Happy Feet

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Happy Feet
Happy Feet Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Miller
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyDavid Peers
Edited by
Music by John Powell
Distributed by
Release dates
  • November 17, 2006 (2006-11-17)(United States)
  • December 26, 2006 (2006-12-26)(Australia)
Running time
108 minutes
  • United States
  • Australia [2]
Budget$100 million [3]
Box office$384.3 million [3]

Happy Feet is a 2006computer-animated jukebox musical comedy film directed, produced, and co-written by George Miller. It stars the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, and E.G. Daily. An international co-production between the United States and Australia, the film was produced at Sydney-based visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic for Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, and Kingdom Feature Productions, and was released in North America theaters on November 17, 2006, and in Australia theaters on December 26, 2006. It is the first animated film produced by Kennedy Miller and Animal Logic. Set in the cold land of Antarctica, the film follows on Mumble, an emperor penguin who, despite his lacking the ability to sing the heartsong to attract a soul mate, is able to tap dance brilliantly. After being exiled from Emperor Land by Noah the Elder, Mumble befriends the Amigos, who help him rediscover himself.


Though primarily an animated film, the film does incorporate motion capture of live action humans in certain scenes. The film was simultaneously released in both conventional theatres and in IMAX 2D format. [4] The studio had hinted that a future IMAX 3D release was a possibility. However, Warner Bros., the film's production company, was on too tight a budget to release Happy Feet in IMAX digital 3D. [5]

Happy Feet received generally positive reviews from critics with praised for its visuals, storyline and songs, and grossed $384 million against its $100 million production budget. It earned the recipient of the inaugural BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, and the fourth non-Disney or Pixar film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. [6] It was nominated for the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature and the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film, both losing to Cars . A sequel, Happy Feet Two , was released on November 18, 2011, but it was unable to replicate the critical and commercial success of the original film.


Every emperor penguin attracts a mate by singing a unique "heartsong". If the male penguin's heartsong matches the female's song, the two penguins mate. Norma Jean, a female penguin, falls for Memphis, a male penguin and they become mates. They lay an egg, which Memphis cares for while Norma Jean leaves with the other females to fish. While the males struggle through the harsh winter, Memphis briefly drops the egg. The resulting chick, Mumble, is unable to sing but can tap dance. Nevertheless, he is enamored with Gloria, a female penguin who is regarded as the most talented of her age. One day, Mumble encounters a group of hostile skua, with a leader who is tagged with a yellow band, which he says is from an alien abduction. Mumble narrowly escapes the hungry birds by falling into a crevice.

Now a young adult, Mumble is frequently ridiculed by the elders and their leader Noah. After escaping from a leopard seal attack, Mumble befriends five Adelie penguins named Ramón, Nestor, Lombardo, Rinaldo and Raul, known collectively as "the Amigos", who embrace Mumble's dance moves and assimilate him into their group. After seeing a hidden human excavator in an avalanche, they opt to ask Lovelace, a rockhopper penguin, about its origin. Lovelace has the plastic rings of a six pack entangled around his neck, saying that they have been bestowed upon him by mystic beings.

For the emperor penguins, it is mating season and Gloria is the center of attention. The Amigos unsuccessfully attempt to help Mumble win her affection by having Ramón sing a Spanish version of "My Way" behind Mumble, with the latter lip syncing. After Mumble desperately begins tap dancing in synch with her song, she falls for him and the youthful penguins join in for singing and dancing to "Boogie Wonderland". The elders are appalled by Mumble's conduct, which they see as the reason for their lean fishing season. Memphis begs Mumble to stop dancing, for his own sake, but when Mumble refuses, he is exiled.

Mumble and the Amigos return to Lovelace, only to find him being choked by the plastic rings. Lovelace confesses they were snagged on him while swimming off the forbidden shores, beyond the land of the elephant seals. Not long into their journey, Gloria encounters them, wishing to become Mumble's mate. Fearing for her safety, he ridicules Gloria, driving her away.

At the forbidden shore, Mumble, Lovelace and the Amigos are attacked by the two orcas, during which Lovelace gets free from the plastic rings. After escaping, they find a fishing boat. Mumble exhaustingly pursues it alone, eventually washing up on the shore of Florida, where he is rescued and kept at Sea World with Magellanic penguins. After a long and secluded confinement in addition to fruitlessly trying to communicate with the humans, he nearly succumbs to madness. When a girl attempts to interact with Mumble by tapping the glass, he starts dancing, which attracts a large crowd. He is released back into the wild, with a tracking device attached to his back. He returns to his colony and challenges the will of the elders. Memphis reconciles with him, just as a research team arrives, verifying Mumble's statements of "aliens" existing. The entire colony engages in dance in front of the research team, whose expedition footage prompts a worldwide debate, which eventually leads to the banning of all Antarctic overfishing, satisfying both the emperor penguins and the Amigos.


