Friday, November 18, 2011

Movie with Abe: Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet Two
Directed by George Miller
Released November 18, 2011

Animated films can run the gamut from kid-friendly fare with absolutely no appeal for anyone over the age of three to fully competent pieces of cinema appropriate and engaging for all ages. The first “Happy Feet” film, which trumped “Cars” for the Best Animated Feature Oscar back in 2006, was somewhere in the middle of those two, proving amusing and endearing for those who find singing penguins impossibly cute, and less exciting for those unimpressed by such antics. Its sequel, released nearly five years after the first film, is exactly what one might expect based on its predecessor, and just about as enjoyable.

“Happy Feet Two” is the prototypical sequel , especially for an animated film, revisiting the original’s awkward characters as they have grown to be more accepted in their communities and introducing a whole new world of people and adventure. Dancing penguin Mumble is now a father, and his son Erik is now the societal outcast unable to figure what his place is. A public humiliation sends Erik and his friends gallivanting off to another penguin community with the memorable Ramon, where they encounter a flying penguin named Sven, who instills hope and energy in the nervous Erik. Ultimately, environmental and weather-related threats put Erik and Mumble in a position that may enable them to be the sole saviors of their penguin people.

The incorporation of environmentalism in the first film was quite intriguing, and while it’s not as present here, it’s still there in the background of the plot. As tends to be the case with animated films made for children, there are a number of jokes and pop culture references made that only adults could understand, so parents chaperoning their children to see this movie shouldn’t despair. Particularly amusing for both children and adults alike are Will the Krill and Bill the Krill, voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, two adventurous crustaceans that realize there may be more to life than just swimming with the school. Their bantering and perception of the world are easily the most appealing and hilarious parts of the film.

The penguins themselves are obviously at the forefront of the film, and dancing, though not as prominent as in the first film, still proves to be crucial and entirely helpful in the grand scheme of the story. The dancing now seems presumed to be normal without much explanation, and that’s not such a problem since it’s still cute. Its novelty is diminished slightly, but there’s still enough heart and soul in the film to make up for it. There’s also a compelling father-son story reminiscent of, if not quite as strong as, “Finding Nemo.” In addition to Pitt and Damon’s standout contributions, Robin Williams steals the show in a dual role, and Hank Azaria also delivers a fun performance as the extravagant Sven. It’s hard not to smile at least every once in a while during this movie, and those who liked the first film will certainly enjoy its sequel.


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