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Happy Feet

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This article is dedicated to the memories of Nick Enright, , who was nominated for an Oscar in 1993 for his screenplay for "Lorenzo's Oil," died of cancer (22 December 1950 – 30 March 2003) and Steve Irwin, who died on being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming in the Great Barrier Reef, causing massive trauma after they could see the film's legend. (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006)
Happy Feet
Everybody dance now!
Genre: Animation
Directed By: George Miller
Produced By: Bill Miller
George Miller
Doug Mitchell
Written By: Warren Coleman
John Collee
George Miller
Judy Morris
Starring: Elijah Wood
Robin Williams
Brittany Murphy
Hugh Jackman
Nicole Kidman
Hugo Weaving
Anthony LaPaglia
Magda Szubanski
Steve Irwin
E.G. Daily
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures (United States)
Roadshow Films (Australia/New Zealand)
Release Date: 17 November 2006 (North America)
26 December 2006 (Australia)
Runtime: 108 minutes
Country: United States
Sequel: Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet is a 2006 Australian-American computer-animated musical family comedy film directed, produced, and co-written by George Miller. It stars Elijah WoodRobin WilliamsBrittany MurphyHugh JackmanNicole KidmanHugo Weaving, and E.G. Daily. It is the first animated film produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Animal Logic.

Though primarily an animated film, the film does incorporate motion capture of live action humans in certain scenes. The film was simultaneously released in both conventional theatres and in IMAX 2D format. The studio had hinted that a future IMAX 3D release was a possibility. However, Warner Bros., the film's production company, was on too tight a budget to release Happy Feet in IMAX digital 3D.

Happy Feet received generally positive reviews from critics, and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, a first for Warner Bros. It received a sequel in 2011 titled Happy Feet Two.


Son of Memphis and Norma, little sweet penguin Mumble has a big problem: he can't sing a single note. In a world where everyone needs a heart song to attract a soul mate, Mumble feels he doesn't belong there. Our hero Mumble is the worst singer in the world, but he can tap dance brilliantly.

