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Animation and Anime

Moriarty Loves HAPPY FEET And Is Baffled By Those Who Don't!!

And I am here to tell you, folks... Massawyrm is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Every now and then, Harry goes completely off the reservation and puts two and six together and gets fifty-three, and he’ll write one of those reviews where you’re sure that mescaline and a dare was somehow involved in the way Harry connects the dots. That’s why he’s Harry. But even at his most intentionally provocative, Harry’s never written anything as strange as that glib (I’m stealing the word back), snide attack on a genuinely thoughtful film that is absolutely one of the best animated films released this year, and probably since THE INCREDIBLES. George Miller is no slouch. In fact, it’s safe to say George Miller is one of the few untamed young lions of the ‘80s. He never got into the habit of cranking out blockbusters and chasing opening weekends year after year after year. He’s walked away from better jobs than most people will ever be offered. He’s created several classics already, and I’m willing to bet he’s got more in him. I took my wife and my son to see HAPPY FEET because I knew Miller was involved, hoping for something that would be diverting enough with the singing and dancing to keep him entertained. He’s sixteen months now, and at home, he’ll watch anything with music in it. His mom showed him SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, for example, and he danced every time the people onscreen did. In addition, penguins are not exactly an unknown quantity in our house. After MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, my wife became fond of stuffed penguins, particularly the baby ones. Then about a month ago, Warner Bros. sent out stuffed dancing penguins that will dance to whatever music you put on, or even just to the sound of your voice. And so Toshi and the penguin would dance to salsa music together in the kitchen while his grandmother was cooking. Seriously. Diverting would have been enough for me to be satisfied with the film. I’ve seen most of the animated kids films this year, like ANT BULLY and THE BARNYARD and OPEN SEASON, and I’ve seen them early, but chosen not to write about them. Honestly, I couldn’t. Those movies made me depressed about animation as a storytelling technique. Those movies are so painfully formulaic, and although they were obviously expensive and there are obviously talented animators involved with these and with OVER THE HEDGE and with CARS and with FLUSHED AWAY. There are probably more talented CG artists right now than there ever were conventional 2D animators at any one time. And what are they working on? Well... junk, pretty much. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. OPEN SEASON is a film worth being mad at. OPEN SEASON is corrupt and empty and deals in easy stereotype. They might as well have called it MARTIN LAWRENCE IS JIVE BEAR AND ASHTON KUTCHER IS DONKEY FROM SHREK. That’s it. That’s all the movie’s got going on. And there’s a lot of visual firepower expended telling this truly depressing nonstory. It’s a technically proficient film, and everyone involved with crafting it deserves to work again. But they should be working on something of merit. They should be working on something that has something to say. In a year that has been overstuffed with babysitter movies, movies that appear to have been assembled from kits, HAPPY FEET commits the cardinal sin of having something complex on its mind. There’s something profoundly subversive about a film called HAPPY FEET that takes a third-act left turn (and we’ll talk about spoilers later) that is anything but joyous. In fact, the last time I saw a “children’s” film that was this subversive, it was the criminally underrated and breathtakingly bold BABE 2: PIG IN THE CITY. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Speaking as an actual parent, and not a hypothetical one, I was quite moved by the way Miller’s film unfolds, and I think it dares to raise some important questions about the nature of life. I would welcome the conversation with my child about this film’s themes and ideas after the movie, the way I’d welcome any opportunity to talk to my child about such things as faith, identity, love, and family. But wait... seriously... isn’t this that film with Robin Williams doing a bunch of voices? And a bunch of pop songs? And tapdancing? Yep. Sure is. The film starts by letting you in on the way the music’s going to work. One voice at a time, one song at a time, every song something we recognize. The songs combining, coming together, swelling and rising, as we move in on the place these voices come from, the home of the penguins, the great breeding ground. Everyone’s strutting and looking, and the songs are flirtation and foreplay. Just as Baz Luhrmann used the emotional shorthand inherent to songs we recognize, Miller has a real sense of whimsy, something you can’t fake. When Memphis (Hugh Jackman) uses Elvis tunes to woo Norma Jean (an adorably breathy Nicole Kidman) and she sings back with Prince’s “Kiss,” it’s sweet and charming and joyous. This film doesn’t just use music because it sells soundtracks. It’s in love with the music it uses, and that makes all the difference. Memphis and Norma Jean have an egg, and here’s where the film really benefits from last year’s release of MARCH OF THE PENGUINS. When Norma Jean leaves Memphis with the egg and goes off in search of food, you know why the women are leaving, and you know what’s ahead for the fathers. Miller’s film gets it all right, and it’s scary. In fact, there’s a lot of this film that is scary. It’ll probably get your kid’s heart pumping. That’s sort of what Miller is great at, though. The car chases of ROAD WARRIOR. The Thunderdome. The NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET segment in the TWILIGHT ZONE movie. Miller made medical research seem like action scenes in LORENZO’S OIL. His BABE movies are both classics in their own right, and almost completely different films. Throughout his movies, he seems to maintain a complex philosophy that is expansive, compassionate, and inclusive. I think Miller is a very moral filmmaker, and thoughtful. HAPPY FEET is the story of Mumble (E.G. Dailey at first), the son of Memphis and Norma Jean. He’s the one penguin who can’t sing. When he opens his mouth, he honks. He makes a terrible painful sound. It’s awful. And nothing helps. But there’s this thing he does... it’s hard to explain... it’s like the music that other people make gets inside of him and it’s gotta come out somehow and since he can’t sing, it comes out as a sort of a shake and a shiver and... dancing. Tap dancing, specifically. And Mumble’s dancing is so spontaneous and reactive and free that it freaks everybody else out. So far, so good. That’s what the trailer was selling. That’s the diversion we were looking for. The world of the penguin is every bit as dangerous in Miller’s film as it is in life. Killer seals, killer whales... I think the whole “killer” motif sort of sets the stakes. You can be eaten by a bird if you’re not careful, for pissakes. There are some great harrowing sequences in this film, and based on a screening tonight in Los Angeles, I’d say IMAX would be the perfect way to see this film. Miller’s crew has created an immersive, kinetic world, and the most amazing thing about it is that they pulled it off at all. Remember, this isn’t by Dreamworks or Pixar or some established animation studio. Miller’s crew wasn’t coming off of some other animated film. They were put together for this movie, and so they were pretty much having to establish all of their vocabulary as they worked. They were having to decide where they could put their cameras based on how well they thought they could render their characters, and they kept revising their visual plan as they worked, as they were able to make a series of breakthroughs in terms of performance capture and feather and motion rendering. In continually honing the technical side of things, what they were doing was freeing themselves up in terms of storytelling and performance, the things that really matter. HAPPY FEET is a really nice mix of performance capture and pure animation. Miller uses each for very particular things, and he doesn’t really try to humanize the animals in the film. They’ve all got personalities, certainly, but they still behave like animals. When Mumble ventures out, away from his penguin group, he starts to get a picture of a bigger world, and he starts to realize that just because he’s considered “inferior” by his immediate peer group, that doesn’t mean he is. He begins to question his place in things, and he starts to find his place. He makes friends who accept him for who he is. And he starts to realize that some of the things that his entire tribe accepts, some of their fundamental beliefs, may in fact be wrong. Or at the very least, they may not be the whole picture. I don’t want to synopsize any more of the film, even if others have spoiled with abandon, but it’s obvious that HAPPY FEET is about the way we develop as people, and the way one person’s gifts, if utilized the right way at the right time, can change the world. It’s about listening to your own voice. HAPPY FEET doesn’t fit that Campbell-approved hero’s journey model that every film ever uses now. Not exactly. Mumble isn’t a hero like Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter. And here’s where we start to get into spoiler territory, so I’ll try to speak generally, since I think audiences should be allowed to experience the ending themselves. I think it’s obviously told in bold, broad visual strokes, and it’s a lot of really big ideas dealt with as simple quick bits of info, and I think it works really well. Miller introduces some actual live-action elements into the film in such a sly way that I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first. It’s definitely a big leap, stylistically, but I think it really pays off in terms of impact. The film’s big climax is great because it brings the film full circle, using a convention of the musical genre (the big dance number) to pay off emotionally and thematically at the same time. This is a film that I would happily leave in rotation as part of my child’s cinema diet, and one that will pop up in rotation in my own diet as well. Films like this do tremendously well on DVD no matter what, but I’d argue that this is one of those films that demands the theatrical experience, and the IMAX presentation of the film just adds to its surprising power. It’s a rich, occasionally overwhelming visual experience, but it’s also a sophisticated bit of all-audiences storytelling. This is not a “kid’s film,” and I think that’s a good thing since films that pander to kids tend to insult them in equal measure. This film respects its audience to be able to have a complex reaction to something. Even kids. Massawyrm’s certainly not the only person to reject the film’s ambitions outright. I got another indignant letter today from someone complaining about a movie trying to “sneak in some stuff the kids won’t even understand,” and I’m not really sure where this outrage is coming from. There were many things I saw in my formative years that contained layers of subtext that I didn’t understand then, but that I internalized in some way, and this film will certainly give you plenty to talk about. It never forgets to entertain along the way, though, and if that’s all you want from it, you’ll be amply rewarded. But if you’re not all ascared by a movie with something on its mind, whether you agree with it or not, then HAPPY FEET may be an early holiday gift for you, as it was for me. Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:53 a.m. CST


