Parents' Guide to

Happy Feet

By Jane Boursaw, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Well-meaning animation has sexual innuendo; scary moments.

Movie PG 2006 108 minutes
Happy Feet Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 71 parent reviews

age 14+

Awful and inappropriate

Kids film? This film is about young Penguins being sex mad randy teenagers, and being encouraged in this course by all the grown up characters. They may sound like an exaggeration - but it’s got about as sex related as American Pie. From the opening scene where a female penguin is courted by a gaggle of males... ‘let’s talk about sex baby’, ‘go forth and multiple’ when it’s not overt it’s thinly veiled and often it is overt. Obviously kids have no idea - but it’s just felt completely off throughout. For no apparent reason the makers thought it would be a good idea to take the threat of birds and seals and magnify it through animation, made scarier and more menacing. So why not through in racial stereotypes too? Bingo in come the (again) overly sexualised latino penguins. This film is only 15 years old - but I honestly can’t think there was a time in history this film made sense. I’ve said 14+ but honestly I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re young it’s weird. If you’re older, it’s got nothing for you either. And they made a sequel??
age 5+

Tapping and Singing with a Preschooler to Happy Feet

So I finally joined Common Sense Media tonight just to add my review to this movie. I have used CSM for the last several years to look up tv shows and movies, and then decide what is right for my family. Luckily I have found this site is for parents/families from all kinds of backgrounds, opinions, and beliefs. That being said, tonight I feel the need to stick up for this movie, Happy Feet. If you decided that the movie was not right for your children or belief system, good for you. But I'd like to offer what we found: songs/music by Prince, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Gipsy Kings, Steve Miller Band, Queen, and the Beatles! We also found tap, mambo, hip hop, and jazz dance. If you don't enjoy these varied kinds of music and dancing in real life, you probably won't want your children exposed to it either. We also found plot similarities to Finding Nemo and The Lion King, where the young main character challenges the opinions and traditions of the elders/old guard/leaders of the group. If you don't want your children to learn to think for themselves, you might not want to see this movie. It's also great for a family discussion on how wonderful it is that everyone is good at different things. Another Nemo similarity is that Mumble is captured by humans and put in an aquarium. Again, a good talking point for families about real-life zoos and aquariums. We also found some scary chase scenes involving real-life animals that feed on penguins: skuas, leopard seals, and orcas. These were just as scary as Bruce the shark trying to eat Marlon and Dory, beware. We also found ethnic stereotypes that we'll definitely talk about later: Hispanic mambo-dancing penguins, an ethics-comprised African-American evangelical preacher, and an Irish-American colony leader. There were some plot lines that actually didn't make sense, like the visit to the evangelical preacher and the journey to an old human fishing town. These could have been completely cut from the movie. I also wish they had just used "humans" instead of "aliens," to describe people. My kid loves aliens, so it's just confusing. And so tonight, my 4.5 year-old tap-danced off to bed, and I'm humming Stevie Wonder. Thanks, Happy Feet!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (71 ):
Kids say (72 ):

Lest you think this upbeat animated musical is a rip-off of the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, let's set the record straight. Though Happy Feet manages to sneak in some real-life penguin oddities to fascinate viewers, this CGI movie is very much aiming for charm and happiness, not the harshness of the struggle to survive in a challenging environment. On the whole, the star-studded voice cast does a thoroughly entertaining job of portraying a community of anthropomorphized penguins. But with Nicole Kidman doing her breathiest Marilyn Monroe impression and Williams in amoral evangelist territory, you can't help feeling that at least some of the content is rather sexual for the young target audience. Fortunately, the overarching message is well-intentioned, with Mumble a strong role model for integrity, compassion, and determination.

Meanwhile, Mumble's dancing isn't just awfully cute but also true-to-life, thanks to the motion-capture techniques used to graft acclaimed dancer Savion Glover's moves onto the penguin's body. At face value, Happy Feet is a visual treat with dynamic characters and a funky vibe. And if you can see beyond the overly sexual tone that keeps popping up and racially coded stereotypes, you'll find positivity and fun, mesmerizing Antarctic landscapes, and a toe-tapping soundtrack.

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