Plot: Penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf) is an up-and-coming surfer who travels to Hawaii from Antarctica for his first-ever surfing competition. He befriends the gnarly Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) and the washed-up Geek (Jeff Bridges) and attempts to understand the true nature of what it means to surf. Who’s it for: Die-hard surfers and kids, though I can’t imagine a surfer is going to assume an animated flick will properly capture the nature of their lifestyle/sport.
Expectations: Another penguin movie? That’s all I could think. But as soon as “Surf’s Up” began, this animated film became more, really almost a documentary.
Shia LaBeouf as Cody Maverick: Unfortunately his character goes through too many mood swings, so I couldn’t constantly be on his side. But LaBeouf is pretty entertaining no matter what he does. Grade: 6
Jon Heder as Chicken Joe: I don’t think it’s much of a compliment to say Heder has found his calling with animated voices. Unfortunately, he’s been flat in “School for Scoundrels” and “Blades of Glory.” But when he’s animated, his shtick hasn’t gotten old. Grade: 7
Jeff Bridges as Geek: This might be the closest we get to Bridges playing “the Dude” in another “Big Lebowski” film. He even sports the big gut and the insanely laid-back attitude. Grade: 8
Sights and sounds: The “stock-footage” from previous surf competitions and all the different documentary techniques used really gives this animated film a completely unique feel. Grade: 8
I was prepared to bash another penguin movie for hopping on the bandwagon, but this one adds enough for me to put those worries to rest. “Surf’s Up” zips along at a very short 81 minutes, and there should be enough documentary-style moments to appeal to adults as well. I even got chills when Cody has to ride his first wave in competition. He goes through the anxiety and nerves any athlete deals with before their big moment … Come on, give one more penguin a chance.
Overall Grade: 7