Movie Review: Happy Feet

Winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Animated Film, Happy Feet is the story of Mumble, an Emperor Penguin who can’t sing but can tap dance. To his dad (and the Emperor penguins) this is a curse, even the cause of the fish shortage. Mumble is cast out of their community and sets off to right wrongs.

Fun Movie for All Ages
Our group of kids—boys and girls aged 6 to 13…and past 50—remained enthralled by the adventurous slides through the ice, riveting underwater chases, pop and rock hits (“Mom, you know those songs?!”), and hilarious, intercultural, penguin entertainment. Read IMBd's viewer reviews from an American, a British , and an Australian.

Bonuses Double the Fun
View the making of Happy Feet and goggle with amazement as tap dancers on stage showed up as penguins on the screen. “Meet” Savion Glover (Mumble’s “real life” feet) who puts tap dancing on new footing. The bonus inspired my kids to turning into dancing shoes. Now that is funny.

Multiply the Fun: Cuddle Up
When will a teenage son allow his parents to snuggle up close? While watching a DVD together. Movie night’s a great time to catch up on family hugging and closeness.

… & Dream Up
Pause in the middle of the movie to empty bladders and stir up creative juices: guess the end. Children might resist at first (“You’ve GOT to be kidding!”), so limit the break to 5 minutes (put the timer on to show the kids you mean it). Invite each family member to dream up what comes next. It’s much more fun than extra homework to boost creative thinking.

Make the Fun Last and Last
First, fully enjoy the séance together. The next day (or later), let movies introduce discussion topics into the home. Home is Fun looked beyond the obvious Happy Feet topics (exclusion, ecology, and the generation gap) to address issues parents regularly face at home or school. Submit yours too (add a comment below).

- Battling Bullies: Every school-going child will face a bully someday. It might even by your own precious child (my case). Parents, bring it up with the kids. Recall the scene between Mumble and the sea lion. Where is your child’s “safe place?” (The penguins’ was on land.) Dig further.
In Happy Feet, the victim victimized in return. The humiliated sea lion retreats growling a threat. Could some penguins be more desirable to attack? Might your child be inviting aggression? How could you best love your child through this period? By building up her confidence (read Love Your Children Their Way), through discipline (read Love Your Children Everyday), or through compassion?

- Curiosity & Determination: Have you experience this in your home? There’s an urgent parent alert to fix the computer. It was unplugged. The kids could and should have found the solution, but they didn’t try. Any of the penguins could have searched for the answer to the missing fish. Only curious Mumble determined to do so.
Let your children experience the satisfaction of answered curiosity and successful follow through. Next time the kids ask for an answer, encourage them find it on their own. “Do the Mumble thing: give it your best try.”

- The Absolute Worst Parenting Mistake: Like Memphis (Mumble’s father) we have each “dropped the egg” (the worst thing a penguin father could do). It's a relief to admit it to your spouse or to a trustworthy friend. I did it. The worst part was recognizing that at one moment (at least) in my parenting, I lost “it”: my common sense, my feelings for my child, my desire to be a good parent, my temper... “It is essential to not hold on to those times (when we fail), so that they do not get in the way of the times you (parents) are there,” says Joseph Michelli, Ph.D. (Humor, Play & Laughter) In penguin talk, pick up the egg and drop the guilt.

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