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What do you get when you blend boring characters, a overly-simple plot,
and nice animation together? The answer is Surf's Up, an extreme
disappointment of a movie that is not at all what it markets itself as.
The trailer seemed to be targeting all ages (and genders, for that
matter- a large penguin simulates sex with a surfboard!) by seeming to
have a smart sense of humor and a "new" idea- surfing penguins. Now
granted, movies starring penguins are nothing new or innovative, but
that's not the problem here. There is far too much talking going on
here, and most of it centers on useless "small talk" that isn't even
relevant to the movie. The attempted jokes are a mess also, ranging
from poop jokes to "the audience is dumb" jokes. Folks, there is
nothing funny here.
The movie follows aspiring surfer Cody Maverick as he attempts to live up to the legacy of Big Z, a surfing legend who mysteriously disappeared. Many would think that a so-called surfing legend would be an entertaining guy, but Big Z is the exact opposite- boring, cliché, and unentertaining. To be quick, he is unintentionally over-the-hill. Cody's friend, Chicken Joe (Heder) is about as dumb as his name. He's unintelligent, he's a chicken we get it. Every movie always has to have a brain-challenged side character, and Surf's Up is no exception. Eventually, young Cody starts acting all tough and challenges the current surfing champion to a competition. It is here that Cody meets a female lifeguard to whom he falls in love with. That's the story in a nutshell. I can't explain it any better without spoiling it. Yes, it is that cheesy.
I do not recommend seeing this movie.
Good) nice water effects Bad) stupidly realistic characters, simple-as-hell story, immature, not funny Disney/Pixar) An animated movie normally fails if not done by either of the these two kings
'Surf's Up' Is A Very Enjoyable Film, However, It's A Bit Hard To Say
Who It's Aimed To..
Yes, It May Be Animated, And Also Have Penguins, But It's More That That..
The Movie Feels A Bit More Aimed To An Older Crowd, Who Will No Doubt Enjoy The Film A Bit More So Than The Kids They Brought Over To Watch It..
sure, You Got Some Of The Kid-Friendly Potty Humor, But There's A Couple Things They Might Not Catch Onto.. Not To Mention That The Film Is Presented In A Documentary-Type Of Fashion (and the 'handheld' camera movement was real good.. not to mention the old film reels appear like, well, old film reels..)
Speaking Of Which, It's Rather Visually Stunning.. More So Than, oh, Sony's Own Other 'Spider-Man 3'.. Guys At Sony Pictures Animation And ImageWorks Did A Great Job On Water, Feather, Fur, And Other Animation..
All Complimented By A Wonderful Little Cast That Will Surprise You A Bit When You Actually Check Them Out.. i mean, From The Trailers From Way-Back-When, I Didn't Notice Shia LaBeouf (who is now getting into everything) Did Cody Maverick, The Main Protagonist.. And Looking At The Cast Now, I'm Thinking "Oh, THAT Zooey Deschanel" Or "Oh wait, THAT Jon Heder?"..
And The Music Compliments The Film As Well, With Some Surfing Rock Music, As Well As Some Good Little Hawaiian Music..
The The Film Itself Is Quite A Ride..
We First Meet Up With Cody Maverick In A Sad, Cold Little Land Where It's The Same Boring Stuff All The Time (all in documentary-vision, mind you, with shaky cameras, microphone booms, and people talking behind the camera).. He Kills Most Of The Time By Surfing, After Being Inspired By A Visit From Big Z, A World-Famous Surfer That Has Now Been Lost At Sea..
He Eventually Gets Picked Up To Go And Compete In The Big Z Memorial Contest, But His Hopes Are Literally Crushed Early On Before The Competition, Until He Really Meets Up With Lani And Geek, Who We Find Gives A Rather Big Twist On The Story Right Smack-Dab In The Middle Of The Film, which is sadly some-what ruined if you read other reviews, or even the cast.. Luckily, I Missed Both, So It Was Rather Big To Me..
Does He Make It? See The Film For Yourself.. and yes, The Ending Does Give A Little Life-Lesson Of Sorts..
What I Liked About The Story Was That It Was More Than, well, Just Another Penguin Movie, And Also The Little Nods To Actual Surfing Things And Stories.. Surfing Buffs Should Have Quite A Kick During The Film, and heck, Big Surfing Dudes Kelly Slater And Rob Machado Make A Cameo In The Film (ok, more than a cameo) In A Rather Fun Penguin-Caricature Of Themselves..
however, We Go By A Rather Big Bunch Of Characters That Have No Big Role Or Too Much Of A Meaning In The Film. However The Documentary-Style Sort Of Forgives That Little Notion. i mean, Documentaries Can Generally Show Bunches Of People, But Don't Really Contribute Much And Don't Do Much To The Whole Production, Except, In This Case, Give Some Comic Relief, As If The Film Didn't Have Enough..
