SURF'S UP (Ash Brannon, Chris Buck). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (June 8). Rating: NN Rating: NN
I think we may have had enough of penguins now. In Surf's Up , Disturbia's Shia LaBeouf voices Cody Maverick, a teenage penguin who longs to win a surfing competition named for his hero, Big Z ( Jeff Bridges , doing The Dude in feathers).
Surfing penguins make only slightly more sense than tap-dancing penguins, and computer-generated water has come a long way in recent years. But as lovely as the ocean scenes are, you're still watching flippered surfer dudes, apparently for no other reason than that the technology exists. (No word on whether some famous surfer performed the same service for Surf's Up that choreo-animator Savion Glover did for Happy Feet).
The one truly clever twist in this tale is that it's "filmed" as a documentary or reality TV show. This conceit allows characters to speak directly to the audience in answer to faceless voices asking questions from behind the "camera. " As with most mock docs, however, the device fails occasionally, as when we're asked to believe that a camera crew would simply allow Cody's friend Chicken Joe ( Jon Heder ) to be boiled alive by cannibalistic penguins.
The three male leads have impeccable comic timing, and I wouldn't mind seeing them work together again. But give this flick a miss and head to the beach instead.