Happy Feet

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"I Just Wanted A Movie About Tap-dancing Penguins!!!"

Happy Feet is a highly polarizing CGI film from 2006 directed by George Miller. Winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2007.

A male emperor penguin named Mumble cannot sing like all others of his colony, but he can tap dance. The reason given is that his father, Memphis, dropped him as an egg. Separated from his colony, Mumble meets the Adelie Amigos, who later help him on a quest to get the fish back from "aliens" after he was thrown out of the Emperor Penguin colony by the elders.

Happy Feet subverts several of the tropes common to the genre (like Robin Williams). Some fans find it to be in the same fashion as Watership Down, as it tells it's story entirely from the animals' point of view among other things.

On the other hand, some viewers have criticized the film's use of motion-capture, particularly during the dance sequences. Others have expressed dismay at the film's perceived Family Unfriendly Aesops.

A sequel was released on November 18th, 2011. It centers on Mumble's son Erik, who is going through an identity crisis similar to the one his father had, and their attempt to save the colony from a giant iceberg that has blocked their way to the ocean. A subplot follows the adventures of two krill, Will and Bill, who stray from their swarm and head off to find their destiny. An official trailer (showcasing the same type of Parental Bonus songs as its predecessor) can be seen here.

Tropes used in Happy Feet include:
  • 3D Movie: Averted; the film was originally announced to also be released in IMAX 3D, but it was later dropped, as it would have used up a lot of the budget. There are a few scenes where it's noticeable that it was originally to be in 3D, however.
    • Played straight with the second film, most likely due to the revive of the format.
  • Adult Child: Physically, Mumble is this. He behaves like an adult penguin, but is still mostly covered in downy baby fluff -- even after he has a son of his own. It's the penguin equivalent of a fully functioning 30 year old trapped in a giant onesie.
  • Agent Mulder: Subverted. Mumble only believes in aliens (humans) outside the ice, nobody believes him until he gets proof (even then, some still don't believe him), and he's right. Played somewhat straighter with the Boss Skua.
  • All of the Other Reindeer
  • All-Star Cast: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood and Robin Williams.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses "Hoshi wo Mezashite" by NEWS as the theme song. One of the singers voiced Mumble in the dub.
  • Animal Talk: Subverted, subtly. The film has an astonishingly low rate of anthropomorphism. These are penguins, through and through.
  • Art Shift: Most of the humans are live-action. The one group that isn't is the group tracking Mumble back to the others.
  • Ascended Extra: Seymour.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: Will the krill wants to move up the food chain and eat instead of being eaten for a change.
  • Asperger's Syndrome: Mumble gives off this vibe - he's a loner, he's bad at something everyone's supposed to be good at, and he's good at something that mostly draws suspicion.
    • Mumble's father dropped him as an egg. He cannot sing, and despite all the special lessons and encouragement from his parents, and despite how hard he tries, he never learns to sing.
    • Mumble loves to tap-dance, which is 'just not penguin'. And despite trying to conform, he can't lose his obsession.
    • Mumble's body never fully matures - people on the Autistic Spectrum generally appear much younger physically than they really are.
    • Mumble's friends are Adelie penguins, who are looked down on by the Emperor Penguins for being 'immature'. Autistic people have trouble making friends their own age.
    • Mumble doesn't seem to mind the jabs his Adelie friends make at him about his singing, because they think his dancing is cool, and don't shun him. Autistic children don't always mind jokes at their expense; just that their friends take an interest in their obsessions.
  • Astronomic Zoom: Doubly.
  • Australian Movies: Directed by one of the larger directors, in the country. The director of Mad Max, in fact.
  • Be Yourself: One of the movie's Aesops is that Mumble makes all the difference in the world by being himself.
  • Carnivore Confusion: This is where things get uncomfortable and weird for some viewers. The penguins, skuas, and humans in the film all eat fish. It's okay for the penguins to do so, but the skuas are shown as thieving bullies, and the humans are explicitly told that they shouldn't eat fish (the message was probably meant to be "don't overfish, but it doesn't really play out like that). The skuas also try to eat Mumbles as a chick, but he manages to reason with them. The whales are just big, cute, playful dolphins who -er- try to eat the protagonists, the elephant seals are passed off as "vegetarians" (huh?), and the leopard seal is basically the antarctic equivalent of an evil dragon -- he even snorts "fire" (really steam and bubbles). All in all, a very mixed bag on the predator issue.
    • To add to the muddle, the sequel featured a krill who was tired of being eaten and wanted to turn the tables on the predators.
  • Common Eye Colors: Mumble is the only one with blue eyes, besides the elders, who have blue, green, and hazel. The normal population has amber/brown.
    • Cartoony Eyes: Mumble's icy blue eyes is actually a reference to his voice actor, Elijah Wood. (But see Uncanny Valley.)
  • Continuity Nod: Mumble mentions in the sequel how he was an outcast and everyone though he was weird, which was a major point in the original.
  • Crowd Song: Two's climax with "Under Pressure".
    • And "Bridge of Light,"
    • "Boogie Wonderland" in the first film.
  • Culture Police: The Elders, particularly over dancing.
  • Dance Line: At the end.
  • Dance Party Ending: Knowing that the movie's about a dancing penguin, this is pretty much a given.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business
  • Demoted to Extra: All of the Amigos except Ramon in the sequel, as well as Mumble's parents. Noah's still there, making it improbable that they passed away.
    • They're actually the penguins that tell Noah that there is no way out from the Doomberg.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Multiple instances for Mumble in the sequel.
  • Dreadful Musician: Mumble

