Movie Review: Surf’s up

Surf’s Up is a fake documentary that shows the life of a penguin named Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LeBeouf) as he leaves his hometown of Shiverpool to become a professional surfer.

The regional dialect full of “dude” and “bro” keeps the surfer stereotype going. That can be beyond annoying, but it was used sparingly and eventually I stopped noticing it as much.

Chicken Joe is the only non-penguin surfer, and as expected, Jon Heder (who will forever be known as Napoleon Dynamite) brings a genuine stupidity to the role.

Jeff Bridges, who is the character Geek, at times seems to be forcing this dialect a little bit, but overall, he fits the role quite well.

Then you get the glory-hogging manager (James Woods) becoming a very entertaining character. Zooey Deschanel, who is the voice of Cody’s love interest, brings a soft-spoken affection to the role, and anyone named after a J.D. Salinger character is OK in my book.

Cody’s never-give-up attitude eventually gets him to an island where he will compete against Tank Evans (Deidrich Bader) in the 10th Annual Big Z Surfing Championship. He arrives and immediately challenges Tank to a competition. Cody nearly dies and is nursed back to health by Geek, who later teaches him the real qualities of surfing.

Watching the movie, I knew exactly how it would end. The middle dragged, and the audience seemed to get quite restless, which I hear is not too uncommon for the age group in attendance. The predictable resolution got the attention of the audience back, but it was actually very short and uneventful.

The tired idea in this movie ends up being a uniquely well-written story about a young penguin coping with disappointment, dealing with existential issues and eventually finding his own way. The characters he meets along this road are very entertaining and provide genuine comedy even for the grown-up audience.