Hard to believe that it’s been five years since the somewhat over-rated yet foot-stomping family favourite Happy Feet won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. George Miller has gathered his flipper-flapping, stomach- sliding friends once again for Happy Feet Two and it’s a wonder why.
Mumble (Wood) is all grow'd up yet for some reason he hasn’t lost his baby fur - perhaps so we recognise him? Anyway, he and Gloria (voiced by Pink following Brittany Murphy’s untimely death) are parents to cute and cuddly Erik (Acres).
Like father, like son, Erik’s a little slow to find his happy feet. You’d think Mumbles would be the first to understand but no; he keeps putting his feet in his beak. Erik decides, along with his two pals, to run away with Ramon (Williams) who is looking for love (which he eventually finds with Vergara’s Carmen).
They soon meet Sven - adored by his cult colony - and Mumble arrives in time to see his son become infatuated with this ‘flying penguin’. After an exciting adventure, they return home to find that disaster has struck and melting icebergs have trapped their loved ones in a deep, icy valley. Sven and their new pals, including some Rastafarian fishermen, come to their rescue but ultimately it’s up to Mumble and his son to save the day.
Although some scenes were a little too adult for its younger audience, the original has cute, fluffy penguins, great big musical numbers and environmental messaging on an easily digestible scale. However, this successor has less lovable characters, less catchy numbers and a moral-heavy, less engaging plot.
Visually the film is stunning, with 3D adding to the spectacular underwater scenes, particularly an exciting deep sea chase, the Antarctic northern lights and snow- and iceberg-falling scenes. The problem lies with the cumbersome plot and characters. The addition of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon’s bromantic, 80s'-song singing krill add a little Ice Age squirrel-style humour to the film but not enough.
You may enjoy Happy Feet as you sit down for a two-hour family reprieve from Christmas mayhem, but don’t hope for happy heads, hearts or pockets.