I missed Happy Feet in theaters mostly because I was working during that period and I was a little bummed. For some reason ever since I saw the first trailer for the film I was compelled by it. I finally got a chance to see it and since it was on Blu-ray it was even better than seeing it at the theater. Happy Feet is an incredible film from the very beginning and even through the credits. George Miller has crafted a beautiful, at times hilarious, and overall moving film.
The story follows Mumble, a penguin born into a colony of King Penguins where in order to find their soul mate they have to sing their heart-song. The only thing is that Mumble is a bit different in that he can't sing but rather dances. The film is narrated by one of the characters played by Robin Williams and is told as a story. Mumble is outcast from his society for being different and being blamed for offending the fish Gods and thus causing a famine. He goes on a journey to find out what exactly is happening to all the fish and to win the heart of his true love, Gloria. Along the way he meets a meets a posse of Hispanic penguins lead by Ramon. The film is a breathtaking and moving journey to find one's self and come to terms with our existence on the planet. The little penguins that journey with Mumble serve as the comic relief, but the film itself is more heartwarming than it is a kid comedy. The animation is simply breathtaking and I can honestly say it's visually the best looking CGI film I have ever seen. The environmental effects are simple awe inspiring. The water, snow, wind and surface effects are stunning.
While the film does have an economical message it really is more focused on the characters and their journey. It doesn't shove a message down your throat like animated films such as Ferngully did. The movie really paints the picture that we share the planet with every form of life and that we are alone in preserving life. The message was so powerful that Steve Irwin lent his voice talent, and even though he recorded his voice years ago this is the last film featuring the great conservationist.
The musical sequences are equally amazing as popular songs are incorporated and arranged into grand numbers. Equally important is John Powell's simply fantastic score to the film. Powell spent 4 years musically crafting Happy Feet from composing the score and arranging the songs. The score itself is simply proof of his talent as one of Hollywood's best composers. He uses grand choirs and sweeping string ensembles mixed in with some synthesized sounds and percussion to create the harsh landscapes of the Antarctic. The score brought me to tears the first time I listened to it, and it will raise goose-bumps and move you when heard amongst the film.
The voice talent is stunning. Robin Williams steals the show as Ramon and Lovelace. He plays two memorable characters that serve has comic relief. Elijah Wood is the voice of Mumble and does a fantastic job with the main character. Brittany Murphy lends her amazing voice and plays Gloria, Mumble's love interest. Other voice talent include Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, and of course Steve Irwin. The actors are all fantastic and they all do their own singing which always adds to the experience. In most animated films the singing scenes of a character is done by a professional singer and usually never the actor.
Overall this film was well deserving of its Oscar win. The movie rises above most other animated films in that it never becomes too saccharine and childish. John Powell's music is a huge part in why I loved this film and George Miller's direction takes Happy Feet to a level that I never thought possible in an animated film. The Lion King will always be my favorite animated film, but Happy Feet just snuck into second place.