Surfs Up
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +3

Animated comedy from Columbia Pictures. Voices of Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, Jeff Bridges, Jon Hedder, James Woods, Mario Cantone, Jane Krakowski. Directed by Ash Brannon, Chris Buck.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Surfs Up profiles teenage penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming surfer, as he enters his first pro competition. Followed by a camera crew to document his experiences, Cody leaves his family and home in Shiverpool, Antarctica to travel to Pen Gu Island for the Big Z Memorial Surf Off. Along the way, Cody meets surf nut Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), famous surf promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), surf talent scout Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone), and spirited lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel), all of whom recognize Codys passion for surfing. Cody believes that winning will bring him the admiration and respect he desires, but when he unexpectedly comes face to face with a washed-up old surfer named Geek (Jeff Bridges), Cody begins to find his own way, and discovers that a true winner isnt always the one who comes in first.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Remember Chicken Run? You know, the claymation comedy set at a chicken farm where a flock of hens are determined to fly the coop before meeting a fowl fate. With enough visually going on to keep little ones enthralled, it also contained sly, pun-riddled humor to keep the most anti-animation adult amused. And lets not forget the sight gags. Picture a rooster in solitary, ala Steve McQueens Cooler Joe in The Great Escape. The expressive faces (chickens with teeth is that great?), the pacing, adventure and witty dialogue make for a fun family movie outing. Well, Surfs Up is no Chicken Run.

Now, I admit, Ive seen enough animated animal movies especially ones about penguins. Whats up with all the penguin movies? You want to see a penguin movie see March of the Penguins, which is an insightful and humorous look at life for these creatures in the Antarctic. Its fascinating for kids and adults, alike. But enough with movies about penguins surfing or dancing. Surfs Up is not clever or witty enough to be an inspirational parable. And with the distinct lack of laughter among the youngest crowd members at the screening, I have to say its not much of a kids comedy, either.

The animation is top drawer, there are a few funny moments and the lesson of putting others first is clear and poignant, but considering how the studio has been putting its trailer in front of our captive eyes in theaters for the past year, I expected it to be at least as funny as Happy Feet. It isnt.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Crude Language: I caught one mild sexual innuendo that will go over the heads of most little ones; there are a couple of poop jokes; when a character gets stung by a sea urchin, another character pees on it to counteract the poison; this is an actual remedy, but played for laughs as little penguins look on.
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: A bully pushes others about and causes them to crash when surfing, but the filmmakers are careful not to abuse the littlest audience members.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: A couple of minor innuendos.
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 85 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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