Plot: What’s it about?
Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) has big dreams, as he wants to leave Antarctica for warmer waters and become a world famous surfer. But his current lifestyle doesn’t offer much hope, since he works at a fish sorting plant and is always bullied by his older brother. But Cody remains optimistic and is sure he could become the next legend like his hero Big Z, if only he was given a chance. When he is finally given a break, it turns out to be a huge one and Cody is invited to compete in a Hawaiian surfing contest, the same one Big Z was last seen at. He wants to make a splash and he does, wiping out in his first run. But he then meets Geek (voiced by Jeff Bridges), who tries to instill a more laid back outlook in the young penguin. With some help from Geek and other new friends, can Cody prove he deserves to a surf legend?
The theaters have been flooded with computer animated features, with a recent fascination focused on penguins. We’ve seen them break out of a zoo, belt out show tunes, and we’ve even seen their real life brethren march. So now of course, it only makes sense to have a movie where the penguins surf, right? Surf’s Up might be more penguins, but it takes a fresh approach, with a documentary style presentation. Not as we’re watching the documentary mind you, but in that the characters are part of one, which is a cool concept. The movie itself is good, but not great or all that unique. The writing is solid, with a good amount of humor and not as much lowbrow stuff as you might expect. The animation looks excellent and provides some beautiful visuals, while the voice talent involved is also top notch. I had a good time with Surf’s Up and while it is no classic, it is fun and I recommend the movie, but make sure to pick up a widescreen version.
Video: How does it look?
Surf’s Up is presented in full frame here, but there is a separate widescreen version available. The image looks great, as you’d expect from such a recent, computer animated movie. The visuals are colorful and bold, with a crisp and well detailed overall presence throughout. But in this full frame release, we sacrifice the intended visual presentation, so it might look, but I can’t score a compromised transfer with high marks. So make sure you seek out a widescreen version, if you decide to watch Surf’s Up.
Audio: How does it sound?
The sound design on this film is rather basic, outside of the surfing sequences, but this Dolby Digital 5.1 option still sounds terrific. S while the movie lacks the kind of sound design to wow us, but for what we do have here, it couldn’t sound much better. The surfing scenes have a rich, full presence and from the splash of the water to the cool beach music, all the elements sound terrific. The audio is calmer in most other scenes, aside from some sparks of life in the more action driven sequences. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc has a lot of extras, but few were worthwhile and most are simply promotional tools. Chris Buck and Ash Brannon give us a directors’ commentary, which proves to be decent, but dull and lifeless. If you’re going to do one of these, at least have some energy for your own movie, right? A number of featurettes are also included, but all six are basically promotional in nature and provide little to no insight into the production. I know this is a movie aimed at children, but it would still be nice to have some kind of substance here. The best of the extras are two bonus animated shorts, The ChubbChubbs and The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas, both fun and well worth a look. This disc also includes a handful of interactive games, which the kids should enjoy.