March of the tie-in toys
The second instalment of the dancing penguin franchise breaks no new ice, writes Tara Brady
IT’S IRONIC that March of the Penguins, a film that found a compelling narrative in the mating rituals of frozen flightless birds, has spawned some seriously inaccurate representations of the species.
Joining a squawking chorus that includes Madagascar, Surf’s Up and the first instalment of this franchise, Happy Feet Two can’t quite bring itself to get excited about penguins. Sure, the icy scenery is amazing, and they do look just like little waiters, but for Mad Max and Babe: Pig in the City director George Miller the flora and fauna is simply handy as a dazzling digitised backdrop.
In the Happy Feet sequence, penguins are only properly interesting when performing gospel versions of Janet Jackson numbers. They say “Boo-ya” and do older dad-rock standards. They sing with Pink’s voice and eat krill essayed by Brad Pitt. They utilise Robin Williams in not just one, but two zany roles. As contemporary animation goes, it’s all very p-p-p-p-p-p-p-predictable.
Pity poor Elijah Wood, who once again finds himself on a longwinded quest with snow (sorry) particular place to go. As this pointedly Christmassy sequel opens, Wood’s Mumble, the dancing, bow-tied misfit hero of the first Antarctic adventure, is still sporting downy grey bum fluff but has somehow managed to father an adorable fuzzy moppet named Eric.
Barely a snowflake has fallen before the film falls into an unpleasantly familiar familyfriendly formation as it asks that age-old question: how does the modern penguin father juggle traditional paternal penguining duties with modern notions of chick bonding? When an ill-defined catastrophe traps the entire Emperor Penguin species in a hole, the concerned dad must put his paranoia aside and team up with his old Latino buddies to come to the rescue.
Between musical numbers – so many, many musical numbers – light relief is provided by Pitt and Matt Damon’s daring shrimp (“Goodbye krill world!”) and Hank Azaria’s puffed-up penguin impostor.
The plot is thin, but the tie-in plush toys feel like they could go on forever.