Friday, 6 April 2012



I'm not much of a one for digimation. I liked the Toy Storys well enough, I liked Finding Nemo, there were some nice bits in the first Ice Age, but generally it's just not my kind of thing. I didn't see Over The Hedge, the Madagascar movies, the Cars movies, Ratatouille, Bee Movie, Robots, Barnyard, The Wild, and a load more: it's just personal taste. More importantly, they're primarily kids' films and it's always seemed a tad off to me for a middle-aged single bloke to go and see them, though I've made some exceptions: Bolt because I wanted to try the then fairly new and exciting 3D, Wall-E and Rango because they sounded more interesting and grown-up (and they were - I thought Rango was terrific), Monsters Vs Aliens because I had two hours to fill and it was the only thing that fitted into the schedule.

So I missed Happy Feet at the cinema, which is fine since I'd have been surrounded by kids anyway and that's not really the way I want to watch movies. In a phrase, it's the dancing penguin movie. Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) cannot sing, unlike all the other penguins which can belt out soul ballads and R'n'B straight out of the egg. His unique talent is tap-dancing. Thrown out of the colony for being a freak, Mumble and a group of Latino penguins embark on a quest to find out what's happened to the fish stocks which are reducing the natural wildlife of Antarctica to starvation levels.

Happy Feet is fine. It's nonsense, of course, but as a couple of hours of top-end computer animation it's good fun. The trouble is that one penguin looks very much like another - you don't get anything like the variety that you get with fish in Finding Nemo or toys in Toy Story, and on more than one occasion I got a little confused as to which penguins I was actually watching (Mumble is the only one who looks more than slightly different). In addition, penguins are not great natural movers and there are limits to what they can do with flippers and very short legs, and those limits don't extend to dancing. And please - no more Robin Williams. I've always found Williams deeply annoying in pretty much everything whether cartoon voiceovers or live action films, the only exceptions being genuinely creepy roles like One Hour Photo, where he's absolutely brilliant. Here he's voicing not one but two wild and crazy penguins with Spanish accents, because....?

Still, despite the Williams factor and the (mostly) visually identical characters, it's alright. And it's perfectly well intentioned with its environmentally friendly messages: don't pollute the seas with plastic rubbish, and don't cut off the food supply for cute penguins. But there's perhaps too much in the way of detail of penguin lifecycles and not really enough exciting action and adventure, of which I could certainly have done with more. I certainly didn't hate Happy Feet: in fact I enjoyed it more than literally scores of underwhelming horror movies I've plodded through recently. And it's good to step away from your preferences once in a while and try something outside your usual territory (which is why I occasionally end up hurting myself with a Jean-Luc Godard). But ultimately it's not convinced me to watch more digimations and it hasn't even convinced me to add Happy Feet Two to the queue. I liked it, but not enough.


Tappity tappity tap tap:

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