Surf's Up (2007) Poster

(2007)

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8/10
Dances all over Happy Feet!
Simon Parker15 August 2007
What is it with this sudden surge of penguin movies appearing? Or penguins appearing in movies? I've always found watching penguins on real life TV programmes to be very entertaining because they just seem, well there's no other word for it, cute. But just recently Hollywood has seemed to start to overuse them a tiny bit. March of the Penguins I suppose really kicked it all off. I can't see what all the fuss was about that documentary and quite why it was the success it was. But it was an interesting movie. Then came along Madagascar, while admittedly not completely about penguins the penguins that did feature were undoubtedly the best things in the entire movie. Since then penguin items, TV shows and penguins on our screens have been appearing like crazy. It reached its pinnacle in my eyes last year when Happy Feet arrived on our big screens. Now I really wanted to love Happy Feet, when I first watched it I actually did adore it. But after multiple viewings I realised something, it was actually pretty boring, and way too depressing at times for my liking. Its animations was beautiful, but it just didn't live up to its potential. When the first trailers for Surf's Up arrived I didn't know what to make of it. Dancing penguins is one things, surfing penguins is just plain ludicrous. I felt like Sony were merely cashing in on this penguin phenomenon. So what a pleasant surprise to find that Surf's Up is not only a movie that'll appeal to both kids and adults, but also the best animated movie of the year so far! The fact that its a surfing penguin movie didn't make it as good as it is, no the movie succeeds for daring to try something different. A mockumentary style movie somewhat reminiscent of Creature Comforts, trust me if you like Creature Comforts you will adore this movie. The script is well written, the voice cast absolutely brilliant, hell even the animation surprised me for being very well done. If it has one fault its that its obligatory sentimental streak felt a little bit too forced for my liking. Nevertheless this is a small fault in an otherwise enjoyable and very well made animated movie.

The voice cast of the movie are particularly brilliant. Shia Labeouf leads the cast as surfer wannabe Cody. Labeouf was until recently one of the few actors I could not stand to see on a screen. My past experiences with him on movies were usually films that cast him as the annoying kid. For this reason I couldn't stand him. However, then he starred in Transformers and changed my mind completely. He is actually a great actor, he can deliver a joke easily, he's easily likable and he just does everything in such a great way. This shines through again with his performance here, and because of his work in this movie I would be quite happy to see him lead another animated movie some time in the future. His character is always funny, he definitely gets some of the best lines and moments in the movie. Jeff Bridges is pretty good in his role, he works best in the funny moments of the films, when it comes to the sentimental stuff I just found his voice work to be not as good. Jon Heder almost runs off with the movie as Chicken Joe, who got the biggest laugh from the audience. Zooey Deschanel was average I suppose, her character deals more with the icky stuff towards the end than the great comedy stuff. James Woods seems to be having a great time as Reggie, he also gets some great comedy moments.

The actual comedy side of Surf's Up is perhaps the movie greatest success. The mockumentary style allows us to see a different way of making animated movies. The movie of course has to switch to a more movie-ish feel at some points, its in these moments the movie isn't at its best. Whenever they're doing the documentary style the movie is as perfect as you could hope for. Meeting Cody's family at the beginning is pretty hilarious, and meeting all the other supporting characters, especially Tank who has the best scene of the movie with his trophies, is definitely the movies highlights. If you are planning to see this I highly suggest you watch the characters in the background more so than the characters in the foreground, they made me laugh all the time to see them waving at the camera or pulling faces behind the other characters backs. Chicken Joe is definitely best comically, the best scene with him involves a hot tub and the natives, its pretty hilarious, a shame most of the joke is ruined in the trailers.

So what are the negatives of the movie then? Well I suppose if I look at this from a kids point of view then I realise that there are a lot of jokes that might leave the kids a bit cold. The kids will still be entertained for the majority of the movie, especially during the very cool looking surfing sequences, but some of the humour is more directly aimed at adults than anyone else. Also the sentimentality factor obviously starts to kick in towards the end. While its never sickly like a lot of other animated movies are, it still feels a tad forced. I wish for once we could have a kids movie without all the obligatory kiss and make up feel at the end of it. Why can't everyone just still hate each other or something like that? Anyway the sentimentality never makes the film bad at all, its still a great movie.
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9/10
I loved this movie!
john-beard9 June 2007
As an old surfer, and a lover of penguins, I was totally PUMPED for this movie! So I went out to see it last night, and I laughed several times. One of the most awesome things to me, was how Big Z encompassed the ideal of just having fun and letting everything go while you surf. You've got to watch it to see that, but really, this movie is spectacular. The animation is great, the characters develop nicely, and the "documentary" format adds to the humor aspect of it.

