The pitter-patter of ‘Happy Feet’

Madelyn Otcasek

Penguins raced to popularity after the release of 2005’s March of the Penguins.

Now the new computer animated film, Happy Feet, takes the concept of mating emperor penguins and turns it into an adorable saga of a young penguin, Mumble, who is an outcast in his own community.

Emperor penguins mate by using their songs to attract a bird of the opposite sex, and Mumble is lacking the gift of song. To compensate, he is a fabulous tap dancer. This makes him lose respect in the home he grew up in, but he gains respect from other flocks of penguins.

The story is touching and filled with many song and dance numbers to make the movie last a little longer than an hour and a half.

Elijah Wood supplies the voice for Mumble, and Robin Williams plays a number of characters, but is most entertaining as Ram¢n, an Adelie penguin with a Spanish accent. Ram¢n and his friends make up Mumble’s sidekicks, with their snappy retorts and outrageous behavior. They accept Mumble into their clique, and eventually encounter killer whales, hungry skuas (a bird native to the Antarctic), as well as a leopard seal and the ultimate enemy to animals – humans.

The CGI is top-notch. The awesome beauty of the South Pole is captured and experienced brilliantly – especially if one sees the film in a large screen theater. The animals all look extremely lifelike as do the humans, who appear in the story as almost superimposed clips of actors instead of animations.

The humans’ subplot brings the film down a step. Without revealing too much, the movie delves into a theory of how humans are the evils of the animal kingdom – but it’s resolved by the end of the film. The incorporation of humans into a story that would have been perfectly happy and corny had it just been 80 minutes of dancing penguins feels like a lame filler.

In the vein of Shrek and such Pixar films as Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, there will be jokes that little kids won’t understand but at which the adults in the audience will chuckle.

The characters are entertaining, and the singing is fabulous, with contributions from Moulin Rouge chanteuse Nicole Kidman and Broadway and X-Men star Hugh Jackman. Overall, this is a clever film that will warm your heart because you know how cold it is in the southern hemisphere.

Contact ALL correspondent Madelyn Otcasek at [email protected].

Happy Feet

Starring Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood

Distributed by Warner Brothers

MPAA rating: PG for some mild peril and rude humor

Stater rating (out of five): ????