Emperor penguins find their soul mate by singing a "heart song," so the community frowns upon young Mumble, born with tap dancing skills but an awful voice. (He's like Savion Glover--who provides Mumble's moves using motion capture technology--born in a world of "American Idol" finalists.) This flick features the voices of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy and Hugo Weaving.
Big question: Is there a reason to like "Happy Feet" besides the fact that penguins are the cutest?
Skip it: Beautifully animated but badly written, "Happy Feet" would rather kill time with penguin performances of "Kiss," "I'll Make Love to You," "In My Room" and others than glide its story along. As for the celeb voices, I'm still trying to figure out why Jackman and Kidman voice Mumble's parents as if his dad is Elvis and his mom is a phone sex operator.
Catch it: If you enjoy lines like, "Put your flappers in the air" and "I like big tails and I can't deny." Yeesh.
Bottom line: Splitting its message between be-comfortable-in-your-own-skin and pollution-and-zoos-ruin-wildlife, "Happy Feet" slips and slides all over the place but entertains only with some breathtaking chase sequences. Here's something I never thought I'd say: There's simply too much singing and dancing in this animated penguin movie.
Bonus: Some of the elder penguins brush away the Latino penguins for no reason. Good to know bigotry isn't just a human problem!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by George Miller; screenplay by Miller and John Collee, Judy Morris and Warren Coleman; choreography by Savion Glover and Kelley Abbey; art direction supervision by David Nelson; music by John Powell; produced by Doug Mitchell, George Miller and Bill Miller. A Warner Bros. Pictures release. Running time: 1:48. MPAA rating: PG (some mild peril and rude humor).
Mumble -- Elijah Wood
Norma Jean -- Nicole Kidman
Memphis -- Hugh Jackman
Gloria -- Brittany Murphy
Ramon/Lovelace the Guru -- Robin Williams
Noah the Elder -- Hugo Weaving