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A decent animated flick for the whole family

Author: Rectangular_businessman from Peru
5 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first time I heard about this movie I wasn't very enthusiastic about it, because I thought that it was going to be similar to "Happy Feet" (A movie which I hated, despite the great animation) Fortunately, "Surf's Up" ended being much more enjoyable than I was expecting. It is true that it had some tired clichés and overused formulas, but the result is still watchable.

I think that the fake documentary treatment that this movie had (In a similar way to Rob Reiner's "This Is Spinal Tap") served to make a couple of scenes (That could have been much worse done in a conventional manner) funnier and much more interesting.

While the main character was a bit boring and almost without any kind of distinctive traits (A flaw which sadly became quite common in some of the CGI animated movies from the recent years) the secondary characters were more likable and interesting. Personally, I think that Chicken Joe (voiced by Jon Heder) would have been a much more interesting protagonist, but anyway, this was still a satisfying film for the whole family, with great animation and good voice acting. I found it to be worth watching.


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Cool story, no environmental crap

Author: Robert from United States
16 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Movies with penguins tend to be environmental. By that, I mean the plot basically consists of humans who do something evil or otherwise are causing harm to either the penguins or to other creatures. Doing so, the message is to not harm nature. I love nature and don't want to destroy it, but when movies are dedicated to showing that humans are the only cause, then I get annoyed and frustrated.

Happy Feet is a good example. The first one was major political. The second not so much, but still consisted of humans doing evil things (how dare they eat chicken!). Surf's up was different. It didn't mention humans at all, in fact I dare say it may have been a penguin world for all I know.

I loved the story, and especially loved the look and feel the film was looking for. Shaky cameras making it seem like actual people were there interviewing everyone. It was really nicely done.

I rate this 7/10.

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A quirky and funny animation for all to enjoy

Author: FilmFanatic03 from United Kingdom
7 June 2011

The thing I love about this animation is the fact it is a documentary spoof. I love how the characters are interviewed and it is parallel to the story. The baby penguins are so cute. Chicken Joe is hilarious, chilled out style and quirky. Cody is the leading character and he is great, all the characters are great and have every right to be given an interview because they all have something to offer. I love this animation so much because it is rich with humour and it has a laid back style which is refreshing and easy to watch. Deservedly nominated for an Oscar because it is different and unconventional for an animation. A great family film for all to enjoy.

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Beautifully animated, funny and smart

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
23 November 2010

This is not the best animated movie I have ever seen(Beauty and the Beast) or the best penguin movie(March of the Penguins), but I really enjoyed Surf's Up. It could have been longer perhaps, but Surf's Up is beautifully animated with the bright colours particularly impressive. The music is hip and cool. The writing is both funny and smart, and the story is briskly paced and interesting. Surf's Up also has some likable characters that are further advantaged by some top notch voice acting with special mention going to Jeff Bridges who is simply marvellous. All in all it is a fun and beautifully animated film, that manages to be smart and likable as well. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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Surf's Up

Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
26 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Almost a year after the release of Happy Feet, this film also starring penguins came out, and I was quite keen to see it after seeing a trailer, so I did when I got my chance. Basically it is played out as a documentary, with slightly wobbly cameras and "stock footage", focusing on rock-hopper penguin Cody Maverick (Shia ) from Shiverpool in Antarctica. He is determined to become the new champion at the "Big Z Memorial Surf Off" competition on Pen Gu Island, both for his personal pride, and to honour his hero from childhood, the now supposedly deceased Zeke 'Big Z' Topanga (Jeff Bridges). He gets the support from his new friends, lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel) and fellow surfing enthusiast Chicken Joe (Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder), and he has a rival in egotistical champion Tank 'The Shredder' Evans (Diedrich Bader). When Cody gets himself washed up by a big wipe out where he ends up near a jungle where Lani takes him to her friend 'Geek', who seems to know a lot about surfing and the boards to use. As time goes by Cody realises that 'Geek' is in fact Big Z still living and a little chubbier, hiding from the surfing world and feeling like he can't come back. After creating the perfect surf board and learning some new tricks with the help of Big Z, Cody seems ready to take part in the competition and go against Tank, originally Big Z's rival. Cody starts having a strong bond with Lani, but he wasn't able to convince Big Z to come back and face the people he seems to have abandoned, but he sneaks his way back to watch Cody. In the end, Cody sacrifices becoming the new champion of the waves to help Chicken Joe to win against Tank, and Big Z does come back to reveal he is alive, and Cody and Lani are happy together. Also starring James Woods as Reggie Belafonte, Mario Cantone as Mikey Abromowitz, Kelly Slater as Kelly, Rob Machado as Rob, Sal Masekela as SPEN Announcer, Ash Brannon as Filmmaker, Chris Buck as Filmmaker, Brian Posehn as Glen Maverick and Dana Belben as Edna Maverick. The casting is really good, with LaBeouf as a great lead character, Bridges, Deschanel and Heder as great support, and it boasts some really cool animation effects, but it is the documentary feel that is quite original, so a fun family computer animated comedy. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. Good!

