The sequel takes something I love (adorable baby penguins) and utterly destroys it with everything I hate—terrible covers of pop songs (aka GLEE). Granted, music was definitely present in the first movie, but here it’s just painful and embarrassing to an alarming degree. We’re talking Rick Astley, Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” (changed to “Fluffy Back”), LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Numa Numa.” You even get hip hop star Common rapping about ice and original music by Pink. Kids might enjoy this stuff, but any self-respecting adult will be clawing their eyes and ears from their body.
Aside from that, the story is just boring and sporadic, making it hard to pay attention let alone care about what’s going on. Everything is unnecessarily complicated in service of a plot that is way too simple. Mumble and his son have to rescue his family and friends, that’s it. However, HAPPY FEET TWO insists on including so many tangential subplots that are at best loosely connected to what’s important. I know it’s cool that Brad Pitt and Matt Damon wanted to be in your movie, but does that mean you need to write them their own random recurring storyline? That might explain why we’re constantly taken away from the penguins to follow the adventures of Pitt and Damon as two krill who leave their friends in order to prove they’re unique and different from everyone else. Like with the rest of the cast, the voice work from the seasoned actors is good, but the script they’re given sucks.
I also was surprised at how “adult” this children’s movie was. There are definitely several scenes that could scar young ones, including seeing a sea elephant supposedly falling to his death in front of his kids, evil humans eating poultry in front of other birds and vultures violently attacking the trapped penguins to pick them off while they’re still alive. An entire arc of the movie also involves the children worshipping another penguin as a god. I’m not saying there’s necessarily something wrong with that, but seeing brainwashed characters bowing down to a false aviary deity might thematically be more for your three year old than you want.
If there’s one thing that does work in HAPPY FEET TWO it’s the visuals. The animation is absolutely gorgeous, especially during the krill sequences, and George Miller’s masterful grasp on action is put to great use in several exciting sequences. It’s just a shame that his talents had to be wasted on a movie that ends with all the creatures “dancing” the penguins to safety as they sing “Under Pressure” by Queen.
Second Screen: Download an app for your phone or tablet and get streaming bonus content (mostly kid games and sing-alongs) while you watch the movie.
Helping Penguins and Pals (11:50): Child actor Lil’ P-Nut hosts this featurette that teaches young viewers about the real life animals featured in the film.
How to Draw a Penguin (5:00): One of the movie’s storyboard artists takes you through the process of sketching a baby penguin.
Running with Boadicea (3:10): A quick extra with more from the yodeling baby penguin.
The Amazing Voices of HAPPY FEET TWO (4:51): See all the voice cast having a blast in the booth, including Brad Pitt really getting in to character
Looney Tunes Short (3:49): A new 3D animated short featuring Tweety and Sylvester using the original voices from Mel Blanc with modern animation.
Pink’s New Song (1:57): The singer discusses the song she wrote for the movie and doing one of the voices.
There’s also a few Sing Along’s for the kids, a DVD and UltraViolet digital copy.
Extra Tidbit: Yes, the sequel also features those creepy-looking realistic humans from the first movie.