    by knightrider


  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:54 a.m. CST


    by conbarba


  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:56 a.m. CST

    Well, it certainly SOUNDS like we saw the same movie -

    by Massawyrm 1

    You just use the word subversive in a positive way.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:59 a.m. CST

    Crikey!! I am FIIIIIIRRRRRRST!!!!

    by TheManWithTheHat


  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:59 a.m. CST

    DAMN IT!!

    by TheManWithTheHat

    <SIGH> I tried.....

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    Fuckin' A right I do.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:12 a.m. CST

    Whereas Massawyrm's sole preoccupation...

    by gobofraggleuk

    seems to be to try to tease out any theme which his own Subversive instincts can pounce upon. Unfortunately his subversion lies in subverting the use reason by others.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:14 a.m. CST

    typo cringe

    by gobofraggleuk

    okay, okay... the use OF reason...

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:16 a.m. CST

    "Sneaking in stuff kids won't understand"

    by Laserbrain

    That's the mark of a great kids' film ie; one that grows with the viewer. How many kids *get* all the layers of THE INCREDIBLES? Would the outraged party care to chime in on talkback and clarify? Was there something poisonous about the subtext in question?

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:25 a.m. CST

    Subversion can be a very positive thing...

    by ErnieAnderson

    Look at recent subversive entertaiments and events. MUNICH. V FOR VENDETTA. The 2006 Congressional elections.<p> <p> Subversion's IN, baby...

