What’s black and white and political all over?

It’s the new Warner Bros animated film Happy Feet that danced its way into theaters and the number one spot in the box office on Nov. 16.

It is the wonderful creation of director George Miller (Babe and Babe: Pig in the City). It tells the story of Mumble, a penguin who was born different from the others and goes on to challenge the status quo. Rather than singing a personal ‘heart song’ like the other penguins, Mumble expresses himself through his feet, that can’t help but move because “they’re happy!”

Happy Feet is almost an extension of last year’s March of the Penguins documentary which told the story of the Emperor penguins who call Antarctica home. In Happy Feet, however, the audience is actually allowed to experience the life of the penguin from the perspective of the penguins themselves.

Furthermore, the movie does one better than earlier talking animal animation films. In this movie, a zoologist was consulted to ensure the animal’s movements were true to life; beyond, of course, the talking and tap dancing.

At face value, Happy Feet tells the story of a penguin who tap dances to the beat of his own drummer, so to speak, and has to undergo a journey in order to grow, find himself and to ultimately become a hero among his own species. In other words, it is a classic coming of age story, which receives the added bonus of being punctuated by toe-tapping music and likeable characters.

Underneath all that, however, is the darker tale of the plight of the Emperor penguins at the hands of human “aliens” who are stripping the penguin fishing grounds and polluting the land, which is leading to a decline in the species. This, according to a National Geographic article by Stefan Lovgren, is indeed the case. The real-life species is also in jeopardy due to global warming and human interference.

Additionally, Happy Feet also has a highly political storyline in the religious penguin elders and leaders that fear change and shun Mumble for being different.

Happy Feet is the music of Moulin Rouge, the endearing quality of March of the Penguins and the complexity of layers seen in other animation heavy-weights like Shrek and Shrek II, all rolled into a 98 minute movie about a dancing penguin. It features the voices of Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and even the late Steve Irwin, to whose memory the movie is dedicated.

You’ll leave the theater singing one of the hits in the film, that ranged from Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” to Prince’s “Song of the Heart” or “Kiss” covered by Nicole Kidman. No matter your musical preferences, you’ll leave the theater ‘happy.’ There’s action, there’s comedy and there’s even a moral; basically, you absolutely must see it.

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