Reviews and News
   Featured Articles
   Buddy Sites
   Our Sponsors
 Surf's Up
They’ve marched, they’ve danced, and now they …wait for it…surf!

I waddled on over to see “Surf’s Up” this weekend (June 9)despite my initial misgivings about it. You see at this point I've so had it with penguins. Look, I get the whole penguin thing, I really do. They're cute. They're cuddly. And despite the frigidly cold climate in which they live in they are always very well dressed!
Yeah sure, I’ll admit I liked "March of the Penguins" but it satisfied any idle curiosity I might have once had for the fluffy, flightless Antarctic creatures and by the time "Happy Feet" came out, I was really ready to regurgitate. Frankly, it was all starting to smell like last week's tuna surprise casserole!
But, I just keep coming back partly because penguins are just plain ... awwww!

Okay, so now where are we up to this point? Oh yeah, now we have a bunch of penguins on surfboards hanging six dude (ho hum.) Nevertheless, I went anyway determined to watch the movie strictly for its entertainment value, not as a bitter reviewer bored with penguin movies.
And guess what? I found that I really started to enjoy the movie! In fact, I wasn’t planning on writing this review at all but I decided to at the last minute because it is that good.

Turns out "Surf's Up" is a fresh, funny, and engaging surfing movie that just happens to have penguins in it. Gosh darn it, those cute little birds finally found a movie that lets them be cuddly animals without preaching to us about the state of our environment.

Finally, a flick about penguins that’s appealing rather than off-putting. The story is told in a fresh new way, it is the first animated movie (that I know of) to be filmed as if it was a reality show. A “mockumentary” approach if you will, in which a film crew follows a young aspiring surfer named Cody Maverick voiced by Shia LaBeouf, (I guess he had some time to kill before battling giant robotic, transforming vehicles.)
This gave the age old storyline “underdog-makes-good-in- the-end, a cool and refreshing new spin.
We are treated to the action with hand held ESPN-style camera angles that dodge in and around the characters and included some really funny interviews with Cody’s family and friends speaking directly to the audience. We hear the voice of the interviewer, enjoy home movie footage and occasionally see the microphone just as we do in real documentaries. Good stuff.

Cody is misfit penguin from Antarctica who dreams of being a surfer so when he hears about the “Big Z Memorial Surf Off” he jumps at the chance to enter. He leaves his home and family in Shiverpool (cute), Antarctica and travels to PenGu Island for the big competition. He will face off with some of the best surfers in the “bird” world and soon Cody realizes he’s way out of his league, but with the help of some new friends and a mysterious mentor/father figure he will discover his true surfer-self inside. The mentor named “Geek” or "Big Z" voiced by Jeff Bridges is an old washed-up surfing legend. Geek’s now a hermit and has been in hiding for 10 years, but he reluctantly comes out of retirement in order to coach and teach Cody, to "never give up and find a way, 'cause that's what winners do."

Listen, I am just going to cut to the chase here and say that it is a charming story about an outcast who triumphs against all odds, all the while learning valuable life lessons about friendship and sacrifice. I will even go as far as saying that you will occasionally get so wrapped up in the story that you will forget that you’re watching a movie about penguins - no, really!

What's black and white and green all over?

The voice work of all the actors was well done and seemed very natural. SideNote: The voice actors were recorded at the same time – kinda unusual for an animated film -- so that the actors could ad-lib and play off one another naturally”.

Probably the best though was the voice work of Jeff Bridges, he really stole the show as they say, as the laid-back Big Z, and it’s very reminiscent of his character The Dude in "The Big Lebowski".
But I am not at all surprised, I have always liked Jeff Bridges’ voice, it’s just perfect in style and attitude-his character may be a burnout but he will never, ever be mistaken for a loser.
What’s really surprising to me is that it took him this long to do it! I would love to see (err, hear him) get his own animated flick very soon. Just not on penguins- please.

Your Ad Here

The computer animation looked great, spectacular, amazing -the texture of the water looked crisp and clear. From the realistic foaming waves and underwater scenes throughoutthe entire film, to the final scene in which a storm rolls in over the surfing contest it was all equally impressive. It was hard to pay attention to the dialogue and not get too distracted by how realistic and impressive the waves were at times.

It is the most colorful of all the penguin 'toons to date, both figuratively and literally. Thankfully, they had the good sense this time to take away most of the boring black and white Antarctica scenes and take us to the sunny, colorful tropics of PenGu Island where the big competition takes place.
You will really enjoy the eye candy of it all, once you get past the pesky, nagging question in the back of your mind such as, "Can penguins from Antarctica really survive on a tropical island?", that is. But I guess if we can get past tap dancing penguins we can get past anything, right? It was refreshing to see bright cool colors in a normally two-tone movie about these lovable Sphenisciformes.

License to Chill

Blast those people who made” March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet” anyway! Now thanks to them “Surf’s Up” the third penguin-based story already has a strike against it!
Sure, we all like these cute little fellows, but at this point, people are probably saying to themselves “enough is enough already with all this penguin crap”. And that’s why I am hear to tell you again , you simply must give “Surf's Up” a chance because the filmmakers did everything they could to make their movie stand out—new storyline, great animations, great voice acting and they did it very well.

Bravo, Sony Universal Pictures Animation! It's just the third film from the same company that gave us “Monster House” and “Open Season” but you would never know it; it sports Disney-like quality, crossed with DreamWorks-like just “for the adults” type jokes. SideNote: “Surf’s Up” had two directors to its credit, and not just any two directors mind you -Ash Brannon (a former Pixar artist and co-director of “Toy Story 2”) and Chris Buck (an ex-Disney guy, who co-directed “Tarzan.”) It all makes sense now!

“Surf’s Up” was solid across the board, and you know what? it is so nice to be surprised every once in a while. I am glad I got past my initial misgivings and rode the wave!

Rated PG

Posted by oxyjen on Jun 11, 2007


0 Comment(s):

Be the first to comment on this post!

your name:
your email: (optional)

your comments:

   Click to enlarge images
Visit our sponsors
Your Ad Here