March of the tie-in toys

The sec­ond in­stal­ment of the danc­ing pen­guin fran­chise breaks no new ice, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

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.

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