An animated film about a penguin that can't sing, but can tap dance like crazy. Cute premise, right? I was hoping for something along the lines of Finding Nemo. But aside from some smiles at the Robin Williams characters, and a surprise (to me) appearance by Steve Irwin as the voice of an elephant seal, Happy Feet (2006) left me somewhat unhappy. It wasn't that cute or funny or clever. It was too long. It was boring.
Briefly, with spoilers and too many parenthetical asides: Mumble (inexplicably named, because he doesn't), voiced by Elijah Wood (who I've now decided is unappealing even when I can't see him) is the dancing penguin. Because he is Different, the others, including his father, cast him out. The penguin he loves returns his feelings and stands up for him, but he's unaccountably mean to her. Oh, and we learn that "the fish are disappearing" (maybe I missed a scene, but it came across as if the script were written on the fly). With a posse of rockhopper friends (Latino stereotypes, which evidently we have not yet outgrown, but which I sheepishly admit having found amusing), Mumble heads off, following the recollection of a penguin with a six pack ring around his neck, to find out What Is Happening To The Fish. He swims after a trawler, ends up in a zoo, sinks into despair, dances, attracts human attention, gets back to the colony with a tracking device attached to him, teaches the colony to dance so that humans will want to save them. Roll credits.
This was a bungled attempt to be a lot of things. It should have stuck with "it's OK to be different," spared the preachiness, and cut about half the musical numbers. Good grief.
The movie's one quote worth repeating is one of Robin Williams's, of course: "I must retire now to my couch of perpetual indulgence."
I need one of those, whatever they are.