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Happy Feet

Promotional poster
Directed by George Miller
Warren Coleman
Judy Morris
Produced by Bill Miller
George Miller
Doug Mitchell
Written by Warren Coleman
John Collee
George Miller
Judy Morris
Starring Elijah Wood
Robin Williams
Brittany Murphy
Hugh Jackman
Nicole Kidman
Hugo Weaving
Music by John Powell
Gia Farrell
Cinematography David Peers
Editing by Christian Gazal
Margaret Sixel
Studio Kennedy-Miller Productions
Animal Logic Films
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Village Roadshow Pictures
Release date(s) November 17, 2006 (2006-11-17)
(United States)
02006-12-26 December 26, 2006
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million
Gross revenue $384.3 million

Happy Feet is a 2006 computer-animated comedy-drama film with music, directed and co-written by George Miller. It was produced at Sydney-based visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic for Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and Kingdom Feature Productions and was released in North America on November 17, 2006. It is the first animated feature film produced by Kennedy Miller in association with visual effects/design company Animal Logic.

Though primarily an animated film, Happy Feet does incorporate live action humans in certain scenes. The film was simultaneously released in both conventional theatres and in IMAX 2D format.[1] The studio had hinted that a future IMAX 3D release was a possibility. However, Warner Bros., the film’s production company, was on too tight of a budget to release Happy Feet in IMAX digital 3D. [2] Happy Feet won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.

The film was dedicated in memory of Nick Enright, Michael Jonson, Robby McNeilly Green, and Steve Irwin.



Every penguin sings a unique song called a "heartsong" to attract a mate. If the female likes the male and his song, and if it completes the female's song, the two penguins mate. A penguin named Norma Jean sings the song "Kiss", whereupon a male penguin named Memphis sings "Heartbreak Hotel". Norma Jean chooses him as her mate. They couple and Norma Jean lays an egg. The egg is left with Memphis while Norma Jean leaves with the other females to fish. While the males struggle through the harsh winter, Memphis drops the egg, briefly exposing it to the freezing Antarctic temperatures. The resulting chick - the film's protagonist, Mumble (voiced by Elizabeth Daily) - has blue eyes, ever-lasting down feathers, and a terrible singing voice. However, Mumble has a talent that no other penguin has ever seen before: tap dancing. As a result, Mumble is ostracized, with only his mother and his best friend Gloria to turn to. One day Mumble wanders into a secluded area, where he is free to dance. Mumble is interrupted when Boss Skua and his posse Dino, Frankie, and Vinnie attempt to eat him. Mumble stalls by asking the leader of the pack about a yellow band that is attached to his right ankle. The Boss Skua tells Mumble that he had been abducted by "aliens". Mumble narrowly escapes the hungry birds by falling into a crevice.

Mumble grows into an adult (voiced by Elijah Wood), still half-covered in fluffy down. Mumble's class graduates, and although he has not graduated, he joins them on their first trip into the ocean. His class ends their day by partying on an iceberg. Mumble constantly interrupts their singing and is forced to enjoy the party on a small iceberg. Mumble dozes off and wakes to find himself alone. A leopard seal chases him off the iceberg, and the penguin finds himself far from his home. He finds some Adelie Penguins, small in stature, but fiercely loyal to those they call friends. He befriends a small group of bachelors who form a club called "the Amigos": the leader Ramon, the brothers Raul and Nestor, and twin brothers Rinaldo and Lombardo. The Amigos quickly embrace Mumble's dance moves and assimilate him into their misfit group. Mumble's joy is cut short when he accidentally starts an avalanche and causes a hidden human excavator to tumble out from a glacier. Driven by curiosity, he sets out to find the "aliens" responsible for the machine. Mumble has a lot of questions, and the group suggests that he ask Lovelace a Rockhopper or Macaroni Crested Penguin who answers questions in exchange for stones and is known as the guru,as well as being the leader of the Adelie penguins. Big birds had earlier told Mumble that Lovelace had been captured and that's why is had yellow braces on his foot. Lovelace has six-pack plastic rings entangled around his neck which he uses them to project his guru image. When asked is the rings were from the aliens, Lovelace denies that aliens exists and that the plastic rings were bestowed upon him my mystic beings.

In Mumble's old home, it is mating season, and Gloria (voiced by Brittany Murphy) is the center of attention. Although she is surrounded by a large horde of suitors, none of their heartsongs interest her. Ramon tries to help Mumble by singing a Spanish version of "My Way". Gloria isn't fooled, however, for she knows Mumble can't sing. She notices Ramon behind Mumble and shoves him away to reveal the little penguin. Gloria becomes angry and turns her back on Mumble. As Mumble has no heartsong, Gloria continues towards the other males visibly distraught. As a last resort, Mumble tries to persuade her to sing along to his tapping rhythm. Because of her affection for him, she complies. As Mumble's beat speeds up, Gloria finds the chorus to her heartsong, and realizes it is "Boogie Wonderland". Overcome with happiness that they can now be mates, the pair begin dancing, along with the other penguins.

