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While most of the movie-going audience this week flocked to a vapid vampire movie about young lust, many parents and grandparents looked instead to the animated film “Happy Feet 2” for more family-friendly fare.
And while the penguin flick is far from a classic, its message for families was stunningly countercultural, unexpected, biblically sound and, frankly, inspiring.
In a world of entertainment today that deems “Father Knows Best” as an antiquated, misogynistic premise and instead portrays men as bumbling fools, the pro-Pop message of “Happy Feet 2” is a healthy breath of fresh air.
To be fair, there’s a lot not to like about the somewhat flat and anemic “Happy Feet 2,” beginning with its bland storyline, forced musical numbers and lack of laughs. It too often feels like a sequel merely for sequel’s sake, as though it were thrown together on the back of a napkin, rather than crafted by a true storyteller.
The film is further set against a backdrop of melting glaciers, polar bears losing their homes and human pollution, all of which advances the global warming agenda, though the film does mercifully refrain from moralizing on the topic.
Nonetheless, “Happy Feet 2” threatens to undo decades of the most underhanded work of militant feminism … and for that, it should be praised.
The film follows the travails of young Erik the penguin, a outcast little fellow who doesn’t fit in with his musical, dancing family.
Despite his father’s insistence that he will find his own gifting in time and that it’s OK not to fit in, the little fuzzball looks up instead to another outcast who determines to leave the penguin colony and set out on his own.
When that mentor fails him, Erik finds another hero, a smooth-talking, megachurch, guru penguin named Sven, who inspires a massive congregation of eager worshippers toward positive thinking and good deeds.
For a significant part of the film, Sven is a dazzling star, and the story would bait you into believing the boy is lost to his mesmerizing ways.
But when Sven turns out to be a charlatan, it would seem Erik has no one left to look up to.
Yet subtly, over and over in the film, when the chips are down and the elephant seal, or the penguin colony or even Erik’s life is in danger, there is one character who comes through again and again. There’s one character who gives of himself, risks himself, does what is right and is willing to move all heaven and earth to save those he loves.
So it is finally that when little Erik does discover his gift (I won’t spoil what that is), he uses it to declare, “My hero: my father!”
I’ll admit, I didn’t see it coming. I’m so accustomed to children’s films preaching that parents are misguided, stupid, don’t understand or all of the above, that it floored me to hear little Erik’s impassioned speech in praise of his pop.
It also stuns the other characters in the scene, and it proves the pivotal moment that enables the film to move toward its triumphant ending (and a fantastic musical number!).
- “Happy Feet 2” contains no profanities or obscenities.
- The film contains some mild, romantic (though not overtly sexual) innuendo and one male character telling another there will be no “hanky panky” between them.
- The movie contains some slapstick violence, falling, animals fighting and one scene where a leopard seal ravenously chases a penguin through the water. There is also an animated Tweety Bird short preceding the movie that is graphically violent in the ways Sylvester’s attempts at capturing Tweety are thwarted.
- The film’s religious content is limited to a reference to “millions of years” of evolution and the somewhat church-like ways in which the characters sing the praise of Sven in a sort of black choir-styled song. Sven also preaches a positive-thinking doctrine of “If you want it, you must will it; if you will it, it will be yours” that young audience members may not recognize as empty and may even be tempted to imitate.