Get the kids — the first full-length trailer for “Happy Feet Two” has arrived from the frigid Antarctic.
The first “Happy Feet,” directed by “Mad Max” architect George Miller, started out as a well-made but cloyingly cute and low-aiming commercial product in which adorable (or irritating) penguins sing and dance to ridiculously overplayed radio hits (Prince’s “Kiss,” Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” etc). But about halfway through, once Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) leaves the colony, the film grew darker and more mature, sharing similarities with Miller’s other dark family film “Babe: A Pig in the City,” even adding a not-too-heavy-handed environmental message. It grossed nearly $400 million and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
But if the trailer for “Happy Feet Two” is any indication, the maturity and darkness may be gone entirely in the sequel, replaced by even more singing and dancing to ubiquitous hits from all eras, from Dick Dale’s “Miserlou” to The Rivingtons’ “Papa Oom Mow Mow” to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” to Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack.” Worst of all, Robin Williams, the most uninspired and annoying thing about the first film is back, as Ramon the Latin lover. Still, like the first film, the animation is top-notch and Miller’s formidable visual sensibilities seem to be intact.
“Happy Feet Two” opens nationwide in 2D and 3D November 17.