Surf’s Up

| June 11, 2007

I don’t know how or why it happened, but once upon a time and out of nowhere, penguins became the cutest, most popular thing on Earth. Since then media of all kinds have been bombarded with images of stout and adorable, snow-covered, flightless birds. As well as being the object of mankind’s affections, they have also become the subject of a brigade of films. Happy Feet, Madagascar, March of the Penguins, are just a few of the more popular films that feature penguins and to be honest, they all stink. But there is hope on this horizon my friends, and it’s title is Surf’s Up. I’m going to say it now and perhaps save you some time; This film is hands down the best penguin thing out there. There, I said it. Why are you still reading this? Go out and see it. Now! What, you don’t believe me? Do you think you’re better than me? Fine, smart guy, read on.
Cody Maverick, voiced by Shia LaBeouf, (Disturbia, Transformers,) is a penguin inspired by a legendary surfer, Big Z, (Jeff Bridges,) to become the best surfer he can be. After forcing his way into the competition of the year and meeting the girl of his dreams there is still only one thing on his mind: winning. Big Z himself helps Cody realize his actual dream, teaches him to be a better surfer and a better penguin. Through it all Cody learns that winning and proving everyone was wrong isn’t as important as having good friends, enjoying life for what it is, and catching the perfect wave.
Personally, I haven’t seen an animated film in years that made me feel like a kid again. Bouncing out of the theater, dying to go to the beach, this film has so much energy! Movies just don’t stick with you the older you get, but this one does. As an animation snob there are some points I have to make. (Don’t worry, they’re nice.) The characters were so unique! It’s hard as a character developer to come up with ways to make 50 of the same animal look different so an audience can recognize each individual one when on screen. Each penguins “hair” (yellow tufts,) showed personality as well as distinct tattoo-like markings between the white and black sections of their bodies. It was as clever as the dialogue, as hilarious as the reality show/documentary platform, and as visually pleasing as the animated backgrounds and water. (CG water has been one of the most difficult tasks among animators. Just the fact that the guys at Sony had the guts to take on an entire screenplay built around water is admirable.)
Where all other penguin films fall flat, Surf’s Up delivers a great story, a unique cast of characters, and a wonderful moral, (something too many children’s films are lacking nowadays,) which is never give up, follow your dreams, concentrate on the things that really matter, enjoy life for what it is, and you will be a winner.

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