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SURF'S UP

SYNOPSIS:
Up and coming surfing penguin Cody Maverick (voice of Shia LaBoeuf) has dreams of winning the legendary Penguin World Surfing Championship at any price. On his journey he meets the surfing Chicken Joe (John Heder) and falls in love with lovely Lani (Zooey Deschanel). But it's the advice of legendary surfing champ, Big Z (Jeff Bridges) that straightens him out to get his priorities right.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This superbly animated family comedy with a touch of coming of age is sweet and short, with a top cast voicing the surfing penguins. Yeah. Surfing penguins. They're really just like us humans, except they're penguins. All the human frailties are echoed in penguinland, and winning is the driving force - until maturity sets in. The film's message, that winning isn't the most important part of life but caring for others is, has a familiar Hollywood ring to it of course, but who can argue with it?

The hero's journey is full of adventure and fun, as well as drama, but there's nothing in the film to scare its target market of pre-teens. The cute factor of penguins is easily harnessed with the exotic location of Pen Gu Island, where the surf's up, the sand's smooth and reality is far, far away.

Central to the story is the fate of Z (voice of Jeff Bridges) who is a washed up champ, but a wise one. Shia LaBoeuf voices young Cody Maverick (the name taken from the Hollywood Guide to Naming Fictional Characters) with a terrific immediacy, and there are plenty of animation details to engage adults who get restless with the story. Best of all, surfers will be thrilled by the wonderful rendering of surf and sea, a genuine triumph. The film also gains from a more naturalistic approach to recording the voices; instead of one at a time, actors sharing a scene were recorded in the same booth, allowing for the sort of natural overlaps that occur in human conversations. It all adds up to a film you may not choose to see but if your nieces drag you along, you won't complain.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SURF'S UP (G)
(US, 2007)

VOICES: Shia Labeouf, John Heder, Zooey Deschanel, Deidrich Bader, Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Mario Cantone, Rob Machado

PRODUCER: Chris Jenkins

DIRECTOR: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck

SCRIPT: Lisa Addario, Christian Darren, Don Rhymer, Joe Syracuse

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andres Martinez

EDITOR: Ivan Bilancio, Nancy Frazen

MUSIC: Mychael Danna

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Lasaine

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tasmania: September 6; other states September 13, 2007







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