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Thumbs up!

Author: Karl Self from Yurp
16 August 2010

This is simply a very entertaining computer-animated cartoon about a bunch of surfing penguins. It's shot in a unique "mockumentary" style which makes the movie look fresh and surprisingly, and also allows the filmmakers to adhere less strictly to story development, and allows them to load the movie with a joke per second (NB, the movie also delivers a solid, intriguing, well-developed plot, but the mockumentary style allows the storytelling to be a lot faster, sharper, more off the cuff.

Paradoxically, to reproduce the -- usually undesirable -- "wobbly hand- held cam" effect in CGI, the studio had to go to fairly extreme length, with a cameraman filming the CGI framework off a large screen with a specially revamped hand-held camera.

Anyway, the result is a very fresh, very funny cartoon that looks simply amazing (those waves look wayyyy better than in reality). The voice artists also did an amazing job. This one probably caters more to adult viewers, but kids will certainly get a hoot out of it, too. I can highly recommend it!

PS: try this if the also penguin-themed "Happy Feet" bored your socks off.

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Penguin Pleasure

Author: Rindiana from Germany
30 June 2010

Mix today's TV consumers' penchant for behind-the-scenes real-life docs with all the sport's movie clichés you can come up with, throw some cute animals, exotic locales and a hip attitude into the mix, and what we are served up with is this likable and entertaining, but awfully predictable and sloppily written CGI Sunday afternoon fodder sans lasting impression.

Some nice jokes here and there, but all in all quite a pedestrian affair.

At least, they spared us mediocre song-and-dance numbers.

5 out of 10 surfin' roosters

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As refreshing as the waves

Author: abgkasjlkasjla from Denmark
6 November 2009

With most of these full-CGI flicks going for being larger than life and often having plots that the audience can't particularly relate to, it's nice to have this. What goes on in this, apart from the whole anthropomorphizing thing, could pretty much happen(particularly its core), and there's a genuine feel to it. The animation is used as a tool, to tell a story, instead of being allowed to be the main focus of the production. It does look marvelous, and the design is good. This is well-paced, and doesn't lose track of what it's going for at any point. The documentary-style, although occasionally abandoned for a more traditional approach, to easier capture drama, is effective, and it is great to see movie-makers actually allow something that could just be rendered to look perfect, to instead appear *real*, with film grain and the impression of this being shot with a hand-held camera. This is well-cast(and LaBeouf isn't half bad here), and the voice acting is all well-done. Posehn makes a spot-on older brother. This also has them record at the same time, in the same room, a lot of the time, and that helps avoid a lot of the clinical and separated touch to that aspect of these pictures. Editing and cinematography are solid. The humor goes for material that several age groups can laugh at, and tends to succeed. There is a little mild language and some suggestive stuff. The DVD comes with an informative and entertaining director's commentary, well-done featurettes, deleted scenes, a music video and trailers. I recommend this to any fan of those who put it together, as well as anyone interested in what I've described. 7/10

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Sweet Dude!

Author: Enchorde from Sweden
15 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recap: Cody is stuck on his island, Shiverpool, in the Antarctica, sorting fish day in and day out and tolerating the abuse from his older brother. His only rescue is his surf board that he hopes will be his ticket out of there. And one day, it's his lucky day. The producers of the big competition Big Z Memorial visits his island looking for new talent. This is Cody's chance. Only he blows it. But perseverance wins the day and he gets his shot. But competition is fierce, and Cody discovers that he got much to learn. Not only about surfing, but about life. Lucky he got his friends to guide him.