I don't know about the comparisons to Happy Feet, but it seems rather weird to get all upset because there's another penguin movie out on the market. Bottom line, for me, is that this movie was very fun to watch, and I thought it had some classic bits of humor. It may be a bit too much for some younger kids, but it was great for me. I loved this movie!
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8/10
A Nutshell Review: Surf's Up
DICK STEEL16 June 2007
It's easy to roll your eyes when you see yet another animated movie starring talking animals, and what more, talking penguins. Guess you can credit the popularity of our feathered friends from down south to award winning films like the documentary which started it all, March of the Penguins, and the other animated movies Madagascar (where they were scene stealers) and Happy Feet. But before you actually decide to pass on this one, Surf's Up a surprisingly refreshing tale set in the bright sunny beaches with laid back "dude" attitude, which doesn't seem to try too hard to please, and comes up just about right.

One of the good things about the movie is the voice talent featured. Like Happy Feet, it contains some recognizable names, but just as a reminder to our Legend of the Sea friends, big names doesn't necessarily equate to good voice acting. Shia LeBeouf (a name which we will see quite frequently over the next few months with Transformers and Disturbia) gets the lead role of Cody Maverick, a surfer penguin wannabe who dreams of making it big in the surfing community. His idol is Big Z (Jeff Bridges), a world champion who had made an impression on a young Cody. However, Big Z is presumed missing in action during one competition, and the new world champion, Tank Evans (Diedrich Bader) looks set to retain his status for the umpteenth time.

The supporting characters too are a delight, with Zooey Deschanel as a Baywatch lifeguard babe and James Woods as a sports tzar, and Jon Heder continues his stereotype by playing Cody's new best friend Chicken Joe, a chilled out surfing chicken who finds himself at probably the wrong place each time and associating with the wrong species.

What made this movie work is that the filmmakers recognize they have to come up with a narrative style that is different in order to engage, and given that it's a sports type movie, they went for a sports entertainment channel style, complete with replicating camera techniques including details like less than perfect wireless camera transmissions (love those on-board cameras, nevermind if it doesn't make complete sense or is illogical), over the top channel transition sequences, and you just gotta love those faux pas interviews with just about every character. If you can't get enough of baby penguins, the filmmakers too are shrewd enough to include these crowd favourite characters in endearing scenes.

With Father's Day mood all round, this movie is apt too for the season, given its theme of family, and bonding with (surrogate) father types. The humour injected ranges wide, from subtle lines and references, to the more obvious physical slapstick moments. I can't resist but to again advise our Legend of the Sea friends, this is what computer animation is about, with its depiction of photo realistic quality of the sun, sand and the sea, with realistic surfer moves, a simple story yet packed with adequate thematic moments, with song and music that don't irritate, but serve to move the narrative along smartly.

Recommended animated movie, despite the overused penguin characters. Stay until after the end credits for a short scene (there's also one played during the credits, so don't walk out of the hall just yet).
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8/10
Not just another penguin movie...
ekproject22 May 2007
First off, I got the chance to watch the Hollywood premiere here in Hawaii with the cast being there to watch it too. Due to the recent release of penguin movies, a lot of people are turned off by them. Please do not judge it so. I admit, at first I was turned off by it being a penguin movie and I couldn't think of anything new. Although this type of story has been told before (what story hasn't?), it's always interesting to see how it will be presented. And I liked it. The characters and events keep you in the movie. Yes, you're gonna have to deal with penguins and their habitats, but it won't be for long. And besides, this is no happy feet, which I liked also. This movie has an amazing cast with enjoyable characters. So be ready to laugh your butt off because I pretty much was. Great family fun movie, or just a movie for you. Now I regret watching it so early (May 20, 2007) because now I have to wait until June 8 to watch it again. = (
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8/10
Surg and Surfing
pdwebbsite10 June 2007
The previews drew me in, and when a rainy weekend coincided with Surf's Up coming to the local theater I went. Here I am old enough to be a grandmother and I love animated films. And the animation makes the film. The water is surreal in how lifelike it is with all the variegation of color. The plot of little guy, big dreams, dream crash, dream re-found, and priorities set straight is definitely cliché. It's how it all gets there, is what we spend our $5.00 matinée for. The voice talent is perfect: Jeff Bridges as the laid back Z, Shia LaBeouf the young hero in the making, Jon Heder as a stoned chicken from Michigan, and Zooey Deschanel as the good-hearted lifeguard who keeps secrets well. They made the movie flow.