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:27 a.m. CST

    Okay, just read Massawyrm's review

    by Laserbrain

    Gotcha. Let me see it and get back to you.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:29 a.m. CST


    by CaseyMcCall

    The Dutch WB folks just downsized the Original Version number of prints, they think it won't do too well with adults...After reading this review: They are wrong (?)

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:29 a.m. CST


    by ErnieAnderson

    Isn't it ironic that someone commenting "First" on a George Miller film is called knightrider? <p> <p> <p> Fuck first posters. Fuck them up their stupid asses.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:38 a.m. CST

    Massa you had me at Ann Coulter

    by Im_spartasoth

    Thank you Mori, obviously pimping his own post was getting tiresome. Maybe now mr wyrm may appreciate that as a parent, he has joined a club that really does not discriminate. Two parents with differing opinions writing for the same site - wow, who would've thunk it. Does this mean that massa can teach you his finer points of toilet training. If not, please use whatever influence you have to have him politically fuck himself with the crossbeam he has attached himself to.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:40 a.m. CST

    Another criticism not mentioned

    by silentbob1964

    While there's been a lot of criticism mentioned by members here, the one reason I won't take my kids is that I'm sick and tired of animated animal films for 2006. I can't take another one or I'll go mental. This has been THE year of the animated animal movies. I'm sick and tired and I don't care who knows it! (Now stepping down from soapbox). Next.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:02 a.m. CST

    Thanks for a review I could actually get through.

    by CatVutt

    Massa's was sounding like he went off his meds and I couldn't be bothered to finish it. Why are 'children's' films not allowed to have an agenda? You don't have to like it, but for fuck's sake, review the presentation and quality of the film, not the goddamn message you've decided it's preaching. That hideous ranting would've been laughable had it not been so absurdly disturbing.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:17 a.m. CST

    Oh great!! Do I see this or Bond first?!?!

    by antonphd

    Thanks alot!!

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:20 a.m. CST

    Incredibles was cliche and lame

    by Pipple

    Yeah, I said it. And nice review, Mcweeny.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:22 a.m. CST

    Massawrym loves to find the subtext..

    by Boba Fat

    and then crow about how bad it is for us or our kids. Of course it doesn't affect his higher intellect because he was smart enough to figure it out. The fact is that adults throw their hands up at what they see as being detrimental to kids when the kids are being scared for life by some random part of a film that we can't even relate to anymore.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:25 a.m. CST

    Where are your Casino Royale reviews?

    by Jugs

    huh? huh?

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Massa seems to be the only one who understands

    by realfilmsforrealaliens

    There is nothing wrong with being subversive. Many great films have created paradigm shifts in thinking by being subversive. However, Massawyrm hits the point perfectly, though with quite a bit of extra venting than necessary. The Subversive films mentioned by Arnie above are decent films and quite subversive, and they are for adults, not children. Kids are smart. I have 3 and I know how like sponges they truly are. But not just with information, but with emotion, character, ethics, everything. Kids can have a feel for the content of a scene and not understand the topic, dialogue, or even the setting, but they can pick up on the emotion of the moment. Feeling the emotion of a scene with very adult undercurrents and not understanding the context can really confuse and upset a child. I have seen this film and I believe Massa had it just about right. Interesting film for adults and older kids, very young children will be upset by much in it. Sorry, Moriarty, but you are wrong.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 8:03 a.m. CST

    I wrote my theory about Massawyrm's review

    by antonphd

    He is just doing this to get pulled off of animated movie review detail. Who can blame him after this year? Sure, a year ago when it was Pixar movies and the off Dreamworks picture... it was great to get animation review duty. But then Hollywood realised it wasn't doing it's cow milking duty. Poor Massawyrm. He just wants to be free to spend those two hours watching something he's interested in. Right now he's just pissed he had to watch Happy Feet while the rest of you were watching the 2 Bs.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Considering that I *want* my kid to question...

    by Nordling

    religion and dogma, now more than ever I want her to see this film. I've thought about God and faith and religion a lot this past year, and have pretty much come to the conclusion that it's all a plot for money and sex anyway, so, yeah. I want my kid to see this. And maybe afterwards we can talk about how all that's required of us as human beings is to leave this world a little better off than when we got here.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Mori.

    by Childe Roland

    I was a little worried that Massa's clearly impassioned and reactionary review was the only one we'd get. Yours sounds more like the movie I was imagining while reading Massa's description (funny how that came through despite his distinct viewpoint).

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9:13 a.m. CST

    It's OK Massa... these fools just don't get it

    by realfilmsforrealaliens

    Movies as art really have no boundaries. One person’s outrage is another’s insight. But when you market a film for kids, to kids, that contains enough adult, emotional, psychological subtext that most adults (in America) fail to catch it, then you are misguided to say the least and more likely being deceitful intentionally. Animation can be made for adults. Animation that children should not see until they are mature enough to understand the context and emotional shadings. Most all Manga would fall in this category, and Happy Feet approaches that in tone. I liked the Happy Feet, but I will not let my kids see it until they are mature enough to not be emotionally unsettled by it. When a child starts questioning the values and beliefs of their progenitors (usually between 10 and 15 years of age) then they would be ready for art of this nature. Sorry, Moriarty, but you're wrong. It's OK, you have a lot of company there so I know you won't be lonely.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9:15 a.m. CST

    are any major movie companies paying you, moriarty?

