Daniella Schneiderman

MED231 – Australian Cinema
Assignment 2: Critical Review and Bibliography

Happy Feet (2006) George Miller
Part 1: Film Information

Cast (Lead Actors Only)
Elijah Wood - Voice of Mumble
Robin Williams - Voice of Ramon/Lovelace
Brittany Murphy - Voice of Gloria
Hugh Jackman - Voice of Memphis
Nicole Kidman - Voice of Norma Jean
Hugo Weaving - Voice of Noah the Elder
Anthony LaPaglia - Voice of Boss Skua
Johnny Sanchez III - Voice of Lombardo
Carlos Alazraqui - Voice of Nestor
Jeff Garcia - Voice of Rinaldo
Lombardo Boyar - Voice of Raul
Magda Szubanski - Voice of Miss Viola
Steve Irwin - Voice of Trev
E.G. Daily - Voice of Baby Mumble
Miriam Margolyes - Voice of Mrs Astrakhan
Fat Joe - Voice of Seymour
Alyssa Shafer - Voice of Baby Gloria
Cesar Flores - Voice of Baby Seymour
Danny Mann - Voice of Dino/Zoo Penguin
Mark Klastorin - Voice of Vinnie
Michael Cornacchia - Voice of Frankie
Nicholas McKay - Voice of Nev
Tiriel Mora - Voice of Kev
Richard Carter - Voice of Barry
Lee Perry (II) - Voice of Elder/Leopard Seal

Crew (Principal Crew Only)
Directed by – George Miller, Judy Morris, Warren Coleman
Written by – Warren Coleman, Judy Morris, George Miller, John Collee
Produced by – Bruce Berman, Graham Burke, Zareh Nalbandian, Dana Goldberg
Edited by – Matt Town, Alicia Gleeson
Casting by – Kristy Carlson
Lead Storyboard Artist – Mark Sexton
Wardrobe, Hair and Make up by – Lara Blomfield
Sound by – Derryn Pasquill
Music by – John Thomas

Warner Bros. Picture Distribution
Warner Bros. Pictures International

Release Date
November 17th, 2006 (wide)

Box Office Summary
Box Office Total: $197,865,227
Box Office Opening: $41,533,432
No. of Weeks at #1: 3
No. of Week in Top 10: 7

Box Office History



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Rental Summary

 VHS Rentals Total:


 VHS Rentals Opening:


 No. of Weeks in Top 10:

 Highest Ranking:






+ Foreign:



= Worldwide:



Online Interviews:

  1. www.bbc.co.uk/films/2006/12/06/happy_feet_cast_2006_interview.shtml
  2. www.coolmoviequotes.com/movieguy/elijahwood.htm
  3. movies.about.com/od/happyfeet/a/happyfeet110906.htm
  4. www.femail.com.au/george-miller-happy-feet-interview.htm
  5. www.indielondon.co.uk/Film-Review/happy-feet-robin-williams-interview

Online Reviews:

  1. www.rottentomatoes.com/m/happy_feet/
  2. movies.yahoo.com/movie/1808655509/info
  3. movies.ign.com/articles/746/746641p1.html
  4. www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2006/11/happy_feet_review.html
  5. www.futuremovies.co.uk/review.asp?ID=636
  6. uk.movies.yahoo.com/h/Happy-Feet/review-1907138.html
  7. metromix.chicagotribune.com/movies/mmx-061117-movies-review-happy,0,7927786.story
  8. www.metacritic.com/film/titles/happyfeet
  9. www.boxoffice.com/boxoffice_scr/movie_reviews_result.asp?terms=8872
  10. movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=322645

Online Presence
When typing Happy Feet into a search engine, there were copious amounts of websites that came up for the animated film. The websites for at least the first few pages were incredibility relevant and had bulk information to viewed. This shows the great success the Australian film had, and the impact it has had on the online community.

Collection of Information
The large majority of my work was researched on the internet. There are several reasons for this. Not only is it extremely convenient as well as accurate and useful, it was appropriate with the line of work I am in and having only limited access to going to a library or to the University. We were also encouraged to use it in assignments in our foundation unit as a useful tool. The main websites I used were www.google.com, the Murdoch unit website as well as The Oz Film Database.


Part Two – Critical Analysis

Directed by Australian director George Millar, Happy Feet a computer-animated comedy-drama is a warm hearted film that deserved the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. The film was produced in a Sydney studio for Warner Bros, and was released in the US on November 17th 2006. This award winning animated film unusually included live actual humans in a few scenes. This contrast was incredible and it has resulted in the possibility of the film being released in IMAX 3D. The dedication of this film was one to take notice of as one of the people it was dedicated to was Australian icon, the late Steve Irwin, who is the voice of Trev.

Happy Feet takes place in a penguin community in the Antarctic. It is made clear from the first song that every penguins goal in life was to find its soul mate through singing there ‘heart song’. One couple Norma Jean and Memphis fell in love and produced an egg; however when Norma Jean is away during the cold winter to get some food for the soon to be born baby, Memphis drops the egg in the ice. When the little penguin is born we see the effects of his egg being dropped in the ice, he cannot sing. Instead the little penguin, Mumbles, keeps taping his feet and finds out that he has an extraordinary talent in dancing.

The fact that Mumbles was an excellent dancer, but a terrible singer left him to grow up as a longer in his penguin community. His only allies were his mother and his friend Gloria. Mumbles grows up but remains with the heart of adolescence. One day whilst isolated again from the group Mumbles gets chased away from his home by a pack of leopard seals and ends up making friends with a group known as the Amigos. The Amigos are amazed by Mumbles dancing and straight away accept him into there group.

