Snow-shuf­fling ap­peal

movie re­view >> clay­ton smales

Townsville Bulletin - - The Guide -

NOTH­ING is go­ing to stop the Happy Feet jug­ger­naut, and given it’s been a smash in the States and is set to do gang­busters in Aus­tralia, it would be kind of point­less to pick holes in it.

It is, af­ter all, squarely aimed at kids, and on that front, I’d be hard pressed to rec­om­mended a more de­light­ful, joy­ous 108 min­utes of fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment.

I read that it took two years just to set up the com­puter power needed to cre­ate this mag­i­cal Antarc­tic set­ting, never mind the metic­u­lous CGI work done af­ter­wards to bring an all-danc­ing, all-singing pen­guin tale to life.

But, just when you thought this type of flick couldn’t get any more de­tailed, any more vis­ually stun­ning, the var­i­ous whizzes that make their liv­ings from this ca­per raise the bar to an­other level so much so that films like Toy Story and Mon­sters Inc. now look some­thing any half de­cent graphic artist could slap up on their own PC. They prob­a­bly couldn’t of course, but Happy Feet is an im­pres­sive re­minder that the march of this type of tech­nol­ogy, like the march of the pen­guins so lov­ingly por­trayed, will not be halted.

Giv­ing a nod to the likes of Moulin Rouge and My Best Friend’s Wed­ding, Happy Feet opens in a won­drous sin­ga­long as a vast herd of em­peror pen­guins go about choos­ing mates, in­cu­bat­ing eggs and pre­par­ing for the long win­ter.

They do this via a ‘heart­song’, with the film zoom­ing in on Norma Jean and Mem­phis, pen­guins in love and await­ing the hatch­ing of their pre­cious egg.

But Mem­phis drops his pre­cious cargo while act­ing out and the re­sul­tant off­spring, Mum­ble, is slightly dam­aged, in that he can’t sing, but in­sists on tap danc­ing his way through life.

This makes him an out­cast of sorts, and he strug­gles valiantly to stay true to him­self while be­ing ac­cepted by his peers.

So be­gins a Lion King- style jour­ney of dis­cov­ery where Mum­ble be­friends a troupe of wise-crack­ing pen­guins from an­other colony, bat­tles vi­cious leop­ard seals, sea birds and killer whales and gets up all of sorts of happy may­hem en route to dis­cov­er­ing why the pen­guins’ fish stocks are dwin­dling.

The moral lessons of ac­cep­tance and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity aren’t shoved down our throats, mak­ing room for plenty of daz­zling set pieces where Mum­ble and friends slide, swim and sashay through the sto­ry­line. Comic re­lief is pro­vided by the Robin Wil­liams-voiced pair of Ramo´n and Lovelace, the lat­ter a char­la­tan pen­guin mys­tic who mis­tak­enly thinks that a plas­tic ring-top from a six-pack is some sort of totem of author­ity.

There were times where I had to re­mind my­self this icy world was purely a man-made cre­ation, so real did the avalanches, etc look, and you might ask what’s the point of cre­at­ing this vir­tual en­vi­ron­ment when gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren have em­braced much sim­pler forms of an­i­mated en­ter­tain­ment.

But there’s no deny­ing Happy Feet’s snow­shuf­fling ap­peal from the first crack­ing of Mum­ble’s egg to the pre­dictably over-thetop fi­nal se­quence. Take the kids, or just your­self, and en­joy. >> Happy Feet, rated G, and is is show­ing at all cine­mas.

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