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Guess Who Saw “Happy Feet” Over the Weekend?

I blogged recently about a small controversy over the film Happy Feet. It was about whether the tap dancer Savion Glover (whose website has the best possible opening-title sequence) should have gotten more credit for doing the actual dancing that Mumble, the animated penguin, performs in the film.

My wife and I took our kids to see the film for a second time yesterday, at the IMAX theater near Lincoln Center in Manhattan. We had a fine time. But it was made even better when, on the way out, we saw a young couple, the dad carrying a small child, making its way out of the theater. It was none other than Glover himself.

My first thought was: Why on earth is he here? Hasn’t he seen the film at least a couple of times already, and doesn’t he own a DVD of it?

But as I walked behind Glover, holding my own kids’ hands, and watched Glover’s kid snuggling into his shoulder, I imagined that it must be pretty marvelous to come to an IMAX screening of a movie with a 40-foot-tall animated penguin that your kid probably loves, doing the steps that you created, and getting to watch his face light up.

This reminded me of something Steven Spielberg once said when I wrote a profile about him. He made it clear that every project he undertook had a different motivation, and satisfied a different constituency:

The films are what he lives for. The Shoah Foundation is a vital outlet for his altruism. The White House was not someone he could turn down. The cartoons and games and theme park “make my kids really proud of me,” he says. “They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about ‘Schindler’s List’ or ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ but they care volumes that my name precedes ‘Tiny Toons’ and ‘Animaniacs.'”