Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Feet

I finally caught up to this popular animated holiday film. While I found the animation terrific and the dancing and singing penguins very cute, I also had issues with the film.

The majority of the story takes place in Antarctica and watching the penguins with just a snow and ice background (and a few underwater scenes) gets pretty tedious after a while. For small children, the snow leopard sequence can be pretty frightening and even though the elephant seals are not threatening, they too can look pretty scary to a small child.

Additionally, on one hand, the animation renders the animal life incredibly realistic but on the other hand, they all sing and dance (except the predators who behave naturally). This is a mixed messages for kids and it happens over and over again with animated animal movies. There is also a subplot about ecology and the food chain. Small children won't understand it and older children won't buy the fairy tale resolution. If you want to teach your children about real penguins, take them to an aquarium or zoo.

Robin Williams provides the voice of 2 characters and both accents are racial stereotypes. Besides Mr. Williams, vocal talent is provided by Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Britney Murphy and as the lead character, "Mumble", Elijah Wood. They all do a good job with their characters.

Possibly the filmmakers were inspired by "March of The Penguins" or maybe it was the Polar Bear/Penguin Coca Cola commercial ( I expected every bird to be holding a bottle by the film's end). Either way, I've had my fill of animated penguins.

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