Review: Happy Feet Two
PLOT: After working so hard to find his own meaning amongst his fellow penguins, Mumble is heartbroken to find his young son Erik in the same dilemma. Try as he might, the tiny penguin isn’t a great dancer, and he just hasn’t found his song. Yet things get worse for the father and son when they must find a way to help friends and family after a giant iceberg threatens their home. These poor penguins have the worst weather.
If you were thrilled by the rich and stunning animation of HAPPY FEET, get ready to dive back down into this amazing landscape that director George Miller set into motion. This dazzling display continues with the adventures of tap-dancing penguin Mumble (Elijah Wood) and friends in HAPPY FEET TWO. In this big, brash and sometimes gorgeous sequel, we are once again reminded of why we should care for “Mother Earth” and all that surrounds us. At its best, it is the ultimate celebration of family, life, love and the power of us. However, the magic of the first often fades with part two’s overly long and slightly redundant tale of singing and dancing penguins.
The continued story of Mumble, the dancing penguin, finds our hero facing a major dilemma… he doesn’t know how to connect with his son Erik (Ava Acres). This is made especially difficult because the little guy can’t seem to find a reason to dance. Try as they might, Mumble and his wife Gloria (this time voiced by P!nk) can’t seem to give the boy his own beat to dance to. It isn’t until the young lad discovers a penguin they call The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria) who can fly. This flying penguin is surely someone that Erik can look up to. Or can he?!?
Meanwhile, during all the cuteness, a massive storm is causing a change that soon leaves the group of emperor penguins facing starvation and death. Thankfully, Mumble, Ramon (Robin Williams) and some spunky baby penguins find a way to save the day – with a little help from their friends.
There is a lot of beauty going on in HAPPY FEET TWO, so much so that it disappoints on a very basic level. While the idea of a community working together to help itself and the importance of a father and son relationship are timeless moral lessons, they feel slightly strained here. When the penguins are facing starvation because of this giant mountain of ice, it is obvious where the story is heading. Sadly, as the film’s climax arrived, it became a bit repetitive each time they did their little dance in hopes that it would save them from certain doom.
While the story left a lot to be desired, there was certainly more… well, everything! As with most sequels, you’ll find a ton of extra characters whether they work or not. And of course, the dance numbers have to be miles above what we saw before and in many ways they are. Who knew penguins were so hip to modern pop music? And while building something bigger usually dampens a continuing story, it was entertaining to hear a few new voices in the mix. Take Bill and Will Krill voiced by Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. Depending on the viewer, you will either love or hate these micro sized sea creatures that are looking for something more than following the swarm. What can I say? Brad Pitt is very funny here.
HAPPY FEET TWO is a mixed bag. It is too long and the message is sometimes beat over the viewer’s head. Yet sometimes, it is hard to resist its warmth, even when Mumbles arc with his son was not as satisfying as it could have been. Somehow you still feel something for these sweet and lovable animals. You might be able to credit much of that to the glorious animation and the surprisingly effective 3D. You really do feel as if you are a part of this world, music and all. This sequel is not nearly as enjoyable as the original film, yet there is a good chance the kids will love it.