6:00 PM, 10th March, 2012
The most danceable animation of 2006 at last has a sequel. Happy Feet introduced the character of Mumble, an emperor penguin seemingly destined for lonely obscurity because - catastrophically for his chances in love - he couldn't sing. Mumble overcame rejection and climate change to win the hearts of his colony using his own talent: tap dance.
In this sequel, Mumble (Wood) is now a phenomenon in the world of emperor penguins. And he and Gloria (played last time round by Brittany Murphy, this time by Pink) have a new joy: their son, Erik. But now Mumble must encourage an adorable son who seeks a higher truth but who cannot dance! On top of that, the outside world again threatens the coolness of their dance moves.
The original movie's cast list was a role of Hollywood's most sought-after. The sequel also features a string of stars including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Hugo Weaving. Erik is played by Ava Acres, a veteran actress of eight television series, a video game, and now four movies at the ripe old age of nearly eight.
Without wanting to spoil things, I must tell you, for your peace of mind - turn the page now if you don't want to know! - that the movie ends happily, complete with new dance numbers, after much adventurous hilarity.
Robin Williams, who gives voice (with wonderful accents) to Ramon and Lovelace, says it about right: it brings out my happy.
John P. Harvey
8:00 PM, 10th March, 2012
"What's Wrong With The Australian Film Industry?" is a regular column in the Aussie movie review magazine FILMINK. To my mind, the answer is that in the first decade of the 21st century the Aussie film industry produced way too many award-winning but deeply depressing films, which while technical and artistic marvels nevertheless had absolutely zero redemptive moments.
Hopefully Red Dog is a harbinger of the return of more nuanced, lighter-hearted movies. Based upon true stories, now morphed into legends of a real Red Dog who roamed the Pilbara region in the north of Western Australia looking for his master in the 1970s, while uniting its disparate local community.
Koko, the red cloud kelpie who stars in the film, has an engaging personality, thanks in part to intensive training by Luke Hura. This included Luke taking Koko, raised in the country, for walks around Melbourne so that Koko could get used to crowds (since crowds of cameramen, electricians, riggers etc are necessarily part of any film's production). While Red Dog has some genuine laugh-out-loud moments (as a cat person I particularly enjoyed the two scenes where Red Dog interacted with Red Cat), it is also exquisitely counter-balanced by tragic but ultimately uplifting moments. Bring a box of tissues.