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Jun 21, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Surf's Up

If you read TGITDNMAR a couple weeks back, you saw that my chance of seeing Surf's Up in the theater was listed at 50%. However, Mrs. Fletch commented that hers was 80%. Well, average that out, and throw in a crappy week of new releases last Friday and that translates to us in the theater watching a surfing penguin movie.

Let me tell you - if you see only one surfing penguin movie this year, make it this one. Surf's Up is an entertaining movie, with (as predicted) a bit of sentimentality, but more so, it's packed with great performances by its voice over actors, a soundtrack that doesn't rely on 60s surf tunes or established, overused pop hits (a few songs heard prominently are Green Day's "Holiday" and "Welcome to Paradise," and "Get What You Give," by the New Radicals), and a great mockumentary style that sets it apart from the rest of the animated "kids" movies out there.

Much-seen-lately Shia LaBeouf stars as Cody Maverick, a runt of a flightless bird who lost his father young (the filmmakers even make that funny - much different than the Disney brand of parental issues), has a bullying bigger brother and an airhead mother. Cody wants to be just like his fallen idol Big Z - in other words, he wants to be the best of the best amongst surfers. Though none of it is groundbreaking , I won't give away the story, but suffice it to say that it is satisfactory (the Big Z storyline is practically straight out of The Karate Kid).

If you're not sick of seeing/hearing LaBeouf lately (Disturbia, Transformers), you're bound to enjoy him here. He brings the right attitude to Cody, being plucky and determined while remaining funny. Also on board (no pun intended) are:

* Jeff Bridges in a perfect role for him, especially if you enjoyed his performance in The Big Lebowski).

* Jon Heder, aka Napoleon Dynamite, who plays a stoner chicken named, uh, Chicken Joe. Heder gets to steal many of the funnier lines in the movie and never gets annoying, which is nice.

* Diedrich Bader, more or less reprising his small role from Napoleon Dynamite - classic.

* James Woods as a generally annoying talent agent (on purpose).

* Zooey Deschanel, every bit as forgettable as she was in Elf. (Not a knock on her as an actress, but it just feels like she could be replaced by just about anyone and you wouldn't know the difference, which I guess is in fact a knock on her as an actress. Sorry, Zooey.)

The filmmakers took full advantage of the faux documentary style. From showing "historical footage" and other documents to interviewing everyone from Cody's family to the villain to the Woods' agent, no detail was left uncovered, and it is the source for many of the laughs in the movie (ex: the interviews with a trio of younger surfers). At times, the movie more or less abandons or forgets the style, but always picks it up or reminds you of it in a short time.

Granted, since I don't have a two-year old, I haven't seen that many animated flicks lately, but I'm guessing this is one of the better ones of the last five years, after Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. God knows it looks better than Happy Feet...

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin'!"

Mrs. Fletch's Film Rating:

"It's in the hole!"

* Finally, I ought to add that even though we all probably take it for granted these days, the computer animation kicks ass. The ocean waves during the surfing scenes are photo-realistic. Pretty stunning stuff. My only gripe is that some characters are given the über-accurate treatment in terms of how the animal might look in nature, while others resemble comics characters (which was probably done on purpose, for comedic effect. Duh.). Anyway, that's just a minor gripe.

3 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Surf's Up"

Gaylord said...

Laboof is a loser. Damn Fletcher, can't believe you let your wife drag you to Surf's Up, Wa-PISH, shoulda just rented a porno instead, c'mon Man up!!

Derrich said...

So...many...penguins...this...year...must...fight... *faint*

Fletch said...

I say nay, Gay. I'm a Boof fan, and a bigger Bridges fan.

And lucky for me, I had yet to see any of the penguin movies from the last year or so...though I was sick to death of seeing promos for Happy Feet.