Good Qualities

  1. It has incredible background visuals and breathtaking animation, thanks to the first time ever that provided animated, Animal Logic! Their later credits include Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Walking with Dinosaurs, The Lego Movie series, and Peter Rabbit. Most of the landscape shots look like something from Frozen Planet.
    • Apparently, the rendering took up 17 million CPU hours over over nine months and Animal Logic worked with IBM to build a server farm with sufficient processing potential.
    • The film is so realistic and detailed that it decided to shoot the human scenes in live-action with greenscreen.
  2. Time to continue on with the previous pointer: Similar to Shrek and The Polar Express, it has very well-done complex and realistic character designs.
  3. The idea of a tap-dancing penguin who can't sing unlike the other penguins is creative and imaginative, if not Pixar-like.
  4. The movie was George Miller's debut in animation, having previously worked on action films like Mad Max, drama films like Lorenzo's Oil, and live-action family films like Babe. This shows how much of a talented director he is when he's able to master the many genres, something previous accomplished by Steven Spielberg.
    • The film's success even led to Miller forming his own animation studio, though all it's potential was wasted following the studio's closure in the wake of Happy Feet Two's failure.
    • One of George Miller's considered drafts for a fourth Mad Max movie before Fury Road was an animated one.
  5. The soundtrack is colorful and full of variety, especially in the musical numbers which make effective use of popular songs:
    • John Powell's score is incredible as always, being reminiscent of his previous work such as Shrek, The Bourne Trilogy, and Ice Age: The Meltdown.
      • Powell also helped George Miller with finding appropriate songs for the musical numbers.
    • The opening musical number already brings the movie to an incredible start, highlighted by a combination of Prince's "Kiss" performed by Nicole Kidman combined with Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" performed by Hugh Jackman.
    • Brittany Murphy's cover of "Somebody To Love" by Queen is beautiful to listen to.
    • Robin Williams' Spanish cover of My Way by Frank Sinatra is used in a humorous way in the film and makes good listening on album as well.
    • The dance number with Brittany Murphy's cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland" is a face-paced and delightful scene that is arguably the highlight of the movie, almost reminiscent of Moulin Rouge.
    • The finale, while a bit rushed, does give the audience one final cover to dance to, being Fantasia, Patti LaBelle, and Yolanda Adams' version of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish".
    • The end credits songs, "The Song of the Heart" by Prince and "Hit Me Up" by Gia Farrell, are catchy.
  6. Memorable characters that are given a lot of development:
    • Mumble, the main protagonist, is likeable, especially because of Elijah Wood's performance. The scenes of him dancing as a baby penguin are adorable.
    • Ramon is a very funny and entertaining comic relief, being one of Robin Williams' best voice-roles since the Genie from Aladdin, and his line "Let me tell something to you" is quotable. The Amigos are also entertaining.
    • Gloria, voiced by Brittany Murphy, has a beautiful singing voice and is one of the few penguins in Emperor Land who like's Mumble's talent of tap-dancing.
    • Lovelace is a great narrator and a lot of his moments are very fun to watch, particularly his first appearance
    • Mumble's parents, voiced by Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, are also likeable and given a lot of complexity.
    • Noah the elder, voiced by Hugo Weaving, is an interesting antagonist.
  7. The cinematography is really amazing, which captures impressive background colors.
  8. It is interesting to see Steve Irwin perform for the first and last movie to star in, before he died.
  9. The film is able to take multiple themes in one story effectively:
    • While the trope of "someone being an outcast in the community will make a difference" has been done previously, including the dance element in Footloose, it's able to use it in a way that feels fresh and not cluttered with redundant clichés (most of the time).
    • For a kids movie, the story is able to include in some commentary about religious hierarchy and superstitions.
    • Even if it was last minute, as George Miller confirmed, the environmental message is mostly subtle and executed in a unique depiction of humans as "aliens". Even more, the humans aren't the main antagonists, which is something very rare in a movie like this.
  10. The action scenes, like the leopard seal attack and killer whale attack, are exciting and spectacular to watch.
  11. The scenes of Mumble finding the humans, such as the "alien ships" scene and the aquarium scene, are powerful and artistic with their depiction of our impact on the planet from the perspective of the animals. If you were a penguin living around the coast of Antarctica and saw fishing ships arriving from foreign lands up north taking fish from the ocean, you'd probably feel the same dread we'd feel upon making contact with extraterrestrials.
  12. The scenes with Mumble and his dad are real touching, especially with Memphis trying to choose between his faith in "the Great Guin" and his son. This makes Mumble's banishment all the more heartbreaking. The scene in the climax where Memphis joins in the dance number also gives his arc brilliant closure.

Bad Qualities

  1. The story gets boring at times, being running time at 108 minutes, and sometimes uses redundant clichés:
    • Though not badly executed, the story's premise has been used a lot previously, particularly in Footloose and Strictly Ballroom.
    • The "conflict between two close characters" trope is used way earlier than usual, and it's as predicable as you'd expect.
    • There are several scenes where the typical "humans are evil" messages are present, particularly in the elephant seal scene. This shows that event this movie's unique environmental themes aren't perfectly executed.
  2. The last third feels very rushed, making the environmental themes feel very forced and-last minute. Even George Miller himself admitted the environmental message wasn't supposed to be present at first.
    • The ending is abrupt and barely explained at all; Mumble tap-dances at the aquarium in front of some humans, they release him back into the wild, the penguins perform a dance number in front of some Antarctic scientists, the United Nations realize that they're messing with the food chain and ban fishing in the region, the end. That's it!
    • According to Miller, when he explained the reason for the addition of the environmental message, "In Australia, we're very, very aware of the ozone hole, and Antarctica is literally the canary in the coal mine for this stuff. So it sort of had to go in that direction".
  3. Some of the adult jokes can be inappropriate for a family film:
    • The usage of "Kiss" by Prince, with the lyrics being so questionable that "Let's talk about sex baby" had to be changed to "Let's talk about eggs baby" just so it could earn a G rating.
    • During the scene using "Do It Again" by The Beach Boys, Mumble and Gloria bump into each other after flying out of the water, and while they're trying to get up, some of the unintentional poses look very inappropriate, though young audiences won't notice.
    • The scene where Lovelace is introduced speaks for itself.
  4. Despite living in complete isolation from humans, the penguins sing songs created by humans about things only humans should know about, which makes logic confused at all.
    • Though if it works in context of the musical narrative, it can be excusable.
  5. Somewhat misleading poster and DVD cover depicting Mumble a hatchling even though he's a teen for most of the movie.
  6. The Amigos, while funny, can get annoying at times, especially when they talk over each other at once.
  7. The sequel was underwhelming.


