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Happy Feet

Movie review by
Jane Boursaw, Common Sense Media
Happy Feet Movie Poster Image
Ultra-cute kid flick has a few scary, emotional moments.
  • PG
  • 2006
  • 108 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 147 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 120 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids are likely to pick up some "talking points" about conservation and environmentalism. They'll also learn the importance of being true to yourself.

Positive Messages

Despite the fact that the main character is initially ostracized for being different, he doesn't give up who he is (showing integrity), and ultimately the message of embracing your own uniqueness shines through. The movie also has strong environmental messages and themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A young penguin stands out from his flock because he's different. He tries to compensate for his "handicap" by doing something (dancing) that sets him apart from the others, but they still treat him poorly for his weirdness -- though they eventually sing another tune. On the other hand, there's some stereotyping.

Violence & Scariness

The penguins are attacked by scary elephant seals. They must face cold and blizzards.

Sexy Stuff

The penguins must sing a unique "heart song" to find a mate. Mumble bumps into another penguin's private parts. Reference to male penguins not wanting to hug each other. Some innuendoes from a male penguin about female penguins wanting him.


"Freakin'," reference to kissing penguins' butts.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Happy Feet is an appealing animated film with plenty of catchy music. It deals with environmental themes related to humans intruding on natural habitats but avoids the heavy-duty questions of how to solve the problem. Some of the chase sequences and elephant seal scenes might be scary for younger kids. Also, stereotyping come into play: Latin-inspired penguins are caricatured as party-loving animals, and an African-American-inspired penguin comes across as an oversexed, fundamentalist preacher. Still, the movie's messages of integrity, social acceptance, and embracing your own uniqueness shine through.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjaclande April 9, 2008

I walked out on this movie!

This movie was so offensive to me that I walked out on the last 20 minutes of it. My husband and I took our 3 children and a cousin to see what we expected to... Continue reading
Adult Written bygrammykahuhu April 9, 2008

Only for children too young to understand the lyrics!

I watched this movie last night with 4 of my grandchildren ages 4,6,8,9. They had already seen it, I had not. I was appalled by the song lyrics as it began an... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLissaNicky March 30, 2010

too much on mating

I thought it focused too much on mating and not enough on the story. A few scenes were a little scary for younger kids but unless they are super sensitive they... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJadenp March 3, 2011
Crude movie... very crude and inappropriate.

What's the story?

George Miller's ultra-cute animated comedy features the voice of Elijah Wood as Mumble, an Antarctic penguin who can't find his "heart song," a tune unique to each penguin that's supposed to attract a mate. Instead of the soulful melodies all the other penguins sing, Mumble croaks out horrible sounds. But he can tap dance up a storm, which is exactly what he does, even though the other penguins -- including his dad, Memphis (Hugh Jackman) -- think it's just plain weird. Eventually, penguin tribe leader Noah (Hugo Weaving) ousts Mumble from the community, claiming that his oddities are responsible for the recent fish shortage. Exiled, Mumble embarks on a journey to discover the true cause of the waning food supply. Along the way, he stumbles upon a gang of penguins known as the Adelie Amigos, and their guru, Lovelace (Robin Williams). They convince Mumble that his dancing is actually cool, and together, they search for the "alien annihilators," who gave Lovelace a "talisman" (a plastic six-pack container ring).

Is it any good?

Lest you think it's a rip-off of the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, let's set the record straight. Although it still manages to sneak in some real-life penguin oddities to fascinate viewers, this CGI movie is all about charm and happiness, not struggles to survive in a harsh environment.

Mumble's dancing is awfully cute -- but also true-to-life, thanks to the motion-capture techniques used to graft acclaimed hoofer Savion Glover's moves onto the penguin's body. The characters are fun, the Antarctic landscapes mesmerizing, and the storyline sweet. And the music is dazzling -- everything from funk to rock to disco (Prince wrote an original song for the movie, "The Song of the Heart"). Don't miss this one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to accept and embrace what makes each person unique. What makes Mumble different from the other penguins? Do you think it's hard for him to pursue his dream even when the others think it's weird? How does staying true to himself show that he has integrity?

  • Why do some people think that everyone should conform and "fit in"? Has there ever been a time when you didn't feel like you fit in? How did that make you feel?

  • How can people's individual abilities benefit their community and the larger world?

Movie details

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