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Surf’s Up

Year: 2007
Production Co: Sony Pictures Animation
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Ash Brannon/Chris Buck
Writer: Ash Brannon/Chris Buck
Cast: Shia LeBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, John Heder, James Woods
All very routine kids CG animation movie about animals behaving like humans, but with one major difference - the script.

Playing like a documentary, it makes for some interesting narrative elements and lifts the usual underdog-rises-to-the-challenge-and-wins-the-day story out of it's natural home, giving it a sharper edge. Scenes like the old-style Super 8 vintage surf and interview footage are not only technically brilliant but extremely cleverly written.

Some credit too must got to the voice casting, with Shia LaBeouf's motormouthed youngster and Jeff Bridges as something like The Dude from The Big Lebowski, all chilled and laid back, much more concerned with the vibe and spirit than being the best.

LaBeouf is Cody, a young penguin who loves surfing. When a talent agent from a big surf content comes to his iceberg, he returns with them kicking and screaming to be included, as it's the former turf of his childhood hero Big Z (Bridges), a surfing legend who died in a killer wave.

While Cody tries to get the upper hand on the current bad boy champion, he stumbles across a strange hermit on the other side of the island who surfs, talks vibes and passes his days away in peace.

You'll guess it's Big Z long before the film tells you, and Cody begs the champ to teach him, setting off the same 'wise old sage teaches reckless youth' premise you've seen a million times before.

But the characters are timed with and tied to the voices perfectly, giving it a smarter feel than the coloured blocks constructive elements of most family films.

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