Noah the elder sees their lack of fish as punishment from the Great 'Guin for Mumble's dancing. Mumble tries to explain about the mysterious "aliens", and that they are the cause of the scarceness of fish, but only his mother and Gloria believe him. Noah exiles Mumble from the colony. Mumble vows that he will find the real cause of the famine. Mumble and the Amigos return to Lovelace only to find him being choked by the plastic rings. Lovelace confesses that he got stuck in the rings while swimming near the forbidden shores. He reveals that the forbidden shores are located past the land of elephant seals and beyond the blizzard country. Mumble, the Amigos and Lovelace start their journey. Gloria tries to come, but Mumble, fearing for her safety, drives her off by insulting her singing talents. They travel across vast territories till they reach the shore.

Mumble sees a boat and swims after it, leaving his friends behind. He ends up in a penguin exhibit at a marine park named Marine World. He tries to communicate with the "aliens" that surround him. When his pleas fail, Mumble nearly succumbs to madness after three months of confinement. Mumble starts dancing, and soon a large crowd gathers around the exhibit. He is released back into the wild, now with more adult feathers and a tracking device strapped to his back. He leads the humans to his native colony. The other penguins are skeptical at first, but when Gloria notices the tracking device, they realize that the “aliens” exist. Now convinced, the penguins (along with the once-stubborn elders) dance alongside Mumble in hopes of getting the humans' attention.

A research team arrives and film the penguins dancing. They bring this footage back to the human world, and a worldwide debate ensues. The world governments realize they are overfishing the Antarctic waters, and conclude that the penguins are trying to communicate that to them. Antarctic fishing is banned, and the fish population recovers. At this, the Emperor Penguins and the Amigos dance and celebrate their triumph. A dancing baby penguin seen at the end is implied to be the child of Mumble and Gloria.

In the credits, the characters reunite to dance for the final number, "The Song of the Heart."



The animation in Happy Feet invested heavily in motion capture technology, with the dance scenes acted out by human dancers. The tap-dancing for Mumble in particular was provided by Savion Glover who was also co-choreographer for the dance sequences.[3] The dancers went through "Penguin School" to learn how to move like a penguin, and also wore head apparatus to mimic a penguin's beak.[4]

Happy Feet needed an enormous group of computers, and Animal Logic worked with IBM to build a server farm with sufficient processing potential. The server farm used IBM BladeCenter framework and BladeCenter HS20 blade servers, which are extremely dense separate computer units each with two Intel Xeon processors. Rendering took up 17 million CPU hours over a nine month period.[5] Happy Feet was partially inspired by earlier documentaries such as the BBC's Life in the Freezer.[6]

The film took four years to make. Ben Gunsberger, Lighting Supervisor and VFX Department Supervisor, says this was partly because they needed to build new infrastructure and tools.[7]

An earlier cut of the film seems to have included a large subplot regarding aliens in the extraterrestrial sense, whose presence was made gradually more and more known throughout, and who were planning to siphon off the planet's resources gradually, placing the humans in the same light as the penguins [8]. At the end, through the plight of the main character, their hand is stayed, and instead, first contact is made. This was chopped out during the last year of production, and has yet to see the light of day in a finished form, although concept art from these sequences were showcased at the Siggraph 2007 demonstration [9], and are available online, as well.[10]


Happy Feet is a jukebox musical, taking previously recorded songs and working them into the film's soundtrack to fit with the mood of the scene or character. Two soundtrack albums were released for the film; one containing songs from and inspired by the film, and another featuring John Powell's instrumental score. They were released on October 31, 2006 and December 19, 2006, respectively.




Academy Awards

60th British Academy Film Awards

  • Best Animated Feature Film

Golden Globes

American Film Institute Awards 2006

  • Honored as one of the Top Ten Best Films of the Year

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Animation

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Animated Film

Golden Trailer Awards[11]

  • Best Music

Heartland Awards

  • The Truly Moving Picture Award

Kids' Choice Awards

  • Favorite Animated Movie

British Academy of Film and Television Arts - Children's Awards

  • Best Feature Film


Golden Globe Award

  • Best Animated Feature

Annie Awards

  • Best Animated Feature
  • Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production

Satellite Awards

  • Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media

Grammy Awards

  • Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, John Powell, nominee
  • Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: "The Song of the Heart", Prince, nominee

Top ten lists

The film appeared on numerous critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006, including AFI's Annual list, which is listed above.[12][13] AFI's jury said:

"HAPPY FEET is a one-of-a-kind motion picture experience. George Miller continues to paint outside the lines of traditional filmmaking, and his genius expands upon the animated art form to illuminate a world where penguins embrace dance and differences to survive and thrive. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, as the environment, religion and the chasm between generations enrich this sweet and subtle tale - one that is fun and funny, brilliant and beautiful, groundbreaking and global in its message."

