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Elijah Wood
Hugh Jackman
Robin Williams
Nicole Kidman.
George Miller.
George Miller
Judy Morris
John Collee
Warren Coleman.
Running Time
109 minutes

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Happy Feet
Penguins singing and dancing and saving the planet...

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Baby penguin Mumble (Wood) prefers dancing to singing, much to the disgust of the musical colony where he lives. As he struggles to find his place and win the heart of Gloria (Brittany Murphy), Mumble discovers something rotten at the heart of Antarctica...

Happy Feet

Penguins have been poised on the brink of cinematic superstardom for the last few years, from their documentary blockbuster to the scene-stealing commando types of Madagascar. Happy Feet is, if you will, their Risky Business; a chance to prove that flightless Antarctic waddlers can headline a major motion picture event — and they just about pull it off.
The first 15 minutes of the film are basically a recap of March Of The Penguins, with Elvis and Prince filling in for Morgan Freeman. Here, Emperor penguins court each other by singing “heartsongs” to find a mate, and Kidman’s breathy, Monroe-esque Norma Jean is swept off her feet by Jackman’s down-home rendition of Heartbreak Hotel. It’s a slightly odd decision to imbue this least musical of birds with a penchant for bursting into song, but the results (thanks to the talented and incredibly starry voice cast) are undeniably foot-tapping. In due course arrives the almost unbearably cute Mumble, a penguin who just can’t sing — but has feet faster than Michael Flatley.
The film (directed by Mad Max’s George Miller) gives even more of a romantic gloss to the penguins’ struggles than did March, but doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of Antarctic life. Once the chicks hatch, things briefly settle into the cosy musical extravaganza that the trailers promised — the birds singing their hearts out while Mumble shuffles his feet and Robin Williams pops up, Genie-like, to add some extra laughs. But just as you’ve mentally mapped out an oddball-wins-friends-as-community-realises-value-of-diversity finale, the film takes a twist into much darker territory.
Overfishing, the sanctity of Antarctica and the evils of zoos are all addressed as Mumble’s quest for acceptance takes him to dark and dangerous places. It’s such a strong message, in fact, that the film was branded an “animated Inconvenient Truth” by right-wing pundits, which is hopefully a recommendation. Certainly the hit that pork futures took after Babe is nothing compared to the fishfinger backlash that this invites. But the huge shift in tone is disconcerting, and for every child encouraged to campaign for a brighter future for penguins, there’ll be two who refuse ever to go back to the zoo.

Small kids will love the waddlesome dancing and colourful animation, but older viewers will likely be disturbed by the story’s darker elements.

Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Happy Feet
Empire Star Rating

Happy Feet Review

Visually dazzling, with a thoughtful storyline and catchy musical numbers, Happy Feet marks a successful animated debut from the makers of Babe, but I agree with empire, the shift in tone did spoil the film for me, slightly. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:38, 30 December 2011 | Report This Post

Happy feet.

They did good on this. I enjoyed it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by antosh25 at 04:11, 05 December 2011 | Report This Post

Good But Not Oscar Worthy.

Happy Feet is supposed to be the movie you must see after it won a Oscar for Best Amination, beating Cars and Monster House which were good films in their own way. So I put it on yesterday, weary of the postive and negative reviews I read that day. It starts out with Norma Jean finding her soul mate with her heartsong, not one perfect for her. But when Memphis arrives with his Elivs song, they are a match and soon have a egg which hatches to Mumble. Problem is that Mumble can't sing, he can tap ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:07, 14 May 2009 | Report This Post

so boring,

I enjoyed it,but at the same time was extremely bored until the he got locked up in the zoo or whatever,then it just got ridiculous ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 22:31, 09 June 2008 | Report This Post

Childish happy feet

Good but not great. More for kids than adults. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:35, 26 March 2008 | Report This Post

Childish happy feet

Good but not great. More for kids than adults. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:35, 26 March 2008 | Report This Post

The Empire review really does no justice to what this film acheives. Technically and cinematically, for just about the entire experience, it is one of the greatest animated features I've seen. Disregarding the poor, POOR ending, which betrays it's lead-up, completely wonderful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wooz at 22:54, 01 May 2007 | Report This Post

Original Family Film

What starts off as the usual Computer Animated movie - unusual outcast main character, funny sidekicks, array of famous voices - develops into something far more intelligent half way through. By injecting a much needed darker plot involving pollution, animal cruelty (unintentional) and the depressed emotions of a penguin (it's not as funny as it sounds) Happy Feet is generally a joyful mix of all emotions without upsetting the children. The first half hour does drag a bit, and it is occasionally... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sull26 at 12:38, 20 February 2007 | Report This Post

didn't make my feet happy!!!

