20
Aug 07

The Unstoppable Power Of The Penguin

Do You See + FTPost a comment • 1,894 views

I saw two films on Saturday afternoon. One was the terrific, ruthlessly efficient machine that was The Bourne Ultimatum. There is little to say about it except THE 43 BUS DOES NOT GO PAST WATERLOO STATION. Except for that two second wrench out of an otherwise almost perfectly choreographed movie it does exactly what you expect it to do and leaves you gasping. Well done to my lookilikee Matt Damon and Greengrass off of Heartbeat.
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The other film was JUST AS GOOD. In a very different way. I saw a trailer for Surf’s Up about six months ago, maybe even before Happy Feet (the singing penguin movie). I must admit to rolling my eyes and wondering openly if the world needed another CGI animated penguin movie. Especially one about surfing penguins. And having seen it, and enjoyed it thoroughly I am still not sure if NEED is the right word. But the perversity of the project is what makes it great. You see Surf’s Up is an CGI animated surfing penguin movie in the form of a mockumentary. But not just any mockumentary. In style and form it is a near complete riff on Stacy Peralta’s two documentaries: Dogtown and Z-Boys, and particularly Riding Giants (the surfing documentary). Now that might be a vaguely fun idea, but do you think anyone is going to bankroll an animated mockumentary parody of a couple of extreme sports documentaries? And the very fact that someone did say yes gives me some sort of hope. The fact that someone said yes, and maybe covered their backs by insisting that it starred penguins is possible too. Because lets be clear. Penguins = Box Office.

So you also get in Jeff Bridges to re-run a penguin version of the Dude for pre-teens. Cash in nicely on Shia LaBeouf’s now near ubiquitous voice for the cocky lead (he can do no wrong this year). And pack it with clever sight gags, and some very good surfing sequences. And yet nothing about it feels focus grouped, the plot is your standard sports fayre but has a nice twist to the norm, and it entertains the adults by being smart rathe rthan smart mouthed. A real surprise, and real fun.

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