As for the penchant of "children" movies using poop and pee for laugh lines--I ask why? It didn't add to the movie, and it certainly lowers it. It's as if they are afraid the movie won't hold up on its own without a bit of naughty and disgusting jokes. Hey, leave it alone and let the movie go. Urinating and flatulent penguins just aren't that funny. Lots of other funny stuff. Like I said to the floor sweeper when he asked me, "Was it any good?" It had it's moments.
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7/10
in a way it almost doesn't matter that they're penguins; it's a bright, amiable homage to surfing documentaries
MisterWhiplash5 July 2007
Warning: 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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7/10
Hang 7
Kristen Kallahan5 June 2007
It's not the funniest animated movie you've ever seen -- most of the jokes are amusing, rather than laugh-out-loud -- but it does the job.

Sometimes the humor just seems to be "it's penguins doing human things -- get it?"

But it's fast-moving, colorful, and the voice cast is good. (Fortunately, they didn't give Jon Heder too much to do, so he wasn't out of his depth.)

Shia LeBeouf was very good (esp. considering how young he is). Several of us thought it was Bruce Willis doing the character of Cody. Snappy and smart. I liked Mario Cantone as the snarky sandpiper.

The animation is so deft you can actually see subtle emotions play over the faces of these birds. The waves sometimes look real, not animation.

There's a lot of stuff about surfing. Seemed like one of those old surfing documentaries sometimes. I didn't know if the kids could follow all that -- but the 3 little girls sitting in front of me pronounced the movie "fantastic" afterwards, so I guess it did its job.
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10/10
Excellent Family Film
Elizabeth Cunningham11 June 2007
This film is great for the whole family. As a non-pixar film, my husband and I though it would be cute for our pre-schooler, but we didn't expect it to be as much fun as it was for our enjoyment. The mocumentary-style animation was refreshing and adorable. It was incredibly witty, and the story was classic! The animation itself rivaled the realness that pixar turns out - I couldn't take my eyes off the details in the penguins' markings and the clarity of the ocean scenes. Shia did an excellent job with the voice as well. I didn't think his voice would be recognizable enough to pull off a lead animation character, but because he's got such excitement and energy in his voice, you could really see him through the animated character. I'd recommend this to anyone. As my 3 year old has been saying since we left the theater: "I like penguin movie."
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8/10
"...and you're sittin' on top of the world..."
Cel_Stacker8 June 2007
Cody Maverick(Shia LeBouf), a rock-hopper penguin and native of Shiverpool, Antarctica, truly lives up to his surname, unlike his highly domestic mother and brother. He seems quite talented as far as finding his own way--he surfs when others fish, surfs when others sit on eggs, he surfs because that's who he is. The legend of Big Z, the emperor penguin who changed surfing forever, helped to make Maverick a maverick. So when neurotic event liaison bird Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone) appears with a chance to compete in the annual "Big Z Memorial" competition, Cody literally jumps into the chance. Along the way, he meets characters such as Joe (Jon Heder, well-cast once again), a surfing chicken from Michigan, and Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel), a lifeguard penguin who also knows a thing or two about Big Z. Like most other heroes of animated film, Cody learns something about what really matters, but don't let that put you off. This is some true summer fun, kept low-key, which, hopefully, will make this the sleeper hit of summer. Everyone is nicely cast, and the characters are easy to care about (that's saying a lot for modern cinema right there). The film looks wonderful as well--nice character design almost gets dwarfed by the environments, as the folks at Sony Animation show that they have successfully taught computers the difference between freezing, harsh Antarctic Ocean and beautiful, blue, tropical ocean. Truly stunning.

