red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen



Surf's Up

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, James Woods,
         Mario Cantone, Diedrich Bader
Directors: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
Sony Pictures Animation
Theatrical release: 2007; available on DVD

Hey there, dudes and dudettes. Grab your boards! Surf's Up!


Actually, this is a nifty little animated film with great voices and a good message that doesn't hit you over the head. Besides, the penguins don't tap dance, so it's not just a replay of Happy Feet.

With Shia LaBeouf, the latest teen heartthrob and Indiana Jones sidekick, as the voice of the too cool Cody Maverick, you know you're in the right zone for a PG rating and just enough rude humor to get a laugh from the kids. Tank is the big, bad, full-of-himself penguin-to-beat, and there's a hilarious stoner surfing chicken, voiced by Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame.

But everything is well tempered by Jeff Bridges' homage to The Big Lebowski in a mellow voicing of Big Z, the surfer hero who wiped out and went AWOL rather than face the fans he thought he disappointed. When Cody shows up for the big contest against bad dude Tank, Z has a chance to decide what his future will be — and to provide a good, and low key, role model for Cody and all the other little surfer-dude wannabes.

Listen for Zooey Deschanel as the laid-back young lifeguard and James Woods as the over-the-top surfer agent/promoter, along with recognizable ESPN personalities.

Great music, including the 1960s surfing standard Wipeout and some catchy new tunes subtly support the feel-good message.

Be amazed at the look of the flowing water, droplets on the camera, and the surf cam.

Features on the DVD demo some of these "Making of..." elements and give you a taste of other animated shorts about The ChubbChubbs, also worth a look.


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