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Happy Feet
Those penguins really are cute
Happy Feet
A Scene from the Animated "Happy Feet".
OPENING WEEKEND: $57,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $260,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Man About Town (5/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

July 26th, 2006: On the stretching frozen landscape of Antarctica, a colony of Emperor Penguins finds their soul mates through heartfelt singing. When a pair of penguins named Memphis (voiced by Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean (voiced by Nicole Kidman) give birth to their son, they are surprised to learn that he is tone deaf. As a result, the little penguin, named Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), has difficulty adapting to a society whose mating rituals revolve around singing. Remarkably, he has been blessed with unparalleled tap dancing skills, but since his talent is simply out of place in the community, he is excised by his peers. He soon discovers an entirely new group of penguins and tries to find a place for himself. He falls in love with the beautiful Gloria (voiced by Brittany Murphy), but still struggles to make use of his unique tap-dancing talent.

What to Expect: It has certainly been a while since George Miller sat behind the camera. His last feature film, Babe: Pig in the City, was released eight long years ago. The move to family oriented material was a bit of a departure for him at the time, but it seems like he is continuing the trend, this time utilizing Hollywood’s newest and hottest fad: CGI animation. It’s still quite unusual if you consider that Miller helmed The Witches of Eastwick, all three of the Mad Max films, and even flirted with Oscars with his drama Lorenzo’s Oil. For those that would rather see him return to his Mad Max roots, it appears that the director has been working on a fourth part in the series, although it is uncertain if that project will ever get off the ground.

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This is the second Warner Brothers CGI animated film of the year, with Ant Bully being the first. The company has shown an incredible amount of faith in the project and in the director by entrusting him with a substantial $85 million budget. Just to compare, the two biggest CGI family features so far this year have been Cars and Ice Age: The Meltdown, which had $70 million and $80 million budgets respectively. Additionally, Happy Feet will be positioned for release at IMAX theaters.

This is the first major voiceover role for Elijah Wood. The actor definitely has a clean enough record to pull off the adorable little penguin convincingly. Brittany Murphy, who already voices a character on “King of the Hill,” shouldn’t have any problems creating a sweet-sounding love interest for the hero. For Actor Hugh Jackman, easily the biggest workhorse of 2006, it will be the second CGI feature of the year. Flushed Away, in which Jackman voices a tuxedo-donning rat, releases only two weeks prior to Happy Feet. In fact, Jackman also has The Prestige coming out one week prior to Flushed Away and The Fountain only two weeks before that. I don’t think he will be getting much sleep in October or November with the nonstop talk show rounds he will have to do to promote the films. Reportedly, everyone has been excited about improvising their characters, but not many thrive more in such an environment than the great Robin Williams. The uncontrollably manic actor is likely to steal the show with at least one of the three characters he voices. He’ll immerse himself into the roles of a big emperor penguin, a sea lion, and a little Argentinian penguin that is somewhat reminiscent of that amorous Looney Tunes skunk, Pepe Le Pew. Finally, legendary tap dancer Savion Glover from Broadway’s “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk” has also been brought in to lay down some authentic tap-dancing sound effects.

The film promises to deliver a faithful depiction of the life emperor penguins lead, other than the singing and dancing parts of course. As a result, it is impossible not to compare it to last year’s popular, Oscar winning French documentary, March of the Penguins. Although viewers may be able to spot many similar sequences in the two films, both were developed independently of each other, long before details of either were officially announced. In this case, Warner Brothers’ timing just happens to be impeccable.

So far, the teaser trailers have been very clever and could easily bring a smile to anyone’s face. The bottom line is that penguins are funny. March of the Penguins featured some brilliant sequences of the awkward mannerisms and spellbinding rituals that could translate to animation magic. Giving some of the creatures Latin accents goes against the grain given their geographic location, but is somehow a very fitting and even brilliant idea. The film is reportedly full of energy and wonderful choreography. Let’s not forget that it is a musical, as it features some of the most recognizable hits, including Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Screenings of early footage have been met with very positive responses. Reportedly, the film’s energetic and jovial tone is able to wash over anyone and get them in the right mood to laugh at even the silliest of jokes.

In Conclusion: Happy Feet could easily become one of the biggest animated hits of the year. It clearly sounds like the visuals simply command the screen and provide the purest escapist entertainment. I believe that this is going to be the best CGI animated feature of the year - one that makes everyone feel all warm and gooey inside. All of the elements just seem to make sense, but the central heroes of the story, the penguins, are simply irresistible.

Similar Titles: Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., March of the Penguins
November 17th, 2006 (wide)
March 27th, 2007 (DVD)

Warner Bros. Pictures

George Miller

Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams, Steve Irwin, Fat Joe, Hugo Weaving, Lombardo Boyar

Total: 244 vote(s).

Animation, Comedy, Kids & Family

Click here to view site

Rated PG for some mild peril and rude humor

98 min






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