Surf’s Up

The nominations:

  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

The Black-and-White:

An animated movie about surfing penguins.

If you are like me, I had my doubts. Let me repeat: an animated movie about surfing penguins. Nuff said?

Dudes and dudettes, I am amped to say I was completely and utterly wrong. This movie is boss. It’s gnarlatious. Surf’s up is off the Richter. It rips with its story, its actors, and yes, with bitchin’ animation too. I was ready to put this film in the bone yard, but I quickly carved and locked in to one of the most primo movie surprises of the year. It’s filthy.

The synopsis from

As surfing penguins converge on the tropical isle of Pen Gu for a contest among the world’s top competitors, television coverage of the event profiles the contestants and provides a history of the sport. For young Cody Maverick, who is preparing to take on his rival, Tank, the competition offers a chance to learn some valuable lessons about riding the waves from surfing legend, Big Z.

It’s a strange year at the movies, in that the classic elements of great films (interesting story, character evolution, tension, conflict, and resolution) were consistently achieved in the animated films (e.g., Ratatouille, Surf’s Up), and yet so often ignored in live action movies (e.g., Atonement, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood).

This movie had a story, and the story wasn’t simply a exposition of events, it was a journey. The characters all evolved. They started somewhere, and they went somewhere else, and all along the voyage, we wanted them to succeed.

The voice work was terrific — Jeff Bridges is a natural for Big Z, but rising star Shia LaBoeuf (see him also in Transformers) established an outstanding patter with Jon Heder (as Chicken Joe) and was perfect as Cody Maverick.

The animations were also top-notch. Probably a bit below Pixar’s achievement with Ratatouille, but still very good.

The Best Animated Feature Film of the Year category is much more competitive this year than I expected it would be. I thought Ratatoiulle was the run away favorite, and realistically it probably should, and will, win. Still, Surf’s Up is a complete movie. It’s da kine, bro, and certainly is a shibby contender for the sickest animated feature of the year.

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