I feel I should also mention the soundtrack; no Beach Boys, but still appropriate. If you've been waiting to hear Incubus, Green Day, or Lauryn Hill in more film soundtracks, now's your chance. The mockumentary approach makes it even more engaging while amping the laughs. Christopher Guest would be proud. All in all, if you're looking for a break from all the holler and hoopla that summer movies bring, and as Big Z says, you're ready to just have some fun, catch a wave...
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8/10
Ride the Wave!
Joseph Belanger16 June 2007
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love me some penguin. Of course, I am referring to the line of clothing and not the waddling bird. Regardless, I too fell in love with the emperor penguins along with the rest of the world a couple of years back when THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS swept the summer documentary box office. That was the same summer the mischievous animated penguins of MADAGASCAR had people begging for more (which they were unfortunately given months later with the dreadfully drab short, A Christmas CAPER). Penguins were all the rage. After winning the Best Documentary Oscar, the penguin love only continued to grow with the holiday hit, HAPPY FEET. The premise there, after essentially crafting an animated reenactment of the mating ritual outlined in the aforementioned documentary, penguins sing to express themselves while one dances instead. HAPPY FEET was a big success and went on to a surprising win for Best Animated Feature at last year's Academy Awards. And so the trend continues with another animated feature about penguins, SURF'S UP. Only now it may seem the public is growing weary of these tuxed-up birds. Perhaps there is only so much penguin love to go around. It's a shame really because SURF'S UP may be the best of the (animated) bunch.

To differentiate itself from all the previous penguin fare, SURF'S UP, is constructed as a mockumentary. To capture an on-the-cuff style, a special motion capture camera system was mounted to an old Sony video camera to give the illusion that the movie was shot with a hand-held camera. Factor in jump cuts and film scratches from different stocks and you have a style that is both authentic and dynamic. A film crew (voiced by the actual directors, Ash Brannon and Chris Buck) has decided to follow an aspiring surfer by the name of Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) on his journey that begins at his humble home in Shiverpool to the Penguin World Surfing Championship. With blizzards gusting in the background at home and forestry looking lush and wet at the championship, SURF'S UP uses nature to not only establish its fish-out-of-water story but to wow its audience. The beauty of the animation itself is enough to make SURF'S UP a serious contender come award season when the waves of praise come crashing ashore.

Set amidst these beautiful backdrops is a bevy of lovable, genuinely hilarious characters. What is perhaps the film's strongest achievement is the spontaneity it creates in a style that is so meticulously designed and planned. The penguins sincerely seem as if they are on camera. They are both uncomfortable and candid. At home, Cody is surrounded by his doting, doubtful mother (Dana Belben) and over-sized, pesky brother (Brian Posehn). The tension in this family is palpable and unnervingly funny. En route to the competition, Cody comes into contact with talent scout, Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone), whose neurosis run through his head almost as fast as his little bird legs run on land and an oddball surfer/ rooster named Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), who is as laid back (read potentially stoned) as one would expect a surfer to be. Cody is taken under wing by a former surfer named Geek (Jeff Bridges) once at the competition and their playful interactions keep your gliding through to the finals. SURF'S UP packs in more unexpected laughs than one would expect and the fact that they are unexpected is what makes it so incredible.

SURF'S UP also makes sure to bang home an important lesson for the kids. After all, this is a summer family film and there needs to be a lesson learned. Cody learns a number of things along his way but they all amount to understanding a thing or two about patience. "Winning isn't everything" and "There are more important things to life than winning" make appearances but what is most important is the philosophy that will help Cody win out overall. Stop fighting and learn to ride the wave. It is a lesson that even the filmmakers should have heeded as there are times when the imposing hand of the powers that be can be felt in the film's construction to ensure it is as marketable as possible. Oddly placed soundtrack choices and shots that could not have been caught by documentary filmmakers undermine the credibility of the mockumentary but hardly take away from the fun to be had. SURF'S UP will surprise you, crack you up and leave you wanting to catch the wave again and again.

