Happy Feet (Miller, 2006)

The soul of a film rarely grabs hold from the first frame, but in George Miller’s masterpiece Happy Feet, the hypnotic constellation of a giant Penguin layered with the rhythmic fancies of an unseen musical mosaic does make an immediate impact. Joy seeps from the screen, filling the viewer with a sense of visual awe one might experience with Busby Berkely’s work. Here’s a film about song, dance, balance, romance, and the environment, showing the beauties of each in the opening five minutes. Miller’s film deals with the singing Arctic world of the penguin where dancing outcast Mumbles attempts to overcome social alienation. However, like all exciting adventures, our hero’s destiny and impending journey have greater importance. Mumbles’ trek to find out why his food source (fish) is disappearing leads him to distant lands, dangerous adversaries, and devastating realizations about the human world beyond the ocean, which has crept slowly into the Arctic one large fishing boat at a time. Miller’s haunting mise-en-scene frames each character through blue hued ice caps, bleached white horizons, and countless roving tracking shots of a world in motion and slightly out of whack. Staged as a pure musical, with some truly impressive routines featuring modern pop songs, Happy Feet vibrates with spectacle, showing off both it’s great animation and even better story through the eyes of a socially conscious theme. Happy Feet will inevitably be one of the most important children’s films released in a long time, most notably because it connects with the viewer not through browbeating messages or sensationalist slants, but via a universal story. It’s built around the global ideology that environmental balance cannot occur without education, of both your own experience and the alien’s abroad. Ignorance spells destruction and famine, while a little singing, dancing, and brilliant filmmaking can send the perfectly pitched shock-wave someone (especially kids) might need to recognize the crucial problems facing our future. Happy Feet lives this dream wonderfully. There’s no reason important enough we can’t as well.

7 thoughts on “Happy Feet (Miller, 2006)

  1. Is there anywhere else this review is published? I only ask because I’d like to include it in the ‘critical reviews’ section of Happy Feet’s Wikipedia page, and find some way to get it counted on Rotten Tomatoes (although, the latter I could probably do with this page). I don’t really think there’d be any problem including your site as-is on the page – because you aren’t just some arm-chair film critic, you see – but at the same time, it would probably help if it had been published somewhere else, just “in case.”

    Happy Feet is, I agree, an amazing film, and the as-yet culmination of Miller’s entire film-making career, which is saying quite a bit, considering his filmography. I can’t anticipate the sequel enough.

  2. John Jay – Thanks for the kind words. This review isn’t published anywhere else since I have been focusing on Academics of late and haven’t worked for a print publication in years. Not sure if that helps or hinders my cause but any help getting the review linked would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Oh, well. I shall do my best, then, and keep you posted. Rotten Tomatoes shouldn’t be any problem – or, I should hope not.

  4. And, while I’m put-putting around, I was wondering why, as with his Mad Max films, you haven’t worked up a collage – to be sure, there’s a wealth of beautifully orchestrated shots, here: Miller’s focus on the main character and Gloria, and their faces most intently, during the centerpiece scene, or any section of the scene in the zoo. The list just goes on, I think.

  5. Filmist – I’ve seen the film so many times lately that I’ll probably wait to post a follow-up. Thanks for the kind words.

  6. No problem at all, good sir. This film is really starting to kick up dust again, as more and more news about the sequel filters in. Don’t wait too long!

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