Happy Feet (U)



Family (2006)
109mins US

Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman
Director: George Miller
Writer(s): Warren Coleman, John Collee, George Miller, Judy Morris
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

A penguin called Mumble is an outcast in his Antarctica community. Unlike the other birds, poor Mumble can't sing and dance. Unable to find his heart song, Mumble embarks on a voyage of self-discovery, unleashing his musical soul and revealing affections for pretty penguin Gloria. En route, Mumble meets a band of outcast penguins called the Adelie Amigos, led by the party-loving Ramon, who teaches Mumble to be true to himself and embrace his individuality, rather than waddle away from it.

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Won Best Animated Feature Film at The 79th Academy Awards® (25th February 2007)

LondonNet Film Review

Happy Feet
Described rather aptly as The March Of The Penguins meets Riverdance, Happy Feet is a feelgood, computer animated musical comedy about a misfit's quest to find his place in a world that doesn't understand him...

Memphis (voiced by HUGH JACKMAN) and Norma Jean (voiced by NICOLE KIDMAN) sing their Heartsongs together and fall in love in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' comedy adventure Happy Feet, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Photo Credit: courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. Copyright: © Warner Bros. Pictures 2006.Director George Miller traversed similar territory in the Oscar nominated Babe, although the setting here is the vast, icy wastes of Antarctica, where emperor penguins battle against Mother Nature to propagate the species. The animators create some truly stunning visuals. Epic scenes of the flightless birds battling against the elements, the freezing 100mph catabatic winds forcing them to huddle together for warmth, take the breath away. Equally impressive are the Busby Berkeley inspired song and dance numbers, including the centrepiece sequence to the toe-tapping "Boogie Wonderland" which is a triumph of choreography and swooping camera movements.

The unlikely hero of the tale is a young emperor penguin called Mumble (voiced by Wood), who is an outcast in his community. Unlike the other birds, Mumble sings and dances to his own tune, a quirk which frustrates his father Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and is seen as cute and adorable by his mother Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman). "I just wouldn't do that around folks, son," Memphis tells his son, hoping to stop Mumble's incessant jiggling. "Who not?" asks his boy. "It just ain't penguin," replies his father sternly.

In desperation, Memphis and Norma Jean take Mumble for singing lessons with grand dame Mrs. Astrakhan (Miriam Margolyes), to no avail. Fellow teacher Miss Viola (Magda Szubanski) sums up the gravity of the situation: "A penguin without a heart song is hardly a penguin at all." Unperturbed, Mumble embarks on a voyage of self-discovery, unleashing his musical soul and revealing affections for pretty childhood friend Gloria (Brittany Murphy). En route, Mumble meets a band of outcast penguins called the Adelie Amigos, led by the party-loving Ramon (Robin Williams), who teaches Mumble to be true to himself and embrace his individuality, rather than waddle away from it.

Happy Feet warms the cockles of your heart with its predictable though extremely enjoyable rites of passage story, interspersed with some funky musical interludes. Vocal performances are strong - Kidman is a breathless honey and Jackman affects his best Elvis Presley impersonation - with Williams invariably stealing the limelight. As well as playing the hyperactive Ramon, Williams also channels the spirit of Barry White as the rockhopper penguin Lovelace The Guru, who tells his groupies: "Ladies, please avert your eyes, ''cos I've been known to hypnotize."

The ecological moralizing of the final 20 minutes is a tad heavy handed and the film lacks a spectacular finale but Mumble and his chums are cute as can be. When Memphis begs his son to "stop this freakiness with your feet" and Mumble replies, "don't ask me to change, pa, because I can't," we're with him every tap and shuffle of the way.

- Sophie Abell


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