The only question left to answer is whether polar bears will be over saturating the marketplace after the people who brought you THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS bring you AN ARCTIC TALE later this summer.
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6/10
I will not comment on Happy Feet in this review
GSmith90728 June 2007
They both have penguins. Big Deal. Whoops...does that count as a comment? Anyway, "Surfs Up" is not a terribly original but fresh and new hilarious comedy just in time to kick off summer. Shot in a unique mocumentary style (that may possibly fly over the heads of youngsters), the visuals are flashy and the look of the film digests well. Water animation seems to be rapidly progressing. The sand forms foot prints. The palm fronds sway in the wind. The film looks great. The story is a cliché, and we know what will happen in the end. The point of the film isn't however to construct philosophical debate, have an amazing story or even create memorable characters. It's a fun comedy, and it's humor is more sophisticated then other past animated comedies such are "Shrek 3". It has a more subtle reflexive quality. We know the story, the characters, and we know the familiar plot (quite like last year's "Cars"), but it isn't the fact that they're penguins that makes the film funny. We only get a few moments were the penguins act "penguiny". They are what they are for pure aesthetic value. A bipedal animal (perfect for surfing) that usually dwells among ice makes for a more pleasing artistic scope. And we're bored with humans. The film succeeds with it's sense of wit. A character like tank, another reflexive villainous character like Peter La Fleur from "Dodgeball", is a hoot to watch. The same for main protagonist Cody Maverick, a familiar trophy craving teen who is easily out of place amongst the elders. The film will win no Oscars, but animated films need not be restricted to epic stories and exercises in perfection. However, it is rather uncomfortable that the genre in America is restricting itself to this type of humor. Or really, does all animation have to be humorous even? But, at least this film takes the convention one step further. The documentary style doesn't wear out its welcome or include any truly objectable material for a PG film, and with a sparing running time of 85 minutes, it's fun to see something different.
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10/10
Amazing Graphics!
dee-11826 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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10/10
Fantastic movie!!!! (May contain spoilers)
Ben Dover20 June 2007
Warning: 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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It's a surfing documentary, with a story - but the surfers are cartoon penguins
dust-79 June 2007
Warning: 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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10/10
Awesome!!!
Alex Bryan10 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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10/10
Awesome penguin movie SPOILERS
VeeryGirl22 July 2007
Warning: 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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9/10
Surprisingly good
sun_jot21 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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10/10
Perhaps there's a bit of Cody Maverick in all of us, no?
thedailyphosdex18 June 2007
Warning: 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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9/10
Forget The Ogres, The Pirates, And The Spiders
blizshadow111 June 2007
Warning: 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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8/10
The Big 200 With A Good Movie
I_Am_The_Taylrus8 June 2007
Warning: 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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4/10
Mainly For Teens, "Bro"
ccthemovieman-16 February 2008
It seems as if almost all animated feature films are geared either for kids or adults or both. Many excellent ones in the past few years have comedy that both kids and adults can relate, too, and really enjoy. This animated film was for teens.

So, not exactly being a teen and not wanting to hear, "bro" every five seconds by the 17-year- old lead character, "Cody" (Shia LaBeouf), I couldn't really get into this film. It's too much geared for that age crowd, so adults beware. Can little kids still like it? Probably not as many you think.

Another problem (which might turn off little kids) is that it is too much of an inside joke, meaning the filmmakers trying to make this into a fake documentary. I liked that at the start because it was original, very inventive but it wears thin after awhile. They overdid that angle of the film. Just give us a story. Did they really think kids are going to watch a documentary, even if it is faked and animated?

I'm sorry, "bro," but this movie is too hip for it's own good.
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10/10
A Masterpiece Second to None
jurandyrsf12 October 2010
I have NO doubt that Shakespere, Beethoven, Da Vinci and many other great artists of the past would be amazed seeing the huge amount of wonderful artwork packed in this gracious, lovely movie.

No amount of praise would suffice to pay due honor to all those involved in the creation of Surf's Up. I can only thank you all for the superb inspiration, work, sensibility and craftsmanship.

Everything is in place. C.G., score, storyline, humor, mood. Lighting, colors - amazing colors, amazing score.

Surf's Up is truly a masterpiece, second to none.

That's the kind movie that really makes you feel joyous, that makes you realize that life is worth living, if not for anything else but for experiencing moments like those I experience whenever I watch this beautiful animation.
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7/10
Mocumentary style adds a fresh spin to a very family-friendly film
Movie_Muse_Reviews4 January 2009
With so many CGI animated feature films starring cute animals pouring in and out of theaters year after year, it can be tough to sort through them all and figure out which ones are actually worth taking a family to. "Surf's Up" belongs in the pile with the good ones. Written and animated similar to a Christopher Guest mocumentary film ("Best in Show," "Waiting for Guffman") there's a unique humor to "Surf's Up" that spins the same old underdog storyline into something unusual and fresh that everyone in the family can enjoy.

