Posted October 3, 2007 in Film

The risk with animation is that what’s hip in the executive boardroom is totally played out by the time every last pixel has been painstakingly placed. Aim for cool, and two years later you’re embarrassingly passé, like the hot rollerblading in Hackers. Somebody should have warned the suits behind Surf’s Up not to hop on every bandwagon from penguins, competition mockumentaries, and extreme sporting (seriously, they only left out Matrix parodies) before they mashed hits together and came up with what could have been called March of the Best in Show Z-Boys. ‘Nuff hating. The film’s one original stroke as it follows rebellious penguin teen Cody (Shia La Beouf) from Antarctica to the tropics—where he learns to surf under the zen tutelage of stoner Chicken Joe (Joe Heder) and the legendary Big Z (Jeff Bridges)—is it fashions itself as a documentary. Which means the unearthly beauty of CGI—and there’s plenty of that—is chopped up with scratchy, unfocused, shaky “footage” that’s as tricky to pull off as catching some sick air on a 15-foot swell. At best, it’s mellow, zone-out bliss—like Blue Crush for prepubescents and animal lovers. I predict that two summers from now, we’ll get a near-identical one starring stomp-dancing flamingos. (Amy Nicholson)



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