Happy Feet Premiere (307976990).jpg
Happy Feet Premiere (307987303).jpg
Happy Feet Premiere (3).jpg
Happy Feet Premiere (307982333).jpg
Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy and Nicole Kidman at the film's European premiere in London, UK.


George Miller cites as an initial inspiration for the film an encounter with a grizzled old cameraman, whose father was Frank Hurley of the Shackleton expeditions, during the shooting of Mad Max 2 : "We were sitting in this bar, having a milkshake, and he looked across at me and said, ‘Antarctica.’ He'd shot a documentary there. He said, ‘You’ve got to make a film in Antarctica. It’s just like out here, in the wasteland. It’s spectacular.’ And that always stuck in my head." [7] [ check quotation syntax ]Happy Feet was also partially inspired by earlier documentaries such as the BBC's Life in the Freezer . [8] In 2001, during an otherwise non-sequitur meeting, Doug Mitchell impulsively presented Warner Bros., studio president Alan Horn with an early rough draft of the film's screenplay, and asked them to read it while he and Miller flew back to Australia. By the time they'd landed, Warner had decided to provide funding on the film. Production was slated to begin sometime after the completion of the fourth Mad Max film, Fury Road , but geo-political complications pushed Happy Feet to the forefront in early 2003.

The animation is invested heavily in motion capture technology, with the dance scenes acted out by human dancers. The tap-dancing for Mumble in particular was provided by Savion Glover who was also co-choreographer for the dance sequences. [9] The dancers went through "Penguin School" to learn how to move like a penguin, and also wore head apparatus to mimic a penguin's beak. [10]

Happy Feet needed an enormous group of computers, and Animal Logic worked with IBM to build a server farm with sufficient processing potential. The film took four years to make. Ben Gunsberger, Lighting Supervisor and VFX Department Supervisor, says this was partly because they needed to build new infrastructure and tools. The server farm used IBM BladeCenter framework and BladeCenter HS20 blade servers, which are extremely dense separate computer units each with two Intel Xeon processors. Rendering took up 17 million CPU hours over a nine-month period. [11]

According to Miller, the environmental message was not a major part of the original script, but "In Australia, we're very, very aware of the ozone hole," he said, "and Antarctica is literally the canary in the coal mine for this stuff. So it sort of had to go in that direction." This influence led to a film with a more environmental tone. Miller said, "You can't tell a story about Antarctica and the penguins without giving that dimension." [12]

The film was dedicated to the memory of Nick Enright, Michael Jonson, Robby McNeilly Green, and Steve Irwin.


Happy Feet is a jukebox musical, taking previously recorded songs and working them into the film's soundtrack to fit with the mood of the scene or character. Two soundtrack albums were released for the film; one containing songs from and inspired by the film, and another featuring John Powell's instrumental score. They were released on 31 October 2006 and 19 December 2006, respectively.

Prince's "Song of the Heart" won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. The film won Golden Trailer Award for Best Music. [13] The song was written by Prince specifically for Happy Feet shortly after he was given a private screening of the film in order to gain his approval for the use of his song "Kiss" in a musical number. [14] Prince enjoyed the film, gave his approval for the use of "Kiss" and offered to write an original song for the production, which he completed a week later. [14]


Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released31 October 2006
Genre Soundtrack, pop, rock, R&B, hip hop
Label Warner Sunset, Atlantic
Producer John Powell, George Miller
Happy Feet soundtrack chronology
Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture
Happy Feet: Original Score
Singles from Happy Feet
  1. "The Song of the Heart"
    Released: 2006
  2. "Hit Me Up"
    Released: 22 January 2007 (CD Single)
    29 January 2007 (Digital Download)

Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture is the lyrical soundtrack album from the 2006 animated film Happy Feet. As of March 2007, the OST has sold over 272,627 copies in the US.

Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture [15]
1."The Song of the Heart" Prince Prince4:35
2."Hit Me Up"Brian Kierulf, Josh Schwartz & Gia Farrell Gia Farrell 3:16
3."Tell Me Something Good" Stevie Wonder Pink 3:08
4."Somebody to Love" Freddie Mercury Brittany Murphy 3:47
5."I Wish" Stevie Wonder Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams and Fantasia Barrino 3:31
6."Jump N' Move"Simon Bartholomew, Jan Kincaid, Andrew Levy & Jamal Mitchell The Brand New Heavies (featuring Jamalski)3:18
7."Do It Again"Brian Wilson & Mike Love The Beach Boys 2:24
8."The Joker mash-up with Everything I Own""The Joker" by Steve Miller, Eddie Curtis & Ahmet Ertegün;
"Everything I Own" by David Gates
"The Joker" by Jason Mraz;
"Everything I Own" by Chrissie Hynde
9."My Way (A Mi Manera)" Paul Anka, Jacques Revaux, Claude François & Gilles Thibault Robin Williams 1:44
10."Kiss mash-up with Heartbreak Hotel""Kiss" by Prince;
"Heartbreak Hotel" by Mae Boren Axton, Thomas Durden, and Elvis Presley
"Kiss" by Nicole Kidman;
"Heartbreak Hotel" by Hugh Jackman
11."Boogie Wonderland"Allee Willis & Jonathan Lind Brittany Murphy 5:07
12."Golden Slumbers / The End" John Lennon & Paul McCartney k.d. lang 4:16
13."The Story of Mumble Happy Feet" John Powell  5:50
Total length:47:37


