Review of “Surf’s Up” (2007) PG 85min
April 9th, 2008 by Maxim · 1 Comment · 6,682 Views
Oscar-nominated animated feature from Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck.
The plot: The reality/documentary follows Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), a teenage Royal Penguin, and his friend Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), as Cody leaves his hometown of Shiverpool, Antarctica, to participate in “Big Z Memorial Surf Off” competition commemorating deceased surfing star Big Z (Jeff Bridges) on Pen Gu Island.
The good: Great visuals, especially the actual surfing sequences with big waves – exhilarating. I loved the premise that penguins invented surfing. The movie is shot as a reality-TV/documentary where Cody and others give interviews and behind-the-scenes commentary – I have never seen any animated stories done in this style – very original. Little baby penguins were hilarious, and so were flashback sequences. A lot of references to pop culture, which I usually don’t like because they are overused, but here they were well-balanced. All surfers talk like “Hey! Wow! Dude! Awesome! Cool! Champ!” etc. The tattooed surfer-penguin Tank was cool indeed. Jon Heder (Blades Of Glory, Monster House, Napoleon Dynamite etc) and Shia LaBeouf had done a great job with the voice-overs – really gives their characters uniqueness. Lovely scene where Z, Cody and Baywatch lifeguard babe (Zooey Deschanel) were sitting by the fire and Z was playing on ukulele. Really cool camera movements – one of the ways they add the documentary feel to the movie.
The bad: Sometimes the heroes (or movie makers) forget that this is actually a documentary – the story falls in and out of style. In many ways a typical sport movie (hate sport movies). Could have been shorter. Chicken character didn’t materialize – he has no purpose.
The summary: Frankly, I was tired of animated movies starring talking animals, but this is completely different – surprisingly refreshing.
DVD features: bonus features include two animated shorts: “The Chubb Chubs!” and sequel “How the Chubb Chubbs saved Xmas”. The first one I saw in the theatre a few years ago, in 2002 I think, before some other movie, probably Harry Potter. It was a very good funny short. Also check out http://www.surfsupdvdfun.com/ . Enjoy. Other bonus features include:
- Deleted scenes
- Arnold’s Zurfinary – animated short feature where baby penguin Arnold explains surfer’s lingo: You call everyone you like Dude or Bro, but if it’s somebody like Tank you call them Dork. There are also words like Wipeouts, adjectives like Radical, Awesome, Sweet. Very=way, e.g. “these surfer dudes are way radical”. Practice.
- 3 short featurettes about voice-overs. Not bad.
- Not a Drop of Real Water – a featurette about the photography, making of water effects and other processes of making a 3D animation.
The cast: Cody Maverick – Shia LaBeouf | Big Z – Jeff Bridges | Lani Aliikai – Zooey Deschanel | Chicken Joe – Jon Heder | Reggie – James Woods | Tank Evans – Diedrich Bader (not the most attractive guy, but he’s awesome in everything he does)
The credits: Directors – Ash Brannon, Chris Buck | Screenplay – Don Rhymer, Ash Brannon, Chris Buck, Christopher Jenkins | Story by Christopher Jenkins and Christian Darren | Producers – Lydia Bottegoni, Christopher Jenkins | Original Music – Mychael Danna
p.s. Dannis Quaid is 54 today.
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