Director: George Miller.
Cast: (voices of) Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Pink, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ava Acres.
MY 14-year-old cousin assures me that Happy Feet 2 isn't as good as the original, but I disagree.
She said this sequel is darker and scarier than its predecessor and that young kids might not like that (and at least one kid was howling every time the elephant seal appeared on the screen, so my cousin may be on to something there).
But it's those lower lows that make this a more rewarding experience. Miller has gone bigger and better on everything here - the stakes are raised, the risk is greater, the fears are bigger, and, as a result, the pay-offs are better and the highs higher. Even the songs sit more comfortably.
Mumble (Wood) returns, this time accompanied by his son Erik (Acres). After Erik and his mates go wandering off, Mumble finds them but upon returning to Emperor Land they find that melting ice shelves have caused a glacier to block access to their home, leaving the entire colony of emperor penguins trapped and in danger of starving. Mumble must call on the help of the nearby Adélie penguins, a puffin in disguise, and some elephant seals to save the day.
This plot serves as a strong backbone to the film's all-important themes about the environment, the effects of climate change, the interconnectivity of all living things, the importance of teamwork, being unique and finding your place in the world.
The only mis-step is a subplot about Will and Bill, two krill voiced by Pitt and Damon, who add a bunch of silly puns and existentialism to the film but little else. They seem tacked on as an attempt to boost some of the themes, but ultimately prove unneccessary.
It might be a tough ask for some of the very young ones, but five years on from the original, that first bunch of fans should be mature enough to handle this well-rounded and stunningly animated eco-friendly song-and-dance adventure.
(PS. My cousin gave it three stars).