Saturday, December 09, 2006

Happy Feet Gives Conservatives Something To Rant About, But Barnyard Had Drinking, Vandalizing ... And Promotions From "Pro-Family" Firm

Happy Feet, the new and very popular children's film about a tap-dancing penguin trying to find love and right environmental wrongs, has become the symbol du jour for conservatives to rant about "Hollywood liberals," and how out of touch they are.

Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto are among the conservatives who have called the film an animated version of the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, even though Happy Feet revolves around an anti-pollution message, not global warming. Other conservatives have noted that the penguin friends of lead character Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) appear to be gay.

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago with my five-year-old son and my father-in-law, and for us, the problem with the film was not the environmental message, but the un-clever way the message it's introduced.

My thumbnail review: the first half of Happy Feet is very entertaining, in a big Broadway musical way -- a children's version of Moulin Rouge. The second half, starting with Mumble's swim across the ocean and stay in a glass-enclosed zoo exhibit, is humorless and off-putting. The only comparison I can make is to A.I., starting with when Haley Joel Osment's character is frozen in the ocean for a millenium, then brought back to life by aliens. And if you're familiar with A.I., you know that part of the movie isn't funny or particularly child-friendly.

Happy Feet then ends with a montage of politicians reacting to what they've learned from Mumble. Again, not funny. Not deft.

***

Conservatives rail against Hollywood because it's an easy target. You don't see conservatives knocking the "Hollywood agenda" when the film is The Passion of the Christ, even though many people found that film's portrayal of Jews objectionable.

Conservatives are also one-sided in their criticisms on the politically motivated in Hollywood. Barbra Streisand as an outspoken liberal. But conservatives champion Patricia Heaton -- Ray Romano's wife on Everybody Loves Raymond and an outspoken conservative. Dennis Miller can make anti-John Kerry jokes -- even insinuate that Kerry and John Edwards were gay -- at a rally for President Bush, and that's ok. Whoopi Goldberg makes sexually explicit jokes about Bush's last name at a Kerry fund-raiser, and that's bad. Arnold Schwarzenegger has every right to hold political office. Al Franken does not.

***

In the world of children's movies, political messages can be found everywhere, going back to a World War II-era Bugs Bunny, featured in several pro-military shorts.

Other recent children's movies have more deftly delivered messages that could be seen as political. Over The Hedge, at its heart, swipes at commercialism. Open Season makes hunters look foolish and at times, mean. Flushed Away makes fun of the French. None of those films led to rants from conservatives.

Sometimes, Hollywood goes out of its way not to offend conservatives. For example, the producers of Everyone's Hero changed several "Oh my God" declarations to "Oh my gosh," to earn endorsements from Christian groups.

Frankly, the most offensive children's movie I've seen this year was Barnyard, which features "party animals" -- not adult animals, mind you -- drinking excessively, vandalizing, and in one case, have pre-marital sex that leads to a pregnant cow. Yet that movie not only flew under the radar of the "pro-family" conservative pundits, it was promoted by faith-based marketing firm Grace Hill Media.

6 Comments:

Blogger thewaronterrible said...

I saw "Happy Feet" with my family and I think the overriding message was to encourage people, in particular young people, to step out of their comfort zones to make changes and accomplish some good on behalf of their species.

Of course, the conservatives want to suppress individuality over conformity. I mean, the conservatives do not like the idea of an individual spirit, like the penguin hero in this film, questioning and taking on government.

So there you have the true reason why the conservative ghouls hate Happy Feet so much. The stuff about global warming is just a ruse.

If you want an truly offensive kid's movie that Disney to this day refuses to release on video or DVD due to racist overtones about blacks, try 1946's "Song of the South."

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we dont like about this flm is the liberal agenda being thrown into our face. Answer this, (Oh geez I forgot who I was talking to, I know I wont get an educated answer) why wont the production company give some sort of an idea as to the agenda of the movie and show a clip of it in commercials? ANSWER: Because they know they wont get people into the theater who dont believe that the UN is the cure all.

Also who are these Conservative saying character in this movie are gay. Or is this just another liberal lie?

Now getting to the bit about The Passion. I dont recall MANY people objecting to the Passion. I dont recall all the violence against Jews that we were promised. What I do know is you knew what the story was about. The story line wasnt hidden, like it is with Happy Feet. And if The Passion is the only movie you can come up with for an argument, then it proves where your agenda is and proves the point that Hollyweird is Liberal Land.

8:00 AM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

No one is hiding the message of Happy Feet, no more than the makers of Adam Sandler's latest movie "Click" "disguised" in promotions for the movie the message that the movie was really (at least) an attempted mediation on life, more so than another easy-going comedy. Lot of critics and people said they were upset that Click "misled them" in the promotional campaign.
My point is that's true of ALL films from the major studios, no matter the subject matter. Hollywood is going to choose to promote the film in whichever way possible to attract the widest audience possible, even if it means not revealing the true focus/message of the film. Period.
So what did you expect of Happy Feet based on the commercials. A simple little movie only about dancing penguins? I for one, and I would assume you do to, appreciate it when films strive have another dimension or a deeper meaning.
Or can't you handle films deeper than "The Three Stooges" or Rob Schneider playing a male prostitute?

8:36 AM  
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