Have you seen the trailers? Just watching that little penguin dance his heart out makes a person feel good. Combined with a cinematic beauty reminiscent of March of the Penguins and a roster of genuinely funny, vividly drawn characters, Happy Feet will be a winter season smash. It's flawed—there's a clutter of themes and subplots that suggests the screenplay was written by committee, and a layer of smirking sexual innuendo that cheapens the film—but it's fun.
Mumble is a baby penguin who doesn't fit in. Instead of stumping along in the stately, ungainly way of Emperor Penguins, he taps, he skips, he cuts rug. When it comes time for the little ones to find their heart song—"the voice you hear inside, who you truly are"—it turns out that our hero can't sing to save his life. His song is in his feet. And in a world where you are what you warble—"Without our heart song, we can't be truly penguin"—this kid's an outcast.
One day when he's off by himself working out dance moves, Mumble has a run-in with some tough-talking flyer-boys. The leader of this particular pack is also an outsider—he's got a yellow band on his leg, and a paranoid story to go with it. He claims to have been abducted by aliens. When our penguin protagonist finds other traces of human presence in the Antarctic ice, he begins to wonder whether there might be other forces shaping his tribe's destiny besides the mystical "'Guin" invoked by the elders—specifically, whether these mythical "aliens" might know what's really happening to the fish, whose scarcity is endangering life on the ice cap. Eventually the plucky little individualist heads out on the obligatory hero's journey to get to the bottom of things and save ...1
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