Ramón: (after hearing Mumble singing) Yeah, I heard an animal once do that, but then they rolled him over and he was dead.

  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Eggshell Clothing
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: In Happy Feet 2, Will the Krill believes black holes are myths to keep people in the swarm.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Well, they certainly didn't make this movie because they thought everything was better with Elephant Seals.
  • Fantastic Racism: The penguin elders call the Adélie penguins "filthy vermin."
    • Character Development: Noah, in the sequel, remarks about the solidarity of all the penguin nations coming together.
  • Follow the Leader: While not a criticism of the film itself, as it was in production since 1997, the release of March of the Penguins wasn't at all an inconvenience.
  • Foreshadowing: Notice how all the penguins hatch out of their eggs with their beaks first, except Mumble, who's first bodyparts we see are his feet. And dancing.
  • Funny Background Event: The other skuas in the background start mimicking the Boss Skua perfectly while he tells Mumble his story.
  • Green Aesop: A rare example of an environmental message being very prominent and yet nowhere near the major point of the film - the human-caused depletion of the Antarctic fish is mostly a device to drive the plot.
    • The sequel doesn't even mention global warming, but it's very obviously to blame for the big problem caused by the broken-off iceberg. There are a lot of dripping icicles and pools of water around, as well.
  • Groin Attack: Baby Mumble pulls this on Memphis.

Memphis: Watch the beak, watch the beak, watch the beak, the-
(Groin Attack)
Memphis: The beak.

