Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 20, 2006
POP CULTURE: Flippers Down for "Happy Feet"

If you have small children I would highly recommend that you not take them to this movie (if you don't, you surely won't go anyway). First off, the film is often dark, depressing or scary, probably too much so for kids under 8 or 9. Second, the second half of the film is basically an extended diatribe in favor of a UN ban on fishing in the Antarctic. As with so many cartoons today featuring talking animals, carnivores and humans are uniformly evil (well, except for the penguins themselves - the fish they eat are not anthropomorphized). And the anti-human, anti-fishing messages are not subtle but heavy-handed and preachy.

The film had other weaknesses, of varying degrees of obviousness. The bouts of sexual suggestiveness among the penguins were reasonably subtle enough to sail over smaller kids' heads, and to some extent necessary to a film the first half of which centers on penguin mating rituals. There were Hollywood stereotypes abounding: unfavorable characters were given Southern or Scottish accents, misguided religious superstitions and a bluenosed insistence on tradition and conformity (even though the film's beginning dramatically emphasized the reality that tradition and conformity are essential to the survival of emperor penguins), while favorable ones got Latino accents, rythym, a sense of humor and a lust for females; and the scene in a penguin house in a zoo may turn kids against the joy of watching penguins in the zoo, something my kids love. (These would all be minor grievances - I'm not suggesting I'm outraged about giving penguins ethnic accents - if the movie was funnier or less preachy). The movie also never explains why the lead character ends up with blue eyes and a permanent adolescent fuzz, although presumably this is just to let audiences keep him straight from the other penguins.

This is not to say that the movie is all bad. The animated landscapes and action scenes are breathtaking, for example. The voicework is pretty good, notably by Robin Williams in dual roles. But inhuman (or at least, anti-human) environmental propaganda wrapped in the veneer of a kids' movie is not the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon with the family.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:27 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I haven't seen anything except trailers. Yet, after how badly you've gone off the deep end politically the last few weeks - and yes, I'm usually in tune with you there, or at least I used to be - I have to feel totally floored by this.

Give me a reason - a REAL reason and not something shaped because of politics. Don't couch it in this vague "propaganda" crap.

Tell me where that is something you feel is WRONG. You know, not something you have something that matters more... something that is simply, FLAT-OUT wrong.

If you make it flat-out wrong.... dishonest, no basis in fact, and/or unflattering to somebody... then maybe I might consider not taking my children. Until then? Well, you come off VERY boorish.

Peace bud. And give it up. Everybody I voted for the last 6 years are no better than those I didn't in the 10 years before that. You need to understand that, well, people who think differently might have things to say about - well, caring.

You? Sir? *Shakes his head in disbelief.*

Posted by: Dave at November 20, 2006 9:56 PM

Hey, if you want to take your kids to see a movie that was titled "Happy Feet" and billed as some sort of story about a plucky penguin, but instead spends the last hour in a grim and increasingly depressing series of pleas for the humans to stop fishing because it's destroying his habitat, go ahead. It wasn't what I had expected at all, and my daughter was covering her face for much of the last half hour. Plus, the movie wasn't even especially funny.

Posted by: The Crank at November 20, 2006 10:05 PM

A cute idea for a 10 minute short stretched with 90 minutes of PC blather.

My kids (7 & 11) didn't mind it, but it was 2 hours of my life I'll never get back.

Posted by: John Bigenwald at November 20, 2006 10:59 PM

Maybe they've realized that if they don't turn kids liberal before they are capable of critical thinking they won't be able to. :-)

If the movie bugged you wait until you see the theories (global warming, etc) that schools teach as settled facts and the leftward slant that teachers put on stuff.

Posted by: largebill at November 21, 2006 8:31 AM

Bill, your last comment sounds a lot like the comments on evolution. Global Warming is a fact. Now what causes it may be open to varying amounts of dispute, but whether we caused it or not, we better figure out how to solve it.

Science is not really left or right wing. It's a chain, and when one link breaks, then the chain doesn't work. It also works whether you believe in it or not.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 21, 2006 11:52 AM

Daryl -- we are talking about a kids movie.

It has a cute idea, a penguin who dances instead of sings. He's different from everybody else, so what lesson can we learn from that?? Global warming is causing Robin Williams to be a fat penguin.

Sorry, regardless of the science, any kid's movie invoking the UN and global fishing rights is probably going to miss it's mark. And no, I don't think this was an exception...

Posted by: John Bigenwald at November 21, 2006 12:12 PM

Crank, Flushed Away was solid, unless you worry about a blacklash against Frogs. Regardless, my gang, 10,8, and 4 all enjoyed.

Posted by: abe at November 21, 2006 3:37 PM

Frogs!! I hate the flippin' Frogs! It's Freedom Fries for me!! ;-)

Posted by: John Bigenwald at November 21, 2006 4:56 PM
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