This is a review of Warner Bros 'Happy Feet', which I haven't seen, but you can get a taste of at http://www2.warnerbros.com/happyfeet/.
I was always a great Warner Bros fan. Their cartoons were obviously aimed at adults; how many kids really get the point of Bugs Bunny gags? Writing for adults and designing for children is a classic formula in animated movies.
There was a time when Fairy Tales were written as moral tales to warn the young and the unholy of the evils of the world, and the punishment awaiting the wrongdoers. With the passing of time, the messages got lost - or did they?
The theme of so many Animated features is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which translates into 'The Good' (and beautiful), 'The Bad and Ugly'; we know that bad people are ugly because so many classic animated movies have told us so. True the Queen in Snow White was beautiful, but actually ugly inside, on the other hand in 'Beauty and the Beast', the Beast is beautiful inside.
But there are exceptions. Baloo the Bear in Jungle Book is lovely, if not beautiful. We have beauty competitions, but we don't have 'Lovely' competitions. The problem is we can't measure niceness.
What we can measure to a limited extent is how interesting a person is, and more importantly how close they are to ourselves. I note that Social Networking sites are increasingly using animation to attract attention and say "Hey, look at me, I may not be beautiful but I'm fun".
It may be a very subtle thing that animation is used in this personal way, but I'm sure it's the toe in the door. You can already buy avatars to sell your goods and services, I guess you'll be able to buy them to sell yourself - if it hasn't already been done.