Best foot forward! | Daily News
Happy Feet

Best foot forward!

Foot tapping tunes and heartwarming animations are not the only thing you can expect in George Miller’s ‘Happy Feet’. He takes us by surprise by going dark and deep too. This is a new turn of events you expect from a film which is supposed to be about singing and dancing penguins but it is also the movie’s success formula.

Baby penguin Mumble 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 his companion, Gloria, Mumble discovers something rotten at the heart of Antarctica.

Penguins have become scene-stealing animation figures during the early millennium years in Hollywood. From the ‘Madagascar’ series to the kindergartener-friendly ‘The Jungle Bunch’ series, penguins have never failed to deliver the goods by becoming box office spinners. However you get quite a dose of the unexpected in Miller’s 2006 animation. It possesses nearly the same features which made ‘The Lion King’ a hit.

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 that the film was branded an “animated Inconvenient Truth” by pundits.

Despite being a thinly veiled piece of environmentalist propaganda, ‘Happy Feet’ is imaginative and fun. Mumble has a gift for dancing but is shunned by his fellow penguins for his rebellious ways. The music is especially well-done, creating several new and interesting complications and covers of a number of pop songs.

The animation however, is a little crude and could use some work. Director Miller has pulled off a coup with this one. He has raised the benchmark to a whole new level, both visually and conceptually.

It seems 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 incredibly ‘waddlesome’ feet.

Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, and Nicole Kidman form an all-star cast that add weight to the project. AwkwardAwkward but graceful, derivative but daring, ‘Happy Feet’ is, indeed, a flightless bird in the best and worst sense.