Warning: If you don’t want to know the ending to Happy Feet, read no further.
On its opening weekend, the tap-dancing penguin raked in $42.3 million, topping the debut of the much-anticipated Bond flick Casino Royale. If you thought your eight dollars would buy an hour and a half of a warm and fuzzy penguin love story set to music, you’ll be surprised by the realistic and serious tone of the film (as well as the penguins with Mexican accents …).
Sure, you’ve seen the preview:
There is singing, there is dancing, there is the light-hearted humor you would expect from a film starring Robin Williams. But all of this is secondary to the much bigger story line: the penguins are starving because humans are stealing all their fish.
“Mumble,” the tap-dancing protagonist played by Elijah Wood, takes it upon himself to find the truth behind the declining fish supply. He and his friends embark on an adventure that includes industrial fishing vessels scooping outrageous amounts of fish out of the ocean and dialogue that could have been ripped from my organization‘s own press releases.
But like any animated children’s film, this story has a happy ending. The writers could have taken the easy way out and fed the penguins from a genie’s wish or a fairy godmother. Instead, they chose to bring back the fish the only way we’re actually going to bring back the fish: by passing and enforcing smarter fishing laws. I daresay this is the first children’s movie to end with a montage of political resolutions.
As luck would have it, the movie’s release came just days before a crucial United Nations vote. For months, the UN has been debating a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling — the most destructive form of industrial fishing. Even President Bush was in favor of this moratorium. But on Thursday, while most of us were feasting and watching football, U.N. negotiators failed to agree on the moratorium, proving we still have a long way to go to achieve our happy ending.