“Happy Feet 2” leaves girl penguins out in the cold

The last time I blogged about “Happy Feet,” in its first incarnation, I wrote about how the movie was yet another about a male and titled for a male. A commenter responded that Happy Feet is not, in fact, the male character star’s name. His name is Mumble. The commenter wrote that I was wrong to assume the title referred to he, that many penguins in this movie dance, thus they can all be Happy Feet. This is true. Feet, after all, is plural. We all have feet. So with this open frame of mind, I went to see “Happy Feet Two.”

Even I was seriously disappointed with this movie.  Not only is “Happy Feet 2” a father-son story, which I expected, but there are no less than three subplots and guess what? All three are about male relationships with other males. Wow. And everyone says girls are the ones who care about relationships.

Subplot #1 is about an elephant seal trying to impress his 2 sons– did you get that part about two sons? Perhaps the seal could have had a daughter? Perhaps the seal with the big role could’ve been a mom? Impossible, I know, because in real life, male seals lead the pack. Never mind that this is a movie about penguins who sing and dance and talk to each other, it’s important that we all be realistic about gender roles in the seal world.

The elephant seal’s dilemma is that he refuses to “back up” to let the penguins pass. The dad seal does not want to back up because if he does, the lady seals will no longer be impressed by him. I kid you not. The dad seal ends up falling and Mumble saves his life. Later, the dad seal returns the favor for Mumble so the male buddy motif is expertly woven in to the father-son motif.

Subplot #2 Matt Damon and Brad Pitt steal the show playing krills. The animation here is absolutely beautiful and the imagination of picturing life from the krill perspective is impressive. But I honestly cannot figure out why the animators couldn’t push their imaginations just a little further and make the krills female. Even the real life krill world would be OK with the switch. Hardly a line of dialogue would have to be changed. The homoerotic subtext would work fine as lesbianism. I can’t think of a think of a single reason why the krills must be males except to give Brad Pitt and Matt Damon parts.

Subplot #3 The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria) is a penguin who can fly. His talents are celebrated by all, especially Lovelace (Robin Williams) Lovelace tells the long story of how he met Sven and the adventures they shared, shown in flashbacks. Turns out Sven is actually a bird pretending to a penguin. Sven is another father figure to little Erik, as by the way is the other character voiced by Robin Williams– Ramon.

There is one intrepid girl penguin in the movie. I think her name is Bo. I really tried to listen for her name. Three kids go off together– Erik, Atticus, and Bo. It took me a long time to figure out that she was a girl because her name is hardly spoken while Atticus’s and Erik’s names are said many times. I would love to see this movie again just to actually count the times her name is mentioned as compared with Erik’s and Atticus’s. I won’t do this because there is no way I can sit through this movie again, but if you, against my advice, go see it, please listen for her name and let me know what you think. And when her name is said, it’s the androgynous Bo that makes me think Dukes of Hazard. Bo’s part is pretty small but not really small, and she does act bravely. It is for her, and only for her, that I am going to include one G for Girlpower in Reel Girl’s rating of this movie.

Bo’s mother, Miss Viola, has a small part. Erik’s mother, Gloria (Pink) also has a small part and the largest of the smalls for females. There is one more female penguin small part, Carmen (Sofia Veraga) who plays the curvaceous, sexualized love interest of Ramon. Gross.

“Happy Feet Two” is an obscene depiction of a world where girls hardly matter. Not only that, it’s boring. Do not take your kids to this movie. Reel Girl gives “Happy Feet Two” an SSS/ G rating (three S’s for Stereotyping, one G for Girlpower)