Happy Feet Two: How a Gen-Xer Found Joy in Penguins and Elephant Seals Dancing to David Bowie

The joy of dancing penquins (photo by Beth Pratt)

This past Sunday, I attended the premiere of Happy Feet Two in Los Angeles. The National Wildlife Federation teamed up with the movie to encourage people of all ages to take the steps necessary to protect amazing wildlife species such as penguins and wild places such as Antarctica.

I helped staff a booth for our organization at the premiere festivities in front of the Mann’s Chinese Theater, and had a delightful time helping children create finger puppet penguins while watching some of the stars who provided voices for the film—Hank Azaria, Robin Williams, Pink, and Sofia Vegara—parade down the red carpet.

The movie had a wonderful message of working together for the good of all in a changing world, as well as the coolest song and dance finale I have ever seen with penguins and elephant seals doing a rendition of David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” Not having kids, I think the last cartoon movie I saw was Beauty and the Beast, and the last 3D movie I attended was U23D, but I had splendid time. Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as Will and Bill- the Krill brought some fun adult humor to the film as well, with their witty banter reminiscent of the Oceans films.

Near the end of the movie, when penguins of all nations united with elephant seals and tiny krill to save a group of penguins trapped by melting ice and calving glaciers, I teared up a bit, but not from sadness–it’s not a sad movie in the least and despite my fears of a few scenes turning into Planet Earth unpleasant predator-prey moments, nary a critter meets their demise. Instead, the tears came from sheer joy over impossibly cute penguins and the hopeful message of togetherness. I tried to secretly wipe my tears away without notice so as not to embarrass myself in front of my coworker, but we had a laugh together as she admitted to getting a bit watery-eyed as well.

One of the penquin finger puppets made by children at the NWF booth at the Happy Feet Two Premiere (Photo by Beth Pratt)

Last week the environmental movement scored a victory with Obama’s decision to delay the controversial Keystone pipeline and call for further environmental review. As NWF’s President and CEO Larry Schweiger observed, blocking this project was the result of a diverse group of Americans—from environmentalists in California to football players in Nebraska–gathering together for a common cause.  “Over the last several months, a groundswell of opposition sunk this project. Not since the first Earth Day have I seen so much energy directed toward conserving the environment for our children. This is a great moment for the thousands of Americans who have stood up to this project, from town halls to the White House.”

Climate change is transforming our world, but by working together, whether we are tap dancing penguins and singing elephant seals, or left coast environmentalists and Cornhusker football players, we can unite to protect people, wildlife and the special places on this earth.

Happy Feet Two opens this Friday, November 18. Children will love the film, but adults, I dare you not to be charmed and inspired by those animated 3D penguins fighting the impacts of climate change and oil spills as they happily dance and sing to Queen and David Bowie songs.

Get more fun facts and activities about penguins and download free Family Fun and Educator Guides for the movie!