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December 27, 2006

Happy Feet – No Gay Penguins

I may soon get this posted to Queer Beacon, but wanted to get the jimbo.info review out to you to make sure you don't go see such a schitzo film.

An official holiday season panel of two gay men screening the animated feature ‘Happy Feet’ unearthed no evidence of gay penguins in the film. While there is a message of the importance of being happy with your individuality amongst sameness, if there was a specifically “gay” subtext in there, our panel missed it. Lots of people feel different, gays among them, but it doesn’t mean this movie is pushing any gay agenda. Think ‘Footloose’ with penguins and you’ll get the idea.

The film is about an emperor penguin named “Mumble” who was born without a distinctive “heartsong,” but he does have an uncontrollable habit of tap dancing in lieu of the ability to sing. This leads to his inevitable exile from the penguin colony, which sends him on a journey of self-discovery and exploration. On his journey Mumble meets voracious predators, friendly penguins and humans.

The movie opens trying to be like an Antarctic ‘Lion King’ with a trippy visit from a spectral ancestral penguin-spirit in the opening sequence. That was just plain weird. Then it turns around and tries to take a crack at being a clever Baz Luhrmann musical, replete with attempts at witty pop-culture medleys, but fails at this as many of the songs are too obscure to immediately recognize. Plus it’s been done before, and using computer-generated penguins doesn’t help deliver the genre quite right. Then it gets serious, adding an eco-drama element, but by then we’re all quite confused about what the film is trying to be. PowerPoint presentations are best delivered by wooden former politicians, rather than by fuzzy CGI penguins.

As I watched the movie it struck me that some Hollywood executive saw ‘March of the Penguins’ and thought some of them acted like various international stereotypes, depicted with bad accents by a long list of voice-over celebrities. Since the exec thought Robin Williams was funny in ‘Aladdin’ he had to include him too. Williams is the voice of two characters in the film whose accents are often indistinguishable, and I felt embarrassed for him as I did when he chose to be in ‘RV’. I guess he has kids to send to college.

I wouldn’t take the niece and nephew to go see ‘Happy Feet’, and the other gay panelist - a children’s CGI movie fan - wasn’t impressed either. We both walked away thinking that the film tried to deliver too many messages and missed out on the fun along the way. Just when the music started fly, some morality lesson was put in. Even the spectacular computer-generated landscapes were interrupted by one persona change or another. Throughout most of the film, even the kids in the theater weren’t laughing much, and I enjoyed my Cookie Dough Bites and Cherry Coke a lot more than the film.

The only gay content in ‘Happy Feet’ was the inclusion of a k.d. lang song in the soundtrack. And possibly one soft-spoken penguin in the colony could have been interpreted as gay, but without further cloacal and behavioral examinations of the bird, we are unsure if this was in fact a gay penguin.

Posted by jimbo at December 27, 2006 7:32 PM


I'm so glad I skipped it now. I'm anxious awaiting Pan's Labrynth

Posted by: moby at December 27, 2006 11:46 PM

This is much better than my review of "this movie sucked, I want my money back".
There was a lot that defied logic, but I shouldn't even attempt to find logic in a kid's movie.
It is a cable worthy movie. Which is just below Netflix worthy. But above the broadcast movie of the week. But it certainly wasn't matinee price worthy.

Posted by: Marie at December 28, 2006 9:09 AM

Les French did a very funny ad on 'March...' that tbs showed. Probably better than the film itself...


Posted by: henry at December 28, 2006 10:08 AM