Happy Feet Two Lacks a Lightness of Step
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 18 Nov
DVD Release Date: March 13, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: November 18, 2011 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Rating: PG (for some rude humor and mild peril)
Genre: Animation, Family, Sequel
Run Time: 100 min.
Director: George Miller
Voices by: Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Pink, Sofia Vergara, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Common, Hugo Weaving, Ava Acres, Hank Azaria
As downright adorable as penguins are, especially itty bitty penguins like Mumble’s down-covered son Erik (Ava Acres, TV’s Harry’s Law ), there’s just something stale about Happy Feet Two that suggests it probably should’ve been sent straight to DVD.
Sure, the same characters are basically in place from the 2006 surprise Oscar winner Happy Feet, but save for a couple of shrimp-like krill who surprisingly steal every scene they’re in, thanks to excellent, bottom-of-the-food-chain banter from Brad Pitt (Moneyball) and Matt Damon (Contagion), Happy Feet Two simply lacks a lightness of step.
Unlike its predecessor that made surprisingly fun use of pop songs everybody knows—and loves—for those colorful dance sequences, the music may be familiar in Happy Feet Two, but that joyful, toe-tapping sensibility that made its predecessor such a delight is long, long gone. In fact, parents forced to sit through this dreck with their kiddos will probably wish they were practically anywhere but the local multiplex.
Like so many movies these days, the story inevitably plays second fiddle to the film’s overall aesthetic quality. While the imagery is just as beautifully rendered as before, and even pops significantly in the 3D format, it’s the story that’s nothing to write home about.
The plot, if you can call it that, not only moves at a veritable snail’s pace, but there’s just nothing all that special or urgent about any of it. If anything, it feels like a cheap money grab because, you know, dancing penguins are such a universal crowd-pleaser.
This time around, our beloved Mumble (Elijah Wood, The Romantics) is all grown up and desperate to find connection with his young son. Much to little Erik’s chagrin, he has not inherited a couple of happy feet like his dad ("The Master of Tap"), which ends up being more than a little embarrassing when he humiliates himself in front of his peers. Not knowing how he’ll recover from such a silly gaffe, Erik decides that running away from home is his best option.
When Mumble tries tracking down his son, however, an even bigger problem surfaces out of nowhere (cue: requisite eco-message) when a massive collection of ice separates him and presumably, Erik, from the rest of their community. Unfortunately, this also includes Mumble’s sweet, musically-inclined wife Gloria (pop singer Pink who stands in for the late Brittany Murphy).
As Gloria tries to keep her cool and calm the nerves of her neighbors in the meantime, it’s up to Mumble and Erik to save her and their pals from doom. Naturally, a motley crew of seemingly lovable (but mostly annoying) characters like The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria, The Smurfs), a narcissist puffin, lend a hand, which leads to a seemingly never-ending parade of A-list talent doing ridiculous accents. And when ridiculous accents bore, as they most certainly will, an overly long dance number apparently makes up for all that’s wrong in the world.
Too bad nobody involved knows when to finally call it a day. Far too long and over-stuffed with nothing remotely substantial to boot, Happy Feet Two is a sequel that shouldn’t have been made without a better storyline. Sadly, I’m guessing the under-10 set might not even notice, which will probably give the filmmakers plenty of ammo for a third outing that one can only hope will be far more charming.
- Drugs/Alcohol: None.
- Language/Profanity: None, although there’s several instances of rude humor, mostly of the scatological variety.
- Sex/Nudity: Some flirty banter, particularly between Carmen (Sofia Vergara, Modern Family) and Ramon. There’s also some dialogue that could suggest some potential same-sex attraction between Bill and Will.
Violence: There are several moments that could be too scary for young children, considering one character almost loses his father when he gets trapped (he’s eventually rescued). Other scenes have family members who are separated because of extenuating circumstances. A shrimp who escapes from the pack is endangered again and again.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.