And Again, The Film's Target Audience Feels Lost Considering The Direction They Brought The Film To.. But Still, Not Matter What, The Whole Family Will Enjoy The Film, But Maybe The Adults Will More-So Than The Kids..
And Be Sure, if possible, To See The Film In A Digital-Projector Theater. Really Shows The Film's Great Details In A Rather Crisp Look More-So Than Those 35MM Versions..
Bring The Family, Especially The Older Ones, To This Swell-Surfing Film (which thankfully takes out some cliché surfer stereotypes)..
I'd like to comment on a couple of the voices: When I first heard Cody Maverick's voice, I thought it was John Stamos. Big surprise it was Shia LaBeouf. I also thought his rival in surfing, Tank Evans, was that of Will Arnett. Nope, it was Diedrich Bader. I did recognize Cody's brother as someone from "Just Shoot Me". Now, I know his name: Brian Posehn. Other voices I recognized were Jeff Bridges and James Woods. I didn't know the female lead was Zooey Deschanel. Or the chicken friend of Cody was Jon Heder. Now that I've covered everyone I was curious and/or knew about, I must say this is one of the most enjoyable animated movies of the year. Loved everything: the penguin-goes-surfing premise, the documentary approach, the lesson learned by the lead character, the wonderful visuals, the perfect characterizations, and the humor that can be gentle, hip, juvenile, wacky, and wholly character-based all at once. Surf's Up may not give the Disney/Pixar computer animated films a run for their money but it does match them in heart and humor. May be enough for kids and their parents before Ratatouille comes along...
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1. The first feature to mesh CGI animation with a "Spinaltap" styled mocumentary camera.
2. CGI allows animators to essentially put the camera anywhere they want. But in "Surfs Up", the animators place huge restrictions on themselves. The virtual camera is "hand-held" and only mounted where it would be had the film been shot as a real documentary. As such, the camera is fixed rigidly to surfboards, is frequently knocked over, out of focus or eaves dropping on badly recorded dialogue.
3. Jeff Bridges essentially plays the same character he did in "The Big Lebowski". He's "Geek", a laid-back philosopher-penguin who becomes our hero's low-key guru, mentoring him in the ways of the wave. Geek could be voiced only by Jeff Bridges, and he makes this whole film work. Bridges puts warmth, patience, and innate cool into every line.
4. The first hour of the film is funny and witty and has numerous little touches.
5. The film cleverly parodies reality TV conventions.
1. The final act is painfully clichéd, and ruins the entire movie.
2. What starts off as an original, vibrant and fresh film, turns quickly into formula, our cast facing off in a surfing competition which our hero loses only because he stops to help a friend. He then realises that "winning isn't everything" and that the "spirit of surfing" means more than medals. Boring. Didn't Pixar's "Cars" give us the same message? And it was trite then too.
7/10 - Worth watching. Better than Shrek's 2 and 3. A little better than "Cars". Much better than "Meet the Robinsons".
Story of Cody Maverick a penguin from Antarctica who goes off to surf
in a legendary surfing tournament.
Before I start let me say this is not a perfect film. Keep that in mind while you read what I'm about to write, its not perfect, it has some problems...
Easily the one of the most original animated features to come from an American studio in years. What were they thinking when they made this? This is the story of a surfing penguin told as if it were a sports documentary. It doesn't really behave as any animated film released by any American studio in decades. You have a movie that for the most part would be a good movie if it were done live action with people. You have a voice cast to die for, you have some of the best computer animation and a great score. It works on all levels-though I think big kids and adults are going to get it more than the wee ones. Its not endlessly referential, its just a nicely told film.
What were they thinking? Frankly I don't care. This is a movie that shows what animation can do. Honestly its more original and more real than anything Pixar and Disney is doing simply because it doesn't follow any formula (okay yes it does follow a well worn plot line, but at the same time the cast and the story telling make it so much more than run of the mill). Its a movie thats a movie. Its not a cartoon, not in the typical American sense, its an animated film closer to what the Japanese are doing.
I like the film a great deal. Its not perfect, as I aid its possibly too adult to find the kiddie audience, but its a damn good and amazingly original film. If I had to compare it to Happy Feet this would win. Happy feet seems too contrived compared to this, never mind Feet's weird turn at the end, this just sort of flows.
