Review in a Hurry: An unnecessary sequel to the overrated 2006 hit, HF2 again shows there's no problem you can't tap-dance your way out of. Despite some amazing animation and cool song mash-ups, this flat-footed follow-up is as messy and overcrowded as, well, an island packed with poopy penguins.
The Bigger Picture: Enviro-friendly messages abound in this Antarctic adventure, from the evils of oil spills to global warming and even to eating meat. But as HF2 strives to moralize about our connectivity to all living things, the narrative becomes frustratingly disjointed.
Hoofing hero Mambo (Elijah Wood) is back—this time as an adult with a kid of his own, Erik (Ava Acres). Reluctant to boogie-oogie-oogie with the others, Erik runs away from his toe-tapping tribe (the Emperor Nation marches to Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation"). To his dad's disappointment, Erik also becomes enthralled with The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria), a flying Swedish penguin with a cult-like following.
But then, shifting icebergs trap Erik's family and friends, and in a plot retread from the original, the penguin population suffers a life-threatening shortage of fish. What to do? Everybody cut footloose! Or something like that.
The film crams in too many characters but not enough jokes and takes odd detours, notably Sven's extended backstory. In a major subplot, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt voice two chatty krill with a budding bromance (krillmance?). Their journey to move up the food chain provides a few funny moments and the most spectacular visuals, including krill swarms, a whale attack and jellyfish encounters. But their rather-nonsensical quest isn't well-integrated into the main story.
There are several pop remixes, of course, and songstress Pink (as Erik's mom) shows off her vocal chops, even as she reveals a limited acting range. The score, in a lack of imagination, also pilfers the classical music canon (somewhere, Puccini is rolling over in his grave).
Unhappily, Happy Feet 2 too often trips on its clumsy storytelling, but little ones easily charmed by the novelty of singing-and-dancing penguins might still get a high-kick out of it.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Where else can you hear Matt Damon crooning awesome hits by '80s icons Wham! and Rick Astley? Like, totally give that dude a record deal!