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA) [16] Gold35,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Box office

The film opened at number 1 in the United States on its first weekend of release (17–19 November), grossing $41.6 million and beating Casino Royale for the top spot. [17] It remained number 1 for the Thanksgiving weekend, making $51.6 million over the five-day period. In total, the film was the top grosser for three weeks, a 2006 box office feat matched only by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest . [18] As of 8 June 2008, Happy Feet had grossed $198.0 million in the U.S. and $186.3 million overseas, making about $384.3 million worldwide. Happy Feet was the third highest grossing animated film of 2006 in the U.S., behind Cars and Ice Age: The Meltdown . The film was released in about 35 international territories at the close of 2006. [19] [20]

The production budget was $100 million. [3]

Critical reception

Happy Feet received generally positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 76% "Certified Fresh" score based on 168 reviews, with an average rating of 6.90/10. The site's consensus reads, "Visually dazzling, with a thoughtful storyline and catchy musical numbers, Happy Feet marks a successful animated debut from the makers of Babe ." [21] Metacritic reports a 77 out of 100 rating, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [22] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale. [23]


The film garnered analysis and dissection from various critics. Film critic Yar Habnegnal wrote an essay in Forum on Contemporary Art and Society that examines the themes of encroachment presented throughout the film, as well as various other subtexts and themes, such as religious hierarchy and interracial tensions. [24] Vadim Rizov of IFC sees Mumble as just the latest in a long line of cinematic religious mavericks. Some Christians have also considered the film to be anti-Christian (or antireligious in general) due to the imagery and behaviours of various characters. [25] [26]

On a technical or formal level, the film has also been lauded in some corners for its innovative introduction of Miller's roving style of subjective cinematography into contemporary animation.

Home media

Happy Feet was released on home media on March 27, 2007, [27] in the United States in three formats: DVD (in separate widescreen and pan-and-scan editions), Blu-ray Disc, and an HD DVD/DVD combo pack. [28]

Among the DVD's special features is a scene that was cut from the film where Mumble meets a blue whale and an albatross while pursuing the fishing boat. The albatross was Steve Irwin's first voice role in the film before he voiced the elephant seal in the final cut. The scene was finished and included on the DVD in Irwin's memory. This scene is done in Irwin's classic documentary style, with the albatross telling the viewer all about the other characters in the scene, and the impact people are having on their environment. Another special feature included with the DVD is the 1936 Merrie Melodies short I Love to Singa .


The film appeared on numerous critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006. [29] [30]

Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Won
American Film Institute Awards Honored as one of the Top Ten Best Films of the YearWon
Annie Awards Best Animated Feature George Miller Nominated
Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production George Miller, John Collee, Judy Morris, and Warren ColemanNominated
British Academy Children's Awards Best Feature FilmWon
British Academy Film Awards Best Animated Feature Film Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Best Original Song "Song of the Heart" by Prince Won
Golden Trailer Awards [31] Best MusicWon
Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media John Powell Nominated
Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media "The Song of the Heart", PrinceNominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Animated MovieWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best AnimationWon
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated FilmWon
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Nominated

Video games

A video game based on the film was developed by A2M and published by Midway Games. It has the same main cast as the film. It was released for the PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube, GBA, NDS, and Wii. [32]

Artificial Life, Inc. has also developed a mobile game for the Japan market. [33]


Happy Feet Two was produced at Dr. D Studios [34] and released on November 18, 2011. Wood and Williams reprised their roles for the sequel. Murphy was set to reprise her role and begin recording sometime in 2010, [35] but was replaced by P!nk after Murphy died from pneumonia on December 20, 2009. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt signed on as Bill the Krill and Will the Krill respectively. [36] [37] The film was neither critically nor financially as successful as its predecessor and its performance at the box office resulted in Dr. D Studios closing down. [38]

4-D attraction

Happy Feet 4-D Experience is a 12-minute 4D film shown at various 4D theaters over the world. It retells the condensed story of Happy Feet with the help of 3D projection and sensory effects, including moving seats, wind, mist and scents. Produced by SimEx-Iwerks, the 4D experience premiered in March 2010 at the Drayton Manor Theme Park. [39] Other locations included Sea World (20102011), [40] Shedd Aquarium (20102012), [41] Moody Gardens (20102011), [42] Nickelodeon Suites Resort, [43] and Adventure Aquarium. [44]

See also

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