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Laramie Movie Scope:
Happy Feet

The best musical of the year so far

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 22, 2006 -- “Happy Feet” is quite simply the best musical I've seen this year. It's got great singing and dancing, an interesting story and stunningly beautiful animation. There is enough comedy for children and enough adult cultural references, too. It is a great family movie for the holiday season.

The main character of the film is “Mumbles,” a penguin who can dance, but can't sing. He is not accepted by the other penguins, who can all sing, but are very suspicious of dancing, because it is new to them. Mumbles is finally banished from the flock by the elders, who think his dancing has scared the fish away. Mumbles, however, has other ideas. He has heard of strange alien creatures who have banded some birds and who may be responsible for the shortage of fish. On his journey, he finds another breed of penguins who happen to like his dancing. They seek the advice of a prophet known as Lovelace, who leads them on a long, perilous journey to find the mysterious alien creatures.

The film's characters are very strong, led by Mumbles, his girlfriend, Gloria, his father, the Elvis-like Memphis, and mother, Norma Jean. The funny sidekick-type characters are the amigos, Ramon, Lombardo, Raul, Rinaldo. These penguins become Mumbles' best friends and fearless companions on his search for the truth. Mumbles is opposed by the emperor penguin elders, led by Noah, who feel that Mumbles' nonconformity is posing a danger to the group. Superstitious and set in their ways, the elders resist hearing the truth about the greater world beyond their limited understanding. The voices provided by the actors helped to create these strong characters. Notable voice actors include Robin Williams, Elijah Woods, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving.

The film has some serious messages about human over-fishing, about being true to yourself and about being open to the truth about the world and not being limited by narrow and rigid patterns of thought. The main part of the story, however, has a more simple message, that singing and dancing are fun. The animation in the film is beautiful. Motion capture was used to copy the masterful tap dancing of Savion Glover. Cutting-edge computer software was used to create the intricately-detailed images in the film, including lifelike movements of penguins with thousands of individual virtual feathers. A wondrous visual imagination is at work in this film, particularly in the underwater sequences. This film rates a B+.

A good companion piece for this film is March of the Penguins. It really helps to have seen “March of the Penguins” before seeing “Happy Feet” because the first film explains much about the second one. Click here to visit the official website for this movie, including characters, music, trailers, downloads, video, books, games, photos, mobile phone features, Myspace features, partners and more about the film.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics, theater tickets and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)