* (out of four)
Think about an animal you find cute. Now think about a computer-animated version of that animal rapping LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Boom: Cuteness eliminated.
Escalating the misguided, if-people-like-penguins-and-dancing-then-why-wouldn’t-they-like-dancing-penguins logic of “Happy Feet” to new, triply irritating levels, “Happy Feet Two” takes forever to pick its central storyline. OK, the movie’s about Emperor penguins synthesizing a variety of pop songs (“Rhythm Nation,” “Sexyback,” “Shake It Fast”) into medleys fit for “Kidz Bop.”
No, it’s about now-grown-up Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and his son Erik (Ava Acres) going on a journey. No, it’s about Erik longing to fly and looking up to Sven (Hank Azaria), the new penguin in town who can do just that. Sorry, wait, the movie centers on the penguin community being trapped by an iceberg, with frequent diversions to the virtually unrelated story of two krill (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon) so they can say things like, “Holy mother of krill” and “One in a krillion.” (Once again, I say “Smurf that” to this style of joke writing.)
Perhaps some people define fun as penguins tap dancing in unison and saying, “I told them all to chillax.” “Happy Feet Two” appears totally clueless about appealing to anybody else, as bird poop streams down one penguin’s face and a fart bubble emerges from another’s. (You know where farts come from, right kids?) And someone says something about penguins refusing to kneel, which is news to me that they even have knees.
I also can’t believe Sven projects a “The Secret”-esque philosophy (“If you will it, it will be yours”) or that penguins think the humans they see are aliens—although they might be right, considering actual humans would find it strange when a penguin gestures to request a guitar solo.
The script for “Happy Feet Two” belongs at the bottom of the ocean. The songs, including a rendition of “Under Pressure” that should cause living musicians to make a “Keep my work out of the mouths of penguins” note in their wills, belong on “Now That’s What I Don’t Call Music.”
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