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Happy Feet Two (3D)


Stars: Voices: Elijah Wood, Pink, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sofia Vergara, Common, Hugo Weaving, Lil P-Nut, E G Daily

Director: George Miller

An inspirational cartoon, beautifully written, and full of good lines and original characters. The dancing emperor penguins are back, but this time they're trapped in their valley by a freak of nature. Dance-mad Mumble (Wood), now almost fully grown, and with a mate and chicks, is not with them, having taken two of his sons to look for the tiny third, Erik (Ava Acres), who is choreophobic and has fled the flock.

They find their way back barred by a giant elephant seal (Richard Carter), with a broad Aussie accent. When the seal falls into a crevasse to the dismay of his two pups, Mumble employs the unwitting help of a killer leopard seal to help rescue him.

There's no rescue, however, for the stranded penguins, who also lack the high spirits of Ramon (Williams), who has found a tribe of his own who worship a 'flying penguin' called Sven (definitely one of Azaria's better voiceovers). We can all see that Sven is a puffin, but the penguins haven't sussed it yet.

Parallel to all this are the adventures of the tiny, shrimp-like Will the krill (voiced by, of all people, Brad Pitt) who, reluctantly accompanied by his mate Bill the krill (Damon) leaves his swarm and sets out to explore the wide watery world. 'One small step for krill,' exclaims Will, 'one giant leap for spineless invertebrates'. Will is the equivalent of Skrat in the Ice Age films and, with his huge eyes and many feelers, a brilliant creation. 'I was on my last nine legs,' he gasps, after one hairsbreadth escape from doom.

Meanwhile, Ramon has found romance with the sultry Carmen (Vergara). 'You are beautiful,' she tells him. 'Only on the outside,' he blushes.

So it's all hands to the pumps as the penguins call on their dancing skills - and, of course, the elephant seals - to evade killer skuas (led by Anthony LaPaglia) and create the avalanche that may release the flock. Sven tries to help, but realises the game is up. 'I am a poufin,' he wails, 'run out of pouf.'

Poor Elijah Wood: he's pretty much the straight man in all this, to a variety of superbly-judged characters, armed with dialogue that sparkles like the Antarctic snowscapes. Even an aria from Erik almost comes off.

*Showing with this is a short Tweety-and-Sylvester cartoon (also in 3D) set to the song I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat (the film's title) that swept the music charts so long ago. Lots of fun.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 27 Nov 2011