Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Feet Two [2011]

MPAA (PG) CNS/USCCB (A-II) Roger Ebert (2 1/2 Stars) Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

Happy Feet Two (Warner Brothers, directed by George Miller, cowritten by George Miller, Warren Coleman, Gary Eck and Paul Livingstone) will once again be denounced by the mouthpieces of the carbon burning industries.  BP, Chevron, Shell, Exxon Mobil, the coal industry and most recently the natural gas frackers all make or stand to make obscene amounts of money pulling carbon out of the ground in the form of fossil fuels and selling it to be burned and dumped into the atmosphere.

So it's absolutely naive to expect the carbon industries to ever be "on board" when it comes to combating global warming (or pollution for that matter).  A historian on a History Channel program on the roots of the American Civil War once put it this way: "Southern slave owners owned some $10 billion (in today's dollars) worth of slaves before the Civil War.  There is no way that stake holders invested in a holding to that extent could be expected to relinquish it without a fight."  Yes, a whole lot of poor white soldiers in the South died so that rich white plantation owners could own black people.  Lots of "honor" in that... 

... But if the Civil War was fought to protect the right of a relatively small amount of rich white people to own black people, why should we be surprised therefore that there is a powerful, well-funded pro-carbon, pro-pollution lobby in this country when the carbon barons of today have far more money invested in the status quo than the white plantation owners had in their slaves?  Indeed, given the nation's experience with "Southern nostalgia" even 150 years after the Civil War was fought and lost by the South, it could well be that there will be a powerful, well-funded pro-carbon, pro-pollution lobby in this country even after Wall Street and most of Manhattan will be submerged under dozens of feet of water due to sea level rise after the polar icecaps melt.  Who would deny that God's judgement could come with a little sense of humor in this case? ;-)

But be all this as it may... as well as my obvious agreement with George Miller's pro-ecological sympathies, I still wonder whether George Miller appreciates how traumatic some of the scenes in both this and the previous Happy Feet movies could be for little kids.  In the current film there are several scenes in which a parent or close friend faces imminent death in front of loved ones (in two cases, the parent's children).  At minimum, I do believe that the MPAA's "PG" rating _should be taken seriously_ by parents _in this case_, and I would have preferred that the movie be given a "PG-13" rating to underscore the point.

Miller does acknowledge in interviews [1][2] that he designed his Happy Feet films with both parents (adults) and children in mind, and certainly there is much to for adults to contemplate in this picture:  If the first Happy Feet was about recognizing the value of the individual to the collective (Even if the individual may not seem to "fit in" initially, it may be precisely the individual's somewhat unique gifts that can come to benefit or even save the whole), Happy Feet Two is an exploration of the value of the collective to the individual (There are times when individual or small group action is simply not enough, and the collective can in fact be or become the "community" / "home" to return to even in the case of the most wayward/ambitious of individuals, as the krills "Bill and Will" (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) learn during the course of this story).

Then many of the characters/cast from the first Happy Feet are back, even as new one's (like the above mentioned krills) were added.  Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), the dancing penguin from a society of Emperor penguins that previously only sang, is back.  Now, however, he's a parent himself together with his wife Gloria (voiced now by Pink, to replace Brittany Murphy who died since the making of the first Happy Feet).  They have a son, Erik (voiced by Ava Acres), who is shy and neither sings nor dances.  Ramon as well as preacher Lovelace (both voiced by Robin Williams) are also back.  A new character, The Mighty Sven (voiced by Hank Azaria) is introduced.  Sven is a puffin survivor of the melting northern icecaps, who resembles a penguin but isn't really one.  However, he has the special ability of being able to fly, which surprises/confound the penguins.  And Carmen (voiced by Sofia Vergara) is introduced as the love interest for the passionate Ramon.

Happy Feet Two also continues using accents very well.  All the penguins and animals native to the southern hemisphere are given accents characteristic of the southern hemisphere.  The Emperor penguins are given in African or African American sounding accents.  The smaller Adele penguins are given Latin-American accents.  And the various sea mammals are given Australian / Afrikaner accents.  Sven, being a puffin from the North is given a Swedish accent.  Bill and Will the Krill, perhaps because krill exist in both Northern and the Southern waters, speak with American if somewhat higher pitched voices.  Additionally Russians (people) are portrayed several times operating fishing trawlers and the like.  And at one point, they do come to help the penguins.

All in all, Happy Feet Two is an okay animated film.  But I would think twice about before bringing someone under 7-8 to see it.  There are some rather traumatic scenes present (and to be honest, I don't think that they were necessary to the telling of the story).  As such, parents, should take this into consideration.

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

No comments:

Post a Comment