Director George Miller’s “Happy Feet Two” is neither happy nor as hip as his original Oscar-winning predecessor. Without the strong presence of a few add-on side characters, “Two” would have been one slippery mess.
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“Two” welcomes Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Pink, Hank Azaria and Sofia Vergara to the celebrated cast, while Elijah Wood and Robin Williams return (and Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman float on).
Tap-dancing penguin Mumble (Wood) is back and is now a group leader in his community. He is also a new father to cutie penguin Erik (Ava Acres), who is desperately trying to fit in by following his father’s footsteps but is stumbling along the way.
Once an outsider for his dancing, Mumble discovers quickly that coaching Erik to unleash his own talents isn’t easy, nor is being a parent a snap. Mumble’s mate Gloria (a singing showcase for Pink) encourages him to give their little guy some time before pressuring him to find himself.
After Mumble’s terrible pep talk, Erik decides that he’s miserable enough to run away from home with two of his buddies, which seems very rushed considering it’s still the beginning of the film. Also, Erik appears to be a young boy, not a teenager, so the fact that he ran away seems a bit unusual as well.
Erik and his friends run into Ramon (a scene-stealing Williams) who takes them to his community where they all meet the high and mighty Sven (Azaria), a Swedish puffin that’s disguised himself as a “flying penguin.” Erik begins to look up to Sven as a father figure, while Mumble burns with jealousy. Mumble upsets his son even more by telling him “he will never be able to fly.”
Ramon continues his search for the perfect mate when love hits him in the face and he falls for the beautiful Carmen (Vergara). Of course Carmen resists Ramon at first and their back and forth relationship is a fun subplot in the film, one that I wanted to see more of.
As if the dispute between father and son isn’t enough, more tension erupts when climate change pushes a gigantic iceberg towards the neighborhood of penguins, trapping them in with some elephant seals and humans.
Will the Krill (Pitt) and Bill the Krill (Damon), a smart and thankful addition to the sequel, end up turning their subplot into a hilarious focal point of the film. The goofy duo embark on an idiotic adventure to prove that they are better than the rest of the bottom of the food chain and test what it’s like to be a predator. Sounds dumb, but it is downright genius and a save to the overall plot of the film.
Pitt and Damon steal the show or at least seem to be having more fun than everyone else. Lucky for them, their storyline doesn’t lose steam like Mumble and Erik’s.
The original film doubles as a musical, as does “Two,” with an energetic performance of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” featuring the entire cast of characters during the movie’s climax. For part “Two,” Pink sings the original song “Bridge of Light,” a tune which could garner a Best Song nomination come Oscar time.
Overall, “Happy Feet Two” is still an appropriate family friendly movie, but it lacks the energetic and charming storyline of the original.