The focus of this "documentary" is Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), a rock-hopper penguin from Shiverpool, Antarctica with a dream of getting away from the south pole and becoming a premiere surfer like his idol Big Z. Cody's prayers are eventually answered despite the fact that he has nothing but an icicle surfboard and some serious ambition. He ends up being spotted by a talent scout and makes his way to Pen-gu island just in time for the penguin world surfing championship

When Cody gets challenged before the tournament and fails against the world's best surfer, Tank Evans (Diedrich Bader), he meets some unlikely friends like Joe the chicken (Jon Heder), a love interest in Lani (Zooey Deschanel), and Geek (Jeff Bridges) who helps Cody learn the waves so he can live his dream and compete in the championship.

There are jokes for the whole family here, which is "Surf's Up"'s most admirable trait. There's enough for the adults without too much material going over kids' heads and there's plenty of physical humor that kids will enjoy. The mocumentary style also provides a fresh set of laughs, even though the movie falls in the milder realm on the humor scale. There's also plenty of good values that one would expect from an animated movie focused on a sport: never give up, winning isn't everything, the value of friendship in picking us up when we fall.

The animation is also strong, though much more cartoonish than the penguin movie "Happy Feet." Most interesting is the way that the animation is meant to reflect what it would look like if the movie were being shot like a live-action documentary. One scene follows Lani carrying Cody through the jungle and it looks like a crew with a camera and one main source of light are following her. So it's very cool in terms of film-making, not just mere concept. "Ratatouille" and Pixar's brilliance aside, this would have won the Oscar in 2008 for its ingenuity.

The best way to describe "Surf's Up" is cute. It's unique, sweet and fun to watch. The films in the bad animation pile try and do too much with the humor and in executing grandiose concepts. This movie keeps the plot simple but shows it in a new and amusing way.
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8/10
Cute piece of animation
HIREN DAVE10 November 2008
Cody is the best surfer penguin of the Antarctica is the narrator & the hero of the story who has only one motive- to run away from life & responsibility & surf day & night, Big Z is his inspirational childhood role model. There is also Cody's big bro, mother, his surf promoter, Cody's friend Chicken Joe & certain other interesting animated characters to cherish in this film. It's not only enough, here's whole SPEN (Sports Penguin Entertainment Network) which held Big Z Memorial Surfing competition every year. There's 9 time defending champion anti-hero bully penguin named Tank. Talent scouts impressed by Cody select him for the world champion Surf competition. Well Cody also has crush on lifeguard Lany who saved his life once. By chance Cody surprisingly meets Big Z- his role model whom everyone declared dead. Big Z be his mentor & trained him for the championship. The movie has a surprised thrilling end but its not get your morals down. What I love most about the film is that every character is directly approach with the audience. The movie is a cute little funny animation entertainer. Yes, guess what- the movie is a classic piece of animation. Kudos to director duo- Ash Brannon & Chris Buck & SONY Pictures. Give this film a sure look dudes, you will surely love it.

Ratings-8.5/10
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7/10
Surf's Up, Up and Away
dunmore_ego2 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Despite its mundane title, *Surf's Up* is a totally tubular surfari of relentless comedy and madboy cuteness.

I guess the world having accepted penguins unto its bosom (*March of the Penguins*, 2005, *Happy Feet*, 2006, - to say nothing of *Madagascar*, 2005, *Batman Returns* 1992, or those *Crocodile Hunter* episodes), it was high time to extemporize on the species – by making them SURF. Uh, okay….

*Surf's Up* - a 3D cartoon directed by Ash Brannon (*Toy Story 2*, 1999) and Chris Buck (Disney's *Tarzan*, 1999) – throws penguins to the boards in a documentary-meets-reality-show brouhaha. And succeeds for its brash surefootedness. Following young surfer penguin, Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), from his thankless job sorting fish on an Antarctic ice floe to the Big Z Memorial Surfing Tournament in the tropics, the film is a Christopher Guest-ish formula of intrusive steadicams, interviews, intricately-overlapping dialog and archive footage (stunning for its yellowed authenticity and scratched plates).

