It has been a long, drawn-out year of CGI-animated films. There has been at least one a month all year long. But when are we going to finally see the best one of the year? In other words, are we there yet?
Happy Feet tells the story of Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), a young penguin who is having a lot of trouble fitting in. You see, Mumble can't sing, but instead he has been blessed with the ability to dance. In the penguin society, every penguin has his or her song that they sing to push back the cold and warm their hearts during the long winter months. Mumble is frowned upon and is dubbed a bad omen by the elders of the society because of his inability to sing. It turns out that Mumble's birth signaled a depression of the fish reserves in which the penguins feed. Mumble becomes determined to find out what happened to the fish and prove that he is not the cause of the fish shortage.
Happy Feet is a great little family film for the first 90 minutes. We are introduced to Mumble's parents, Norma Jean and Memphis (voiced by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman). Mumble meets some pint-sized penguins, one named Ramon (voiced by Robin Williams) and another named Lovelace (also voiced by Robin Williams); a wise elder who may be a fraud; and his one true love, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). All these elements made for a wonderful and colorful journey.
The film's last thirty minutes change the whole course of the film and a moral message is released. The message is cleverly revealed and interesting in its execution, but how do you explain it to your child? In some ways it was the only way to finish the story and in others it was a bold move, but was it really necessary?
Happy Feet is probably one of the better animated films of the year and I would have to put it next to Over the Hedge and Flushed Away as my three favorite animated films of the year. But it really didn't grab hold of me and rise above as the best of the year.
With there being so many of these kinds of films now, it's hard to be wowed by the animation, scenery, and characters because they are all amazing. Since animation has reached a new level of quality, the stories that drive these animated films have to follow suit. Which is the reason why we ended up with so many unmemorable but fabulous-looking animated films this year. We need richer stories, and at least Happy Feet tries. (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.