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Surf's Up
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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

in a way it almost doesn't matter that they're penguins; it's a bright, amiable homage to surfing documentaries

7/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
5 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although I'm not the biggest fan of them- mostly because I'm not from an area that has much of the activity around- surfing documentaries like The Endless Summer 1 and 2 have gone through my sights here and there over the years, and it's at least really admirable to see people with a knack that they work at for much of their adolescent/adult lives. The need on the part of the filmmakers of Surf's Up to combine a super-duper conventional storyline with the theatrics of a mockumentary somehow evens out because, simply, it's a funny movie. It's not near the unconventional and bizarrely rich heights of Happy Feet, nor is it informative about the actual creatures (mostly) on display in the picture. In a way, the filmmakers didn't need to use penguins as the surfers, but somehow aside from the given ironic gesture (hey, they're from Antarctica after all) it works because when it comes down to it they're animated creatures serving the purposes of the story and big-time sight gags. And there are quite a few of the latter.

Maybe it's too goofy to really put high on a pedestal as a 'must-see' movie, but I can't really think of many other movies out now that would be more relaxing in a comfortable absurd entertainment than this (or, for that matter, with some cool vibes on a Saturday afternoon at home). It's about an ambitious young penguin who makes it out of his antarctic area (named after Liverpool, of course), and is ready to go all the way in the "Big Z" surfing championship, named after a late infamous surfer. But then through the old twist of fate, he discovers that Z isn't dead, but just in hiding, and becomes an apprentice in a very brief time. A lot of the little twists involved, even with the supporting characters (a chicken voiced by Jon Heder brings out some of the biggest laughs; James Woods is brilliant in one-note form as a Don King styled dastardly business manager to the surfers), can be seen right away. But when taking aside that, the real pleasures of Surf's Up- a movie that looks like from the trailer that it will be really, really stupid- involve the goofy charms and jokes aimed at possibly more mature viewers than the little kids obsessed with penguins.

For one thing, Z is voiced by the best man for the job, Jeff Bridges, who takes part of his Dude character from Big Lebowski and takes on part of the cool mentor; a scene where he shows his young pupil how to fashion a surfboard is classic. For another thing the 'documentary' style sometimes comes in handy for a joke or two (hey, there's a boom mic, and lets have instant replay again and again for a big surf blunder). But above all else it works all as a consistently silly comedy, with only one lapse with the training montage and the only other bother a few unnecessary songs. Where else will we see a little penguin waddling out to the ocean to yell for help just to get attention of the cute penguin lifeguard? And where else will there be suggestive innuendo with the antagonist surfer who's ego has spread to his love for his 'ladies' as his surfing trophies? And the 'natives' are a gas in the same simple mainstream way that were shown in Dead Man's Chest. It's smartly filmed and never too boring, and it's got a real light touch that works for kids and adults, with equal time for absurdity for each.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's a surfing documentary, with a story - but the surfers are cartoon penguins

Author: dust-7
9 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Big wave riding in Tahiti - with penguins Imagine someone wanted to make a cartoon version of Riding Giants, the excellent surfing documentary, and wanted to throw in some documentary footage of 'Chopes' in Tahiti from the films, Blackwater and May Dayz, and other surfing documentaries, but said - hey, wait a minute, let's make it about penguins. We'll follow them with a film crew, sit them for interviews, have them talk about surfing. That's the angle. We see much of the film from the unseen documentary photographers. The penguins wax eloquent for their scribes, until at the end our hero finally says - I'm bored with talking about myself - and goes surfing.

So what you have to start out are not Emperor penguins, as seen in the documentary - the hit documentary - March of the Penguins. You see another sort, Imperial penguins I think they are, with yellow fur and hair on their heads. I believe they are seen in the other great avian documentary, Winged Migration (staged though the shots may be with captive birds). So these yellow-topped penguins chase eggs and balance them on their feet, just as in March of the Penguins. The background looks like an animated version of that film. The penguins cluster in similar fashion. And so on.

But they quickly move out of Antarctica. And the twist - it's a surf film. Two of the minor roles are named, and voiced by, two competitive big wave surfers - Kelly Slater and Rob Machado. They play penguins. The protagonist is young penguin whose father is killed, and who looks with amazement at a penguin named, Z, who was a competitive big wave surfing . . penguin . . when he was a youth. I can't help but think that our little hero is somewhat modeled after Laird Hamilton. In short, this is a surf film by those familiar with actual surfing, involving those who actually do surf, and aimed I think at a much more mature audience than five year olds. When I watched, many kids were present. And they seemed bored, except at the big stunts and sound effects, only occasionally used in the film, and for the dramatic climax. Maybe I read them wrong, I don't know.

