Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #23

Re: Happy Feet (2006)

On the radio you mentioned the original Happy Feet movie having a “gay” subtext. While this isn’t a favorite movie of mine, I wanted to tell you that I did not see the scene regarding the son asking his father to not make him change as such. If you recall, while Mumble was in his egg, the egg got dropped and was cracked while it was supposed to be protected by his father. My interpretation is that Mumble is a handicapped child who could have easily been “aborted” due to his damage but was instead raised by his family. The mother did it with love, and the father struggled with his son’s differences but eventually came around to loving his handicapped child. Just thought I’d share a different interpretation with you. Thank you.

Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your thought, and I’d like agree, but I don’t think it’s persuasive to say that the movie sees Mumble as “handicapped.” Rather, Mumble is differently oriented, to dance rather than to song. Mumble’s dancing is specifically considered “sin” that has “offended the great ’Guin” (i.e., the penguin deity). This fits my interpretation better than yours.

I admit Mumble’s father saying “He’s not different! He’s just a regular little penguin!” could fit either interpretation. But when Mumble says, “Don’t ask me to change, Pa, I can’t,” that sounds to me like a line that would be more at home in a coming-out drama than a drama about a handicapped child.

I do think it’s interesting that the movie offers a possible explanation for Mumble’s “difference” in his father dropping the egg, or “dropping the ball” as we say. I don’t think the movie meant to imply that fathers dropping the ball with their sons may be a factor in boys turning out “different,” but movies often raise all sorts of possibilities and questions the filmmakers didn’t necessarily intend.

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