I’ve been trying to think of a way to put this into words… I mean, that IS the trick of this whole thing after all.
“Happy Feet Two” is very pretty to look at, it has the requisite amount of “messages”. There are funny scenes and characters, and a decent enough storyline for an animated film. All the parts SHOULD be adding up to a better movie when I do the movie formula math in my head, but they don’t.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe its too calculated, too formulaic, over-produced.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t connect with me, and as a result it winds up feeling superficial.
I realize the first one won the Oscar for best animated picture, but it never drew my attention enough to want to see it. So this is my first forray into the Happy Feet-verse. “Happy Feet Too” tells the story of a colony of Emporer Penguins, particularly Erik (Ava Acres), the child of Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink) from the first “Happy Feet” (Gloria was voiced in the first by the late Brittany Murphy). When Erik and some friends wander off, Mumble tracks them down. While they’re gone, however, a glacial shift caused by the melting of the antarctic cap cuts off their entire colony. Thus it’s up to Mumble, the three chicks and a cast of assorted other animated antarctic aquatic animals to save the day.
The only way they know how. By singing and dancing.
This certainly isn’t the first animated musical, and it’s not the only one to have dance numbers. Somehow though, none of the songs connected with me. I’m pretty sure they’re all cover versions with occasionally changed up lyrics, so it was like watching the animated equivalent of “American Idol” or “Glee”. A karaoke kiddie film replete with whirling cameras and pull back crane shots. I’m sure that that’s not accidental, that appeals to a great number of people… I’m just not one of them. Like a modern song that “samples” an old hit, the tune is there, but I miss the soul.
To me, “Happy Feet Too” illustrates just how difficult it can be for animated films to appeal across the boards. I mean, it has a lot going for it. Music, and comedy, it has a host of celebrities lending their voices, and they all do a fine job. It’s occasionally funny, and has a couple of exciting moments (although I hesitate to use the term “action sequences”). But if you’re just off that much, cute becomes cloying and sweet becomes sugary.
I do have to make note of the one portion of the movie I really did like a lot… Brad Pitt and Matt Damon play an existential krill and his sidekick who swim out of the safety of their swarm and seek to learn about the world they live in. At one point Pitt’s krill tries to “move up the food chain” by becoming a carnivore. Although their storyline was almost completely disconnected from the main story, I found them to be the funniest and most enjoyable part of them film.
Glossy, slick and wrapped up in musical numbers, “Happy Feet Two” is enjoyable enough, but ultimately not very memorable.