This film was a bit boring and with a bit of a naff ending!!! It's not really for those who don't like musical as that is all that is about! I am usually a fan of musicals but this one just dragged! The only reason that I'm giving it two stras is because of the cuteness of the little dancing penguin and the great animation ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Empo at 11:47, 31 January 2007 | Report This Post

A very good film.The animation was excellent and I was also impressed by the music and dance routines.I did not find any parts of the film disturbing, and films for children always have disturbing momments when you look at say, Snow White and Pinoccio or a more recent view like The Lion King.I also found the film very entertaining and would rate it four stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alfonso at 14:02, 26 January 2007 | Report This Post

A very good film.The animation was excellent and I was also impressed by the music and dance routines.I did not find any parts of the film disturbing, and films for children always have disturbing momments when you look at say, Snow White and Pinoccio or a more recent view like The Lion King.I also found the film very entertaining and would rate it four stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alfonso at 14:01, 26 January 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Happy Feet

Me and my girlfriend watched this with her neice the other night, I was a little wary of Empires review though, I just couldn't see how a shift in tone could affect a film as much as had been described.  I now agree with Empires review 100%!!!   This is, for me at least, one of the oddest kiddie films I've ever seen.  For the first two thirds, I really enjoyed it.  The comment describing this as Moulin Rouge meets March Of The Penguins summed up what I was thinking. ... More

Posted by porntrooper at 11:24, 11 January 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Happy Feet

I took my kids to see this over the holidays and it went down very well. The first half is basically March of the Penguins - the animated musical and the second half is an admittedly pretty heavy handed environmental story. The environemnt and being good to animals is very high up the kiddie agenda so it hits the mark rather than being frighening (at least it di for mine). It isn't Toy Story but the songs are daftly funny and I chortled my way though it.. ... More

Posted by john davidson at 13:47, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post


Was it actually aimed at kids? It didn't seem very kiddie friendly and most of the tots in the crowd today were clearly restless during it. I honestly don't quite know what to make of this film: It didn't seem to know what it wanted to be and was pretty much all over of the place in terms of style and tone. If you were to chop film up and show various sequences and segments seperately then I'm sure it would look awesome and everyone would be impressed, but when all these scenes line up si... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 13:44, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post


Absolutely loved it. I nearly cried at the end. Is that pathetic? Probably tied with Children of Men as the best film I've seen this year. I just can't shake off how jubilant and thrilling it all was and I was genuinly surprised by how scared I got by the humans in the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by meh... at 00:35, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post

I was a bit wary at first, but was won over by the music and cute characters. But the environmental meaaage at the end was a bit tacked on- otherwise I would have given it 5 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 16:21, 04 January 2007 | Report This Post

happy feet

i thought this film was great and particually enjoyed robin williams characters and all the songs that were featured especially kiss/heartbreak hotel. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vivlitherland at 12:32, 29 December 2006 | Report This Post


Went to see Happy Feet with some friends under protest and really quite enjoyed it.  The animation was pretty decent and the environmental story line simplistic but at least worthwhile.  It was the music that really sold it to me.  Definitely worth your time though probably not an essential cinema experience. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Winspurd at 20:10, 28 December 2006 | Report This Post


SPOILERS!   Happy Feet is a CG animated musical film with an all star cast about an Emperior penguin called Mumbles (Elijah Wood) who unlike the rest of his penguins cannot sing to find a mate but instead is a great dancer and is rejected by almost everyone apart from his parents (Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman) and his childhood friend Gloria (Brittany Murphy) because of it. He finds friendship and acceptence by a gang of different penguins (can`t remember what type the... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 11:50, 19 December 2006 | Report This Post

Don't look too deep

Ok this film started off well. Cute characters lots of fun but as a kids film why couldn't it be about a dancing penguin? Why did it have to ram the environmental stuff down our throats so blatantly? this ruined the film for me and the route to getting the message across was beyond ridiculous. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by maloowese at 21:01, 14 December 2006 | Report This Post

Review; Happy Feet

A well made film in IMAX, though i'm not sure if it was good anywhere else, Happy Feet did have some exciting scenes, cautious characters, and a penguin who sings with his feet! Starring Elijah Wood as Mumble, a penguin who has no voice, but can dance somthing aweful....or wonderful. Either way, Happy Feet did raise a few questions when the credits came up, but overal, George Miller created a mildly stunning animated movie, that overdid at the Box Office. Even though, kids will like Happy Feet... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BOMDAI at 00:01, 13 December 2006 | Report This Post


I liked happy feet..and I do agree with Empire's review. Sometimes I don't agree with their reviews but it's always interesting to read someone else' perception of a film.   At the end of the day everybody has a different idea of what a good/bad film is... I like looking at both sides of the argument...and even if a film gets a poor rating in a review I like to see it myself and make my own mind up.     OK so i'm not sure what the point there was...except that fil... More

Posted by =JD= at 23:09, 11 December 2006 | Report This Post


Well - trying to keep this thread on topic - the first half of Happy Feet was brilliant. Someone else on here mentioned it reminded them of Moulin Rouge too. I liked the slightly "darker" edge too.   It just collapsed in the second half.   Still think that nothing has been made since Toy Story 1&2 which lives up the promise of CG toons. Japanese ones like those of Studio Gibli are much deeper textured films.   Merry Christmas to all! ... More

Posted by BenClay2005 at 21:48, 11 December 2006 | Report This Post


Ben! You obviously didn't see the quotation marks on "great", did you? And I'll use whatever language I want.  Mate. ... More

Posted by Comrade Zutroy at 15:03, 11 December 2006 | Report This Post


Zutroy!   You don't need to resort to blasting me with bad language to make your point. Simply say that you'd rather I didn't critisize other people for their opinions.   Essentially, by disagreeing with someone - that's what you're doing anyway. So it all seems a bit silly.   I was being humourous/sarcasric. Happy Feet is not one of the best films of the Year.   By the way - if you thought the films I listed above were greats - then, well you have a lo... More

Posted by BenClay2005 at 10:27, 11 December 2006 | Report This Post

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