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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

That penguin movie

Published: December 1, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Youve all seen the ads for Happy Feet. Adorable dancing penguins, Robin Williams doing voices, a warm and fuzzy (on the inside, at least) movie, right? Sort of.

There were adorable dancing penguins. I think I said aww at least 100 times in the first hour of the movie. I must admit, clumsy cartoon baby penguins are really cute. Right after hes born, baby Mumble tells his dad (Hugh Jackman) that he is happy, and when his dad asks why his sons feet are wriggling around beneath him, Mumble blurts out, theyre happy too! Oh man. That scene was painfully adorable.

And most of the first of the movie went like that. The other penguins all mate through singing, and Mumble of course falls for the best singer of them all, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). But poor Mumble cant sing a note without the other penguins covering their ears, or ear holes, or whatever it is they hear with. But he can tap dance! Of course, the other penguins mostly ignore or make fun of him, and the movie has one of those just be yourself tones. Eventually, the younger penguins dance along and have fun.

Youd think the movie would end there, with a nice little moral, but no. About halfway through the movie, the plot changes. Now humans (aliens, they think) are taking away the penguins food supply. The stodgy elder penguins banish Mumble from the colony for being different. Suddenly the movie has these bizarre political undertones and its no longer an adorable kids movie. Or really, any kind of kids movie. Seriously, if I were a kid, this movie would really creep me out. I prefer to keep any sort of deep political stuff out of my animated movies, for the most part.

Overall, despite, or maybe because of, the weirdness, the movie was hilarious. Robin Williams and the other Hispanic-ish penguins are crazy and bizarre and very funny, even if their unexplained accents are on the ridiculous side. But if youre looking for a movie to take kids to (becauseyoure a pedophile? Or have younger siblings), dont go to Happy Feet. Yes, there are dancing penguins and funny stereotypes, which are usually two key ingredients for awesome, but the second half of the movie is just too weird for kids.