Published Nov 17, 2011Considering the peculiarly heavy-handed politics associated with the first instalment of Happy Feet ― wherein the political process and dread of difference reared their heads to a tune by Grandmaster Flash ― the milquetoast environmental tedium of the sequel is sheepishly tacked on as an afterthought, or like the result of an apathetic creative vote. It's a feeling that permeates the entire production of Happy Feet Two, which recycles the aesthetic and apparent tone of the original, only without any charm or apparent inspiration.
This time, the graceless (or "different") Mumble (Elijah Wood) is experiencing parental woes of his own, trying to help his youngest son overcome seemingly insurmountable insecurity. And while the narrative spends its time milking the cuteness and comedy of this scenario ― think of it as The King's Speech, with grotesquely bland, Glee-ified variations on mainstream pop tunes ― the crude Hollywood need for nobility crashes in, babbling some redundancies about polar ice caps melting, awkwardly conscious of the necessary spin needed for a Best Animated Feature Oscar.
Beyond this, the central dramatic conflict is a humdrum rescue mission with our reluctant hero and the screeching villain, which is broken up by presumed comic relief, in the form of two krill (Brad Pitt and Matt Damon), which merely distract for the sake of animation variation.
Fortunately, the vibrant colour and creative visualization evident in the first entry were carried over into this meek, cold sequel. It's just unfortunate that not even a trace of the didactic ire and whimsical passion of the original is at all evident. Instead, we have a crude mishmash of the broadest of broad music breaking up strained sequences of children's film clichés and Hollywood laziness.
It's not an offensive film, by any means, but it's best just to wait a week and watch the far superior Arthur Christmas instead. (Warner)