Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Feet Two

Directed by George Miller.

2011. Rated PG, 100 minutes.

Benjamin Flores Jr.
Carlos Alazraqui
Lombardo Boyar

Mumble (Wood), along with seemingly every penguin in the world finds themselves trapped when a giant hunk of ice blocks their path out of a frozen valley. Meanwhile, Will and Bill, a pair of krill played by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, respectively, break loose from their school and venture out into the ocean on their own. Pop song medleys and dancing ensues.

As with its predecessor, the singing and dancing is the strength of the movie. The way songs most of would never think of in the same sentence blend seamlessly is brilliant. The numbers are lively and make time speed  by as we tap our own happy feet and maybe even sing along. That is, of course, as long as the thought of musicals aimed at children doesn’t automatically turn your stomach.

Where the first movie falters is in its sudden twist in tone. After two cheerful acts encouraging kids to be true to themselves, the third is an excruciatingly dark one involving man’s exploitation of animals for financial gain and destruction of the environment on top of our hero suffering spells of dementia. Even though we never get anywhere near those depths this time around, we’re only given one fun act before settling in for lots of penguins fretting about their pending doom and worshipping false idols. Sure, there are plenty of attempts at humor but most of them fall flat. To gauge this, I made sure to notice my children who weren’t laughing very often. The truth is the penguins and most of the other creatures fail to engage us unless they’re belting out a tune.

One exception, at least on a minor level, is Mumble’s son Erik (Ares). Like his dad, he’s a bit different than the other penguins. He doesn’t join in on any of the songs they sing. In fact, he doesn’t say much at all and spends as much time as possible hiding. As in almost every other movie ever made that features such an insecure character, this is all leading up to the moment he bursts out of his shell. The pleasant surprise is how effective a moment this is. It’s an absolute showstopper, by far my favorite part of the entire movie.

The rest of the film proceeds as it must, efficiently but not always joyfully. Everything happens right on time as we’ve been trained by countless other kiddie flicks. The climax is ridiculous, even for a cartoon about singing penguins. All of this would be forgivable if it didn’t commit a cardinal sin. There are large chunks of Happy Feet Two that are just plain boring.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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