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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
U
Cast
Elijah Wood
Hugh Jackman
Robin Williams
Nicole Kidman.
Directors
George Miller.
Screenwriters
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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Plot
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...


Review
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.


Verdict
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

RE: HAPPY FEET

This is a good film for the kids!t animation.. -- London to Brighton http://www.l2b-themovie.co.uk ... More

Posted by lovebhadz at 01:37, 11 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: ew: Happy Feet

Happy Feet is one of the most random films I've ever seen. Essentially it's about a dancing penguin who can't sing (when penguins sing to attract mates of course), but veers from his struggle to fit in randomly to trying to restore the penguins' supply of fish. Which is never mentioned until about halfway through.   Still, it's very amusing in places, I'll call it a 6 out of 10. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Paul2j at 22:29, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


ew: Happy Feet

For a children film, I thought this wasn't really aimed at children at all! Its pretty much about the music and dancing and the music was very much what adult would recognise not the kids. There wasn't much visual gags for the kids at all.I took my nephew and he didn't enjoy it one bit. And I was the same. Total false advertising. Not one for the kids. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by macqueen at 20:22, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


ew: Happy Feet

For a children film, I thought this wasn't really aimed at children at all! Its pretty much about the music and dancing and the music was very much what adult would recognise not the kids. There wasn't much visual gags for the kids at all.I took my nephew and he didn't enjoy it one bit. And I was the same. Total false advertising. Not one for the kids. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by macqueen at 20:12, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


Loved it....

And I've already seen it twice. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by VincentHanna at 19:39, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Well, I just got back from watching it........ It was one of those films my girlfriend dragged me to in payback from dragging her to see shite like Hostal etc.  I was particularly dreading seeing it.  Not that the film wouldnt be any good, but the cinema was packed with kids screaming and shouting before hand and it just did my nut in.  Adding to this headache was the awful trailers with an enitre episode of a shitty Cartoon Network series that wasnt very good, and the tra... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kenada_woo at 18:56, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Your sarcasm has me rolling on the floor laughing.  ROFL!!!! ly mate, shut the fuck up.  Your way of putting people in their place by spuouting out the "greats" is fucking tedious and all too common on these boards.  If it's someones opinion that this film was the best of the year then let them have it and don't be so fucking judgemental. And just to keep this on topic, I loved this film.  Completly off its tits.  Personall... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Comrade Zutroy at 18:41, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Yes that's right.   Also, I hear that the Straight to DVD "American Pie:The Naked Mile" is right up there with Some Like It Hot and even funnier than Spinal Tap crossed with Airplane. Times 10.   Just off to watch "Jaws 3D". Someone told me it was really good. Bet it's nothing compared to "Boxing Helena".   Ooh - have you seen, erm, "Tooth". Probably the best kids film ever made. Okay, that's being silly. But the character arcs and original set pieces in it... More

Posted by BenClay2005 at 23:43, 09 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Happy Feet is one of the best movies of the year! ... More

Posted by Timmy_Brisby_05 at 20:07, 09 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Right, so, about Happy Feet...   Am I the only person who found the first hour or so really, really tedious?  We know dancing penguins look great; we saw that in the trailer.  The first hour of the film seemed to be a line of big set-piece, song-and-dance numbers, loosely strung together with a bit of story.  It was only in the last half hour or so I found myself quite interested by the story, and not by the "look what we can do!"-ness of the animation.  Once a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by pettsy at 18:07, 09 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

I just find it funny that a guy called discostewart is having such a serious conversation with Helen while she wears that hat. That said, where's the beard? ... More

Posted by enemysprout at 21:14, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

HELEN AND STEWART - ENOUGH ALREADY! Why don't you just get a room? Now listen you two - I think you both make some valid points, but honestly Helen - why are you rising to him? Stewart - I too thought Supes Return was a bit crap - hardly better than Batman Begins, which I adored! I do have to say though, Tallegeda Nights was a load of old bollocks. Funny? Not really. Anchormanlite? Not even that good! Helen - you ARE NOT DUMBING DOWN - don't fret lassie! Empire is stil... More

Posted by BenClay2005 at 20:27, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

I have no idea what has been written about clones, superman returns, king kong or any of the other "odd ratings" (yes my view) prior to my short life on this forum, im merely expressing the view that it has become more frequent a conversation amongst people i know that when we have seen a film, people have commented "I cant beleieve Empire gave it that". And further that general concensus on movie forums like avforums seem again to go against your reviews ratings (not spefically yours but when ... More

Posted by discostewart at 16:51, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

trebuchet ms"]But the film's shift in undertone is very important.  If the film had grim mumblings (ha!) from the begining the message in the film would have been watered down.  This sudden shift gives resonance to the issues the filmakers are concerned with.  The classic films have always had unexpected shifts in tone.  Look at the Wizard of Oz.  Things are all peachy then a big gust plonks DOt somewhere clearly not in Kansas anymore, squishing an OAP in the process.&n... More

