Much like Scrat, the acorn-obsessed sabre-toothed squirrel in the Ice Age movies, it’s Will and Bill, a pair of shrimp-like krill (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) that practically steal Happy Feet Two, although they’re only side characters in the film’s central story.
This moralizing sequel to 2006’s Happy Feet sees Emperor Penguin Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) set off to find his runaway son, after the little fella takes off with two of his pals when he’s laughed at by the flock for being unable to tap-dance like the rest of them.
For what’s essentially a kiddie film, there’s way too much sermonizing here; and if the earlier film didn’t drill home the point that there’s no shame in being different, then this one beats you on the head with it! A subplot about Mumble’s little son Erik finding his role model in the mysterious flying penguin Sven (Hank Azaria) lends itself to more preaching.
Happy Feet Two has some beautiful scenery and at least two elaborate musical numbers, but what’s missing is the light directorial touch that was needed here. The film feels calculated and manipulative on occasion, which comes in the way of your embracing it wholeheartedly.
Which brings us to the krill… Pitt and Damon’s comic banter as the tiny red crustacea is what delivers the film’s most genuine laughs. “I’m one in a krillion,” puns Will, the rebellious of the two, as he swims away from the swarm in search of adventure, even as Bill nervously contemplates a gay allusion. These feel like the only smart portions in an otherwise all-too-generic film.
I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Happy Feet Two; it’s enjoyable in the same way that vanilla ice-cream is: safe and familiar.