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Happy Feet
DVD disk
Apr 16, 2007 By: Jason Adams
Happy Feet order
Director:
George Miller

Actors:
Elijah Wood
Robin Williams
Brittany Murphy

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
From the minute hes born, Mumble is imbued with the soul of Sammy Davis Jr. and the technical prowess of Gregory Hines. Unfortunately, emperor penguins are meant to express their inner rhythm through song, not tap dance; and without a heartsong the young penguin is exiled from his community. After joining up with some other outcasts, Mumble sets off to prove his worth by solving the mystery of the fish-stealing aliens whove been depleting the penguin food supply.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Barring any lethal overdoses of cuteness, I could probably watch an entire movie of just cute penguins dancing, especially when they boogie to classic funk by Stevie Wonder. So HAPPY FEET gets a pass from me for that alone. The rest of the movie works well as a kids film and it had no problems entertaining me. Will I ever watch it again though? Probably not.

I liked how music was intrinsically incorporated in to the story. Granted, it was weird hearing penguins randomly break in to Princes Kiss or Boyz II Mens Ill Make Love To You, but overall the songs did a good job of creating a heart within the film that the characters were lacking. Another plus point was George Mad Max Millers direction. Miller is a great live action director and in HAPPY FEET you can see him playing with the openness and versatility of the animated format, especially in the exciting action sequences. Across the board the visuals were fantastic, with some breathtaking scenery and realistic animation, both of the penguins and the dancing.

I knew about the plot shift the film takes in its final act, and while it was a bit jarring, it wasnt as subversive as Id heard. The environmental message does come out of nowhere to replace the standard lesson of acceptance, but it wont brainwash your kids in to becoming anti-fishing eco-terrorists. The problems I do have with HAPPY FEET stem from the plot and structure itself, not so much the content. For one, the movie never really captivated me with its story or characters. Mumble and Friends arent developed beyond their initial introduction and the story arc is predictable fare, with the requisite stay true to yourself lesson having been learned a thousand times before. It also takes over an hour before the real conflict kicks in (with the aforementioned plot shift), which makes it feel like two separate movies. Add to that Robin Williams in dual annoying ethnic roles, some bizarre live-action scenes and an ending thats pretty far-fetched even by kid movie standards, and HAPPY FEET loses a lot in the rewatchability department. (Except maybe for the dancing baby penguins.)
THE EXTRAS
For one of the biggest box office smashes of last year (not to mention a recent Oscar winner), Warner Bros. spared no expense with this DVD. And I mean that literallythey obviously spent $10 making this disappointing disc. No documentaries, no commentary, nada.

Mumble Meets a Blue Whale (3:17): A deleted scene featuring Steve Irwin as an albatross, with a nice little intro/tribute by George Miller.

A Happy Feet Moment (0:27): A truly disturbing clip of a parent penguin kicking their kid around like a hackey sack, before punting him in to the ocean. Nothing like a little child abuse to spruce up your Special Features.

Dance Like A Penguin: Stomp to the Beat (5:25): A feature aimed towards children where Savion Glover demonstrates how to dance like Mumble. Get the earplugs ready for when your kids start tap dancing 24/7 around the house.

I Love to Singa (8:11): An old Warner Bros. cartoon featuring an owl who is outcast from his family because he likes to sing jazz. Sound familiar?

Also included are two Music Videos, the requisite Trailer and a Seafood Guide that tells you which underwater creatures are okay to eat. Strangely, penguin was not on any of the lists, so Im going to assume that its okay to scarf down a Mumble every now and then.

Also, Schmoes beware; the disc installed some kind of funky Warner Bros DVD player that attempted a hostile takeover of my computer. For that reason I am ignoring the Stompin Good Fun DVD-ROM extras. Suck it, WB.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I wouldve rather seen MONSTER HOUSE or CARS take home the Best Animated Film Oscar, but HAPPY FEET definitely works great as a childrens film, although Im not sure how many times parents will be able to sit through it. And if you have patient progeny, Id hold out for the inevitable Special Edition DVD thats bound to pop up within the next six months. Then again, Im betting the majority of you were already pestered by your ilk in to buying this the first day it came out. Have fun double dipping!

Extra Tidbit: Famed tap dancer Savion Glover brought da noise and also retrieved some funk as the motion capture dance double for Mumble.
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