Happy Feet is an Australian-produced 2006 computer-animated comedy-drama film with music, directed and co-written by George Miller. It was produced at Sydney-based visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures and was released in North America on November 17, 2006. It is the first animated feature film produced by Kennedy Miller in association with Animal Logic. Though primarily an animated film, it does incorporate live action humans in certain scenes. The film was simultaneously released in both conventional theatres and in IMAX 2D format. The studio has hinted that a future IMAX 3D release was a possibility. Happy Feet won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.
Set in an Antarctic emperor penguin colony, the film established that every penguin must make a unique noise called a "heartsong" to attract a mate. If the female likes the male's song and if it fits with the female's and helps complete it, the two penguins mate. This is based in fact, since emperor couples court each other and recognize one another by their unique calls. One penguin, Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman), sings the song "Kiss", whereupon a male penguin named Memphis (Hugh Jackman) sings "Heartbreak Hotel". Norma Jean chooses him as her mate. They couple and Norma Jean lays an egg. The egg is left in Memphis's care while Norma Jean and the other females leave to fish for several weeks. While the males are struggling through the harsh winter, Memphis drops the egg, briefly exposing it to the freezing Antarctic temperatures. The resulting chick - the film's protagonist, Mumble (Elizabeth Daily as child version, Elijah Wood as adult version) - has a terrible singing voice. However, Mumble had a talent for something that none of the penguins had ever seen before: tap dancing.
Mumble's joy at finding acceptance is cut short when he starts discovering strange, alien things; after his accidentally starting an avalanche a long-frozen human excavator tumbles out from a glacier, and Mumble is intrigued. Driven by curiosity, he sets out to find the "aliens" responsible for the machine.
Noah (Hugo Weaving), the elder, sees the lack of fish as punishment from the Great 'Guin, their god, for Mumble's dancing. Mumble tries to explain about the mysterious "aliens" he had heard about and that they are the cause of the scarceness of fish, but none of the penguins believe him. Noah exiles Mumble from the colony as a result of his strange ways and theories, but before Mumble leaves, he vows that he will find the real cause of the famine. He travels across vast territories with the Amigos and Lovelace, a self-worshiping rockhopper. Gloria tries to help him but Mumble, out of fear for her safety, does whatever it takes to get rid of her - namely, insulting her singing talents.
After swimming and being tossed around by sea currents, Mumble ends up in a penguin exhibit at a marine park (closely resembling the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld, a massive zoom-out hinting at the one in Orlando, Florida), and fervently tries to communicate with the "aliens" (humans) who surround him. When his pleas fail, Mumble nearly succumbs to madness after three months of confinement in the sterile glass prison. When a child taps on the glass wall one day, Mumble is woken from his stupor and dances in response, whereupon the child appears to run away. He becomes disappointed until she comes back with her mother. Soon, a large crowd gathers around the exhibit, taking pictures and telling their friends of this marvel. He is released to the wild, now with less fluffy down feathers and more adult feathers, and a tracking device strapped to his back, and leads the "aliens" home to his native colony. The other penguins are skeptical at first, but when Gloria notices the beeping tracking device they realize that Mumble was right about the "aliens" and they were all wrong to judge him on his theories and his dancing. Now convinced that the aliens exist they once again dance alongside Mumble in hopes of getting the aliens' attention.
Soon, a research team arrives and films the penguins dancing, and the humans begin to dance along with the rhythm. They bring this footage back to the human world. Different governments debate what to make of this footage and a worldwide debate ensues. They soon realize that they are overfishing the Antarctic waters, and conclude that perhaps the penguins were trying to communicate that to them. Antarctic fishing is banned, and the fish population recovers. At this, the Emperor Penguins and the Amigos dance and celebrate their triumph. A dancing baby penguin seen at the end is implied to be the child of Mumble and Gloria.
In the credits, the characters reunite to dance for the final number "Song of the Heart."