Having never seen the original Happy Feet movie, I really didn’t know what to expect when I was invited along to the premiere of the second installment. Aware only peripherally that part one had received favourable reviews and featured some cute moments, with only a YouTube teaser trailer for prep, I expected I might be in for a lighthearted, feel good couple of hours.
The premiere – held at the Empire, Leicester Square (one of my favourite spots) – was certainly set up for fun. Penguin footsteps directed you along the ‘sled carpet’ (I just made that up), and characters from the film were on hand to be snapped with excited fans. Balloon animals in the shape of penguins were handed out to the kids, while the vocal stars from the film including Robin Williams, Elijah Wood and Sofia Vergara were there to keep the grownups entertained.
We spoke briefly with Sofia, who had to take her fur jacket on and off again multiple times in order to pose for the many snappers and avoid freezing on an appropriately chilly mid-November afternoon.
The film was introduced by the director, who also welcomed each of the stars to the auditorium. While Elijah Wood jogged down the aisle, Sofia Vergara had a little more trouble moving swiftly in her 6 inch (at least) Loubotins. Robin Williams got the lions share of the laughs simply by putting on his 3D specs.
Before the film started we were shown a 3D short featuring Tweetie Bird and Sylvester, which was a playful take on the classic cartoons, and utilised 3D perception tricks to full effect.
By the time the film began, the crowd were in good spirits. A rousing dance sequence featuring an entire community of penguins got things off to an energetic start, and I was struck by how detailed both wide and close shots were. Computer animation has really come a long way since I was a lad!
Despite a couple of scary moments featuring an awkward run in with an irritable elephant seal (which sent ripples of toddler tears around the auditorium). Most of the film was very friendly, and although the overall storyline wasn’t completely enthralling, there were enough quirky moments and funny supporting characters to keep things moving along.
Highlights for me included Will and Bill, the Krill (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) who were determined to discover the world beyond their swarm. Their giant eyes and suggestively risque bromance commanded the biggest laughs from me. While the overall humour of the film wasn’t bitingly sharp, a comic line from a humorous crustacean cannot be underestimated! On the other hand, Sofia Vergara’s character of Carmen was, I felt, a little under utilised, and featured only a couple of lines with her lothario love interest Ramone.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t blown away by this film, but I do feel that it has it’s heart in the right place. The sentiment throughout is ‘If you believe in something and imagine it happening, it will come true’ – all very ‘The Secret’. Although, as a concept, it has been done to death in various Disney films over the years, I’m a sucker for positive thought, and can’t help but feel that if you hear it enough, it might just come true! Wishful thinking perhaps, but worth a trip if you’re babysitting under 10s for the day.
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