Surf's Up

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Surf's Up
Review (9/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

In yet another attempt to capitalize on the immense popularity of cute little penguins, Surf's Up follows the adventures of Cody Maverick, as he goes from a outcast penguin in Shiverpool, Antartica, where he surfs on chunks of ice, to Pen Gu Island where he will compete in the Big Z Memorial Surf-Off.

Voiced by Shia LaBeouf, Cody has always been a bit of a wildcard in the world of penguins. However, his love of surfing cannot be questioned. He idolizes a legendary surfer named Big Z, but when Z is killed in a tragic surfing accident, Cody vows to go to the Surf-Off and win the championship. Along the way, he meets a spaced-out surfer named Chicken Joe (yeah, he's a chicken), a sexy lifeguard named Lani (sexy in the penguin world, I suppose) and a recluse nick-named Geek. All of these people will play integral roles in Cody's quest to become the best surfing bird in the entire world. However, to do so, he must face his arch-nemesis in a final showdown - Tank "The Shredder" Evans, the heartless bully who will stop at no ends to make sure the championship trophy ends up in his nest with all his other "ladies". Some celebrity voices to be found in this movie include Jeff Bridges, Jon Heder, Zooey Deschanel and James Woods.

We've had marching penguins, tap-dancing penguins and mischeivious penguins but I think these might be the first ever surfing penguins. Surf's Up is not your typical animated movie. As is expected in this day and age, the animation in this movie is top-notch. Even the slightest movement by any character or object is captured in extreme detail on the big screen. The characters, more or less, aren't anything that we shouldn't expect from such a movie. What sets Surf's Up apart from anything else we have seen in the last several years is the fact that the movie is shot documentary-style, complete with a penguin camera crew, hand-held cameras, off-camera interviews, boom mics and anything else you can think should be featured in your everyday documentary movie. It follows Maverick's journey from Shiverpool to the surfing championships, it interviews him, his family, his competitors and most of the characters with whom he comes into contact. It makes for a fun, interesting and very humourous movie and without a doubt, one of the most thoroughly entertaining movies of the year, so far.

Like many of the animated movies that have hit the theatres in the last handful of years, Surf's Up is great fun for both the kiddies and the adults. The characters are well-developed. There are no obscure sexual references that some movies like Shrek 3 feel the need to throw into the mix. There's no fart jokes. The "f" word is not covered up by a blowing horn like it was, once again, in Shrek 3 (I still remember the little boy sitting behind me saying, "Daddy, why did he swear?"). It's good, clean fun and it is a fine piece of work.

Surf's Up tries something old and something new. Yeah, you would think that the whole penguin angle has been a little overplayed, but they throw in a few oddball characters here and there, a handful of surfboards, a pretty decent soundtrack, a hilarious little baby penguin, the perfect voice for every character and a new style with the documentary thing going on and this movie hits a home run. I have to admit when I saw yet another penguin movie, I probably rolled my eyes and said I wouldn't see it but I was wrong on this one. Surf's Up is pure entertainment and is sure to be a big hit this summer.

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