...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

July 15, 2007

Happy Feet - 1

I put this DVD (my housemate got this for Christmas) in with the intention of not really thinking much and laughing at some dancing animated penguins inspired by the success of March of the Penguins. Boy, was I in for a surprise. The movie starts as a Disney style musical focusing on the story of an outcast penguin, Mumble, who only knows how to dance because he was dropped as an egg. The initial sing gets old fast and I was anxious for the plot to start...I soon regretted that desire. I am willing to look past the fact that the authors decided that a diversity of animals live in Antarctica and that humans are a significant part of the environment...it makes for a somewhat easier context to tell the story. But the attempt by the authors to turn an animated kids film into social commentary...and horrible commentary at that, makes this film something to avoid. The film makes the case that the tradition values of the group should be changed because Mumble happens to be different, genetically different. The film does a good job of implying that Mumble represents what it is like to be gay in "Christian" America. There are also two groups of penguins, the emperor's-which seem to also represent black culture, and some smaller penguins who talk as though they are Hispanic, and soon start acting as the stereotypes would dictate (these penguins celebrate machismo and infidelity). Then to make matters worse, the plot takes a giant leap, as Mumble is captured and starts a human environmental (à la Al Gore) movement by dancing at a zoo exhibit. The humans then travel to Antarctica and save the cute dancing penguins from their plight (exterminating animals that look mean or are in general used to represent evil when anthropomorphized...ok, I made that part up- but in the context of this film that isn't a crazy thought). If you think I'm just reading into the film what isn't there, watch it for yourself (but don't say I didn't warn you). The more conversations I have about it the more adamant I've become to the horribleness of this film.


chris said...

haha. good call greg. i agree.

Anonymous said...

Bah. Bah. Etc. So the confluence of meaning and lowbrow doesn't do anything for you, or the stereotype-ridden Robin Williams characters damage the film's ability to tackle social critique?

Oh, and no one can say anything bad about Brittany Murphey's cover of Queen. Or you shall die. Under a lacerated sky.

Paul (who'll try to mine your thoughts on this one Friday)