    by teddanson37

    cuz they should. cuz after reading your review, i'm going to see this movie that i was not even considering as anything worth my time. if it blows, you owe me eight bucks, make that sixteen cuz i'll have to pay for someone's ticket to go with me.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9:26 a.m. CST

    I always avoid Massawyrm's reviews.

    by DerLanghaarige

    So I don't know what you are talking about.<br> Sorry Massa. Nothing personal.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9:34 a.m. CST

    I'd like Happy Feet if I was 7 years old

    by Rupee88

    But as an adult, I will be able to see how contrived and derivative it is, and that won't allow me to enjoy it much. I'm sick of talking animals with different foreign accents to give them more "personality"...fucking lame.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Youd think they could do more then talking animals

    by godzillasushi

    anyway. I suppose its creative, but we have had superheroes, and toys, and cars from Pixar. Everyone else just does animals, and crams in celebrities. I really want a 2-d movie for once. Remember The Secret of NIMH? Thats a movie I want right now. Something dark and fresh.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Mori misses Massa's main point...

    by MasterShake

    in that Warner's is promoting Happy Feet as a "hilarious" light little penguin movie, period. Nothing subversive. No big questions for the kiddies to ponder. I think a lot of parents are going to be blindsided by the "subversive" content of this movie. Maybe they just wanted their kids to be entertained, not intelluctually stimulated or educated. I have been to many movies with a friends 5 and 2 year old. They ARE little sponges. They absorb EVERYTHING. This age sets their entire personality FOR LIFE. I think many parents will be rightly upset that this movie raises questions that kids this age won't understand and aren't ready to deal with. On the other hand, if you know what this movie's all about going in and feel you're kids can handle it, and are prepared for the consequences, more power to you. That's great. This is America. But I feel for the parents who went into this movie with just Warner's promotion to go on, expecting one movie and getting ambushed by something entirely different than advertised.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:14 a.m. CST

    CG animal pics

    by Leopold Scotch

    That's what made Monster House so damn refreshing this year. It kind of merged genres in a way that hadn't been done yet (putting horror, comdedy and cg animation together in the same way the Incredibles did for the super hero genre) and had no talking animals. It wasn't a perfect film by any means (and wasn't that scary anyway) but it was a breath of fresh air.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:22 a.m. CST

    But is as good as The Pebble And The Penguin?

    by Osmosis Jones

    God, I miss Don Bluth...

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:47 a.m. CST


    by PwnedByStallone

    "In fact, the last time I saw a “children’s” film that was this subversive, it was the criminally underrated and breathtakingly bold BABE 2: PIG IN THE CITY. Obviously you didn't see The Ant Bully, Mory. Shhh!! I hear it's Communist.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:47 a.m. CST


    by Leopold Scotch

    I get really pissed off by the amount of times my church has been set on fire ever since Toy Story ridiculed religion with "the claaaaawwww... Ooooooohhh".

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:52 a.m. CST

    If the movies not another brainless kiddie movie

    by Pipple

    more goddam power to it! Don't treat kids like they're stupid. They're smarter than all of us.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:59 a.m. CST


    by sillymary

    Baha. I love that comment. ;) Well....even though I am a tree-huggin, religion-fearing (but God-believin'), hippy, liberal...I can't get my mind around watching this for some reason. Thankfully my son is only 3 months old, so the sickly sweet commercials have yet to enter his brain. And neither Massa nor Mori are "wrong" about the movie IMO...simply strongly stating their polar-opposite opinions on a movie. Frankly we will probably end up watching it on DVD...then I will see what side I land on.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Everytime someone addresses Massawyrm as...

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    ... "Massa", it cracks me up. After reading some the post-subject headings, you'd swear we were on a plantation.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Damn, MNG...

    by Childe Roland

    ...tell me you didn't just cut-n-paste your plantation comment from one Happy Feet thread to the other. I've come to expect much more from you. You've changed. It used to be about the originality, man.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 11:41 a.m. CST

    stick it to Harry!

    by jrbarker

    good job Drew

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 11:41 a.m. CST

    OMG Mori, you took your SON to see this?

    by TheBaxter

    don't you know now he'll be damned for all eternity to live in Penguin Hell because he stopped believing in the Great Penguin in the Sky!?!?

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 11:49 a.m. CST

    heehee... Moriarty saves the day.

    by zombieslayer

    I was sad when wyrm was afraid for children to think, and Drew came and kicked his ass. Awesome. After his Tenacious D review today, I think it has reinforced for me that I can trust Mori's reviews above all others.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 12:03 p.m. CST

    Kids are not smarter than adults.

    by El Scorcho

    Don't be fucking stupid, Pipple. Kids are easily swayed, and more or less, are on autopilot. I think it's insane how so many people forget what it's like to be a kid. There's no reason to show them shit like this, unless you agree with the film's content as a parent. The problem lies in WB's marketing. Pixar films do a great job of entertaining kids without getting preachy and without insulting their intelligent. It's not impossible. I would seriously take my kid to Casino Royale this weekend before Happy Feet.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 12:06 p.m. CST

    ...crew wasn’t coming off of some other animated film.

