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(Widescreen Edition)

In the back of my mind, I can just see the pitch meeting for HAPPY FEET ($29), and the moment where someone gets up out of their chair and utters "letís remake MARCH OF THE PENGUINS as an animated musical." OK, so maybe it didnít happen quite like that, but watching this movie sure could lead one to that conclusion. Personally, I got a big kick out of HAPPY FEET- the CGI animation was absolutely fantastic, the musical numbers were delightful, although the filmís big ecological message doesnít quite jell with everything else. When HAPPY FEET sings and dances, the movie is at its utter best and it is an absolute joy to watch- no wonder the film took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. As for the filmís message about humanityís over fishing of the worldís oceans, well, this is a very important message that needs to be driven home. However, the message comes across as too heavy handed for an animated movie musical.

The plot of HAPPY FEET tells the story of the musically inclined penguins that use their Heart Song to attract a mate. Memphis (voiced by Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean (voiced by Nicole Kidman) are two prime examples of soulful singing penguins, who meet, mate and give rise to the next generation. While flightless songbirds emerge from all the other eggs, Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) emerges feet first from his shell and canít sing a note. Although songless, Mumble has a unique talent amongst penguins- he can dance with his "happy feet" which his exasperated daddy Memphis declares "just ainít penguin." As quick as you can say misfit, RudolfÖ er, Mumble finds himself an outcast, and he sets off on an adventure to prove himself by discovering what has happened to the penguins dwindling food supply. The vocal talent behind HAPPY FEET also features the always-hilarious Robin Williams, plus Brittany Murphy, Hugo Weaving, Magda Szubanski and Miriam Margolyes.

Warner Home Video has made HAPPY FEET available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. HAPPY FEET looks really sweet on DVD. Clarity and image detail are all first rate. The CGI is really beautiful and is exceedingly well rendered on DVD. Colors are vibrant and are reproduced without flaws. Blacks are deep and true, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast is very smooth and the image produces terrific virtual shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

HAPPY FEET comes with a very pleasing Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound design makes great use of the outlying channels for the filmís effects laden moments, but the track really shines during the filmís musical numbers, which are wonderfully enveloping. Fidelity is absolutely first rate, the music is full bodied and the singing voices have a tendency to soar. Speaking voices are natural sounding and the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish 5.1 channel soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Starting things off are two New Fully Animated Sequences: Mumble Meets A Blue Whale, featuring the late Steve Irwin and the very brief- A Happy Feet Moment. Next up is Dance Like A Penguin: Stomp To The Beat, which is private dance lesson with Savion Glover, whose work was motion captured for Mumbleís dance moves. Also featured on the DVD are two Music Videos: Gia's Hit Me Up and Prince's The Song Of The Heart. The Classic Cartoon: I Love To Singa closes out extras.

Although the ecological message and the music donít always jell, I very much enjoyed HAPPY FEET. Warnerís widescreen DVD looks and sounds terrific, so the kiddies and the adults will get a lot of enjoyment out of the disc. Recommended.



Happy Feet (Widescreen Edition) (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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