  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Tommy Pickles is young Mumble.
    • And Hank Azaria's Bartok voice is reused for Sven; other than the lilting Swedish affect, it's almost identical.
  • Hot for Teacher: Briefly, Seymour - although it's his last appearance, so just how brief is never mentioned.
    • Later, it's revealed that they both have two separate chicks (Bo is Ms. Viola's and Attacus is Seymour's), so they did not have their songs become love.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: We're the aliens, in case you haven't figured it out.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Mumble has his actor's blue eyes, and Gloria looks as much like Brittany Murphy as it's possible for a penguin to.
  • Jukebox Musical: A lot of the music is oldies songs.
  • Last of His Kind: Sven. He even mentions winning a dance contest in his homeland with some other puffins, making it a bit of Fridge Horror.
  • Loud Gulp: Noah gulps when he sees a helicopter for the first time.
  • Mama Bear: Despite her calm, loving demeanor, Norma Jean showed flashes of this. She was the first and only emperor penguin, in their extremely conformist and conservative society, to try to oppose the Elders, verbally lashing out at them (which was shocking enough to the colony) when they forced her son Mumble into exile. She also expressed great disdain for them during the graduation ceremony, for Mumble had not been permitted to graduate.
  • Meaningful Name: Erik's talent turns out to be opera...just like another famous Erik.
  • The Messiah: As a subtext running throughout the film.
  • Mood Whiplash: And how!
  • Narrator: it's revealed to be Lovelace.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Go back and watch a trailer for this movie. Any trailer. See any of the heavy handed environmental message in those trailers? Nope, just the happy dancing. False advertising, big time.
    • To be fair, this was one of director George Miller's big points of content, after the film was released. Listen to his rant on the Scene/Unseen podcast, where he compares the studio advertising machines to ubiquitous soda bottling companies, always lapsing everything down to the norm.
  • No Cartoon Fish: See Carnivore Confusion, above.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: The female penguins don't have breasts in the mammalian sense, but they do have feminine shading on their chests.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: The ice ramp in the sequel and Bryan falling into the ice crevice.
  • Oh My Gods: The penguins' god is "the great Guin". In Happy Feet 2, Noah says "Mother of Guin".
  • The Other Darrin: Pink is the new voice of Gloria in the sequel due to Actor Existence Failure on Brittany Murphy's part.
    • Common replaces Fat Joe as Seymour in the squeal.
  • Overprotective Dad: Mumble gets this in the sequel. Justified in that they are in Antarctica, baby penguins wouldn't be able to maintain their body heat for very long nor can they feed themselves (which is remarked upon with Ramon), and most of the predators Mumble faced in the original movie (the Leopard Seal and Killer Whales), he faced as an adult and could have easily gotten killed.
  • Parental Bonus: Most of the songs will be well-known to the older (25+) generation, but completely unfamiliar to kids, as well as the Shout-Out characters (eg. Memphis is based on Elvis Presley).
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "One in a Krillion".
  • Perpetual Molt: Subverted. Mumble never finishes his molting. And he's never shown shedding feathers, even near the climax. The creator said Mumble was designed this way so you could tell him apart from all the other penguins.
    • However, this was played straight in the storybooks.
  • Revised Ending: An early cut of the film involved a subplot regarding actual extraterrestrial aliens, whose presence was made gradually more and more known throughout. The aliens were planning to siphon off the planet's resources gradually, placing the humans in the same plight as the penguins. At the end, thanks to Mumbles, their hand is stayed, and instead first contact is made. This was chopped out during the last year of production, and has yet to see the light of day in a finished form. However, there is proof in the form of concept art, and this dropped plot helps explain the outer space motif that remains in the film. The film would've been somewhat longer, by extension.
  • Rickroll: In the sequel.
  • Robin Williams: Playing two roles: Lovelace and Ramon (the Adelie with the yellow bit on his head).
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Reversed, as it's human actors superimposed in the CG film. You know it's good when it's hard to tell.
  • Shout-Out/Music: Tons of popular songs make short cameos throughout the film.
  • The Song Remains the Same: Most dubs, except for the Portuguese one.
  • Spexico: With Penguins no less. The Adélie group with Ramon have Spanish/Mexican accents, and the chicks they try to impress have Colombian accents.
  • Talking to Himself: Robin Williams, in a rare example of it being pretty obvious.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The females all have pink spots on their beaks instead of orange like the males', their white undersides are hourglass-shaped while the males' are straighter, and they have more pronounced chests than the males with the yellow markings on top of their in V shapes rather than on their necks.
  • Those Two Krill: Will and Bill.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Gloria asks a version of this after she discovers that Mumble singing to her at the mating season is really him lip-syncing to Ramon's singing.

Gloria: Mumble, what could you possibly be thinking?
Mumble: I...I didn't know what else to do.