    by arctor

    "Remember, this isn’t by Dreamworks or Pixar or some established animation studio. Miller’s crew wasn’t coming off of some other animated film. They were put together for this movie, and so they were pretty much having to establish all of their vocabulary as they worked." uuuuhh....yes they were. not the people at the top of the food chain, but everybody else - the people actually making the movie - were from other studios...and I'm very confused by the line about "their vocabulary"...what does this mean? - an animated film has the same 'vocabulary' as any other in terms of 'technique', camera placement/movement, shot blocking etc etc...Happy Feet looks pretty - but... oh and it WAS supposed to be in IMAX 3D - but they fucked around so badly that there was no way they could finish it in time - so Warners cancelled it.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 12:31 p.m. CST


    by J Skell

    My ultimate problem with this film, is not with the content, but the quality. Massa obviously feels the left leanings of film were way too prevelent and are ment to brainwash kids. The film does have a great deal of egological concerns (Which sorry Massa, is NOT a politcal thing. It's a science thing.) and as I proud eco-guy I can tell you that the message still has no place in THIS film. That's because it's a steaming pile of horseshit. 60 minutes of utter inanity does not give Miller permission to suddenly blindside the audience with a crude lesson about ecology. It's boring and divergent from the film, which making it altogether unimportant. Kids need to learn about ecology but the way this film handles the subject is rediculous. I didn't read so much into the religious aspect of the film, frankly I think Massa was reaching a bit too far with that one. I consider myself relgious and I did not feel that the film attacked religion whatsoever. So I agree w/ Massa that it doesn't have a place in this film, but not because of politics. It's because it's trite, hackneyed, un-original and totally unimportant to the story. This was not BABE 2. BABE 2's style allows for a little more intricacy and was far supieror in it's approach to complex issues. This was crap in my mind.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 12:45 p.m. CST

    osmosis jones, i was just about say....

    by jig98

    robin williams' lovelace charector resembles jim belushi's charector in the pebble and the penguin. although, i thought that movie was an embarassment. and no, happy feet will own every penguin movie there ever was. and it won't be another excuse to get a burger king promotion.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Childe Roland

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    Uh, sorry? Too much? Not enough? I mean, I can amp it up if you like.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 1:27 p.m. CST

    All Dogs Go To Heaven...

    by The Dum Guy

    You know if you want to really try and look too hard into an animated film for subtext, then the concept of animal afterlife in that movie could warp a kids mind.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 1:35 p.m. CST

    The movie seems to be anti-dogma, anti-"Earth-is-flat"

    by eraser_x

    ... (based on the Wyrm's synopsis). So, what's so wrong or new with teaching a kid to be anti-dogma, anti-"Earth is flat"? All kids' movies these days seem to be anti-authoritarian to some degree. It just so happens that this movie is about a particular type of authority (the type that is anti-science, pro-"Earth is flat"). So, if the Wyrm recognizes an attack on churches in general (as opposed to an attack on only BAD anti-science churches) in the movie's portrayal of anti-science and anti-dogma authority, then it is the Wyrm who is insulting churches in general by claiming that the criticized BAD, anti-science church represents all churches. It is 2006, Wyrm, and it's now OKAY to show a Black villain or a Mexican villain or a Chinese villain or a gay villain without the audience being so dumb as to assume all Blacks/Mexicans/Chinese/gays are bad. Give the audience some respect, man. Even kids can understand that there are good and bad churches. And if you believe that kids are so dumb that they can't understand, then they would also be too dumb to make the penguin/church analogy in the first place. Stop condescending, Wyrm!

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Just messin' w/ya, MNG.

    by Childe Roland

    I think more originality on that poarticular topic would've evolved into a lot of uses of "Massa" in various contexts by other posters. So I'm kind of glad you didn't take it to the next level.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 1:58 p.m. CST

    In "that other" whatever-the-hell-it-was-non-review

    by Harry Weinstein

    "And the audience reaction was the strangest I’d ever seen at a kids film. The kids were not just quiet, but silent. They didn’t laugh, they didn’t know any of the words to sing along. But they clearly weren’t bored either. There was no idle chatter or kids running in the aisles. I’ve seen that. This was different. This was insane." Perhaps they were, I don't know, THINKING. Contrary to popular belief, they'll do that. Kids aren't mature adults, but that has nothing to do with the ability to process concepts. Nice to get an actual review of the movie, kudos Moriarty.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:02 p.m. CST

    What would Burgess Meridith think?

    by Kentucky Colonel

    That damned cigarette holder of his....that was just too cool. I got my hands on one of those bad boys after I kicked the habit. Sigh. But what would the 'Burge have to say about this film? Probably "Mwahk Mwahk Mwahk Mwahk Mwaaa". Holy frozen testes, Batman!

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Mori you magnificent pagan God!

    by Gilkuliehe

    That sounded pretty gay but it was actually a quote from Spielberg's ALWAYS. Ok quoting Spielberg's ALWAYS is pretty fuckig gay. But kudos to you, Mori, yoy speak the truth sir and have gained my respect. Unlike that Massawhats-his-dick. Man what a jackass.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:26 p.m. CST


    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    Roger that. And I was SO gonna take it to that next level...

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Got slit in two by a motherfuckin' SUV and now lies rotting on the side of MD210 for me to pass on my way to work every goddamned morning. Would someone please call the Highway Department and clean the poor bastard depresses me first thing every fucking morning this week!

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Their corpses line the Westbound stretch of the Dulles Toll Road between the exit for Wolf Trap and Rt 28 in Sterling. Poor bastards.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Wow. A fucking penguin movie, Mori....

    by MattCG

    You fucker. Thanks for writing a good review and making me want to see this. I'm not made of fucking money you know?

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Comet, Cupid, Donner & Blitzen

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Have been removed to "an undisclosed location".

