Sunday, August 19, 2007

Surf's Up

We got them in Madagascar and Happy Feet and now another animated tale of penguins hits the big screen. Surf's Up takes us into the world of surfing and the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship.

Much of the movie is shot in a documentary film style and we get to follow a film crew as they go about the business of filming a behind-the-scenes look at the competition and the surfers. It centres around Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), a young upcoming surfer from Shiverpool, way down Antarctica way.

Cody caught the surfing bug when legendary surfer Big Z (Jeff Bridges) visited Shiverpool 10 years earlier. Since then, Cody taught himself to surf using broken shards of ice as boards. When a talent scout for surf promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods) arrives at Shiverpool, he persuades them to let him join the group and enter the Big Z Memorial Surf Off at Pen Gu Island.

Cody believes that winning is everything and that it will bring him the admiration and respect he desires, but when he unexpectedly comes face-to-face with a washed-up old surfer called Geek, Cody finds out that winning isn't everything and that a true winner isn't always the one who comes in first. Along the way he meets the surf mad Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) from Sheboygan, is smitten with lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel) and faces his nemesis in the form of all-round bad penguin Tank Evans (Diedrich Bader).

We really enjoyed this one. The unusual filming style really adds to the experience. As well as the main storyline, we get archive footage of old-time penguin surfers, clips of Big Z in his heyday, interview footage with Cody's mother and big brother Glen and little gems where the crew ask a group of three kids for their thoughts on different subjects.

The script is excellent and the cast interact very well, which may be due to the fact that they were recorded as a group and not, as is usually done, in individual sound booths. It even takes a swipe at Happy Feet. When Cody is asked if he has any other talents, he answers "Heh, you mean like, singin' and dancin'? Naw, man, I just surf".

Definitely recommended for fans of animated features but aimed at an older audience than Happy Feet. Young children may not get the humour and all the little gags but anyone over 12 will probably love it.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Sport
My Rating: 8/10

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