Box office

Happy Feet opened at #1 in the United States on its first weekend of release November 17th to 19th grossing $41.6 million and beating Casino Royale for the top spot. It remained number 1 for the Thanksgiving weekend, making $51.6 million over the five-day period. In total, the film was the top grosser for three weeks, a 2006 box office feat matched only by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. As of 8 June 2008, Happy Feet had grossed $198.0 million in the U.S. and $186.3 million overseas, making about $384.3 million worldwide. Happy Feet was the third highest grossing animated film of 2006 in the U.S., behind Cars and Ice Age: The Meltdown. The film was released in about 35 international territories at the close of 2006.

Critical reception

Happy Feet received very positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 76% "Certified Fresh" score based on 161 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The score from audiences was 70%. The site's consensus was "Visually dazzling, with a thoughtful storyline and catchy musical numbers, Happy Feet marks a successful animated debut from the makers of Babe." Metacritic reports a 77 out of 100 rating, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". The film received user score of 6.2 for Metacritic. On IMDb and Letterboxd, the film earned score of 6.2/10 and 2.8/5.

Awards & Nominations

Happy Feet was the fourth non-Disney or Pixar film as well as the first Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures film to won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, becoming the recipient of the inaugural BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, and was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Cars.



  • The animation is invested heavily in motion capture technology, with the dance scenes acted out by human dancers. The tap-dancing for Mumble in particular was provided by Savion Glover who was also co-choreographer for the dance sequences. The dancers went through "Penguin School" to learn how to move like a penguin, and also wore head apparatus to mimic a penguin's beak.
  • This was the first theatrical animated as well as second animated film to produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, and the first animated film directed by George Miller.

Village Roadshow Pictures


Practical Magic - Analyze This - The Matrix - Deep Blue Sea - Love Lies Bleeding - Three Kings - Three to Tango


Gossip - Space Cowboys - Red Planet - Miss Congeniality - Valentine - Saving Silverman - Saving Silverman - See Spot Run - Exit Wounds - Swordfish - Cats & Dogs - Hearts in Atlantis - Zoolander - Don't Say a Word - Training Day - Ocean's Eleven - The Majestic - Queen of the Damned - Showtime - Eight Legged Freaks - The Adventures of Pluto Nash - Ghost Ship - Analyze That - Two Weeks Notice - Dreamcatcher - The Matrix Reloaded - Mystic River - The Matrix Revolutions - Torque - Taking Lives - Catwoman - Ocean's Twelve - Constantine - Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous - House of Wax - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Dukes of Hazzard - Rumor Has It... - Firewall - The Lake House - Happy Feet - Unaccompanied Minors - Music and Lyrics - The Reaping - Lucky You - Ocean's Thirteen - License to Wed - No Reservations - The Invasion - The Brave One - Rogue - I Am Legend - December Boys - Speed Racer - Get Smart - Nights in Rodanthe - Yes Man - Gran Torino - Where the Wild Things Are - Sherlock Holmes


Sex and the City 2 - Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - Life as We Know It - Happy Feet Two - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - The Lucky One - Dark Shadows - Gangster Squad - The Great Gatsby - Man of Tai Chi - The Lego Movie - Winter's Tale - Edge of Tomorrow - Into the Storm - The Equalizer - The Judge - Annie - American Sniper - Jupiter Ascending - Mad Max: Fury Road - San Andreas - Goosebumps - In the Heart of the Sea - Concussion - The Brothers Grimsby - The Legend of Tarzan - Ghostbusters - Sully - The Magnificent Seven - Collateral Beauty - Passengers - Fist Fight - Going in Style - King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - The House - The 15:17 to Paris - Ready Player One - Ocean's 8 - Joker

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