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With: (voices) Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, James Woods, Diedrich Bader, Mario Cantone, Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Sal Masekela, Ash Brannon, Chris Buck, Brian Posehn, Dana Belben, Reed Buck, Reese Elowe, Jack P. Ranjo, Matthew G. Taylor, Brian Benben, Jane Krakowski, Michael McKean
Written by: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck, Christopher Jenkins, Don Rhymer, Christian Darren, Lisa Addario, Joe Syracuse
Directed by: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and some rude humor
Running Time: 85
Date: 06/02/2007

Surf's Up (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Home of the Wave

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Preaching enjoyment over aggressive competition, the new animated family film Surf's Up actually has the courage to stick to its convictions. A teenage surfing penguin from Antarctica, Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), follows his dream to a surfing competition in the tropics. There he meets a cute penguin lifeguard, Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel), and a surfing chicken (voiced by Jon Heder). Cody's surfing hero, Big Z (voiced by Jeff Bridges), is presumed dead but turns up a burned-out recluse; it's pretty much the same character as Paul Newman's Doc Hudson in Cars. The film is presented in a fake documentary format, with hand-held cameras jiggling over the CG landscapes. There are interviews (similar to Nick Park's groundbreaking Creature Comforts), technical "glitches," and riffs on the graphic-heavy flash of ESPN, although the filmmakers are not always consistent with this technique. Bridges turns in a superb voice performance, making most other voice actors seem stiff and restrained. Other ideas, like several homogenized songs and routine jokes, don't work so well. The big question is who the potential audience might be. Kids definitely won't understand everything and adults will be a little too familiar with it all. Even so, it's harmless fun and a welcome alternative to Shrek the Third.

(Note: several sources credit different writers on this film, so until this situation becomes clearer, I've simply listed them all.) Surf's Up

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