In the 2006 animated blockbuster Happy Feet an alienated emperor penguin named Mumbles found empowerment through tap-dancing and in so doing managed to both attract a mate and stop the overfishing that imperiled his Antarctic habitat. Directed by George Mitchell – the same George Mitchell who gave us the post-apocalyptic Mad Max trilogy and the almost despairingly bleak Babe: Pig in the City – Happy Feet paired its broadly conventional narrative with a darker sensibility not often seen in talking-animal fare.
The film’s sequel Happy Feet Two finds Mitchell (co-directing with Gary Eck) both more jovial and more easily distracted. The story begins straightforwardly enough with Mumbles (Elijah Wood) now grown-up and by all appearances well-adjusted ceding the mantle of self-discovery to his son Erik (Ava Acres). Boogie fever has swept the once dance-averse penguin nation but in a cruelly ironic twist Erik has inherited none of his father’s nifty moves. But just as Happy Feet Two appears intent on recycling its predecessor’s basic storyline the film abruptly changes course and embarks on a series of detours that seemed geared more as fodder for throwaway gags and showy set pieces than anything else. The disparate narrative elements while enjoyable in isolation never quite coalesce into a meaningful whole leaving us entertained but unfulfilled.
As before Happy Feet Two features a variety of buoyant song-and-dance numbers with Alecia Moore (aka P!nk) lending her formidable pipes to spirited re-workings of “Rhythm Nation” and “Under Pressure ” among others. Robin Williams returns for double duty as both Ramon a diminutive oversexed Latin lover and Lovelace a fiery Southern-preacher type. (Lovelace later adopts a Rastafarian dialect allowing Williams to achieve the rare culture-caricature trifecta.) His voracious scenery-devouring is all the more impressive given the grandeur of the scenery. Not to be left out of the quasi-Vaudevillian comic shenanigans Hank Azaria lays on a thick Scandinavian shtick as Sven a charismatic Arctic émigré who presents himself as the only penguin in the world who can fly. Azaria is a hoot but the film’s best moments come courtesy of the cast’s highest-profile additions Matt Damon and Brad Pitt voicing Bill and Will (respectively) two tiny krill in search of meaning at the bottom of the food chain.
Williams tagged for Globes' DeMille Award
Robin Williams has been picked by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to receive the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award when the group hands out the Golden Globes in January, Reuters reports. The DeMille honor is given each year by the organization to an actor who has made an "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field." Williams has received five Golden Globe Awards in the past, three as best actor for movies Mrs. Doubtfire, The Fisher King and Good Morning, Vietnam. He won a TV award for Mork & Mindy and a special honor for his voice work in animated film Aladdin. This year's Globes ceremony will be broadcast live on NBC on Jan. 16.
OutKast, Usher win MTV Europe Awards
Hip-hop duo OutKast and R&B hottie Usher shared top honors on Thursday, claiming the most prizes at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Rome, which was broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide, Reuters reports. OutKast stars Andre 3000 and Big Boi walked away with best group, best song and best video awards, while Usher grabbed best male artist and best album. Britney Spears won best female artist, The Black Eyed Peas won best pop and Linkin Park won best rock, while Alicia Keys took home best R&B and D12 secured best hip-hop. Music fans across Europe chose the winners chose the winners by voting online and with mobile phones, Reuters reports.
Jackson sued by furniture store
The guy just can't catch a break. Michael Jackson is being sued once again--this time by an antiques and furniture store, Mayfair Gallery, who claim Jackson owes $178,875 in merchandise he allegedly purchased in May, The Associated Press reports. Jackson bought 20 items, including a malachite urn, a Louis XVI-style bust clock, silver bread holder and an "Austrian gold-painted dancing girl," the complaint said. This is comes on the heels of another lawsuit recently filed against the singer. J. Marc Schaffel, a former producer and business associate, sued the singer Tuesday, claiming Jackson owes him more than $3 million in loans and producing fees.
Howard Stern' Sirius giveaway attracts thousands
Shock jock Howard Stern attracted thousands of fans and curious onlookers to Manhattan's Union Square Thursday afternoon to promote his soon-to-be employer, Sirius Satellite Radio. Reuters reports Stern handed out 500 free satellite radios and one-year subscriptions along with hundreds of certificates for a free radio with the $142 purchase of a Sirius subscription. Stern, whose is set to move to Sirius when his current contract with Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting runs out in 2006, told the crowd the Federal Communications Commission's broadcast indecency regulations were a major factor in driving him out of over-the-air radio. "Sirius Satellite Radio will rule ... It will be the dominant service," Stern said. "All without government interference. It's the beginning."
Prosecutors say Crow's stalker had dangerous obsession
Prosecutors in Sheryl Crow's stalker case told jurors in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday a former Navy deep-sea diver had developed a dangerous obsession for the singer, Reuters reports. Ambrose Kappos, 38, is accused of breaking into New York's Hammerstein Ballroom where Crow was rehearsing for a benefit show last October, then slipping into her dressing room before he was tossed out. He then followed Crow to her limousine in an attempt to engage her in conversation. Assistant district attorney Tara Daly said Kappos, who is accused of stalking Crow for more than a year, was discharged from the Navy after taking an emergency medical leave. Crow, 42, is expected to testify in the trial next week.
Rebecca Gayheart weds Eric Dane
Actress Rebecca Gayheart, first noticed as the fresh-faced beauty appearing in the Noxzema's series of TV commercials in the early 1990s, married actor Eric William Dane Oct. 29 in Las Vegas, AP reports. Gayheart, 32, starred as the wife of Luke Perry's character Dylan McKay on Aaron Spelling's hit drama Beverly Hills, 90210, which ran on Fox from 1990 through 2000. She was most recently seen on the FX plastic surgery series Nip/Tuck and Showtime's Dead Like Me. Her film credits include the 1997 thriller Scream 2. Dane, meanwhile, appeared in shows including The Wonder Years and was a regular on the ABC series Gideon's Crossing.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.