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.
Top Story: Project Greenlight Stars Say Series Depicted Them Badly
Filmmakers Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle, the subject of HBO's Project Greenlight, say they did not finish watching the TV series because they thought it portrayed them negatively. The documentary series, created by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to help aspiring first-time filmmakers, chronicles the making of a feature film and covers everything from pre-production and casting, to principal photography and post-production. Rankin and Potelle were filmed 12-13 hours a day as they worked on The Battle of Shaker Heights--and viewers got to see firsthand the name calling and backstabbing that can take place on film sets. "We wished the show showed more of the fun we did have making (the film)," Rankin told The Associated Press Monday. "But I think through this we've learned to have thicker skin." The Battle of Shaker Heights, which focuses on a teenage boy from the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights who is fixated with battle scene re-enactments, opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles.
Julianne Moore and Longtime Beau Wed
Far From Heaven star Julianne Moore, 42, wed her longtime boyfriend, 33-year-old director Bart Freundlich, Saturday in New York, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Guests included actor Billy Crudup, Peter Berg, and actress Ellen Barkin and her husband, Revlon boss Ron Perelman. Freundlich directed Moore in his 1997 feature directorial debut The Myth of Fingerprints. Moore's other films include The Hours, Magnolia, Hannibal and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The couple has two children.
Sean Combs Sued Over Restaurant Ruckus
A woman filed a $5 million lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court against hip-hop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, claiming a bouncer at his Manhattan restaurant, Justin's, threw her to the ground and dragged her on the pavement, the AP reports. Stephanie Grieson said that when an argument with a friend became physical outside the restaurant on Aug. 22, 2002, the bouncer grabbed her by the neck and dragged her down the sidewalk while saying: "No fighting in front of this restaurant." Grieson says she suffered wounds on her knees from the incident and still has scars on her legs and ankles. She seeks damages to cover lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and future plastic surgery.
Mike Tyson Has Sympathy for Kobe Bryant
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who was convicted of rape in 1992 and served three years in prison, says he sympathizes with basketball star Kobe Bryant. The 24-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard has been charged with a Class 3 sexual assault, the equivalent of rape under Colorado law, stemming from allegations made by a 19-year-old Colorado woman who worked at a resort where he was staying in June. "I've been in an ordeal like him, and I know how easy it is for a young man to be a big shot, a big star in America's eyes and then get in another arena and he's nobody," Tyson said in an interview on Access Hollywood. "That means the judicial arena." Tyson, 37, said he wished Bryant "the best" and advised the NBA star to stay close to his family.
Fox Drops Suit Against Al Franken
Fox News yesterday dropped its trademark infringement lawsuit against Al Franken and his publisher, Penguin Group, aimed at stopping sales of the satirist's new book, Reuters reports. Fox claimed in the suit that Franken had violated its trademarked phrase "Fair and Balanced" by including it on the cover of his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. But the suit brought attention to the book instead turned it into a top seller. Penguin said has orders to print 510,000 copies of the book due to heavy demand, up from the original 270,000. The book also leads Amazon.com's bestseller list where if flew in a matter of days from a rank in the 400s.
Kelly and Regis Don't Fight
Kelly Ripa is tired of the rumors that she and her Live With Regis and Kelly co-host Regis Philbin don't get along, the AP reports. "There are two men in my life I've never fought with," Ripa told Lifetime magazine's September issue. "One is my husband, the other is my co-host." Ripa added that she is thankful to Philbin for taking her under his wing and improving the quality of her life in the process. Ripa, who took over co-hosting duties in February 2001, also said she never wanted to be compared to Kathie Lee Gifford, who worked alongside Philbin for 15 years. "I didn't want to fill her shoes," Ripa said. "I wanted to bring my own pair." Ripa, 32, is married to her former All My Children co-star, Mark Consuelos, with whom she has three children.
Pirates Passes $100 Million at Foreign B.O.
Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl topped the foreign box office for the second weekend in a row and became the 14th film this year to pass the $100 million mark. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie has taken in in $20.5 million from 25 countries, bringing its overseas total to $106.2 million. The movie also took in $2.5 million in Russia, the third-best all-time industry opening in the territory. Pirates, starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Blo