Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Feet Two

CAST: Elijah Wood, Ava Acres, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Alecia Moore, Sofia Vergara, Hugo Weaving, Johnny A. Sanchez. DIRECTOR: George Miller. WRITER: Gary Eck, George Miller, Paul Livingston, Warren Coleman.   PRODUCER: George Miller. GENRE: Animation/Family; RELEASED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures; RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment     : 3.5
Cinema Rating          : For viewers of all ages

In Happy Feet  2006, we met Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), a unique tap-dancing member of a flock of soul-singing emperor penguins.  Now in Happy Feet 2, we meet Mumble’s fluffy little son Erik (voiced by Ava Acres) whose feet do not seem to be that happy.  Erik’s attempt at tap-dancing ends in a flop, and the whole flock laughs at him.  Despite his father’s reassurance that he’ll someday find his very own way—not necessarily tap-dancing—to express his deepest feelings, Erik wants to get away from it all.  Nursing his wounded pride, Erik, consoled by two young friends Atticus and Bo, take an aimless walk and stumble upon Mumble’s old buddy Ramon (Robin Williams).  Their walk takes them to the home of another group of penguins, the Adelies.  When Mumble and his mate Gloria (voiced by Alecia Moore) realize that their Erik and his tiny friends are missing, Mumble shuffles off to begin his search.  Found, Erik refuses to go home with his father.  Meanwhile, a huge iceberg calves off and slams into the emperor penguins’ bay and traps the birds there.  It would now take those outside—Mumble, the three little ones, and Ramon—to stage the rescue.
As before, the penguins are cute, especially up close when the littlest one could melt anyone’s heart.  That is, anyone’s but that of the elephant seal, Bryan the Beachmaster (voiced by Richard Carter), who, after having been saved from sure death by a penguin, refuses to…. (well…spoiler stopped).   Happy Feet 2 offers much by way of animation so that the viewer may simply overlook certain  CGI flaws in favor of the infectious music and the song and dance numbers.  After all, you go watch Happy Feet 2 fully aware that it’s aimed primarily at a GP audience.  
Its being a “kids’ movie”, however, doesn’t stop Happy Feet 2 from talking to adults as well, although most of the time the message would sail over the heads of its juvenile viewers.  We’re referring to lines spoken by characters on sexual themes outside of the central father-and-son issue.  For instance, Bill (voiced by Brad Pitt) the krill’s obvious affection for his best friend Will (voiced by Matt Damon).  Bill suggests that he and will start “a little swarm of our own” to which Will readily quips, “We’re both males!”  Bill pleads to Will, “have me as partner…” and whatever he leaves unsaid is picked up by the songs Wake me up before you go-go and Never gonna give you up.  So Will eventually allows Bill to stay, but not without warning him first, “But no hanky-panky!”  Soon, however, Will himself says it’s time to part ways—and that was after they get startled and Bill jumps on Will’s back.  Get it?
Another instance is when the shortie Ramon woos the shapely Carmen (voiced by Sofia Vergara), she derides him, “I’d never have an egg with you…you’re too short…!”  (Since when did successful procreation depend on the height of the partners?  Get it?)
Another?  When a male penguin brings fish for Mumble’s mate Gloria to eat, their beaks touch rather suggestively.  Some songs are also suggestive although—perhaps in order to win the GP rating—some words are replaced, as in the song Sexy Back, where “Get your sexy on” becomes “Get your fluffy on”.  Speaking of “fluff”—it is also used in place of another “f” word, as in “What the fluff!” and "Take your little fur ball and fluff off."  It seems the racy elements are “penguinized” to protect the innocence of the innocent.
This fabulous movie is chock-full of pointers for the philosophically-inclined.  A krill tired of running away from hungry whales separates from the swarm to find the truth about his existence.  Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria) the “flying penguin” sounds every bit like a motivational speaker as he roots for positive thinking and tells the wide-eyed Erik, "If you want it, you must will it. If you will it, it will be yours." 
But more than anything else, Happy Feet 2 is a story about fathering, teaching by example, and greatness in ordinariness.  The last is so movingly delivered in “Erik’s opera”, part of which follows:

Although he's just an ordinary penguin
My daddy taught me
You don't have to be colossal
To be a great heart
You don't have to fly
To be awesome
My hero, my father!