Happy Feet Two

In "Happy Feet," baby penguin Mumble (voice of Elijah Wood) was an outcast for not being able to sing until he found himself through dance. Now Mumble has his own son, Erik (voice of Ava Acres), who is mortified when his first attempt at dance ends in an upside down wetting incident and runs away. Mumble finds him with his old friends the Adelies where Erik has become enamored of The Mighty Sven (voice of Hank Azaria), a flying penguin who promises anything can be done by willing it in "Happy Feet Two."

Laura's Review: B-

What were these people smoking? Where "Happy Feet" was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with penguins, the long-in-coming sequel is absolutely balmy, cacophonous chaos. The film surges and sputters, driven by hip hop and opera, but crashing to a dead halt with a sappy ballad ('Bridge of Light'). Its global warming theme leads to some dark places which may be scary for the very young and it tries to do many things. It's not very good as a film, but there's no denying its stunning animation, particularly in the service of its two daffiest new characters Will (voice of Brad Pitt) and Bill the Krill (voice of Matt Damon), and its sheer lunacy can be invigorating. Somehow I prefer the imperfect sequel. Sven is actually a puffin rescued by 'aliens' (humans) along with Adelie penguin Lovelace (voice of Robin Williams) from an oil spill. The little mascots are happy until Sven witnesses the crew eating chicken and, horrified, they depart. When Erik and then Mumble arrive, Mumble becomes second fiddle to the inspirational Sven, but along the road home, he helps save the father, Bryan the Beachmaster (voice of Richard Carter), of two baby elephant seals when Bryan plummets into a crevice caused by warming temps. But even Mumble is stymied when they return home to find that in their absence all the Emperor penguins, including wife Gloria (voice of Pink), have been trapped by shifting glaciers. Meanwhile upon discovering his reason for existence is to become lunch, Will the Krill becomes determined to move up the food chain and takes off, leaving his best buddy Bill alone and terrified (Pitt and Damon are not unlike their cocky/naive selves of "Oceans 11," except as microscopic sea bait who pun). The climatic rescue mission will bring on the aliens (briefly), Adelies and seals and be capped off with the message that even one small person can make a difference. The film's almost surreal stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling is muddled in the first half before succumbing to the repetitive beats of the second, but individual scenes and details often keep it aloft. The krill are stunning, translucent and feathery and pop-eyed individuals, a shimmering mass as a swarm, and their lines are giggle inducing ('There's no such thing as free, Will;' 'Goodbye krill world.'), let alone Will's suspicious treatment of Bill's bromantic dependency which Pitt and Damon and the animators actually make funny. Much of this is going to fly over the kiddies' heads. Details like the bowtie marking on Mumble being conferred to his son, or the bubbles that escape the crack in Sven's beak which his benefactors had stapled back together show commitment (although why the presumably adult Mumble still sports baby fluff is left unexplained). The 3D, though, is, once again, entirely unnecessary. The tap of the first film has progressed here to stomp, the better to effect avalanches with. There will be plenty of negative reviews for "Happy Feet Two," but I have to appreciate an animation that segues from a baby penguin singing a Tosca-based aria to a giant elephant seal into a rescue stampede set to 'Rawhide.' "Happy Feet Two" is two cards short of a deck, but in a good way. This may be the better choice for the "Harold and Kumar" crowd.

Robin's Review: DNS