Animation junkies should see this. Actually anyone wanting to see a good movie should too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are addicted to MTV, reality shows, and overused, blasé,
predictable story lines, you'll love this movie. However, if you are
looking for a movie that actually DOES something, goes somewhere, and
entertains you, look elsewhere. The characters are completely flat, the
plot is absolutely predictable, and the presentation is moronic.
Yes, the animation is fantastic, and the voice acting is great, but the story and presentation are both terrible. My kids (6,4,4) were utterly bored and asked me to turn it off halfway through. We slogged through the whole thing, and they have never watched it since ... except for once when they accidentally started it. They immediately removed it to watch something else. Just because it's pretty it's not good. Tortuous is the best way that I can describe it. You will know, not GUESS but KNOW, what's going to happen long before it does.
What do you do if you are in the animation business and are not Pixar?
Pixar sets the bar for general cleverness, and specific cleverness in
dimensional perspectives and narrative structure. Well, It takes a
decade and some risky management bets to build that dimensional skill
because it requires a corporate culture. But narrative cleverness just
requires a single person or small team with sufficient strengths to
So if you are the Dreamworks crowd famous for being risk averse and cheap you simply buy some humor and use it to cover sentimental devices which are known to work. That allows you to sneak some mean anti-Eisner humor in there.
But what if you are a new shop with a bankroll big enough to do all the ordinary things well enough. And you are given a charter to take risks? You take risks in the narrative form and try to outclever Pixar. I see that they tried hard here and in my opinion they succeeded.
They took an ordinary worn-out plot and placed a couple folds on it. That plot: have the courage to be yourself (dejected, gifted man is counseled to come back to enjoy himself). It uses the usual Yoda advice: Just be, relaxing into yourself and excel, do not strive.
One layer is the inherent dichotomy of any sport, but particularly surfing. The value of the sport is in the doing. Its unique so far as I know in its attunement with the dynamics of nature. Sailing has some of this, but is essentially about leveraging technology. Surfing is immediate, solitary and so far as the surfer is concerned completely without intermediate technology.
The strangeness comes in with it being packaged as a spectator sport. The path is obvious and also followed by basketball: the sport as a token for a role you can adopt: an attitude, a being. It captures a collection of urges. Its a puzzle. No one that truly is a surfer would watch it as a competitive sport. This is used in the narrative to create tension. Great fun is made of the promotion of the sport for spectators and particularly the pumping up of personality cults. But the narrative under exploits precisely this: we watch. Its no accident that the surfer in question is played by "The Dude."
The second fold makes the first one work. This is a fake documentary, with two layers. One is outtake sort of stuff where the participants speak to the film crew. The other seamlessly mixed is the documentary. And that is seamlessly mixed into the story we would see if this were an ordinary cartoon.
See how clever? See how easy it is to do?
Still, this rewards the watcher, even if you feel conflicted after watching some one else surf on painted water.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
It seems these movies come in 2's.
First it was bugs with A Bugs Life and Ants. Then it was fish with Finding Nemo and Sharks Tale. Then we got the zoo animals with The Wild and Madagascar. Now its the Penguin's with Happy Feet and this, Surf's up.
Traditionally every year we have computer animated films shoved down our throats. This year (2007) one of them is Surf's Up. Now i am not calling computer animated films bad. But i am calling Surf's Up bad.
The animation was OK and the story was OK but i did find it very boring for a kids movie. It was just so slow. It also felt like it was copying things. The rooster felt like it was the same character as the sea turtle from Finding Nemo.
This movie was filmed like a documentary. But they draw to much attention to it. It honestly feels like your watching a animated surfing documentary.
Luckily a little bit of laugh gives it life. Sadly there isn't as much laughs as there should have been.
It goes for 85 minutes. But it feels like longer then that. It feels like at least 100 minutes.
I don't recommend this. But you will most likely get dragged into seeing this by some kids.
I generally like the fun little kids shows... This time, I was bored almost from the get go. It was cool that it was done in a fake documentary style, but really, for me, that was about as good as it got. The story line is almost nonexistent, and I don't think I laughed once the whole time. I think the only people who this would be amusing for is the little kids, really little kids. Which is fine, but I think really, a movie like this should be enjoyable for the whole family, so they can watch it together, not have the parents fall asleep or leave to do something else. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone, unless they are looking for some sort of keeping-children-occupied-and-out-of-your-hair type movie.
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