Happy Feet Two starts off much like the original. The entire waddle of emperor penguins (Yes, it’s actually called a waddle. Who comes up with this stuff?) is singing and, this time, dancing. Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Alecia Moore – aka Pink) are leading the pack. When Erik (Ava Acres) tries to dance and ends up in a rather embarrassing predicament, it is Mumble who makes fun of his son.
Erik, ashamed of his lack of dance skills, and his two friends follow Ramon (Robin Williams) back to his waddle. There they meet Sven (Hank Azaria). a penguin who can fly! Mumble and Gloria realize the kids are missing, and Mumble sets out to find them. On the way home, they encounter an elephant seal with his two pups. Mumble saves him after he falls into a crevasse. The elephant seal tells Mumble he “owes him one. Anytime.”
When the penguins get back home, they find a rogue iceberg has sealed in the Emperor penguins’ home, cutting them off from food and water. Without their help, the entire waddle will perish.
Along the way, we meet Bill the Krill (Matt Damon) and Will the Krill (Brad Pitt). Will wants to break off from the swarm. Bill reluctantly follows as Will tries to find a new purpose for life. He has decided he wants to be a predator. But is this who he is really supposed to be?
My thought at the opening scene of the movie is that they made a decent choice tapping Pink to replace the late Brittany Murphy. She’s got the chops to pull it off, even if she may lack some of Murphy’s charm. After watching the movie, I have to say, I feel they wasted the opportunity.
The film is very light on the music and dancing that made the first Happy Feet so successful. There is the big opening production, and then it completely tapers off from there. There is an occasional song reference, cutely done by the young penguins. And there is also a big closing number, with one of my favorite songs ever. But that’s it. It left me feeling empty. And with a talent like Pink, they really should have thrown caution to the wind and made it a musical extravaganza. (Heck, it has a superstar cast including Sofia Vergara, Hugo Weaving, and Anthony LaPaglia, in addition to those already mentioned. You would think they could have done much more in general.)
It’s also light on story. It’s one of those sequels that feels like it was made for the sole reason that the original was so popular. It lacks the underlying message of the first Happy Feet, which at least gave it purpose, if not pure entertainment. (It’s a whole global warming, humans are causing a lot of problems type thing, in case you didn’t pick up on it.)
Then we get to Bill and Will. It appears that most of the writing effort went into these two miniscule characters. Their bits are the funniest parts of the movie. I would say they are a good addition to the film, but they don’t really add anything. It’s more like Skrat, the hapless squirrel from the Ice Age movies. They’re included just to give us a break from the lack of much going on with the rest of the movie. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Bill and Will movie in the next year or so. (I just hope it’s well done and not just a cash grab.)
That said, the kids really enjoyed the movie. It was enough to keep them entertained. Even our 2-year-old sat through almost all of it. (A surprising feat for her first movie.) The 3D is well done, as you would expect. And it’s the kind of eye-popping, reach out and grab you 3D that the kids love.
It’s an ok movie. Not the worst I’ve seen, by far. But it’s not what it could have and should have been. Let’s just hope that Happy Feet 3, and you know there will be a third one, gets back to what made everyone like the first.