Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Feet Two (2011, George Miller)

2006’s Happy Feet wasn’t a great movie by any means, but for all its cute dancing penguins what lingers in the memory is what an eccentric vision Miller placed on screen, especially by family-movie standards. Unfortunately, genuine eccentricity in cinema is hard to pull off in a way that’s charming rather than annoyingly precious, and doubly so when a filmmaker must re-create his original formula. The biggest problem with Happy Feet is how what was once endearingly off-kilter now feels focus-grouped to death. Oh sure, all the hallmarks of the original- cute penguins singing and dancing along with popular songs, impressive computer animation, zany supporting characters- are there, but now it feels like Miller and company said, “hey, that was fun the first time, so why not double it up in the sequel?” So (to cite the most egregious example) instead of just getting Robin Williams to mince around in two roles- which, I mean, ugh- you’ve also got Hank Azaria with a Swedish-chef accent and Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as a pair of krill who oh-so-wackily venture off on their own. Couple that with a story that lopes along (remember Jason Mewes’ description of Lord of the Rings in Clerks II? That’s what this feels like), and Happy Feet Two ends up being perhaps the slowest 90-odd minutes I’ve spent in a theatre all year. Until it rallies somewhat in the final real with a production number set to “Under Pressure,” there’s nothing in this movie that provides any evidence that anybody involved actually cared about making this unique and special. It’s clear that Warner Brothers knew what they had on their hands, what with opening it opposite the new Twilight movie and all.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

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