Movie Review: “Happy Feet Two” (in 3D)

Written by Brent Holmes November 22, 2011

The kids are alright, just unmanageable

The original Happy Feet was one of only two films to ever beat out a Pixar film for Best Animated Feature; despite sinking in its third act, it was still a pretty strong film. It was up against Cars, Pixar’s (arguably) weakest film, so that’s probably why it won at the Oscars. Happy Feet Two probably won’t be even be considered for a nomination.

Since 3D is the latest waste of money that Hollywood businessmen have devised, Happy Feet Two waddles that onscreen. Unfortunately, the only part of the film that actually looks 3D is a subplot involves two annoying krill named Bill (Matt Damon) and Will (Brad Pitt). Even then any pretense of 3Dness ends when one of their whiskers floats offscreen breaking the illusion entirely. 3D will always be a kiss that still intangible: the sooner it breaks off and sinks into the ocean, the sooner the quality of films will rise.

The story features the return of Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink) who defying physical impossibility and everything we know about penguins are still together and raising their son Erik (E.G. Daily). If they make a Happy Feet Three will they finally acknowledge the fact that penguins go inland to mate and then leave their mates permanently afterwards? None of these characters are particularly well voice-acted, when Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Elijah Wood, or Matt Damon are shooting off pop culture references, it’s hard to buy into their characters.

Unlike Mumble and Gloria, Erik hasn’t developed the ability to dance or sing yet making him an outcast from the penguin community. When Erik runs away, Mumble must go on a quest half an ocean away to save him. The penguins find another gathering of penguins led by Sven (Hank Azaria), a New-Age thinking puffin posing as a flying penguin. While the penguins are away, an ice-quake traps Gloria and the rest of the fucking penguins inland. Now Mumble and the new group of penguins have to figure out how to save the rest of the penguin nation.

The rest of the film involves Mumble’s efforts to save Gloria and the other penguins from mass starvation. It is a lengthy plot that doesn’t seem to go anywhere and the script has no devotion to hatching character development. Mumble struggles with being a good dad and when Sven’s new age thinking is proven false, Erik has no crisis of dealing with the fact that his ‘hero’ is a fraud.

The New Age religion references aren’t the only thematic mess in Happy Feet Two. Bill and Will the Krill make multiple Darwin and evolution references that don’t make much sense. The theme of environmentalism returns once again in a way as clean as a person who wipes their ass with their sleeves. Not to downplay the significance of how humans are destroying the Earth but, “Kids, no matter how different you are and how much people may exclude you always remember to not pollute the Earth and that vegans suck” is not a comprehensible message.

The animation actually feels like a step backwards from its predecessor, the characters feel less well drawn both from a script and animation standpoint. Granted the environment scenes are well done with sweeping camera angles and great detail when the film is trying to show that element off.

Yet at the end of the day, a lousy plot, poorly acted forgettable characters, frustrating 3D, and undeveloped themes cannot compete with the fact that baby penguins are cute.

My Rating: 10/10

 

 

 

 

 

Just Kidding! This film was so dull that one could very easily spend the entire time pondering how roast penguin tastes. Good job if you caught all the Tragically Hip “Emperor Penguin” references.

My Rating 4/10

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About Brent Holmes

Brent Holmes is a Film Studies and English Major attending Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario where he is working towards a PhD in Film Studies. He currently writes for We Eat Films and The Western Gazette (on the latter, he serves as Arts & Life editor).

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  1. The reason the original Happy Feet was embraced so lovingly by moviegoers five years ago is that it was innovative. It was something different for animated film, and viewers appreciated that. Happy Feet Two is more of the same. Penguins are dancing. Who cares if it’s nothing new? Check out my review of Happy Feet Two at Sobriety Test Movie Reviews

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