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:49 p.m. CST

    Wouldn't want THAT to happen.

    by Harry Weinstein

    Just padding the talkback post count. Move right along.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 2:52 p.m. CST

    Mori and Massa's POVs ain't so dissimilar, actually...

    by GreatWhiteNoise

    Like I said on Massawyrm's TB...the problem with Happy Feet does not appear to be in its substance, but in its packaging by the studio. Warner Bros. has given us trailers suggesting that we'll be getting a 2-hour Shrek Karaoke Dance Party, only with cute penguins and voiced by Aladdin's Genie. It's patently obvious from what both Mori and Massa's comments that this film is a helluva lot more than that (if indeed it's that at all). And I don't read the two reviews as particularly contradictory, either -- it's clear that the depth and complexity of the film surprised both of you, but the effect of that surprise (and the reasons for it) are starkly different. Either way, I'll be sure to watch it now. (This time last week, I was thinking that a Casino Royale - Happy Feet double bill would be too weird for words. Now I'm starting to think that stripped-down-revisionist-Bond and George Miller-theopolitical-commentary might actually work together. Hm.)

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 3:14 p.m. CST

    Shoot the Messenger

    by parabola99

    It seems that this is coming down to film and marketing. They both exist in very different circles and aren't necessarily in sync with one another (if one had influence over the other, it'd most likely be marketing influencing film). The filmmaker made the film he wanted to make. He told an animated story that he wanted to tell. Marketing took that, saw animation and spliced up a promo that appealed to children. We can't fault the filmmaker for marketing's decisions on how to sell this movie to the public. If people are upset because of the content, it seems to me that this would be a "shoot the messenger" moment.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 3:19 p.m. CST

    Read both reviews

    by tile_mcgillus

    I actually kind of wanted to see Massawyrm's film but not Moriarty's. I want a children's movie with some bite. Whatever happened to that? This is probably just more love each other, love the earth, find your place kiddie bullshit. Where is a modern day Watership Down?

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Modern Watership?

    by Kentucky Colonel

    Bigwig has it in development with Paramont.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:03 p.m. CST

    I've heard this is great

    by zikade zarathos

    and I trust Mori a HELL of a lot more than Massa. Massa's rant almost convinced me to see this with my little nephews more than Mori's positive review.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 5:37 p.m. CST

    One time when I was young I got to go to a special...

    by Novaman5000

    screening of "The pebble and the penguin" before it was even complete. I do not, for the life of me, even remember what the god damned thing was about. Still, on the whole, I love Don Bluth. THE SECRET OF NIMH is one of my favorite animated films of all time. There's an animated film with adult messages and content that I didn't even pick up when i was younger at saw it, death, genetic experiements, the idea that intelligence does not equal entitlement, etc. Man, I fuckin love that flick. I think it still holds up pretty well these days, too.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:08 p.m. CST


    by zb.brox

    What I find amusing is that this argument seems to come down to, basically, a disagreement about how we should brainwash our children. One side says "I don't want this movie teaching my impressionable children to question the values I have impressed upon them", and the other says "Subversion is an important value I want to be impressed upon my children." Personally, I'm always going to go for the brainwashing that tells them to think about their own brainwashing. But when it comes down to it, if you think the only reason you believe in the things you believe in is that you WEREN'T exposed to Happy Feet growing up, you might wanna think about just how worthy those ideals you're passing on to kids are.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:22 p.m. CST

    Over-protective. Irrational panic over subtext.

    by Leopold Scotch

    Generally, surface content is going to influence kids more than the subtext, so you're probably safer taking them to a cartoon with "controversial" allegory than a film like The Lion King which overtly suggests that most lions won't eat whatever the fuck they can get their paws on, and they are genuinely noble and considerate creatures. The subtext for that film can have a positive influence on kids, but it don't mean shit when they climb into the pen in the zoo for a quick session of Hakuma Matata with old Mufasa.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Also, zb.brox

    by Leopold Scotch

    His/her last sentence in the post above makes a lot of sense.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:10 p.m. CST


    by Leafy McPlantsalot

    Hey guys, i just wanted to say I saw this movie last week and feel it is the best movie ever made, especially for kids in the 4-18 demographic!

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 7:13 p.m. CST

    I heard the film promotes Atheism.

    by rbatty024

    If so, then I'm there to see it. Not enough films tell kids there is no God.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 8:36 p.m. CST

    Here it is...

    by Hail

    If you can persuade me that Narnia, and all it's subsequent sequals, do not have an equally subversive adgenda, then I'll give a shit whether this film does too.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Is Bay intent on ruining everything I love?

    by tile_mcgillus

    First Scarlett Johanssen's breasts then Transformers...and now Watership Down!?! Say it ain't so!

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:01 p.m. CST

    George Fucking Miller.

    by Gilkuliehe

    Thanks again Drew for giving Miller the credit he deserves. I'm getting tired of telling people about this guy and getting that blank stare in return. And Tim fuck-planet-of-the-apes Burton keeps getting respect. George Fucking Miller people... GFM.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:26 p.m. CST

    I agree with Massawyrm.

    by Vegas

    Not so much on whether or not the message of Happy Feet is good or bad, but that it is disingenuous for them to market the film as an all-singing all-dancing up-with-penguins musical, seemingly with the intent of hiding the actual theme of the film, which while it may not be offensive to me, might be to others. It's of course FINE that it be offensive to others, this is America, we just gotta deal with shit we don't like, like I have to deal with people constantly sending me YouTube links to the Family Guy, which just ain't funny. But at least advertise what you're selling, don't bait-and-switch us into something we're not paying for. Hell, last time I checked that was illegal to do with a car stereo, so I can see why some consider it to be at the very least unethical with this product as well.

