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FLICKS: Melancholia & Happy Feet Two

Posted on 23 November 2011 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


It is one of the great ironies of the holiday season that the motion picture industry issues their Oscar consideration flicks with dark themes about the end of the world or mental illness. Happy Feet Two and Melancholia are no exception this holiday season.

Told in two parts, Melancholia opens with the story of “Justine” (Kirsten Dunst), a bride who is late for her elaborate wedding reception in a stately mansion. John (Keifer Sutherland) complains about the cost of the wedding, while Gaby (Charlotte Rampling) complains about everything. Justine is supported by her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg – the daughter of the recently reviewed Gainsbourg – A Heroic Life).

Claire’s story dominates the second part of the story. As the wedding ends in a shambles, the planet Melancholia is on a collision course with planet Earth.  Given his knowledge of science, John poo poos the notion about the end of the world, Claire is neurotic, but Justine seems pacified by these events.

Given the serious drama, Melancholia moves at a snail’s pace, broken up by the humor generated by John Hurt and Rampling. Technically, Melancholia is an impressive art film with visual nods to French Impressionism. Dunst manifests her melancholia with a brave and naked performance.

While the subtext of Happy Feet Two deals with global warming, at least this animated sequel lacks the condescension of an Al Gore/Michael Moore documentary. In fact, it celebrates public problem-solving based on individual actions.

It has been at least five years since the events of the first Happy Feet.  Mumbles (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink – replacing the late Brittany Murphy) are the parents to Erik (Ava Acres), a young penguin with learning disabilities.  Given his painful youthful experiences, Mumbles attempts to impart his wisdom upon his son, but the boy is too young to understand. Calamity happens and Mumbles must save his community yet again.

Don’t fear kiddies. Happy Feet Two never ventures into melancholia. The musical score is upbeat and families were dancing in their seats at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery IMAX theater. Like the first Happy Feet, ticket buyers will leave the show with a hitch in their giddyup. At least this columnist is thankful that he did not have to review The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 this weekend! Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader.

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