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Happy Feet

(2006) ** 1/2 Pg
98 min. Warner Brothers. Directors: George Miller, Judy Morris (II), Warren Coleman. Cast: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman.
Director George Miller—known for the Mad Max movies, The Witches of Eastwick, and the Babe films—returns in the family-friendly vein with a CGI-animated extravaganza about singing and dancing penguins. There's much to admire here, including photo-real animated craftsmanship that's the CGI equivalent of vintage Disney dazzle. But the fuddy-duddy in me was as overwhelmed as dazzled by the action and song-and-dance setpieces, which demonstrate a conspicuous priority over story. Miller clearly intends the jukebox soundtrack to appeal to the American Idol set, and while it's cute to watch a penguin hustling the motion-captured hoofbeats of Savion Glover, and the themes about being present to one's environment and sense of self are stolid, Happy Feet's vaudevillian energy browbeats us into submission instead of wooing us.
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