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Running Time:
1 hour, 48 minutes

Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested.

Rating Explanation:
for some mild peril and rude humor

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
One of the most enjoyable animated films this year.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Two new fully animated sequences, "Mumble Meets a Blue Whale and "A Happy Feet Moment"; Savion Glover's "Dance Like a Penguin - Stomp to the Beat"; music videos for Prince's "The Song of the Heart" and Gia's "Hit Me Up"; and the 1936 Warner Bros. cartoon "I Love to Singa," a parody of Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer in which a young owl's desire to sing jazz runs afoul of his piano instructor.

Happy Feet
The story in this computer animated film is about those Emperor Penguins in Antarctica that you learned to love in "March of the Penguins." It tells us that all penguins are naturally talented singers. That is, until Memphis (Hugh Jackman "X-Men"), accidentally drops the egg he's caring for during a winter storm while Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman "Moulin Rouge") is off filling her belly with fish to nourish her newborn. When she returns from her soujourn in the ocean, Memphis hides the secret of his son's apparent strangeness. It seems that Mumble (Elijah Wood "Lord of the Rings") can't sing a pleasant note, so he won't be able to perform his "heartsong," which every penguin must, to attract a mate. His singing lessons end in failure, but he does have a talent, of sorts. He's able to tap dance. Mom is delighted, but Dad insists, "It just ain't penguin." Still, Mumble's "hippity-hoppity" ways attract his childhood friend, Gloria (Brittany Murphy "8 Mile"). But Mumble is exiled by the high priest (Hugo Weaving "The Lord of the Rings"), who attributes the fact that the fish supply is disappearing to be divine retribution for Mumble's un-penguin-like ways. So Mumble sets off to solve the mystery. First he runs into a group of Latino penguins who convince him that his dancing is actually cool. Even their guru Lovelace (Robin Williams "Good Morning Vietnam") thinks he may have a real talent, and together they set out to discover where the fish have gone. They run into an eye-filling beach full of elephant seals (including one voiced by the late Steve Irwin), who warn him he should watch out for the dreaded annihilator aliens. He also crosses paths with two killer whales in a scene of eye-popping choreographed action.

The films' highlight is the inventiveness of its camera work directed by George Miller (writer-producer of "Babe"). Never in an animated film have we seen such exhilarating panoramic shots with the camera zipping us through ice tunnels and zooming down steep embankments. And the singing and dancing R&B numbers featuring a cast of thousands (of penguins) are wondrous to see and hear. But with its very thin plot, it could have run twenty minutes less and the inclusion of live action humans toward the end is a bit jarring. Its pro-conservation message is certainly worthwhile, but it could have been made a bit clearer and handled more creatively. Still with its striking visuals, invigorating songs and lively characterizations this animated all-penguin musical is terrific entertainment.

NOTE: Those are Savion Glover's feet making the tap dancin' moves for Mumbles.

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