Saturday, May 5, 2007

Happy Feet

Since I just reviewed Cars, I might as well review the movie that beat it for the Best Animated Oscar this year. Take a dancing penguin, Elijah Wood, and as many social/political issues that you can cram into a 2 hour movie, and you have Happy Feet. Those filmmakers were smart. They could've gotten plenty of other actors to voice Mumble, but they got Elijah Wood, which drew in the Elijah Wood fangirls. (I got dragged--erm, went along with a friend who went for that reason.) The dancing penguin factor brings the kids in, and the social/political issues keep the parents from falling asleep, and then it makes them want to buy it so their kids can watch it over and over and learn about enviornmental issues.
In the world of Happy Feet, all penguins sing with beautiful, professional quality voices and have a "heart song". When they find another penguin whose song fits with theirs, it means they're supposed to get married. Mumble (Elijah Wood) can't sing and doesn't have a song. Instead, he tap dances. So all the penguins pick on him. Except of course, for the most beautiful girl penguin, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). She likes him. (*cough*Pebble and the Penguin*cough*) Meanwhile, all the fish are dissapearing, so the old penguins decide to blame in on Mumble, who, by their logic, must be causing all the probelms since he's DIFFERENT! Also, Mumble's dad, voiced by Hugh Jackman, hates him.
One day, Mumble winds up meeting a bunch of adelie penguins, most of which are voiced by Robin Williams. He dances, and they like it, so he ditches his family and becomes friends with them. (can you tell that I don't like this movie?) More dancing, more singing, more Mumble trying to get the girl. Mumble finally DOES get the girl by dancing to her heart song, but then he tells her to leave because he's going off on a dangersous quest to find the fish. Another hour of enviornmental issues, Mumble comes back, we get to see thousands of tap-dancing penguins, and then everyone lives happily ever after.
The only reason this beat Cars is because the plot was different. The only reason the plot was different was because they couldn't pick just one issue to address. The only thing I really liked about the movie was the animation. I honestly don't know if they filmed real people or animated them. The landscapes of antartica made me think I it was a live-action movie at times. The penguins were animated very realistsically, except that they were tap-dancing and singing. It's one of the greatest animation jobs I've seen in an American movie. The only, and I mean ONLY animated thing I didn't like was Mumble. When emperor penguins are born, they have lots of fuzzy white feathers. When they're around a year old (I think...) they have completely lost their feathers. The ENTIRE movie, Mumble had his fledgling feathers. He spent weeks, if not months trying to get the fish back and talk to the people, and he still had feathers! I know that the filmmakers did this so we could tell Mumble apart, but if they made no attempt to give the other penguins special features, why only do it for Mumble? Maybe they thought it would be too stereotypical. They could be right, but to me, it just looked stupid.
Rating: 2 and half stars because that was some of the best animation I've seen since FF7: Advent Children.


The only reasons I wanted to see Cars were: 1, John Lasseter, the director, is friends with Hayao Miyazaki-sensei and 2, Pixar usually has the best animated movies in the US. The only Pixar movies that weren't nominated for Academy Awards were the ones that were made before the Best Animated Film award was created, and until now, only one lost, and that was to Shrek. So I fully expected Cars to take the Oscar home this year. To my surprise, Happy Feet, not Cars, got the prize. I now know why.
The only thing original about Cars is... well, the cars. It had the standard plot of a hotshot young rookie, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) who thinks only about himself and has no friends. One night, on the way to the tiebraker for the coveted Piston Cup, Lightning falls off of his truck, gets chased by a cop, and destroys the road in a little town in the middle of nowhere. The citizens of the town punish him by forcing him to fix the road he destroyed, a job that, according to the town leader, Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman) will take 5 days. But Lighting must get to California in... atually, I don't remember them saying how long he had to get to California. Just that he really had to get there, and apparently didn't have 5 days. To make a long story short, Lighting learns lots of life lessons, becomes friends with a tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, falls in love with a cute porcshe named Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and helps the little town of Radiator Springs. It's everything the previews made it out to be, and nothing more. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the film, but I did expect a little better from Pixar. The animation was very well-done, but in Pixar's style, which isn't the most realistic I've seen. That may also be a reason Happy Feet won over Cars. Still, overall it was cute and worth the 116 minutes I spent to watch it.
Rating: 2 and a half stars. The plot was just too predictable. Sorry, Pixar.
If you like this: A Bug's Life, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo