So in my ongoing task of seeing all of the films nominated for this year's Academy Awards, last night Trent and Julie and I watched the Chris Buck and Ash Brannon animated comedy Surf's Up starring a bunch of cartoon penguins riding waves.
Surf's Up is really good. I know, I know. I was skeptical, too. And I'm rather sick of penguin movies, quite frankly. But it's good. See, it's a faux documentary about a little penguin named Cody Maverick who wants to win a surfing championship. The way it works is that we're always aware that there's a camera watching the little penguins and their crazy antics. There are cameras attached to the surfboards, like in other (less enjoyable) surfing documentaries (Step into Liquid comes to mind. Zzzzzzzzz.), and so when animated water splashes onto the camera lens, water stays on the camera. It's a really cool trick and it endeared me to the movie in a way I can't explain. The whole thing is just so inventive. The plot, of course, is ridiculously trite, and frequently descends into idiotic sentimentality. But the filmmaking is stellar. Brannon and Buck are even in the film as the cameramen. They ask questions of the penguins and manipulate the "cameras." It's all so much fun. The voice talent is great, too. Shia LaBoeuf is one of my new favorites. Although he does say "no no no no no no" a lot (as pointed out by my friend Kevin the last time I talked about Shia.) The other actors are the great Jeff Bridges, Diedrich Bader, Jon Heder, Zooey Deschanel, and James Woods (is he in every animated movie, or is it just me?). Pro-surf legends Kelly Slater and Rob Machado also make appearances as correspondents for SPEN, the sports penguin entertainment network.
Anyway, it's no Ratatouille but Surf's Up is a good time.