From the director of Mad Max and The Witches of Eastwick comes… Happy Feet. Yes, that’s right – George Miller, the man who brought us the Road Warrior and Babe the Gallant Pig, brings us a CGI-animated penguin musical. But don’t be dissuaded – Happy Feet is actually a rather well told story, with some exciting and energetic sequences that will keep adults both young and old fully entertained.
The concept for the film came about from the strangely scientific fact that Emperor penguins all have unique “songs”, and each can identify their mate even when 20,000 other penguins are making noise at the same time (or something like that). So, Miller took it to the next logical step – what if the penguin calls are really songs? The result is a kiddie version of Moulin Rouge, but without the headache. Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean (Nichole Kidman) have an egg together – but he was briefly dropped in the cold, and the result was an oddly behaving penguin named Mumbles (Elijah Wood). You see, he’s got “happy feet”. Where all the penguins are supposed to be able to sing to attract a mate, Mumbles can’t sing – but he sure can dance! His behavior is frowned upon by the elders, who believe that his blasphemous dancing (ala Footloose) is causing a shortage in fish (not ala Footloose) – and he’s banished from the community. Now a social outcast, Mumbles eventually travels outside of his region with his group of short penguins buddies (a different breed), and begin a journey to find out what is causing the fish shortage.
From there, the film is balanced between the forbidden love story between Mumbles and Gloria (Brittany Murphy), and the adventure of finding the cause of the shortage. Along the way, there are a few well done action sequences, and Miller’s direction shows that he’s not limited by a CGI-animated film, but rather he embraces the technology to bring us some impressive big-screen imagery that hasn’t been seen before. The music, by John Powell, is another impressive feat, having worked on the film for over three years, producing all the songs, and then scoring the movie to pull it all together. The pacing is well done, never slow or boring, and Happy Feet has a serious shot at doing very well this holiday season.