It’s March of the Penguins meets Footloose meets Moulin Rouge meets total awesomeness. Seriously, what could be better than tap-dancing, singing animated penguins? I’ll tell you what could be better…lifelike tap-dancing, singing animated penguins voiced by Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman and other awesome actors. That’s what you get with Happy Feet.
I must disclose that I am a fan of penguins. As I’m writing this I have two penguin toys on my desk, and this weekend I bought two boxes of Trix cereal just to get the Happy Feet toys. Mr. Popper’s Penguins was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and just looking at a waddling penguin at the zoo makes me giggle. However, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like penguins. Think about it. I bet you can’t think of anyone saying “I hate penguins.” It’s just not possible.
All that aside, the movie is fantastic. Wonderful soundtrack, all-star cast and beautiful animation. The movements of the penguins and the landscapes seem so real, at times you can almost forget you’re watching an animated feature. The music medlies are fabulous and I was blown away by the vocals from the actors. As much as I generally don’t like her acting, we all know Nicole Kidman can sing after seeing her in Moulin Rouge. But who knew that Brittany Murphy and Hugh Jackman could sing?! Hugh Jackman as Memphis does a great Elvis and Brittany Murphy just blows everyone else away throughout the film. Honestly, if she released a solo album, I’d go buy it. Her character, Gloria, gets the best singing opportunities.
Elijah Wood plays Mumble, the outcast Emperor penguin. His kind of penguins sing to attract their one true love, which is a problem since Mumble can’t sing. But boy can he dance! The most impressive part of the tap-dancing of Mumble is that it’s real tap-dancing. The filmmakers put legendary tap-dancer Savion Glover (some of you may remember him tap-dancing with Elmo on Sesame Street years ago) in a motion capture suit to film Mumble’s dancing.
Robin Williams, of course, is fantastic as several different characters. My favorite is Ramon, the tiny Adelies species of penguin. He’s a fast-talking, Spanish-speaking tough guy with a entourage of Amigos. The story gets some random twists and turns, but is overall really well done, especially for a kids’ movie. The ending is quite imaginative, yet not so far off from the truth as we would think. I’d definitely recommend this movie to anyone with kids, and for anyone that thinks penguins are absolutely adorable.
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