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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated > Musical > Drama > Comedy > Politics > Computer Animation > Happy Feet (HD/DVD Combo Format)

Happy Feet (HD/DVD Combo Format)


Picture: B+/B-     Sound: B+/B-     Extras: B-     Film: C+



Is anyone else sick of penguins yet?  Yes, yes we all understand they are as cute as an Olsen Twin eating a cheeseburger, but let’s be honest enough is enough.  Now on DVD is the song and dance filled Happy Feet.  The premise of the film is that there is an Artic Emperor Penguin Colony that expresses themselves through song to gain a mate; each penguin having a unique song.  A particular talented pair of singing tuxedoes named Norma Jean and Memphis (sounds like a bad Elvis impersonator) get together and have an egg.  Somewhere along the lines in the cold, cold winter Memphis drops the egg (usually bad news) into the cold winds but quickly recovers his rolling offspring.  Well, from the moment Memphis’s and Norma Jean’s baby is born something about that boy just ain’t right.  The baby is named Mumble and unlikely the other penguins he can not sing, only do strange foot movements (tap dancing).  Mumble does not have an easy childhood, since the colony elders frown on any divergence from normality, and Mumble winds up only having his parents and his friend Gloria to rely on.


The film has an odd vibe throughout, seemingly delving into unnecessary race and sexual-orientation issues.  Now children may never get the cultural subtext (like some jokes in Shrek) but it makes this reviewer even go what were they thinking here?  Each different species that appears in the film including different penguins, Elephant Seals, Seagull, Whale, and so forth all seem to have a stereotypical racial tone imbedded in them. This is not to say the film is racist, but most definitely is questionable to an extent.


The film features many talented actors, since there seems to be a growing trend for actors to make CGI films.  Actors include Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and the fresh out of the bar Robin Williams.  Coupled with the talent of the actors is a plethora of classic artists’ songs.  Artists including ‘A’ listers like Prince, Lionel Richie, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Ricky Martin, Boyz II Men, and many more have their music featured, usually in odd covers.  It would make one think with the power of an all star cast and music that anyone would love to have on there iPod this film would be amazing; but not even Prince could save this one.


The technical features of this HD DVD are something that most can agree on however.  The picture is presented in 1080p High Definition 16 X 9/2.35 X 1 widescreen that is quite nice.  The picture remains clean and bright throughout but does have its moments of cloudiness that could be touched up.  The anamorphically enhanced standard DVD side is pretty good for what it is, but it is no match for the HD side.  The sound is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 EX on the HD side and standard Dolby 5.1 on the DVD-Video side.  The sound is nice but does not pop, and burst as much as this reviewer would have liked for a musically driven, animated film.  The film was issued in 8-channel Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, DTS ES and blown-up for IMAX theatrically, so it does have good sound moments, but it is shy of the best state of the art sound mixes we have heard lately.


A good amount of extras are there but nothing to fly home to mom about.  For the extras two new fully animated sequences were added (including one with the voice of the late Steve Irwin), a private dance lesson featurette (not entertaining), two music videos (pretty bad), and a great classic cartoon entitled “I Like to Singa” (the best part of the entire HD DVD).  Overall, the technical features are nice but not totally impressive.


This film was confusing for this reviewer. In the end, I just sat back and went ‘What?’  There is not much solid substance to the film.  The film jumps sporadically with the storyline, to the point of confusing.  And overall, leaves the audience unfulfilled.  This hopefully killed most studios urge to make anymore penguin films, but this reviewer doubts it.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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