, to hurt animals or to disrupt the food chain.

The meaning isn't bad; it's actually great that someone cared enough about the environment to make a movie about it. But not in a film that advertises tap-dancing penguins. Because the movie deviated so much from its supposed plot, it becomes increasingly boring.

It is even more disappointing to see such a wonderful cast fail. "Happy Feet" included a variety of well-known names: Hugh Jackman as Memphis, Mumble's father; Robin Williams as Lovelace, the penguin guru and Ramon, the Latino penguin; Nicole Kidman as Norma Jean, Mumble's mother; Elijah Woods as Mumble himself; and even Fat Joe as Seymour, the rapping penguin. Jackman has probably gotten tired after already making five movies this year, and it definitely shows in the movie. Though only his voice is heard, Jackman does not sound as energetic as he was in "The Prestige" or "X-Men: The Last Stand." The cool thing about Elijah Woods is his suspicious resemblance to Mumble, especially the striking blue eyes. Williams, as always, provides a wonderful sense of humor, along with four other Adelie penguins. In the scene where Mumble first gives these new penguins a taste of his voice, Ramon remarks about Mumble's singing, "Yeah, I heard an animal once do that, but then they rolled him over and he was dead." Still, the comedy is too sparse to save this movie.

Two admirable things to note about the movie are the music and animation. The choice of music is probably the only positive aspect of "Happy Feet." After all, the penguins have to dance to some sort of music. From the sexy salsa to Queen's dramatic "Somebody to Love," this film virtually covers every type of music ever created. The impressive graphics Warner Bros. provides makes the slick slopes and steep cliffs of frozen Antarctica come alive to audiences, so much that they get that infamous roller-coaster sensation in the pits of their stomachs. Animators successfully simulate real-life penguins and humans, straying away from the usual cartoony versions. Of course, the dance routines of baby Mumble and the animations of baby penguins in general are adorable, but penguins are babies for only so long (except Mumble, who keeps his freakish baby head) and the dances become an overused ploy to distract viewers from the obvious plot holes.

If you still plan on watching, take two words of caution: there are many scenes with implied innuendo which most kids don't understand, but for teenagers, are quite obvious. The second thing about this movie is you start noticing how reminiscent it is of "Lion King," both the first and second. When Mumble is exiled from Emperor Land, it is exactly like how Kovu was exiled from Pride Rock. Exactly. Also, when the penguins are on an expedition, they come across a large skeleton that looks exactly like the one in the elephant graveyard where Simba and Nala explored. Exactly.

Overall, "Happy Feet" is such a boring movie that "March of the Penguins" was even more fascinating. And that was a documentary.

"Happy Feet" (87 minutes, area theaters) is rated PG for some mild peril and rude humor.

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Soraya Chanyasubkit. Soraya Chanyasubkit loves her name, Thailand, penguins, eating, making fun of people and music. She is silly, mean, and friendly. (The last two qualities are in no way of being contradictory.) She most likely hates you. And will willing and loudly say so. More »

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