  • Nov. 15, 2006, 10:52 p.m. CST


    by CarbonGhost

    How do you get invited to these screenings?

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 1:51 a.m. CST

    Disingenuous Marketing

    by Plum

    Wow, you'd think movie trailers only told the total truth about the films they were advertising. I honestly don't get the freakout about a children's film having an "agenda". Plenty of children's literature has something to say beyond "oh look at the shiny object," and plenty of children's movies have content that's outright disturbing for its target audience. Just ask any kid who's been scarred for life by "Bambi" or "The Lion King".

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 3:52 a.m. CST

    Excellent review

    by jasper Stillwell

    Kids'll get the subtext when they're old enough to and good and ready to do so - s'ides that's what parents are for, right? To guide them through it all? Jeez brainwashing? Honestly what the hell are these guys afraid of?? Anyway as ever a well-balanced, thoughful review contrasted with a self-serving, reactionary immature rant. Well Done Mori.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 4:47 a.m. CST

    heated debate over fear towards children's cartoon

    by no-no

    with an agenda? You guys have lost it... Extremist muslims will want you dead for a drawing, orthodox jews will try to stop your gay pride and now some americans think questionning god for kids is wrong? The future is bleak.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 7:49 a.m. CST

    Random Thoughts

    by parabola99

    I have no kids, so my experience with their learning/absorbing is obviously limited. But I have to agree with Jasper and say that this is where the parents play a role. Despite constant efforts, opinions/marketing/propaganda is going to come at you, me, children all day, every day. Whether it be a book, a commercial or Happy Feet, subtext is going to be there. Kids are going to see it. We can't stop that, try as interest groups might. But what parents can do is talk to their kids about it. Work with them to understand what the movie is saying vs. their own personal belief. It's probably the best we can do. Then we can take all those interest groups and turn their attention towards Warner Bros. who decided that it was more important to get asses into theater seats by showing kids happy songs and bright pictures than it was to actually promote what the movie was about. Happy Feet isn't the problem and I personally think Massawyrm may have gone overboard with his reaction to it.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 8:11 a.m. CST

    if there was any truth in film advertising...

    by keepcoolbutcare

    wouldn't the adverts have to tell us NOT to go see most movies? Can you just imagine the PR firm of "I'm Gonna Suck Cock in Hell"(inc.) running adverts that imply, yes Virginia, that Cars is indeed a Doc Hollywood redux, X3 botched the Dark Phoenix storyline and that Michael Bay films may* lead to spontaneous ocular and rectal bleeding. <br> <br> <br> *will?

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 8:25 a.m. CST

    And on subtext...

    by zb.brox

    What's with this bullshit about the film's untruthful marketing because it doesn't warn aprents about the subtext of the flick? That's why it's *sub*text. I saw an ad for the film last night, and it sounds like what it said--a dancing penguin is ostracized by his peers, but uses his talents to save the day--is a pretty good lead-in to the movie. Yes, the stuff about overfishing isn't mentioned, but, honestly, does anyone have a problem with *that* being in the movie? But one scene where--omigosh--these cartoon animals experience religious persecution, and bam, the whole thing's an evil liberal mindgame. So now anything which recognizes the fact that sometimes people's beliefs lead them to harm others is anti-Christian, and parents should be warned about it? Come on. You may as well get pissed off at An American Tail because it didn't warn you about the sense of disillusionment felt by the Jewish immigrant mice upon reaching America. How Anti-American is that?

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 11:44 a.m. CST

    good ol' rupee, still missing the forest for the trees

    by half vader

    The accent thing is a metaphor, dopey. Different species of penguin = different nationalities. Except for a couple of instances where they forgot (the two teachers). That's why humans are aliens. It all goes along with the anthropomorphisation.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 1:28 p.m. CST

    Massa You Ignorant Slut

    by Saluki

    Fuck me, he actually wrote a "Think of the children" review? Christ, this place would be utter shit without Mori. No question. Next I'm going to be told by Anchorcunt that FernGully and The Lion King are evil. Shit. Fuck that and fuck those who actually listened to that whacko.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 1:34 p.m. CST


    by zb.brox

    We can do paragraphs now? Cool.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Massawyrm is the perfect example...

    by 9SilentNine9

    of a weak-kneed, cowardly conservative that blows anything out of proportion that doesn't agree with his beliefs. Liberals didn't put this country in the state that it is today, Massa, people like you did, be a fucking man for Christ's sake! Cheers to you, Moriarty, for actually writing a review... as opposed to something that decades ago would only be found in a pamphlet containing fascist propaganda.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 3:23 p.m. CST

    My word, anchorite.

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    Either you are in the larva-state of some impending TB transformation or you have completely lost your mind.

  • Nov. 16, 2006, 11:38 p.m. CST


    by Sir Loin

    Please define "the state that it is today." You mean lower taxes? you mean no attacks since 9/11 (which was planned on Saint Bill's watch)? You mean the Dow breaking records? You mean the jobless rate lower than even when Saint Bill was in office? Please, tell us how bad this country is, thanks to those cowardly conservatives. LOL. Go complain about movies as fascist propaganda at DU, where I'm sure you'll be popular and thus perhaps kiss a girl someday (unshorn, naturally).

