Harrison Dahme, Howl Staff
When was the last time you watched The Lion King? If it was when you were twelve or under, go back and watch it again; it was such a good movie then, it’ll be just as good now. They made the movie so that parents wouldn’t be sick of watching it with their kids dozens of times. Some movies can span generational gaps and are funny regardless of your age. Happy Feet 2 is one of these films. When I showed up to watch it, I was alone in a room full of young families, so truth be told I was a bit skeptical I’d have fun, but almost immediately from the outset it made me smile.
Happy Feet 2 starts off a couple years after Happy Feet left off. Mumbo and Gloria are now married and have a kid, who (surprise surprise) is awkward. The film opens with one of the famous penguin sing-and-dance ensembles, which sets the tone for the rest of the movie. We’re shown that there’s a “rogue berg” on approach to penguin-land, which adds some tension. And it is at that moment where Mumbo’s kid runs off to find himself a new home since he’s too awkward. And thus does the story begin. I won’t give any spoilers because this is something you have to see.
What I will say though, is that this film is masterfully done. There are a series of subplots which are intertwining, one of which involves two incredibly likeable characters – Will and Bill, the krill – who decide that they want to swim against the swarm. What Miller, producer, writer and director of Happy Feet (as well as the Mad Max movies, don’tchya know), has done is he has imbued each creature with a sense of humour and personality of their own. It’s probably the krill that stood out the best for me, as they have plenty of witty lines which are plays on words that the adults will get and the kids won’t. This is why I mentioned Lion King at the outset – it is one of those films where there are two different “mean humours” for the audiences, and whereas most movies attempt to lump these means together into one “humour distribution,” Happy Feet 2 is able to create a mixture-of-humours model, utilizing two different humour distributions for optimality.
Another tool that Miller uses to bring life into the Antarctic is by utilizing 3D. The characters become that much more real in the landscape when they pop out of the screen. The shots are even well framed for 3D, as it is not uncommon to be blown away by the expanse of the sky when the shot is just of a couple penguins/elephant seals/etc. There is also one shot in particular which sticks out, where the krill decide they want to become carnivores. They “attack” a sea lion. The camera pans across down the length of the body, and the viewer really does get a sense of scale of the animal, as seen from the krill’s perspective. The last point I want to bring up is the music. Somehow, they were able to take a slew of contemporary pop songs, blend them together, and harmonize it across hundreds of animals. As much as I hate musicals, I had a ton of fun, and I have no doubt that this will be a classic.
So in essence – go see this movie. Even though it’s a kids’ movie, you’ll still have an awesome time. Trust.