Home media release

Happy Feet was released on March 27, 2007[14] in the United States in three formats; DVD (in separate widescreen and pan and scan editions), Blu-ray Disc, and an HD DVD/DVD combo disc.[15]

Among the DVD's special features is a scene that was cut from the film where Mumble meets a blue whale and an albatross. The albatross was Steve Irwin's first voice role in the film before he voiced the elephant seal in the final cut. The scene was finished and included on the DVD in memory of Steve Irwin. This scene is done in Steve's classic documentary style, with the albatross telling the viewer all about the other characters in the scene, and the impact people are having on their environment.

Video games

A video game based on the film was developed by A2M and published by Midway Games. It has the same main cast as the film. It was released for the PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube, GBA, NDS, and Wii.[16]

Artificial Life, Inc. has also developed a Happy Feet mobile game for the Japan market.[17]


Box office

The film opened at number one in the United States on its first weekend of release (November 17-November 19) grossing $41.6 million and beating Casino Royale for the top spot.[18] It remained number one for the Thanksgiving weekend, making $51.6 million over the five-day period. In total, the film was the top grosser for three weeks, a 2006 box office feat matched only by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. As of June 8, 2008, Happy Feet has grossed $198.0 million in the U.S. and $186.3 million overseas, making about $384.3 million dollars worldwide. Happy Feet was the third highest grossing animated film in the U.S. , behind Cars and Ice Age: The Meltdown. Happy Feet also being the third highest grossing animated film worldwide, behind Ice Age: The Meltdown and Cars. The film has been released in about 35 international territories at the close of 2006.[19][20][21]

The production budget was $100 million.[22]

Critical reviews

Happy Feet has received better than average reviews from film critics, and received a 74% "fresh" approval in the Rotten Tomatoes movie review aggregate site, with an 82% percent from the Top Critics.[23]


The film has also garnered, since its release, quite a bit of analysis and dissection from various places. Film critic Yar Habnegnal has written an essay, published in Forum on Contemporary Art and Society, that examines the themes of encroachment presented throughout the film, as well as various other subtexts and themes, such as religious hierarchy and interracial tensions.[24]


A follow-up to the film is currently in production at Dr. D Studios.[25] The estimated release date is November 18, 2011.[26] Wood and Williams will reprise their roles for the sequel. But Murphy will not be able to reprise her role, due to her death. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt have reportedly signed on to provide voice work for the film also.[27]

Environmental message

As things progress there is increasing emphasis on environmental problems in the Antarctic.

The film's denouement shows a group of researchers taking video of the colony of dancing emperor penguins, and the footage is broadcast globally. After many heated arguments this publicity generates considerable pressure to stop commercial overfishing of the Antarctic.

According to the director, George Miller, the environmental message was not a major part of the original script, but "In Australia, we're very, very aware of the ozone hole," he said, "and Antarctica is literally the canary in the coal mine for this stuff. So it sort of had to go in that direction." This influence led to a film with a more environmental tone. Miller said, "You can't tell a story about Antarctica and the penguins without giving that dimension."[28]


  1. ^ "Happy Feet: The IMAX Experience". IMAX. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  2. ^ "Happy Feet Won't Debut in IMAX 3-D". VFXWorld. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  3. ^ Savion Glover. (2007). Happy Feet. [DVD]. Warner Brothers. 
  4. ^ Kelley Abbey. (2007). Happy Feet. [DVD]. Warner Brothers. 
  5. ^ "Animal Logic builds rendering farm with IBM eServer BladeCenter". IBM Australia. Retrieved 2/1/2010. 
  6. ^ "Penguin suits up for a cinema hit". The Australian.,20867,20753501-2702,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  7. ^ UNSWorld (2007) Bring on the dancing penguins in UNSWorld, Issue 6, May 2007, pp. 14–15
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Golden Trailer Awards
  12. ^ "Film Critic Top Ten List, 2006 Critics' Picks". 
  13. ^ "The Critics". 
  14. ^ Happy Feet (2006) - Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman
  15. ^ Happy Feet to Dance on Blu-ray, HD DVD This March | High-Def Digest
  16. ^ Happy Feet
  17. ^ Parthajit; "Happy Feet Goes Mobile"; Softpedia; April 24, 2007
  18. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for November 17–19, 2006
  19. ^ Happy Feet (2006) - Weekend Box Office Results
  20. ^ IMDb Charts
  21. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for February 1–3, 2008
  22. ^ Happy Feet (2006)
  23. ^ Happy Feet - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  24. ^ Yar Habnegnal on Happy Feet
  25. ^ About Dr. D Studios
  26. ^ Sky News: Happy Feet sequel in the works
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ Kelly, Kate (2006-11-17). "The New Animated Film Happy Feet Doesn't Dance Around Serious Issues". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 

