21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful To Look At, And Not Heavy-Handed On Messages,
This review is from: Happy Feet (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
When I saw this movie, I was struck by two things - how it looked and how it felt.
It sounds obvious, but I couldn't help but be struck by the artistry of the film's animation. "Happy Feet" had the appearance of a nature documentary, and I mean it in a good way. The filmmakers made a conscious effort to study penguin movement (maybe by watching "March of the Penguins?") as well as how the enviornment interacts with them. Simple backgrounds work as well, as they are able to capture the splendid vistas of an admittedly minimalist natural environment.
Now, it also was meant to be a "message" film, and those can always be tricky. I'm not a big fan of them because, when moviemakers attempt one, I get the feeling they assume the watchers are too stupid to get what they're saying without clobbering us about the head with them. It's worse when it's done with a "children's" film. There are two here - taking care of the environment and not casting out those that are different - and yet they're handled in a truly cool way. Yes, the uberconservatives may get in a bit of a snit when they see the forces against Mumbles are cast to appear like mean-spirited religious zealots, however this IS a great plotpoint. Outcasts (I speak from experience here) sometimes feel just that way - beat on and thrown out simply because we're running against the popular tide. And the environmental point is handled, I truly believe, in a way non-humans would look upon it. Humans really ARE "aliens" in this world, and they aren't being necessarily "mean" in how they act toward animals. They may be just clueless to the harm they're doing.
A top-notch voice cast helps bring this off. Elijah Wood may yet be one of the most overlooked actors in Hollywood because he's able to bring off a tender, desperate Mumbles with only his voice (although the animators also gave him Wood's piercing blue eyes). We don't get to see often enough Hugh Jackman's verstility with accents, and here we are hearing him do a cross between Curly from "Oklahoma" (I strongly suggest anyone who hasn't yet see the filmed Royal Shakespeare version with him in it to do so) and Elvis without it seeming forced or artificial. There are really too many performances to list, and they're all first rate.
The tapdancing too is great. We only see a cartoonish replication of Savion Glover's moves, but he really sends off on sound as well. A carryover from his days on "Stomp."
The final verdict is an enthusiastic "buy it." Unless you don't happen to like penguins.