Surf’s Up (2007)

A real man is strong enough to admit when he’s wrong. Now, I don’t know if I’d say I was wrong, per se, but … oh wait. Never mind, I was totally wrong. So, in my previous review I revealed that I had rented 2 computer animated movies about birds, and that I had decided one would be crap and the other one would be alright (which was revealed yesterday to be Rio). What I was wrong about was that today’s movie, Surf’s Up (with the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Jon Heder, Diedrich Bader, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, and Brian Posehn), would be crap.

Cody Maverick (okay, we can knock a few points off for giving TheBeef that name) is an aspiring surfing penguin living in Antarctica with his mother and his brother (Brian Posehn). A bird of some kind rides a whale up to Antarctica looking for surfer’s for a yearly contest held in tribute to Big Z, a famous surfing penguin who died some years back while surfing, and also happens to be TheBeef’s inspiration. Cody begs his way onto the whale and catches a trip down to … wherever the Hell it took place. It’s not important, okay?! On the whale, he meets a surfing chicken, name Chicken Joe (voiced by Napoleon Dynamite himself, Jon Heder) who is on his way to the competition and seems to be either constantly stoned or brain damaged. They reach the contest and meet the douchey contest manager, Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), the much more douchey previous year’s champion, Tank Evans (the amazing Deidrich Bader, who had never let me down in a movie until I sat through Meet the Spartans), and the love interest, Lani (Zooey Deschanel, whose name I really resent having to type). Anyway, TheBeef challenges Tank because Tank was douching it up to Chicken Joe, but TheBeef is not that good of a surfer and crashes, gets pummeled by waves, and inevitably gets knocked out by hitting his head against a rock. Lani rescues him and takes him back to her house for treatment from her uncle, Geek (The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges). Can TheBeef learn to surf and win the competition? Tune in to the movie to find out! Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

I completely went in to this movie with low expectations and this movie was able to blow those expectations out of the water (pun intended). The voice acting really suited their parts. You need a kind of annoying teenage sounding person? TheBeef! You need three people that can act (?) stoned and loopy? Bridges, Heder, and Zooey! I mean, with a name like Zooey, how can you not be interested in mind-altering substances? Need two douchebags? Woods and Bader can play that! And you need a sarcastic older brother type? Well I WISH Posehn was my older brother! Completely perfect cast. Although this movie does make me wonder about Bridges in a way I may have mentioned on my review of the Big Lebowski. Had I not seen True Grit, I would think Bridges is a fantastic actor … while playing characters that are basically The Dude. Both Tron’s, Surf’s Up, and of course Big Lebowski; all of them The Dude. Thankfully I have seen True Grit so I know the man has range. I need to see more Jeff Bridges movies to either solidify or destroy the idea that he can only do one character really well. I don’t want to start thinking he’s Danny McBride or something. OH! Low blow?

Anyway, just like Rio and completely opposite Alpha and Omega, this movie is really well animated. Just having seen the few trailers I had, I also would not have realized that the movie was meant to look like someone was filming a documentary, but it was and this was used well in the movie. Not too much so that it’d be annoying, but also using that to comic effect in itself. The animation was also great. The animation gave a lot of personality to the characters and, most importantly, had really beautiful and realistic water effects. Non-gamers may not realize how important water effects can be. When you see a game whose animation cannot pull off water, it’s bothersome, but if it does it right, you notice it. I feel like I pay attention to water in video games a lot because it can be quite the sign of the dedication of the programmers. One problem with the animation is that sometimes you’d lose track of the characters because there’s not a whole lot you can do with penguins to individualize them.

The story was fine, but as is pretty usual in movies, it’s not entirely original. I guess you could say it’s original in that it’s a competition where the main character learns how to win and also learns about himself, but then make them penguins. And I wouldn’t say that the movie is laugh out loud funny either, as I don’t recall laughing myself. The jokes and comedy of the movie were just kind of there. I noticed them, they waved, but they never ran over and raped me into laughter. Wow that’s an awful metaphor. One thing I did think about the story is that, being animated, it seemed more for kids, but I don’t know that a kid would enjoy this beyond seeing penguins. So, whereas Rio was probably more enjoyable to kids than adults, I would say this one would be more for adults but the kids probably wouldn’t think much of it. Maybe I just don’t know what kids think. If I did, I probably wouldn’t hate them so much.

So there you have it, I sometimes assume incorrectly. But, I may also have been thinking this was Happy Feet when I rented it. Thankfully, it wasn’t. But when I eventually see Happy Feet, we shall see if that movie can overcome my pessimism as Surf’s Up did. I give this movie “Give it a look-see” out of “TACOS!!”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.