Being considered a legend in Mumbles new community, he is very quickly convinced there are ‘aliens’ in the area. The Amigos are the only penguins who believe Mumbles and seek out with him to find and conquer the ‘aliens’. Unfortunately during this journey Mumbles is caught and placed in a zoo. He was left there and slowly lost his happiness and young spirit until one day a child taps on the glass and Mumbles feet began to dance. The zoo keepers are impressed by this and set Mumbles back to his colony so they can find more dancing penguins.

When Mumbles arrives home, everyone believes him about the ‘aliens’. The explorers end up filming Mumbles dancing who is soon supported by his whole colony. After this footage is viewed by many governments they decided that they were overfishing in the Antarctic and this dance was the penguin’s way of telling them. They band fishing in the Antarctic and the movie close with a scene of a baby penguin who seems to be the spawn of Mumbles and his childhood sweetheart and only friend Gloria.

The animated movie Happy Feet is classed under the two genres of comedy and drama. This is not to say the fun loving film cannot be placed under other genres such as family. The genre of comedy needs to have some kind of humour. There are many forms of comedy and ones that are fairly well known are that of screwball, slapstick, situation, and romantic comedy. I would place the film Happy Feet under romantic comedy. The reason for this is the main purpose of the penguins is to find there soul mate and it becomes quite a romantic film with humour in it to keep it comfortable.  The main comedy part is really shown when we are introduced to the Amigo’s, a bunch of self-loving bachelors. The use of comedy allows the audience to enjoy the movie without feeling too sympathetic for Mumbles and his lacking talent of singing, and allows the movie to move at a much quicker pace.

Whilst traditionally the genre of drama follows the story of tragedy, Happy Feet tends to bend this characteristic by creating a solution and not getting too lost in the actual tragedy or mishap of Mumbles terrible singing voice. There are a number of dramas in the film that of Mumbles own personal journey and growth, and the ‘aliens’. It allows excitement and builds on expectations for what the audience can expect in the film and what they have to look forward to.

This Australian feature film is a definite success. Nominated for twelve awards, Happy Feet managed to win an amazing nine of them. Not only did it have a brilliant uptake at the movies and win some of the most sorted out awards, it resulted in being shown in the movies for a substantial period of time, it also has a strong following. The reason for its strong following as the film attracts all ages. It is perfect for a child as it is animated and has a relatively simple story line for them to follow and understand, as well as being appealing to the older generations which is mainly due to the dissimilar effects the movie has, and the fresh style of modern directing. After comparing Happy Feet to Australian films before and after it, and believe it has been a huge success.

Australian director George Miller who was already well known and respected for his previous work in the movie ‘Babe,’ had a lot to live up to. I believe he was successful in this and has continued to impress and dazzle his audiences creating a film for the whole family, with relevant issues. He brings a unique Australianness to the film with these issues, and uses an Australian crew in a Sydney based studio to create what is known as Happy Feet. He even has one of the characters in the film, Trev, played by one of Australia’s Icons, the late Steve Irwin. Whilst is isn’t a film based around Australia or Australian characters the Australianness of the film is apparent to Australian audiences through its outlook on the awareness that is built in to us from childhood about our surrounding environment.

What is refreshing about Happy Feet, is put aside the amazing animation works, it doesn’t set out to simply impress its audience with its new technological encounters. It is a movie that is meant to move its audience, create some spirit and change there outlook on what is in today’s society a reoccurring issue of overfishing. The environmental issue is particularly relevant to Australians who are forced to be extremely conscious of environmental issues due to our harsh sun and the ozone layer.

In today’s society there isn’t much we haven’t been exposed to and seen. It is therefore vital that a film is unique and individual in order to capture the minds of their audiences. We are also surrounded by technology with that of new play stations and films in the past 20 years such as The Matrix or Antz there isn’t too much we haven’t seen. The production was budgeted at 100 million dollars. With a budget like that it is no shock they were able to utilise the equipment when making the film. Created in a visual effects and animation studio, the way they made the penguins dance is quite clever. They had professional dancers attached to motion sensitive technology to create the dancing penguins. This original idea was a success and not only entertaining but the accuracy of the movements on screen made it believable.

The film Happy Feet was released a year after the film March of the Penguins was released. March of the Penguins was released in 2005 and directed Luc Jaquet. Both follow the same story line in respect to how penguins live in the Antarctic. The film March of the Penguins aided the understanding of Happy Feet, which both were extremely accurate to the real life of a penguin colony in the Antarctic, as well as entertaining. The film Happy Feet also has the same feel to it and a similar journey followed as the film The Land Before Time, directed by Don Bluth. Both films in this case have similar main characters who struggle with personal issues with acceptance and being different from the rest of there community.

In a demanding society Happy Feet has won over its critics. It has challenged technological and creative forms of the film industry whilst keeping the main focus on the story line. The film also touches on important environmental issues that are not only relevant worldwide but particularly apparent in Australian society. Director George Miller and the majority of his Australian crew helped make this comedy-drama relate in a small extent back to its Australian audiences with the Australian thinking and feel the film has. This Australian feature film is in every way I believe a success and shows the talent we have as well as where not only the film industry but where the Australian film industry is headed. This film begins a new era of Australian filmmaking success.


Gillard, Garry, Ten Types of Australian Film, Murdoch University, Perth, 2007

Moran, Albert and Vieth, Errol, Film in Australia: An Introduction, CUP, 2006

Happy Feet, George Michael, 2006

Websites Used: