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Ever since the documentary "March of the Penguins", studios have sent to us tons of cutesy penguin films to make our eyes bat at the adorable birds. But I do have to admit, this one was okay. Having popular names such as Shia Labouef and John Heder to it, it wasn't something that I could truly hate. CGI was fair, as no company will ever amount to Pixar's work. But throughout all the kiddy and cuteness of this child film, there was an enjoyable movie that took the voice talent and slight dark humor to get out. You won't love it most likely, but parents will at least be entertained while your kid adores this as they will nearly any movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The cameras of the "Sports Penguin Entertainment Network (SPEN)" follow
"Cody Maverick" (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), a rockhopper penguin from
"Shiverpool, Antarctica," to "Pen Gu Island" for the annual "Big Z
Memorial Surf Contest," which is a tribute to "Maverick's" childhood
hero, an Emperor penguin named "Ezekiel 'Big Z' Topanga" (voiced by
After almost missing the boat to the island, which is actually a whale, "Maverick" and his new friend, "Chicken Joe" (voiced by Jon Heder), a surfer dude chicken from Wisconsin, finally gets to see their competition -- which includes the defending nine-time champion, "Tank 'The Shredder' Evans" (voiced by Diedrich Bader).
Now, the young penguin must prepare for the contest of his life, and defeat the defending champion, who has been bullying him and others.
For most of the movie, you see the action through the "SPEN" cameras. This is one of the most creative parts of the movie. You have many of the main characters being interviewed on-camera by an off-camera interviewer (voiced by Sal Masekela). The characters talk to the audience this way to tell of their feelings and everything they are doing for the surfing contest. If you ask me, this is the most creative part of the movie.
Another thing that stands out is the animation. If I am not mistaken, they animated actual champion surfers on the waves to give accurate movement. The animators did a great job at detail. When the penguins are close to the "cameras", you can actually see each individual piece of fur, especially in the black fur. And the water has ripples in it as it becomes a surfable wave. However, like all computer animation, it is not completely realistic looking. If you ask me, some of the scenery looked pretty fake, as did "Chicken Joe's" comb, which appeared to be reflective at times.
Character development is only fair in this movie. Possibly because of the young target audience, which really doesn't care about the development of the characters in a movie. They are, however, well written, and the chemistry between the characters are pretty good.
What makes the chemistry between characters work is that many of the actors recorded scenes together, which is unusual for an animated movie. Normally, the actors record their lines separately, and they are edited into the scenes during post-production. The actors who recorded lines together even had a chance to ad lib some lines when the time was right.
As for comedy, the kids will probably laugh a lot more than adults. I really didn't laugh, but chuckled a few times.
Many of the songs used in this film were beach tunes from the 1950's and 1960's. These tunes just enhanced the feel of the movie. The original score also worked pretty well.
There are a few laughs for adults, including some that only adults will understand. However, this is a kids movie, and they will be the ones who will really enjoy it. I can only recommend it for kids.
I personally am in love with this film. The first person documentary films are a huge target with me. Of course, I love penguins (who doesn't) but I love that this story is about Cody yet at the same time about Zeek as well and his returning to normal life. The lessons learned in this movie are invaluable life lessons that everyone can relate to, such as the wanting to be a a winner and famous and having everyone know who you are. At the same time, it hits all types of people whether funny, dorky, popular, thick-headed, "loserish", and even stressed. Overall, I loved this movie, it is one of my favorites. 4 and 7/8 starts of 5 if you ask me!
Surf's Up is a pretty interesting film in some ways. It's an animated
faux-documentary about surfing fowl. Penguins, to be specific. And, for
the most part, it works well.
Although it doesn't stick entirely to creating the illusion of a documentary, it stays true enough that it's amusing how the film uses the format well, especially the editorial technique of documentary, to add its jokes and to develop background and character. Fortunately, the film isn't all talking heads and the characters drawn are amusing and well crafted, especially considering that this is a children's film. Another thing about the film--it's gorgeous. The animation, especially the water animation is quite convincing at times and the direction does a great job of creating a faux-documentary aesthetic, complete with shaky hand-held cameras, mounted cams and even using faux-stock footage, treated to look like vintage film.
The main character, Cody, is an ambition penguin desiring to make something of himself in the surfing world and some of the underlying story regarding his growing up without a father is pretty well done, especially as he encounters Geek. Secondary characters are fairly one note, but amusing enough, including the spaced out Chicken Joe. I think that some of the secondary stories running through the film, like Chicken Joe's escapades with the "wild" penguins, are less interesting and Ronnie, the love interest, seems to exist more as a convenient story foil rather than as a carefully crafted character, but the core story of Cody and Geek is pretty good.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that Surf's Up is a particularly ambitious film, but it's a pleasing and entertaining film from start to finish that does well within its ambitions. Children will probably be delighted and this one is good enough that adults will likely find watching it with children enjoyable enough. It's good. 7/10.
