Last year penguins danced in HAPPY FEET; now penguins catch the big wave in SURF'S UP. This animated mockumentary looks great and has enough heart and laughs to be a step up from Sony Picture Animation's first animated film, OPEN SEASON. But more so than Sony's MONSTER HOUSE, the film suffers a bit from having a stock hero, leaving the flare to the supporting cast. Nonetheless, the characters are likeable and the laughs are enough that this film is the best time I've had at the movies this summer so far.
Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf, HOLES) lives in Shiverpool, Antarctica and has dreamed of becoming a professional surfer ever since famed Big Z came to visit his town when he was a small child. A film crew interviews Cody as he sets out to prove his mother Edna (Dana Belben, HAPPY TREE FRIENDS) and older brother Glen (Brian Posehn, TV's THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM) wrong and make it off the block of ice where he was born, succeeding as a pro athlete. Determined, he all but forces himself on talent scout Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone, TV's LAUGH WHORE), who works for the Don King-like surf promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods, SALVADOR). We learn that Cody's idol Big Z disappeared during a surf tournament, leaving the arrogant Tank Evans (Diedrich Bader, TV's THE DREW CAREY SHOW) behind as the reigning champion. Cody makes friends with laid-back Chicken Joe (Jon Heder, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) and pretty lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel, THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY), but a clash with Tank leaves Cody finally in the care of the Zen-like Geek (Jeff Bridges, THE BIG LEBOWSKI).