Posted by Rod Hull at 16:34, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

L: discostewart I believe that my original point was about empire becoming more trivialised iin some respects, Chris bought in the dumbing down (hehe). Superman Returns to me is a 3 star film yes, i was saying that given the wide birth of critiscism it has had that surely at  best it deserved 4 stars from you. I also addressed above that "my view isnt the gospel" when it comes to star ratings. But as an editor I would look at a film, I would look at my target readership and I wou... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Monkeyshaver at 16:22, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

No, Stewart, I'm very much afraid that you were the first to use the "d" word. As I've explained on these forums before, star ratings ARE a collective rather than purely individual decision, and we choose the reviewer who best sums up our view on a  film whenever possible (sometimes only one or two people see a film in time, in which case we have less opportunity to discuss it, obviously). We DO impose an editorial filter already, in a process that has not changed since the earliest d... More

Posted by Helen OHara at 15:14, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

I believe that my original point was about empire becoming more trivialised iin some respects, Chris bought in the dumbing down (hehe). Superman Returns to me is a 3 star film yes, i was saying that given the wide birth of critiscism it has had that surely at  best it deserved 4 stars from you. I also addressed above that "my view isnt the gospel" when it comes to star ratings. But as an editor I would look at a film, I would look at my target readership and I would tailor reviews tha... More

Posted by discostewart at 14:59, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Stewart, I'm confused - you think that Superman Returns is "four stars at best" "three stars at best"? In any case, I just don't see how that doesn't come down to anything more than personal opinion - and it certainly isn't a case of dumbing down. That review was written by Ian Nathan, one of the smartest and film-expertest writers on the mag. You may disagree with him, you may think he's wrong - but that certainly doesn't make him, or his review, dumb. And even if it did, one review does... More

Posted by Helen OHara at 14:41, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Im open to the idea of myself changing ofcourse, yet I still read Q magazine and have not seen it shift its editorial policy, tone or positioning on whats good and whats not. And as an editor for many years of my life I do think there is a perceviable difference in what empire offers now but i am specifically talking abou tthe reviews here, I am the first one to say that you interviews and features remain true to form. And thats what im talking about here there seems to be incohesion between th... More

Posted by discostewart at 14:33, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

L: plester I totally agree with discostewart on this one. I have been reading Empire for years now and the quality of reviews has dropped substantially, there are so many 4 and 5 stars awarded for average films that i cannot trust them anymore. Empire seems to have somewhat lost touch with the movie world, and also become a little blinkered. Anyway i wish Empire the best of luck, but i wont be buying another. Cheers! Phil "long time reader , first time poster! ... More

Posted by Funkyrae at 14:22, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

So the quality of reviews has deteriorated, eh? That's news to us, and I'm sure it's news to the likes of Ian Nathan, Kim Newman, Angie Errigo, Ian Freer and Adam Smith who've been with the magazine for a long time (some since Day One) and all of whom are amongst the best writers in the business. So you don't agree with the star ratings we give - fine. But I would argue that the standard of writing in Empire is as high as it's ever been. As for the dumbing down accusation, Stewart, we don... More

Posted by Chris Hewitt at 13:48, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

Stewart, the consumer can make their own choices, but if they're making vague accusations of "dumbing down", which we see no justification for, then we're just not going to do anything about that because, well, what can we possibly do? We don't see it, and feel very strongly that it's not the case. If you could offer us specific, concrete instances, then maybe we would be inclined to take these occasional charges seriously. If you don't feel it's the mag for you anymore, so be it... More

Posted by Helen OHara at 13:42, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

It is not up to the consumer to supply a documented list it is only the consumers responsiblility to give feedback that something is in their view taking place. You don't have to agree with it, but when there are long term readers it would be wise to listen. I was unaware till scannnig this forum that this was an accusaton you had had before, but Chris' response suggests it's something you are fending off often . The basic retort to your arguments can always be our reviews are personal opi... More

Posted by discostewart at 13:11, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

I totally agree with discostewart on this one. I have been reading Empire for years now and the quality of reviews has dropped substantially, there are so many 4 and 5 stars awarded for average films that i cannot trust them anymore. Empire seems to have somewhat lost touch with the movie world, and also become a little blinkered. Anyway i wish Empire the best of luck, but i wont be buying another. Cheers! Phil "long time reader , first time poster! ... More

Posted by plester at 12:56, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Happy Feet

With Helen around, I don't think dumbing down is a charge that can ever stick. She frightens me with her big brain. Mind you, she does keep it in a jar. ... More

Posted by Chris Hewitt at 12:54, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


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