First off: not a bad place to see a movie, but bring a pillow and a way of propping yourself up for two hours.
We'll skip the trivia and the jazz chorus performance and skip straight to the meat of the thing: the animated film Happy Feet.
Have you heard of this thing? It's a CGI film about a dancing penguin. I know that sounds stupid. It stars Hugh Jackman (unrecognizable), Hugo Weaving (unrecognizable), Nicole Kidman (unrecognizable), Robin Williams (all too recognizable, twice over), and Elijah Woods (clear as a bell and nicely underplayed).
It was directed by George Miller - who made the Mad Max films.
Its lead player doesn't sing, he tap dances: to tracks laid down by Savion Glover.
It's a nearly all-white production that manages to present something like a panracial wonderland, which is at times really uncomfortable - check out Williams's misbegotten Barry-White-crossed-with-Mr-T schtick - and at times hilarious and escapist and joyful. And when 'aliens' appear, the cultural mishmash of the film is suddenly affecting and chilling. Indeed, there's a section of the film that's tonally closer to The Truman Show than any other film, into which odd racial stereotypes suddenly burst forth and are complicated and queeeeeasy. (Remember that guy behind the dancing penguin also played Mantan in Spike Lee's Bamboozled.) Let's point out, though: Miller is very definitely not an American filmmaker, and his vision shouldn't track along American racial-sensitivity lines; the choice of Glover for the role is apt (though who else does what he does?), and lends the film an air of racial complexity.
And speaking of the Truman Show bit, when those 'aliens' are revealed, they're shot in a way that may not even register with children, but should chill adult viewers. It's a creepy sequence and its technique only deepens viewer discomfort.
The music of Happy Feet seems to be modeled on the (overwrought, unbearable) Moulin Rouge: positively adulterous in terms of genre and style, with single lines from songs bleeding into one another. The opening and closing lines are from the Abbey Road suite (again, probably lost on kids, but a good sign to adults that what's coming is fucked up somehow), and inbetween you get such a ridiculous assemblage of styles - with onscreen music nearly constant for the first half of the film, by the way - that the profligacy starts to take on a meaning and joyousness of its own. It's hard not to like these penguins, not least because they're addicted to song. And there's a moment, at the film's climax, when Gregorian chant finds counterpoint in African choral vocals with Glover's delirious tap sketching out a syncopated martial beat underneath: it's the third or fourth time the film has risen to musical ecstasy, all the more affecting because the scene is a herald of religious/industrial apocalypse.
It's a disjointed and crazy film and it's way better than it has any right to be. I think you should see Happy Feet, ideally with lots of other people. It's several films in one, and each is better than you'd expect.
[Happy Feet was reviewed very capably and sensitively here by Manohla Dargis. In particular she states succinctly what's uncomfortable about the film's racial matrix.]