This is by no means the best animated movie out (the Shrek films are a
lot better), but it's entertaining enough. The film is shot like a
documentary. It follows penguin, Cody, as he dreams of being a famous
surfer. He's one of the best in Antarctica. A surf promoter comes along
inviting Cody to a surfer competition. His chief competers are Tank,
another larger penguin, and a chicken, named Joe. Cody is helped by
lifeguard, Lani, who brings him home after he wipes out. It turns out
Lani brings him to meet an elder penguin, who turns out to be the
legendary Z. Big Z gives Cody some surfing lessons for the big
competition. When the contest starts, Cody learns winning isn't
everything and friends are more important.
The movie had good computer animation, the waves looked very realistic. Also, it had its laughs. It told a story from start to finish, and did not run to long.
FINAL VERDICT: Kids should like this and it's good enough that adults should be able to sit through it also.
A scout travels all the world to find new competitors for an annual
surfing contest held in the name of a once famous surfer. On one of the
Arctic poles he finds Cody Maverick and he shows potential. However
strange it might be to find a potential contestant there, it doesn't
stop there: it's a penguin surfing contest and there's a chicken
competing as well. And that's where it comes in handy that this is an
animation film and not a real one.
For me animation films stand or fall by the quality of their artwork and this one keeps itself up pretty well. Actual scenery isn't half bad and the story isn't too slow to become horribly bored (only a little bit really). This means it is a possible good animation film. It isn't though, it's just mediocre. For me it got to be that when it came with exactly the same highly predictable moralistic twist that they all seem to want to come with.
Honestly though, I've seen far worse than this and the kid I saw it with loved it. And that's what counts, I'm just the parent tagging along and paying for the popcorn.
6 out of 10 hopelessly cute penguins
Where's the music, man? We should have had some 60's surf sounds, Atlantics "Bombora", "Glassy Walls" or "Free Fall" while the Penguins were shooting the tube. The Surfaris Had "Surfer Joe" & "Wipeout", which would have fitted in well. Even some Beach Boys would have been good. A most enjoyable movie, but sadly lacked a decent Sound Track. I am sure the budget would have stretched far enough. It would have shown the young fellers that Surfing does have a real history, even for Penguins. There are many out here that identify well with "Zee" & respect his wisdom in all manners "First Aid", there are many that believe, if you don't pay a fortune for healing potions, they can't work, this is not true. Trying to bottle that potion could prove to be a problem getting past the relevant Health Authorities.
I'll give this an eight, and it would have won a nine at most if not
for the out-of-place juvenile toilet humour (and, I'm no soccer mom.
But, it's stupid, and unfunny). Other than that, I liked it quite a
bit. It wasn't as good as Happy Feet, but I liked it in it's own right.
The dialogue in this film really shines, not because of its writing, but because of its delivery. And, you can't go wrong with Zooey Deschanel (I guess that's how you spell that last name, but eh).
I mean, right off the bat, when you watch the film, you have to realize that there really isn't any reason for these characters to actually be penguins, other than aesthetic value. Once you get past that, the movie's really quite enjoyable.
All in all, behind Happy Feet, this goes as my second favorite fictional penguin film. The Pebble and the Penguin be damned!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I swear, if I see one more stupid penguin movie I'm going to go John Rambo on someone. Why does everything have penguins now? They suck! I hate them so much! Don't let anyone else fool you, it's just another penguin movie, only this time they mixed it with the Blair Witch project and surfing. The camera jumps, which is rather stupid considering that it's computer animation and there was no camera involved. It gave me a headache worthy of a hospital visit and it made me severely ill. That's not to mention the fact that there was not one of the penguins that did not make me want to shoot someone and that the only jokes throughout the entire thing were about fecal matter. Just don't bother with it, you'll end up very angry and finding yourself with nothing better to do than to trash it every chance you get.
I'm 37 and I took my 4 year old to see this movie. I loved the animation in this movie and the story line was the same regurgitated Hollywood "crap." Speaking of "crap", they used this word and others in this movie as well as your pee pee and poo poo jokes they throw in for the kids. Every time they said something like this I was hoping it was over her head. She liked it and was very entranced. I hated it and hoped I would be put out of my misery soon. Please understand that I've seen every CGI movie that comes along because I am a graphic artist. You'll love the animation, but if you're older than 35 you'll recognize this story as every "sports" movie you've ever seen. Maybe I'm getting picky in my old age, but if you're over 35, I'm sure you are too. So in other words, it's for 7-8 year olds and up to high school. It's a true PG movie for that age group.
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