Sunday, January 14, 2007

Happy Feet (movie review)

This cartoon uses March of the Penguins as background, and overlays several ethnicities, much as in Madagascar, The Wild... -- other such investigations of divergent cultures and their possibly synergetic and/or precessional interactions -- ... Flushed Away, Shark Tale.

In this telling, a somewhat brittle Anglo-Scottish empire, devoutly monotheistic, feels challenged when its hallmark trait (a good singing voice) is replaced by a penchant for tap dancing in Mumble (Elijah Wood), a child of Memphis (an Elvis type played by Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jeane (Nicole Kidman).

The ugly duckling Mumble, ridiculed by his peers, makes friends with a neighboring tribe of Latino penguins, with a more shamanistic religion centered around a Big Kahuna (Robin Williams).

Although the Latinos agree that Mumble can't sing, he's accepted as an equal, admired for his dance moves and generally good nature.

His self-esteem thus fortified, Mumble resumes his courtship of Gloria (Brittany Murphy), who sees through his bold front (a disappointment), to a worthy mate deep within (not too shabby).

The imperial rank and file, already partly Afro-Americanized, is highly suggestable (open minded), and vulnerable to heresy (new ideas), but the clergy pulls rank and the mutant is officially ostracized.

Gloria follows him into isolation, but Mumble bravely rebuffs her, having promised to get to the bottom of the mystery of the alien abductions. Like Agent Moulder of X-Files, he plans to connect the dots and prove the aliens are what's behind the increasingly acute fish shortage -- a problem the clergy had tried to pin on Mumble, mainly to turn public opinion against him.

So, not wanting to endanger his love, he hardens his heart and sends her away (shades of Spiderman, other lonely superheros), and sets forth upon his incredible journey. I won't give away the ending, but the lesson is definitely pro- biodiversity, anti- monoculture.

A moral of this tale might be: if the aliens are coming, you want to be ready with a song and a dance (it's not either/or).