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Happy Feet (2006)
116 out of 178 people found the following review useful:
This was a great film for all ages, 5 December 2006

Finally saw this on Sunday when it previewed in the UK (out on full release Friday). The cinema was packed with kids ranging from babies to teenagers. Our group had kids from 3-15 in it as well as the parents. We all absolutely loved it; what I thought was so good was that the kids in the party all reacted according to their ages. The little ones just thought the penguins were cute and the chase scenes etc were thrilling. But the older ones thought the film had a deeper message and really enjoyed it.

I would normally be fairly bored at a kids' film and have just gone to take the kids - but all the adults were fascinated the whole time. We all agreed that it was easily the best animated movie of the year. I would recommend it for any age of kid. The audience in general obviously loved it judging by the laughter but by the enthralled silence at the dramatic parts.

Most families obviously consist of children of different ages - so it is not easy to find a film that appeals to teenagers as well as 3 year olds. This one did - an had the adults enthralled as well. I am not surprised that it beat Casino Royale at the Box Office in US 2 week ends running.

The green message was great - I think it is really important that children should be aware of not littering etc, respecting the planet, from a young age. Having said that, I'm not sure the kids really got that message but it might have had some effect on the older ones.

Have read some stuff on here saying kids should not be taught liberal values or not be made aware of them. Liberal values like tolerance and fairness etc. The film didn't promote those values more than a lot of kids' movies but even if it had I can't imagine why anyone would be worried about that so I'm not going to give it serious consideration.

The film I went to see was basically a really exciting adventure story with excellent acting - you really felt for Mumble - he wasn't just a stock character. I thought Elijah Wood did an excellent job in that role. Quite a few people on the internet are asking - why use such famous actors for Happy Feet - why not have an unknown voice cast? Obviously having a very big name cast of A listers costs far more and so reduces the profits - at least that might appear to be the case. Here is one reply I found - "some of the famous actors out there are famous (and expensive) for a reason- they're good at what they do. Elijah Wood really is pretty amazing at playing a sympathetic lead; Nicole Kidman has a fantastic singing voice to go along with a sweet stage presence...." The visual effects were really breath-taking, probably the best animation I've ever seen. But the film also had an intriguing story with some depth - it wasn't just a bland cutesy film.

I strongly recommend it for children, especially when you think of all the predictable rubbish that Hollywood often serves up for family films.

Up-date - I am very pleased that it won the Oscar for Best Animated; I thought that it was clearly the best animated film of the year - and also I was pleased to see the Academy award originality and depth as opposed to a pleasant but rather bland, mix-as-before Pixar product.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A really exciting, captivating film, 11 September 2005

This film clearly achieves what it sets out to do - it sets out to show the seductiveness of violence and it manages to do that in a fashion that really draws the audience into it. The reviews in the serious papers and magazines have recognised that quality - the quality that led it to receive both the jury and audience awards at the SXSW film festival, the only film that has succeeded in doing so. To criticise it for failing to examine hooliganism from different perspectives therefore is to miss the point. It succeeds so well in showing the way that violence can draw a non-violent person into it due to Elijah Wood's very sophisticated and extremely convincing performance as Matt.

He is an actor who is as versatile as he is both interesting and captivating; he makes it impossible to remain emotionally detached from the film. He shows in a subtle and effective fashion the stages that Matt goes through in getting drawn into the group of hooligans and embracing their behaviour, partly as a demonstration of loyalty to them but also for its own sake. The film indicates with subtle touches (which a few critics failed to pick up on - do they actually concentrate on the films they review?) just why he is so vulnerable to being drawn into the group: he is looking for an identity; he cannot identify with his family since his father is emotionally absent, while his mother is dead. Even his sister's husband seems to reject him. He cannot view himself as a journalist since he has been expelled from his journalism course. He is drawn into the hooligan group, the GSE, due to Pete's demonstrations of loyalty to him. So there is a universal message which is far from glorifying violence - that young men looking for identity may find it even in hooliganism. But there is also an interesting ambiguity in the message about violence revealed through Wood's performance - that it has visceral appeal.

The sillier UK papers played the whole "hobbit to yobbit" theme to death. But although I thought that Elijah Wood's performance as Frodo was probably the most moving thing I have ever seen on screen, and I've watched the trilogy too many times to count, I realised as I left the cinema that it had not crossed my mind once during the film. The plot is well-crafted and realised. In a packed cinema, we were on the edges of our seats the whole time.

Up-date: just to add - I enjoyed this film so much that I went back to see it the following night. Again the cinema was packed and the audience watched the film in enthralled silence - you can always tell when an audience is really engrossed. As one of my friends said afterwards, it was so much better than a typical Hollywood blockbuster - where you don't care about what happens to the characters, you just watch a parade of sterile special effects in a half-bored fashion.

My friends and I come from the North of England and so we have often seen groups of hooligans although we are not football fans ourselves; we all thought the hooligans, including Elijah's character, looked very realistic - it's so naive to think that all hooligans look like thugs. As Matt started to emulate their behaviour, he looked more and more part of their group. A couple of UK critics have said Elijah and Charlie Hunnam are too good-looking and non-thuggish in appearance to play hooligans. We were sitting in a very large audience in a cinema in a roughish area of Manchester that included at least 80 blokes of about 20ish, many of whom must have been football supporters. If this critic was right, you'd have expected a laugh from at least one of them when Charlie Hunnam appeared as the hooligan leader or when Elijah as Matt threw his first punch. Nothing - just fascinated silence. Tells us something about how out of touch some of the UK film critics now are (US ones are a bit more savvy). User reviews on IMDb and other Internet sites are becoming a better guide than press ones. You get a consensus about films like this and a freshness and enthusiasm in comments. A few of the more jaded film critic, faced with a film like this with its originality and emotional appeal, have merely dropped readily into their comfort zone - sneering at it rather than make the mental effort of trying to understand it.

I thought some more about Elijah's character's need for identity on seeing it the second time: he had been betrayed by his room-mate at Harvard so he was obviously desperate to find loyalty somewhere; Elijah's great performance tended to make us think quite deeply about what his character was going through. I also thought that anyone who thought that the film had a simplistic message about violence being the right way to deal with problems couldn't have watched it closely (I won't include a spoiler, but the more complex message is indicated in the exact way that the very last scene plays out - without punches being thrown).

Since the film was so dynamic and had so much "heart", as many reviews have said, it has appeal well outside the UK and far beyond its genre; it will play with audiences across Europe and in the US. The hit film of the year.