Saturday, 16 December 2006
The penguins seem to be the toast of Hollywood. They shuffled miles across the brutal Antarctic to the podium at the Kodak Theater to accept the best documentary Oscar in 2005 for The March of the Penguins, and they stole Madagascar from the singing dancing lemurs. Now Happy Feet arrives with a plucky penguin who dances his way to fame.
In Happy Feet, Mumble (Elija Wood) is born into a colony of Emperor penguins that specialize in singing. Every Emperor worth his ice can carry a tune but Mumble can't sing at all. However, he's a fabulous dancer who specializes in tap (of course…ballet or modern would be far to gay). This impresses his childhood sweetheart Gloria (superbly voiced by Brittany Murphy) but everyone else deems him a freak, and blames his abnormality for the lack of fish in the waters. His is sent away by his ‘flock’ and vows to find out why there are no fish, but more importantly prove himself to his colony and his family.
From here the film takes a ‘message movie’ route tackling how mankind is destroying the environment. This route is none to subtle either, but with the state of the environment as it is people need to be hit over the head with the message. I felt the environment message did not go as far, dark and frightening as it should have, children are impressionable and need to see the consequences of their and their parents actions. Out of the mouths of babes comes the truth....or so they say.
However the film does a fantastic job at representing the natural world of the penguins, their environment, the dangers they face and struggle to survive from egg to chick. Before you write it off as a message movie, remember it is a musical. There are musicals numbers around every turn and long after you leave the theater you will be humming ‘Somebody to love’ by Queen, and ‘Boogie Wonderland’ by Kool and the Gang – both of these sung amazingly well by Brittany Murphy. Hugh Jackman, Robin Williams and Nicole Kidman also supply songs by the like of Elvis, Prince and Frank Sinatra. Go see it, take the kids (or not) and buy the soundtrack…you won’t be sorry.