External links

Preceded by
New award
BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film
Succeeded by


Happy Feet character
Gloria (left) dances with Mumble (right) after the latter has fully lost his youth down.
Species Emperor Penguin
Voiced by Alyssa Shafer (chick), Brittany Murphy (adult and 2)
Sex Female
Heartsong "Boogie Wonderland"
Mate Mumble

Gloria is a fictional emperor penguin, and the romantic interest of Mumble of the 2006 animated film, Happy Feet. She was voiced by Alyssa Shafer as a chick, and Brittany Murphy as an adult.

Happy Feet Story

"Hey! Come back here, Mr. Mumble!"

As a chick

Gloria is the offspring of Maurice and Michelle, fellow colony members and friends of Memphis and Norma Jean. She is slightly older than her best friend, Mumble, and knew him from before he hatched. Gloria help Mumble to hatch. When Memphis feared that Mumble's egg was stillborn, Gloria tapped on it with her bill a few times - and a pair of feet thumped back. When the egg moved around and made muffled sounds, Gloria named the chick "Mr. Mumble," and the name stuck.

In Miss Viola's class in Penguin Elementary, Gloria quickly established herself as a musical prodigy, and Mumble is entranced by her wonderful voice. When Mumble himself tries to sing, he can accomplish nothing more than squeaky screeching. The entire class laughs at him - all except Gloria, who defends him. In subsequent singing classes, Mumble spends his time at the back of the class and daydreams about the wonders of the world, while Gloria sings more beautifully by the day.

Her heartsong is Boogie Wonderland.

Soul mates

During Mumble's time in Adélie Land, Gloria gains hundreds of interested suitors, as her reputation precedes her. By the time Mumble returns, Gloria is nearly overwhelmed by the amount of attention. She sings her Heartsong, "Boogie Wonderland," endlessly - but none of the males interest her in the least. Mumble attempts to impress her with a lip synced Spanish rendition of "My Way". Gloria is not fooled, for she knows Mumble can't sing. Though they are true companions, Mumble simply does not have a Heartsong. When Gloria starts heading back to the mob of suitors (visibly disheartened by Mumbles lack of a singing voice), Mumble attempts to harmonize with her Heartsong by tapping to the rhythm. Gloria isn't very keen on it at first, but after a few moments, she becomes entranced by it. Finally realising that they were meant to be, Gloria joins Mumble in his dancing, along with nearly the entire colony who've also been won over. Their fun is cut short by Noah, the Emperor Nation's wizened leader. He calls Mumble's dancing "unruly nonsense" and scapegoats him for bringing famine to the colony. According to the elders, Mumble's "happy feet" are a deviant "pagan" practice that is displeasing the emperor's deity, the Great 'Guin, and the god is withholding the fish as punishment. When Mumble is banished from Emperor Nation, Gloria greatly protests the action taken, and has to be restrained by her parents as Mumble leaves.

Unbeknownst to Mumble and the amigos, however, Gloria follows them and catches up to the group. Professing love for her chosen mate, Gloria wants to journey with him. Mumble doesn't want her to come in harm's way, though - so he tries to get her to go back by saying they would never be able to keep an egg safe out in the unknown. Afterwards, he asks if what would happen if her friends have eggs. Gloria states that she "doesn't need an egg to be happy," she has Mumble. In a last desperate move, Mumble then starts insulting her repeatedly, driving her away so he can continue on. Gloria doesn't realize that Mumble is only trying to protect her, however - and she takes his words seriously as she turns to leave. Hurting, but determined, Mumble continues onward.


About three months later, Mumble returns to the penguin colony, exclaiming that he has found out what is causing the food shortage. Angry and happy to see him again, Gloria is just as skeptical as all the other penguins. Mumble sees Seymour with Gloria and baby penguins with them. Mumble thinks that Gloria and Seymour are now a pair, but Gloria introduces the baby penguins as their singing class; Seymour teaches rhythm and Gloria teaches the blues. Gloria "never heard the right song" and remained alone during Mumbles time gone. She is the first to notice the tracking device on Mumble's back, which showed proof that the the Aliens were real. When the Aliens came, everyone joined into dance, which amused the Aliens, and they stopped fishing in the Antarctic. Gloria and Mumble were in the underwater scene, and instead of a small clutter a fish, a large school of fish rushed towards them, and everyone had plenty to eat. Gloria and Mumble have a chick in between them when they danced at the end, which would be their child.


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