Comments: This was just sweet dude! Sure, this is an animated family comedy but don't underestimate them. This is a challenge by Sony to Pixar and I hope they keep on going because they succeeded with this one. It is a movie everyone can enjoy, both young and, not so young anymore.

It's a classic movie about coming of age and finding your own way. To overcome yourself, find true happiness. Over it is interposed this parody of stereotypic surfers, in this instance, surfing penguins (and a chicken, dude). And it mixes good. Add some more or less hilarious sub-stories and over the top (one might say radical) details (so pay attention). All together this is the perfect movie to just lay back and enjoy. It is taking you for a ride, bro, and what a ride it is.

One of its strengths, a very important one for these animated movies, is the characters. It needs some characters out there. And Surf's up got them. Reggie, Tank and in some way Big Z, but most out there is Joe the Chicken. A more laid back dude is hard to find. He is one that will stick with you a long time. Also possible in these animated movies is the classic vaudeville comedy, revived and taken to another level. People can fall over and go places that just aren't possible with live actors. And face it, it's great.

Also add some great music and you got a really good movie. Watch it for a good evening with the family or, maybe even better, turn it on the morning the day after a long night… (Also check out the special features. My DVD did got some really good stuff. For example the short The Chubbchubbs. Don't miss it.)


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Am I seeing double or is this "Happy Feet" in the sun - 61%

Author: Benjamin Cox from Hampshire, England
22 July 2009

"Bloody hell!" I remember thinking when I first got wind of this movie. "They rushed out that sequel to "Happy Feet", didn't they?" Only they didn't because this is from a different studio altogether meaning what we have here is basically "Antz" vs "A Bug's Life": part two. Sounds harsh because this is an entertaining movie in its own right but as it is, the whole thing feels like a cheap knock-off of other movies blended together to make a sunny, summery family film with yet more talking penguins. Yep, MORE penguins...

Taking the unusual approach of being a documentary, "Surf's Up" offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Big Z Memorial Tournament, an annual competition featuring birds (but mainly penguins) from around the world surfing against enormous Pacific waves. Focusing on up-and-coming star Cody Maverick (voiced by an actor becoming as ubiquitous as swine flu, Shia LaBeouf), the film documents his journey from the Antarctic to the tropical island of Pen Gu for the competition but after wiping out against defending champion Tank (Diedrich Bader), Cody finds himself in the care of retired surfer the Geek (Jeff Bridges) and soon begins to discover that there is more to life than winning.

You see what I mean about it being derivative? This feels exactly like any talking-animal animation you could mention, including Sony's previous effort "Open Season". Even the look is similar - I defy anyone to tell the difference between the baby-faced Arnold (Reed Buck) and the infant Mumble from "Happy Feet". I do, however, applaud the unique approach of the documentary-style and to be honest, this is when "Surf's Up" really comes into its own and begins to offer something different. The interviews with the various characters are genuinely funny, feeling like CG versions of Aardman Animations' brilliant "Creature Comforts". But when the film reverts to type, it suffers badly. There doesn't seem to be much cohesion between scenes and some characters are terribly underused like slimy promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods) or fellow competitor Chicken Joe (Jon Heder). There is also a problem with the supposed plot-twist, one that is so obvious that even a knuckle-dragging, buck-toothed, drooling idiot could still tell what was going to happen.

I was ready to hate "Surf's Up" for being a cut-and-paste job from movies like "Happy Feet". I was ready to hate it because surely, I've seen enough movies with talking penguins in - even "Madagascar" had some and they were far funnier than the lead characters. But I can't because this is, in truth, still a good family film. But I don't love it like I did "Happy Feet" because it simply isn't as good. It lacks the appeal to adults that Pixar manages quite easily in all its films and I just felt that the whole thing could have been brilliant. It could have been something very different to the over-crowded genre of talking-animals-learning-about-love-and-life-by-being-themselves. So it's not a complete wipe out - just the steal of the century...

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