Cody has been a surfing fool since legendary surfer penguin, Big Z, visited his ice patch as a hatchling and bequeathed him a pendant and sage advice on never giving up "because that's what winners do."

Misunderstood by his fretting mother (Dana Belben) and poo-poohed by his big fat slacker brother (Brian Posehn), Cody makes it to the qualifying rounds of the tournament, but is washed out by 9-time winner, Tank (Diedrich Bader), a maniacally-egotistical brick wall of a penguin.

Mario Cantone, doing his best Scorcese, is a talent scout (a plover, I think) who rides a whale around the world recruiting boarders. His promoter boss is a frenetic beaver with a Don King hairdo called Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), a Groucho-like wise-cracker whose non-sequiturs are an absolute riot, at one point telling us to look at the plover's fast-moving feet, going "ticka-ticka-ticka." There are three baby penguins giving interviews, so cute that someone needs to be slapped; while another baby penguin, Arnold, constantly pretends to drown just to be rescued by Lani (Zooey Deschanel), a female penguin lifeguard whom Cody falls for.

I was laughing out loud; kids around me in the cinema were not – I didn't care. It was a pleasure to watch a film supposedly aimed so low, yet crafted so high; a corollary pleasure not having to contend with uneducated kids of uneducated parents, mindlessly guffawing over pants falling down and fart jokes. The Surfaris' *Wipeout* under the end credits meant nothing to these iPod boomers; neither did they realize that the penguin cannibals capturing fowls for their pot never actually cook and eat anyone (the MPAA would have an aneurysm), making them pretty ineffectual cannibals.

Jon Heder once again proves his limitless range by playing a stoner surfer rooster – oh, BIG surprise! – a one-trick-pony chicken. Could we, as a nation, just hire someone from the mafioso to whack that unnecessary actor? I'm sure someone from *The Sopranos* could use the work.

Banished to the jungle, Cody discovers Big Z in hiding (voiced by Jeff Bridges, channeling his "dude" from *The Big Lebowski*), fat on a diet of clams and sunshine, having left pro surfing behind for lack of joy, his main goal to abide in solitude after his crushing defeat by Tank a decade ago. And the movie's "message" comes across loud and unclear; entreating the youthful, adventuresome spirit in all of us, it ends up informing the lackadaisical swine in most of us – when Z teaches that winning isn't everything; it's about having fun.

Message received, Walt Disney… But it's easy to say winning isn't everything AFTER you're a winner. Big Z was a legendary icon – so his advice seems like life experience and rings true. But would anyone take this same advice from a LOSER? (And what happened to "never give up because that's what winners do"?)

Cody's competitive impatience doesn't let him sense the Zen in Z's advice: "Why are we making boards in the middle of the jungle?" The fact that he is a penguin actually IN the middle of the jungle is never questioned. (Yes, kids, some penguins do inhabit the Galapagos, so close to the Equator they could spit at the Northern Hemisphere, but Antarctic penguins – of which Cody is one (either a Rockhopper or Macaroni species, from his headgear) - don't usually migrate to warmer climes and live to tell the tale.)

Animation performances are masterful, as are the *blitzkrieg* vocalizations, not to mention some of the best surf scenes this side of *Big Wednesday*.

I thought could see the end coming: in the final surf-off, Cody nobly loses his advantage by preventing Tank from Kentucky-Frying the chicken; in the process he is thrown off his board by a massive wave which crashes him headlong into Big Z's legendary surfboard, attached to a rock outcrop like a gravestone. Visions of Cody riding Z's board in for a victory accompanied by the Inspiring Music Swell did not materialize, as he goes under, the board is splintered and the chicken wins, while Tank is humiliated by being lifeguard-saved, then tries to steal the trophy because the chicken is so oblivious he doesn't know he's won. Yes, on paper it sounds funnier, but on film it is anti-climactic.

But then we applaud the writers for practicing what they'd preached! (Lisa Addario, Christian Darren, Don Rhymer and Joe Syracuse.) In every movie lauding "fun" over "winning," the underdog usually wins anyway, because Market Research won't support Losers. But this film gives Market Research the middle fin. And the Big Zebowski looks on in contentment as a new generation of shiftless penguin surfers aspire to nothing more than tagging the ultimate tube.

The Dude abides.
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