An animated movie about saving the ecosystem? We haven't seen that before. . .
Actually we have, but "Happy Feet" puts a new spin on the ecology message: It adds a huge measure of angst to animation.
That may sound harsh, but the filmmakers have loaded this movie with so much message that it leaves little room for pure entertainment.
"Happy Feet" tells the story of Mumble (voice by Elijah Wood), an Emperor Penguin born with a handicap. In a flock that prizes voices (that's how you woo a mate), Mumble can't sing, much to the shame of his parents. His compensating talent? He can dance, much to the chagrin of the flock's elders.
Determined to find his place in the world, Mumble heads across the ice to find out where the fish have gone. He's determined to learn why his fellow birds are starving (the area is overrun with fishing trawlers) and to put an end to it.
"Happy Feet" wants to be all things to all audiences: A cartoon for kids, a message movie for adults, and a soundtrack force for Warner Brothers, which must have made up with the artist formerly know as its employee. There are several Prince songs (including Kiss) woven into the plot.
Despite some impressive digital animation - the ocean chase scenes are amazing - "Happy Feet" never wins you over. It's often so earnest that even the kids will be asleep before it's done.
Extras: Two deleted scenes, including a tribute to the late Steve Irwin, a dance tutorial with tap master Savion Glover and two music videos.
"Happy Feet" is available on DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD from Warner. 109 minutes. Rated PG. $29.98/$39.98. Grade: C+