Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Feet

George Miller, 2006 (7.6*)
From the same George Miller that directed The Road Warrior and produced Babe, this animated feature won an Oscar®, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe. A penguin couple, played by Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, have a newborn called Mumble. While these Emperor penguins all have a song in their heart and attract mates with it, Mumble can't carry a tune but instead has Fred Astaire toe-tapping feet, which baffles the others and makes him an outcast.

The elders, led by Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, V for Vendetta), represent those who worship the "Great Wind" and leave it all up to the whims of nature, the invisible 'deity'. Mumble thinks the humanoids (called "aliens") have messed up their fisheries due to stories about them, so he sets off to find them and let them know they need to stop.

The first part of the film is almost non-stop pop and R-and-B songs, which get old fast. What saves the film is some amazing animation: the ocean, penguins underwater, long shots of thousands of them on glaciers. The story is really pro-environmental propaganda, which is ok but will likely be lost on kids, who are obviously the primary target audience for a film that is 75% pop music.

Robin Williams provides some comedy at least, as Ramon, leader of a gang of Hispanic sounding Adelie penguins, and as Lovelace (named for Linda, star of Deep Throat? now that's just bizarre..), a self-promoting guru who charges pebbles for advice and answers to questions, as these penguins use pebbles to build nests to attract females. Brittany Murphy is Gloria, who is Mumbles love interest. This would be a lot better with more dancing and less singing, but should still be quite engrossing to kids, who seem amazed that animated characters can sing and dance like people.

Happy Feet actually won 14 awards (awards page at IMDB), most for animated feature, and a sequel is due out this year.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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