Friday, August 03, 2007

Ride the Weves

Surf’s Up

Directed by: Ash Brannon & Chris Buck
Starring (voices): Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, James Woods, Diedrich Bader

Yet another penguin movie, you ask. Yes. But, hey wait. Let me explain before you decide that you have had enough of those cute penguins on their happy feet.
The movie has penguins all over, but it’s not about penguins, it’s about surfing, yes bro, it’s all about the swell surf in a cool island called Pen Gu, Hawaii of the Penguin world, and it’s about a young dreamer and his mentor and it’s about never giving up. Oh, well, you have heard and seen all these in countless movies, and yet it’s still charming when the young hero leans to appreciate his surroundings, and when they are all penguins who are in the thick of the action.
Animation movies have finally comes of age. The classic formula of a classic cartoon film is that you take animals as your protagonists, make them talk and behave like human beings would do and present their lives as a verisimilitude of our lives and then, finally, you tell the story, mostly of the triumphs of an underdog.
Surf’s Up is a happy departure from this routine, not completely though. It’s still the story of an underdog achieving his dream. Yet, the world of designer penguins is taken for granted, and the film refuses to tell the story in a linear style. Instead it follows the format of documentary film, taking interviews of the participants of the World Surfing Championship for Penguins.
That’s how we meet Cody Maverick (voice of Shia LaBeouf), a penguin from Antarctica, whose dream is to be a great surfer like his idol, Big Z, the legendary surfer who is now dead. Cody is enthusiastic but not skilled, and a minor accident introduces him to an old man called Geek (Jeff Bridges). They bond soon and realise that legendary Big Z was not dead after all.
The dialogues are crisp, and have a ring of an uber-cool attitude, which keeps the atmosphere of the surfing intact.
The animation is deft and life-like. But it’s the sea that scores. The sea never looked so good, especially in an animation movie. The rise and fall of the weaves are just awesome. There are points when you even forget that you are seeing an animation film and feel transported to the beaches. And if you are a surfing fan, you will give this film ten out of ten. And for others, it’s a good Sunday entertainment, not any heavy-duty staff, just pure fun, a roller-coaster ride on waves. Enjoy the ride.

Rating ***

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