Penguin lovers, rejoice. After starring in one of the highest-grossing documentaries of all time (March of the Penguins), stealing the show from a jungle full of their fellow animals (Madagascar) and saving the world through song and dance (Happy Feet), your favorite flightless fowl have returned in what just might be one of the more innovative animated films to grace the multiplex in recent years.
The central gag of Surf's Up is not simply that it is about penguins that surf, but also a mockumentary about penguins who surf. This is not the first computer-animated cartoon to feature clapboards, boom mics that drop into the frame, and characters who press their faces against non-existent camera lenses; those tricks go back at least as far as the closing credits of A Bug's Life. And this is not the first animated film to feature journalistic, on-camera interviews with animals; that gimmick goes back at least as far as Nick Park's 1989 short Creature Comforts. However, this just might be the first film to carry all these ideas through an entire movie.
The story concerns a small penguin with big dreams going by the name of Cody Maverick (voice of Shia LaBeouf). Cody lives in Shiverpool, a penguin community somewhere in the Antarctic where he spends his days stacking fish. Because he was a runt when he popped out of the egg, he is something of a social misfit in penguin society, and his family life could be better, too: his mother pities him, his big (much bigger) brother mocks him, and his father was taken years ago by a killer whale.
But Cody has a dream. Years ago, a penguin surfing champ by the name of Big Z visited his community, gave him a medal, and told him to find his own path and never give up. So Cody has taken up surfing ...1
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