So a real surf film, by surfers, probably for surfers, but featuring penguins. I don't know. But it sort of works. The effects mimic what you'd see in real surf documentaries. The waves look the same, break the same, and so on. The penguins ride in the same 'slots', and the underwater shots are what you'd see in the documentaries, except that these are humanized penguins, and it's animated. The detail in this animation, in mimicing the real look of a surfbreak, is really something. You even get to ride inside 'the pipe' with our heroes, at certain points. I can see the video game out there even before the film. That's what I was thinking when I saw that.

The voice actors are fine. There are some pauses that might have been best trimmed. The film could be a little punchier. It is also a bit clichéd. The main story is that our hero is the belittled lone surfer in his Antarctica group. A promoter comes by to watch him, and he grabs ahold of the 'boat' and is off to the contest. They don't spend much time in the land of March of the Penguins. Instead, they head to a south Pacific island, with a wave that looks suspiciously like that at Tay-a-who-poe, or 'chopes'. So, there they are in 'Tahiti', debating whether it's the contest that matters, or just surfing that's important. He finds a love interest in a tall 'lifeguard' penguin (Laird Hamilton's wife is quite tall, a beach volleyball player) - no surf patrol here, that's her job. She introduces him to an aged 'Geek', who turns out to be the long-lost 'Z', his boyhood hero; but who ran away by ducking into a wave and disappearing because he was bested by the villain, a big penguin named, Tank, and champion surfer. Tank is also to compete in our hero's contest. He also befriends a - chicken. A chicken. The chicken is a surfer from the upper midwest USA. And he's on 'the circuit'. He's sort of the absent minded, inattentive surfer dude. All those clichés are placed pretty much just on his character and none of the others.

The hero's last name is Maverick. This south island wave they ride, while looking like 'chopes', breaks into a 'boneyard' of sharp rocks. Mavericks, in Half Moon Bay, CA, breaks right up to a reef of sharp protruding rocks, coming out of something called The Boneyard. The heroic 'Z' saves our hero, clutching him from the water, as a gigantic open ocean type of wave breaks way over on the boneyard, the massive lip, with full sound effect, coming right down on our heroes from 70 feet up or whatever it looks like. You couldn't hear a sound in the theater when the film suddenly went quiet. The promoter is quick to eulogize on the beach, and prepares to auction off the fallen surfer's boards. But it's a cartoon. So they survive, and come walking up the beach. 'Z' is recognized. Everyone is happy. And heck with the contest they say, there's surf over in the north lagoon - everybody, let's go - with the promoter screaming at them from behind.

This is a film that might not actually appeal to little kids. And there are some unsettling moments. Wiping out, etc. But for kids who are no longer toddlers and up, and even for adults, I think the film will be appealing. As I said, an animated film about competitive surfers, who are penguins, apparently by surfers, voices by some surfers, and probably aimed at surfers. I liked it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Amazing Graphics!

10/10
Author: dee-118 from United Kingdom
26 July 2007

Just caught this with my kids (10 and 8) and they loved it, they didn't get all the adult jokes ;) but there was a few laugh out loud moments for them, especially when bodily functions were involved! There where bits that reminded me of ICe Age 1, especially the speeding through the fire chutes/ice tunnels but overall I'll recommend this for a family film, pleasant movie for a rainy English summer, (no tap dancing penguins and not too many musically numbers).

For me I was astounded by the graphics, the water and the jungle - I had to keep reminding myself that this was cgi but it looked more lifelike than real life, someone spent a lot of time on the design and it shows, very well done, if you are into any sort of design or computer graphics then this will blow you away, worth seeing it just for that!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic movie!!!! (May contain spoilers)

10/10
Author: Ben Dover from United States
20 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Surf's Up is DEFINITELY one of the greatest animated movies of all time. It has great character designs, tons of humor, and plenty of heart. This film also has superb, quality voice acting from many popular T.V. and movie stars (one refreshing thing about this movie is that Sony doesn't use the celebrities' names to overshadow the film like other studios usually do) including Shia LeBouef (Holes, I Robot), Jeff Bridges (The Last Unicorn, The Big Lebowski), James Woods (Straight Talk, Ghosts Of Mississippi, Hercules), Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show, The Country Bears), and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, The Benchwarmers). Another good thing about this movie is it doesn't rely on puke and snot to get laughs. Even though it's somewhat predictable, it's not just another penguin movie, the "mockumentary" angle gives it a unique twist. This movie is a MUST-SEE!!!! Don't wait for the D.V.D., please go see it now. WAY TO GO SONY!!!! Hope there'll be some sequels and a T.V. series someday in the future.

