The penguins are back, but this time we get to see their fluffy faces in 3D.
My family watched the new Happy Feet Two movie, a sequel to the 2006 original, on its opening weekend at the Boeing IMAX Theater at Pacific Science Center. There were kids of all ages in the audience, ready to see tap-dancing penguins on the biggest screen in Seattle. The six-story-high IMAX screen delivers the goods.
Happy Feet Two has the usual band of beloved seabirds, but now there are some babies in the bunch. It is Mumble's adorable son Erik who is the outcast this time. Poor thing, he just doesn't have happy feet. Like his father, he ends up finding acceptance over at the other penguin camp.
We are introduced to the brave new flying penguin in town, Sven (well, he is really a Puffin). He becomes a father figure of sorts to Erik, who isn't connecting with his real father. We also follow the story of two tiny krill (with the familiar voices of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon), who seek a life of adventure beyond the swarm. I didn't love this addition, but the luminescent krill were great in 3D, with their antennae reaching out to the audience.
At the end of the journey, the penguins must work together with the elephant seals – the leader of whom owes Mumble a big favor – to overcome a sticky situation that is brought on by global warming. There isn't as much dancing in number two, but when it happens, it is ultra-important. And it happens to be my kids' favorite part. I like that the funny Ramon (voiced by Robin Williams) finds love.
The show runs 1 hour 50 minutes and is rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril. Although there were younger kids than mine in the audience, this big-screen experience, which can be loud, seems best suited for ages 5 and older.
Prior to the show there is a preview for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (featuring The Rock) that had my 5-year-old daughter covering her eyes and ears. There were mad dinosaurs jumping out of the screen and, not having seen a 3D movie for a while, she was a bit overwhelmed.
Thankfully, that trailer was followed by a Tweety Bird and Sylvester the Cat short, which had her peering again at the screen and, eventually, laughing. And Happy Feet Two kicks off with a wonderful dance scene, upbeat music (Gloria is voiced adeptly by P!nk) and even some rapping from the cute baby penguins. "Get your fluffy on" is pretty irresistible.
The first scene also has some neat 3D as the snow jumps out at you from under the penguins' feet. The bone-chilling environs of the Antarctic are beautiful in 3D. Another favorite 3D moment for my kids happens during the credits, as bubbles come out and burst over the audience. My 7-year-old was convinced he was the one popping them.
The Boeing IMAX Theater offers normal movie theater amenities, popcorn, soda and snacks, and a larger-than-life way to see a good flick.
IF YOU GO
Where:Boeing IMAX Theater at Pacific Science Center, 200 2nd Ave. N., Seattle Center.
When:Daily showings now through Thursday, Dec. 15.
Cost:Adults $13.75; children (ages 3 to 5) $9, youth (ages 6 to 15) $10.50, and children younger than 3 are free.
Taryn Zier is a freelance writer based in Lake Forest Park and mother of two children, ages 5 and 7.