  • Nov. 17, 2006, 2:17 p.m. CST

    The state that this country is in today =

    by 9SilentNine9

    fighting a meaningless war and losing far more American lives (not to mention non-American) than 9/11 was responsible for. I always like when Bush supporters pound the tables with their fists and spout off how there have been no attacks since 9/11. There have been no attacks of that degree BEFORE 9/11 either, geniuses. And let's not forget how our noble appointed leader thrust a serrated dagger through the heart of Habius Corpus and twisted it until there was no life left. Great Dow? Who really gives a shit? We're talking about thousands of American lives being lost for no reason other than Mr. Bush's thirst for power. And when did I mention anything about Bill Clinton being a saint? Or say that ALL conservatives are cowardly? Keep on defending YOUR president, though, and his blatent lies... I'm sure he'd do the same for you...

  • Nov. 17, 2006, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Sir Loin

    by zb.brox

    9/11 was planned when Clinton wa sin office? Damn, you're right! That's probably why he had Richard Clarke develop a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and hand it to the new guy. It's a shame Bush ignored it, and everything else to do with Al Qaeda, for *eight months* after he took office. But, I guess as it was PLANNED while Clinton was in office, it's his fault, right? Can you say "wishful thinking?" I know you can...

  • Nov. 17, 2006, 2:50 p.m. CST

    Oh, and....

    by zb.brox

    ...record-breaking Dow levels is nothing to brag about. If the Dow *doesn't* break its records regularly, then growth isn't keeping up with inflation and you're in trouble. the fact that it's taken so long to break a record set *five years ago* is pretty telling. And when all those wonderful investments and corporate profits translate into higher wages for the average American, I'll sing and dance, but real wages have been sliding for years. Go ahead and tout the economy, but all you're cheering is how well the profits made by the rich cover up the decline of the middle class.

  • Nov. 17, 2006, 4:40 p.m. CST

    Saw this today

    by TheAtomicCow

    and it was fan-fucking-tastic! Not only was it very entertaining and funny, but I wll be proud to show this movie to my daughter when she's old enough. The themes in the movie where very subtle and wholesome. It is NOT anti-religious (although I wouldn't really have a problem if it was myself). In fact, I was slightly dissapointed how little it was after reading Massa's review. All it is against is those people who would use religion as a shield against the problems of the world rather than get out and find out what's really wrong and figure out a solution. Reminds me of this girl who used to work for me but left for a better job. Unfortunatly, she was laid off after a few months. I offered her her job back, but she refused because she wanted to "wait and see what God's plan was for her." I can't tell you how hard it was to refrain from shaking her and saying "Maybe God's plan is for you to take this fucking job for the time being so that you can continue to eat!" Anyway, the other message of the film concerning religion was to not let your faith blind you to the value of others who are different. Nobody says it but religion is almost entirely responsible for alot of the problems facing this planet. This war we are fighting now that is killing thousands on both sides including more innocents than I can imagine is because both sides (including our bible-thumbing president's side) sincerly feel they are doing God's will. Imagine what the world would be like if people started to think for themselves witout the preprogramed hate almost all religion provides at birth. Anyway, got off on a tangent there. Go see this film. It's brilliant. and the Harry Potter trailer kicked ass too.

  • Nov. 19, 2006, 3:38 a.m. CST

    Massawyrm: A preening butt-monger?

    by Sleeperkid

    I didn't want to see HAPPY FEET till I read Massawyrm's review... If we get at least one kids movie that dares to challenge religion for every 500 that goes along with it, I'm a happy guy. So far that's not the case, but I'll take what I can get.

  • Nov. 19, 2006, 7:59 a.m. CST

    Am I the only person who was hoping...

    by Colonel Kane

    Harry offs himself in the animation above and to the left?

  • Nov. 19, 2006, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Should that be McCarthywyrm?

    by Antz

    Gotta agree with you on your views on this one Mori. As usual, your reviews have turned out to be spot on in my book.

  • Nov. 19, 2006, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Saw it yesterday...

    by Gilkuliehe

    And I'm happy to tell you that Moriarty speaks the truth. And McCarthywyrm is wrong, wrong, wrong. George Fucking Miller, ladies and gentlemen. George Fucking Miller.

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 4:18 p.m. CST

    Babe 2 was criminally underrated.

    by minderbinder

    One of the best kids movies ever, and better than the first Babe. I wasn't the least bit interested in dancing penguins, but if it's political, subversive, and George Miller is involved, I'm there.

  • Dec. 10, 2006, 9:10 a.m. CST

    Happy feet

    by emeraldboy

    is a techinical and artistic triumph. It is a virtuoso piece of film making and and it is Miller's undisputed mastepiece. If you dont like this film and that is a pesons perogative, then you may have issues with the whole eco-friendly message of the movie. It is the undisputed best animated best film 2006 and by quite some distance and mile.

  • Dec. 10, 2006, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Apart from the wild

    by emeraldboy

    I have seen all the animated films this year. The only animated film I havent seen and dont want to see his hoodwinked which looked dire. As for the rest, I though they were entertaining in their own way. I saw flushed away and while i was in the cinema for Happy one of the trailers that was on was Flushed away turned to me and said that scene wasnt in the film. What scene? Am I taking about. When the little girl goes off with her parents on holiday she says goodbye to Roddy. Roddy has two butlers one voiced Geoffrey Palmer and the other is voiced by simon callow. Then sid comes along and you see the two mice butlers standing in front of the telly while sid is watching the world cup. In the movie, there are no mice butlers at all. Very strange, indeed.