Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Surf’s Up

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild language and some rude humor.
Profanity:Some schoolyard language
Nudity/Sex:Some crude humor and potty jokes
Alcohol/Drugs:Brief mention of medication
Violence/Scariness:Cartoon violence, reference to deaths, no one hurt onscreen
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters, all competitors male
Movie Release Date:2007

Every so often an unpretentious little charmer like “Surf’s Up” darts ahead of the pack of big, over-hyped, over-long, resistance-is-futile summer blockbusters lumbering into multiplexes. This one is as refreshing as an ice cream cone after a hot day.


The concept does not sound promising — it is yet another penguin story about yet another underdog. But the movie is beguiling, thanks to vibrant visuals, superb voice talent, wit without ironic air quotes or snark, a sweet storyline, and a brisk running time. Like the sport it salutes and the island where it takes place, the movie has a laid-back vibe, taking its story, its humor, and itself lightly.


Cody (voice of Shia LeBeouf of Holes and the upcoming Transformers) is a penguin from Shiverpool, Antarctica who loves to surf and dreams of someday competing like his idol, surf legend Z. Cody gets a chance to go to Hawaii to compete in the Big Z Memorial Surf Off on Pen Gu Island. But it turns out he has a lot to learn about surfing. And he has even more to learn about competition, friendship, and winning.

With the help of fellow surfer Chicken Joe (voice of Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder), a dry-witted but warm-hearted lifeguard named Lani (voice of Zooey Deschanel), and a reclusive coach with a big secret (voice of Jeff Bridges), Cody takes on the current champ, the trophy-loving Tank (voice of “The Drew Carey Show’s” Diedrich Bader).


It is structured as a documentary, with scratchy black and white “footage” of Z’s early years, characters explaining what is going on to the camera, and understated “mistakes” like protruding boom microphones and drops of ocean water on the lens. This format lends itself to an appealingly non-linear story-telling style, making room for commentary from a colorful range of characters, including the harried Surf Off organizer (voice of James Woods) and three adorable penguin babies who look like fluffballs with beaks.


It has the meticulously hyper-real textures and breathtaking vistas we have come to expect from CGI but clever use of focus and angles and interaction with the “documentary” cameramen make it seem more intimate, less like a bunch of pixels. And voice talent of great warmth and spirit will make audiences feel ready to catch the wave and hang ten.

Parents should know that this movie has some crude schoolyard humor, including potty jokes, a comment about “showering together,” and some implied nudity (nothing shown). Characters use some schoolyard language. There are references to (off-screen) deaths and there is some cartoon-style peril and violence (no one hurt). There are diverse characters, but all of the competitors are male.


Families who see the movie should talk about what was most important to Cody, Z, Tank, Chicken Joe, and Lani and why. What feels best about winning a prize? What are some feelings that are even better? What does it mean to “let the wave do the work?” Families can also talk about some of the coaches or other teachers who taught them the most.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy surfing classics Step into Liquid (with a real-life surfer from Chicken Joe’s home town of Sheboygan, Wisconsin) and The Endless Summer. They will also enjoy comparing the beautiful computer-generated Hawaiian scenes in this film with the gorgeous hand-painted locations in Lilo & Stitch. They might enjoy the classic Gidgetfilms that helped make surfing popular with teen-agers. They will also enjoy other CGI animated films like Over the Hedge and Robots. And they will enjoy Napoleon Dynamite, featuring two of the voice talents from this movie, Jon Heder and Diedrich Bader.



Previous Posts

Guardians of the Galaxy
The summer movie you've been waiting for has arrived, a joyous space romp that all but explodes off the screen with lots of action and even more charm. Our recent superheros have been complex, often anguished, even downright tortured. It has been a while since we've had a charming rogue with a ba

posted 5:59:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Get on Up
There are a lot of challenges in taking on the life story of James Brown, known variously as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and others with vari

posted 5:59:21pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Magic in the Moonlight
Woody Allen's 44th film is an amuse bouche without a meal, a dollop of whipped cream without the dessert underneath.  In last year's film, "Blue Jasmine," the strength of the performances (especially Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) and the resonance of its Bernie Madoff-ish crossed with "Streetcar Nam

posted 5:58:31pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes on "Calvary"
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in "Calvary," opening next week across the country.  Here's an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies Sister Rose Pacatte. [iframe

posted 3:45:01pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Tonight: The Last of Our Pre-Code Series, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman"
Tonight is the last of the Pre-Code films Margaret Talbot and I will be presenting at Washington D.C.'s Hill Center.  And it's a doozy, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman."  We'd love to see you there. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATDif96J5Ms[/youtube] Margaret and I will be back a

posted 3:37:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.