Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) is the only child of Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman) and Memphis (Hugh Jackman), two Emperor penguins whose vocal talents are legendary. Unfortunately Mumble can’t hold a tune. Despite the efforts of his teachers and voice instructors, the pleading of his parents and his own best attempts, he can’t find his heart song. He is snubbed by his classmates, with the exception of Gloria (Brittany Murphy), and ostracised by the Emperor penguin community.
What Mumble lacks in singing abilities, however, he makes up for in rhythm and dance. He grows up having to hide his talent from a community that doesn’t understand it and certainly doesn’t appreciate it. When a chance encounter throws him into the company of a group of hip, Latino penguins led by Ramon (Robin Williams), Mumble learns to see himself in a different light and begins to believe in his own abilities and take pride in what he can do.
At odds with the elders in his own community, Mumble sets off to find the reason why fish are becoming so scarce. He seeks advice from the reputedly wise Lovelace (also Robin Williams). He is not given the answers he needs, however, and must search for the truth himself. His determination takes him further than any of his kind had ever been before. His ingenuity, unique abilities and open heart help save his starving colony and restore order to the arctic region.
Animal distress; evironmental issues
There is some violence in this movie. For example:
- Various penguins repeatedly bump and crash into each other while slipping around on the ice.
- The leader of a group of birds repeatedly whacks, slaps and shoves the other birds while trying to corner a baby Mumble.
- Mumble holds onto a fish while a flock of birds try to get it from him. He is thrashed and bashed and eventually plummets to the ground where he lies almost unconscious.
- Mumble is chased by a vicious leopard seal, with red evil eyes and yellowed gnashing teeth. A terrified Mumble leaps through the air, barely escaping the seal’s gaping jaws as he is pursued over the ice, under the ice, through tunnels and open sea. The scene is very vivid, dramatic and intense.
- Two killer whales head butt each other.
- Two killer whales ‘play’ with Lovelace and Mumble before attempting to eat them. They are bashed by tails, tossed back and forth between mouths, partially ingested and then spat out. One of the whales appears to be tearing out Mumble’s feathers as he tries to escape. The brutality of the scene could be very disturbing for some young viewers.
Content that may disturb children
Children under five could be scared or disturbed by one particularly dramatic, eerie and foreboding scene. In this scene, the penguins are huddled together during a bad storm. While they are listening intently to one penguin talking about the will to survive, strange shapes merge and swirl above them in the dark storm, contrasting with the glowing northern lights.
There are other scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Mumble (as a baby) is cornered by a gang of birds that want to eat him. He pleads for mercy, for his life, but is relentlessly pursued until he falls into a crevice in the ice where their beaks and talons can’t reach. There he lies shivering, shaking and alone.
- A vehicle that appears to be engaging in scientific research plummets into the ocean after an avalanche and disappears into the depths. We don’t see people inside and no-one escapes. We get the impression that the vehicle was occupied based on some of the contents that float out as it sinks into the darkness.
- Lovelace has a six-pack plastic ring around his neck that is slowly strangling him.
Some children in this age group could be concerned by some of the scenes listed above.
It is unlikely that anything in this film would frighten children over the age of 13.
There are some sexual references in this movie, mainly in song lyrics. For example:
- ‘I just need your body baby from dusk till dawn.’
- ‘You don’t need to be beautiful to turn me on.’
- ‘Let’s talk about sex baby.’
- ‘Do you see something you like?’
- ‘Go forth and multiply.’
- ‘I’ll make love to you, like you want me to ...’
- ‘Love her up real good.’
- ‘Shake your bon-bon,’ referring to a voluptuous backside.
- ‘You don’t need to be beautiful baby. I just need your body.’
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example:
- ‘Lovelace’s ladies’ do a sexy dance while he sings to a crowd.
- Lovelace takes several female penguins in his arms and leads them to his ‘couch of perpetual indulgence’ and then asks, ‘Ladies, who is first?’
Although this movie contains no coarse language, it does contain several put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Happy Feet is an animated film with an important message and brilliant special effects. The film will appeal to all ages, but because of its content, is more suited to older children and adults.
The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself, tolerant of those who are different and accepting of the special gifts and talents of every individual. This movie also gives you the opportunity to discuss with your child the values of determination, creativity, tolerance and joyfulness.
The film highlights the impact that over-fishing and pollution have on the natural environment and how these affect the voiceless creatures that share the planet with us. You could also discuss the effect that excessive consumption and carelessness have on the environment.