A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to 2006's Academy Award-winning animated adventure Happy Feet features many of the same environmental and family lessons for audiences. Global warming's impact on the penguin characters is again addressed; the peril that comes with natural disasters may frighten the youngest of viewers -- as could some scenes with large/menacing elephant seals and predatory skua birds. There are also a few mild innuendos from the penguin voiced by Robin Williams, and some viewers may interpret the relationship between two male krill as having gay undertones, particularly when Bill suggests they start a swarm of their own. But ultimately this is a tale of family, friendship, and what it means to find your individual voice -- your own special gift.
What's the story?
In this follow-up to 2006's Happy Feet, Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Gloria (now Pink, since Brittany Murphy died in 2009) are the parents to penguin chick Eric (Ava Acres), who can neither find his "happy" dancing feet nor his singing voice -- a rite of passage for all penguins. After Ramon (Robin Williams) decides to leave the Emperor penguins and return to Adelie land, Eric and two young friends follow, so Mumble must go retrieve the young 'uns. Meanwhile, a melting iceberg hits the Emperor penguins' natural habitat and traps them in a snowy valley they can't climb out of -- leaving Mumble the only adult to brainstorm a rescue. Mumble enlists the Adelies -- who have a mysterious flying penguin visitor named Sven (Hank Azaria) -- to come catch fish for the stranded Emperors. And just when it seems like all might be lost, help could come in a very unexpected form.
Is it any good?
Animation wise, HAPPY FEET TWO is a stunning achievement. The underwater sequences and the iceberg disaster are particularly impressive, but all of the animation is top notch. Director George Miller has also mastered the art of the elaborately choreographed animated musical number: The sequel seems to feature even more show-stopper performances (usually led by Pink) that the original, each of which was planned by a team of famous choreographers, including tap dancer Savion Glover (who's responsible for all of Mumble's moves thanks to motion-capture technology).
Story wise, however, the movie is a bit cluttered with extra characters. Although it's a hoot to hear Brad Pitt and Matt Damon voice Will and Bill the krills -- who are separated from their swarm and wind up having existential crises about their purpose in the world -- there are just too many secondary characters detracting from the central storyline between Mumble and Eric. In particular, the flirtatious banter between Ramon and Carmen (Sofia Vergara) is forced and forgettable, and the audience doesn't have a chance to fully connect with Eric's young pals. Overall, the musical numbers and the 3-D animation are fantastic, but the actual story isn't as cohesive as the original's coming-of-age tale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about independence and environmental awareness. How do Will the Krill and little Eric struggle with the same sort of issues? How do they each achieve their goal of uniqueness?
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 does the sequel compare to the original? What are some similarities between Mumble's journey and Eric's? Which movie do you prefer?
- In theaters: November 18, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: March 13, 2012
- Cast: Elijah Wood, Hank Azaria, 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
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor and mild peril
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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.