Deep in the Antarctic, the Emperor penguins pair together by finding another who's heartsong resonates perfectly with their own. When Memphis (Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean's (Nicole Kidman) songs tell them that they're for each other, then that was that and when they're blessed with an egg, it's Memphis's job to keep it warm over the winter while Norma Jean goes off to sea with all the other females.
But when little Mumble (Elijah Wood) is born the next Spring it's soon obvious that he's different from the rest of the new brood. He simply can't sing but instead he tap-dances like a whirlwind. Worried that his seeming disability will affect his future, his parents try everything to get him to sing and to stop dancing but it isn't long before he comes to the notice of Noah (Hugo Weaving) and the elders. The fish are scarcer this year and the elders soon blame young Mumble and his different ways for angering the penguin god and causing the shortage and they cast him out of the flock.
In his wanderings, fleeing from a ravenous leopard seal, he meets a group of little Adelie penguins led by Ramon (Robin Williams) who show him that there are other ways and other cultures. After he talks to Lovelace (Robin Williams), the Adelie flock wise-man, it becomes obvious to Mumble that there has to other beings out there, aliens who are responsible for the fish shortage and they all set out to find out who or what they are…
The story is a fairly straightforward dig at man's alienation of anyone different or disabled and how we so easily lay the blame for all our ills on anything that doesn't conform to our notion of normality. There's a fair bit of humour in there but there are also a few scary moments so I wouldn't recommend it for very young children.
Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman can sing pretty well so their roles as Mumble's parents pan out quite well and Brittany Murphy, who plays Mumble's friend Gloria, also delivers on the vocals. Robin Williams and his accompanying troop of Adelies also give a pretty account of themselves as well and there's a good backing cast of singers so the numbers come pretty thick and fast in places.
The animation is superb! Everything from the way their feet leave little trails in the pack ice and snow, the way the bubble trails squirt and drift as the penguins and fish speed through the water, the old whaling station set with its ice-floes and the killer whales, the skuas and elephant seals to the hard, driving cold that is the Antarctic in the depth of Winter. Visually, it's a very stunning movie and the camera angles and panning shots add much to the effect as well. The only negative aspect was the fact that the animators had given the female penguins a bit of an hour-glass figure, which just looked a bit odd. Animation fans will love it once they get past all the singing and dancing!
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Musical.
My Rating: 7/10