(Note: even though the movie is fairly family-friendly, it does have some mild innuendo and the movie's villain says part of a curse word before getting cut off.)

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Forget The Ogres, The Pirates, And The Spiders

9/10
Author: blizshadow1 from Lithonia, Georgia
11 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes, after we marched hundreds of miles and watched an awesome musical spectacle, it wouldn't be a long shot to say that audiences are just penguined out and don't feel like giving Surf's Up the time of day. But if you're willing to forgive the little oversight regarding the species of this film's main characters, you'd realize that it's a true winner within this sea of sequels-- puns not intended.

The film chronicles Cody Maverick, a young penguin ostracized by his fellow rockhopper brethren as being too caught up in surfing while shirking his daily responsibilities and future of separating the fish into their respective piles. However, Cody realizes that there is more to life as a penguin than just that, and he dreams of the day when he can go off, surf some real waves, and make his impact on the sport just like his hero, Big Z. When a talent scout arrives at his home of Shiverpool, he quickly takes his chance and is whisked away to Pen Gu Island just in time for the Big Z Memorial Surf Off. Little Cody is determined to take the trophy from monster surfer Tank Evans, who has won the contest nine times in a row, and bring glory to his name back home. However, after being reluctantly taken under the wing of Geek, a local hermit with a rather familiar vibe, Cody soon realizes what being a real winner is all about.

Despite the familiar storyline, the film's catch is that is not an orthodox presentation. Rather, it's given to us as a documentary detailing the penguins' surfing culture, and the animators take special care in trying to make the world as up-close and personal as the genre suggests: characters react naturally to the invasive paparazzi, the lens is sometimes obscured or dirtied, filming equipment may enter the scene, and the shots are not always in focus.

And of course, there are interviews. These bits help give you an inside look at the characters' personality coupled with a nice joke as their stories may conflict with what is actually happening on the screen. In short, it looks realistically filmed, and the approach helps in allowing you to follow the characters' chronicles better. Adding greatly to the experience is the voice acting. The actors recorded their parts together, feeding off of each other and ad-libbing, and this decision has produced some wonderful characterization and dialogue. All of this combined gives a greatly immersive effect, and you sometimes forget you are watching simple cartoon penguins. You'll feel as if you are right there in the action.

However, the documentary concept is not presented as strongly later in the film as it is in the beginning. Because of this, things tend to mellow out during the second act, sometimes to the point that it seems as if the film just reverts back into a state of natural storytelling and abandons the concept altogether. It becomes rather slow, but a short running time and quick visits to more action-oriented scenes tend to make these moments more bearable than expected.

Speaking of action, the animation is really nothing short of spectacular. Character movement is lively, fluid, and believable, and the world of Pen Gu just might be mistaken for simple rendered footage of some far off tropical paradise. Your effects are standard as well: sand particles fly, vegetation spices up the place, fire effects are well-done, the lighting is appropriate in various scenarios. But, being that this is a surfer movie, your most memorable footage will obviously come from the shots featuring water. No beating around the bush with it: the water looks beautiful and... well, like water, and the ocean's beauty is not wasted in any of the surfing sequences, not even at the very end where we are fed one of the most gorgeous and symbolic ending shots in animated film history, hands down. The surfers also handle these waves like pros whilst throwing in little tricks and moves that would make a seasoned surfer proud.

In summary, Surf's Up is definitely a refreshing and welcome change of pace amidst this blockbuster summer of sequels. It doesn't take itself too seriously and handles its rather oddball, yet original concept extremely well. Backed with a good story, wonderful characterization, and amazing animation, I certainly welcome more penguin features in the future. Now, go see it.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

The Big 200 With A Good Movie

8/10
Author: I_Am_The_Taylrus from Minnesota
8 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is finally my 200th comment and Surf's Up is the film that I am going to comment on. I am telling you, this is a great movie. It is a very unique idea. A fake documentary about penguins who surf. That are not a lot of people that can create an idea like that. Well, the directors and the writers can, but still, not a lot.

