CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Fate Doesn’t Fail Them Now in ‘Happy Feet Two’
CHICAGO – Dancing animated penguins, a tradition dating back to Disney’s “Mary Poppins” and brought to further life in the first “Happy Feet” movie, finds more stepping pep in “Happy Feet Two.” Robin Williams and Elijah Wood return to lend their vocal talents in this enjoyable sequel.
This is a film that never gets boring. It balances a couple of major stories, including a couple of tiny krills (shrimp-like amoeba in the sea) who are searching for their identities. The scenic elements are spectacular, again upping the ante for atmosphere in the new golden age of animation. Like the first film, there are messages which takes in environmentalism, the collective versus the free will and working together to accomplish a goal. All this and dancing, too!
The film begins with an extended penguin dance sequence, led by the vocal talents of Gloria (voice of Pink). Mumble (Elijah Wood) is back leading the way, and this time he is teaching his son, Erik (Ava Acres). Erik has a hard time picking up the rhythms, and becomes entranced with another tribe of penquins, which includes The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria) and Preacher Lovelace (Robin Williams). Sven has the magical ability to fly, and Erik rejects his father’s dance for this new advocation.
Erik briefly runs away to join this tribe, and Mumble follows and retrieves him. While they are away, huge chunks of ice fall, trapping Gloria and the rest of the dancing penquins, which includes the love-struck Ramón (Williams again) and his potential beau Carmen (Sofia Vergara). Eventually joining up to help out Bryan the Beachmaster Elephant Seal (Richard Carter) and a pair of microscopic sea creatures who long to break away from their millions of companions, Bill the Krill (Matt Damon) and Will the Krill (Brad Pitt).
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures