Magazine article The Spectator

Chick Flick

Magazine article The Spectator

Chick Flick

Article excerpt

Happy Feet U, nationwide

This film has been a big hit in America and for the life of me I can't understand why. Am I completely out of step?

Am I a misery guts? Am I both completely out of step and a misery guts, in which case: is this why I don't get invited anywhere any more? Do people say, 'Oh no, I don't want that out-of-step misery guts round here'? I have tried to ask around, but everyone I tried was out even when they were in and I could see them moving in that wibbly-wobbly way behind the frosted glass of their front doors. How do you account for that? Sure beats me.

Look, this movie has a few good things going for it, and it's only fair to say so. The animation is terrific and, on occasion, breathtakingly so. The penguins are well cute. The penguin chicks are even cuter.

But the story is so banal and corny and depressingly familiar -- yet another reworking of the ugly duckling, in essence -- it all quickly becomes tiresome. And boring. And it's much too long. And there's a laughably preachy eco-message bolted on at the end that doesn't gel with the rest of the film. But mostly it's just boring. I confess: I did have a ten-minute doze somewhere in the middle, between the seal chase and the whale chase. Very unprofessional, I know, but given the choice between being unprofessional and knocking ten minutes from the 183 minutes of this movie's running time, I think I know which I'd choose again.

I've no idea about the genesis of this movie but imagine someone looked at the astounding success of March of the Penguins -- one of the most successful documentaries of all time -- and thought, 'I know, let's do it with animation. And disco! And R&B!' Fair enough. Nothing against that. Nothing against March of the Penguins either, although I'm not sure I even got all that hoo-ha. It seemed no better than most wildlife documentaries and certainly no better than an episode of Planet Earth. And it was so hideously sentimental, too. 'This poor penguin will never waken again. . .' I think you'll find that's because it's dead. 'This little penguin will sleep the sweet kind of sleep that will be its last sleep. . .'Ithink you'll find that's also BECAUSE IT IS DEAD! We do know about death, you know. It happens when life stops. …

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