Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet 2 PosterRating: ★★½☆☆

Beneath all the environmental and existential issues that layered the original “Happy Feet” was a subject of equal relevance: the unifying enchantment brought about by music. We were taken to the icy isles of Antarctica, where a kingdom of emperor penguins greeted us with mesmerizing vocal performances worthy of a Santana collaboration. It was established that penguins were naturally gifted singers, so it came as a surprise when one odd little fellow named Mumble couldn’t hit a single note.

No matter. Mumble, it turns out, projects a skill in tap dancing no penguin has ever possessed before. Like Eminem, he was the first of his kind. (Or was it Vanilla Ice?) We felt pleasure seeing and hearing Mumble’s feet produce those catchy beats even though we were pretty sure that it’s implausible to compose those sounds by stomping on ice. His example made it clear, to both us and to his fellow penguins, that music is secluded to no one; it’s a personal celebration that’s best experienced in the company of others. The penguins sang. Mumble danced. We smiled. A Win-Win-Win.

Will and Bill the Krill2006’s “Happy Feet” created a rhythm of splendid joy that is unfortunately missing in this sequel. It aspires to be about a lot of things, but the movie’s structure isn’t designed for an intricate narrative.  It sends a message about the hazards of global warming. It talks about finding your place in your community. And it examines the food chain from the perspective of the members located at the bottom of the list. This is all probably too much for a penguin movie. “Happy Feet Two” becomes so busy trying to send these messages that it often forgets to do what it does best: Party.

The sequel features three subplots, carrying one lesson each. The first one to emerge is the insecurities that trouble an odd little fellow named Eric, who happens to be the son of Mumble (Elijah Wood). A second story comes into play when the penguin nation becomes trapped after a giant iceberg hits their homeland. The third subplot diverts us away from the penguins and introduces us to a pair of krill buddies ardently played by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. The comedy of their characters is standard, but the fun here is the choice of actors who were tasked to voice these crazy krill. This subplot could inspire a Better Movie starring Pitt and Damon as the lead characters in a live-action comedy.

Erik in Happy Feet TwoAs for the music, I felt a lack of singing and dancing, which is probably caused by the exposition required by the stories. I thought that some of the more dramatic numbers were underwhelming. These penguins aren’t that enjoyable standing still in a solo performance when compared to their lively group songs that include some nifty choreography. The songs are hit-and-miss, but I assure an ecstatic climax that will cause the older members of the audience to sing along. The impact of the event purely depends on the strength of the song, but I don’t blame the movie. How can you go wrong with Queen?

So I can’t quite give “Happy Feet Two” a positive rating, but when it comes to movies that showcase Singing Animals, I’d rather see this again than sit through any of the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies. “Happy Feet” wins, both in terms of humor and cuteness. In fact, the young penguins here are so fluffy that, if Agnes from “Despicable Me” went to visit them, she will definitely die.

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Happy Feet Two