The cast of this movie is quite good. Shia Leboufe is in almost about every single movie these days. I also butchered his name. There is also Jon Heder, James Woods, and Jeff Bridges. There are also much more, but I am not going to name all of them.

The plot of this film is quite simple, but I am not going to spoil anything for a change. Okay, I am going to make this as short as possible. It is basically about Cody Maverick, a penguin who wants to surf like his idol Big Z, but can Cody become the greatest penguin surfer of all time? You will have to see it to find out.

Overall, this is an incredibly original film. I agree with most of the critics that say this is a great and fun film. It is, and you should enjoy this film and have fun with it. The special effects are amazing. The water looks almost real. The penguins, in my opinion, are much cuter in this movie than in Happy Feet. I also like Chicken Joe, the chicken who is apparently stoned. Anyway, this is a very good animated film that is very unique and original and should not be missed. Really, this is one of the best computer animated films that I have ever seen.

8/10

Recommended Films: Happy Feet

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Awesome!!!

10/10
Author: Alex Bryan from WorldWide
10 January 2009

My friend bought this movie some time ago.. I saw it on the desk for like few months and it never bother me.. I mean, I have no intention to watch it at all..

Then, one day a friend of mine ask me to watch it with him.. And i said, "okay.." Well, i didn't expect much from the movie after all(at first)..

Well, it turns out that it's such a great movie.. I watch it several times next, and I'd never get bored..

The ocean, the wave, the flowing of it.. Looks so real.. As a multimedia student, I loved the animation and I envy them for making such a great animation..

10 out of 10.. Absolutely Recommended..

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Awesome penguin movie SPOILERS

10/10
Author: VeeryGirl from United States
22 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was a little better than Happy Feet.

It all begins when a 17 year penguin named Cody Mavrick wants to be a great surfer like Big Z. Cody has a big brother Glen that does not like surfing. Cody then goes to an island where a big surfing competition is being held. The lifeguard named Lani always saves a baby penguin called Arnold. Cody falls in love with Lani. Cody meets a chicken named Chicken Joe. They find out that Big Z is alive. Then the surf off starts. Its between Cody and Chicken Joe to win. Big z gives the little penguins surf boards Chicken Joe wins the surf off.

I loved this movie.

10/10

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly good

9/10
Author: sun_jot
21 June 2007

I hate to say I enjoy animations so much, but I gotta say yeah! this movie made my day. Surf's up is not a pure animation film for kids. I feel it's more for adults or maybe youth I mean.

The interview line is interesting and totally fresh. Altho this movie feels a bit like incredible+ cars (esp. the key concept delivered), the movie is more entertaining than CARs and even Incredibles. I had a pleasant time in theater.

Okay, the story is predictable. So are most of the plots from animation movies. The thing so great about the movie is it's been "shot" from different angles and totally fresh way of telling stories.

Go to see the movie before it's too late!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps there's a bit of Cody Maverick in all of us, no?

10/10
Author: thedailyphosdex from United States
18 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wouldn't quite know if what I'm about to say qualifies exactly as "spoiler;" nevertheless, considering all the trials, tribulations and travails which Cody Maverick has to deal with throughout, I would probably be one of the first (if not the first) to wonder whether there may be something of a message in "Surf's Up" we never knew about early on.

And a positive sort of message crossing into the inspirational, come to think of it.

Especially considering that Cody is trying to escape what amounts to a dead-end life sorting fish in the wastelands of Shiverpool through surfing and its related experiences ... even if it means having to improvise his surfboards in sheets of ice with crude skegs.

And, for all that he has to endure, manages to come out, if not quite winning, realising that (as Cody recalls Big Z "himself" telling him @ an early age) we should never give up, that we need to find out way ... 'cause that's what winners do.

Not to mention actually getting his old hero back into surfing after ten years' hiding in what amounted to disgrace. (Feel free to debate this point, even if it just so happened that Geek/Big Z was inspired by a koa wood log just sitting there into getting Cody to build his own surfboard, several hilarious mishaps notwithstanding.)

Come to think of it, could there be a likelihood of such serving as a motivational sort of film worth recommending to such facing difficult or otherwise trying situations, especially such beyond one's own direct control?

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