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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: November 16, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: March 27, 2007
- Cast: Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams
- Director: George Miller
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Arts and Dance, Music and Sing-Along, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Integrity
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild peril and rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.