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Monday, June 18, 2007

Surf's Up, animated film done in mockumentary format. Audacious!

poster of Surf's Up

The press screening of SURF'S UP last Saturday was a horrible experience.

It has nothing to do with the film itself, which is a fine and entertaining little movie (will get back to that later), but the horrifying audience members who sat nearby during the screening.

Toddlers sitting in front of me running and crawling around while their moms tried desperately to shush them.

Old grannies sitting behind me starting to whine and moan and babbled about how bored they were by the film.

It was difficult to concentrate on the film, I haven't felt so annoyed since watching MONSTER INC. years ago and some dumb kid behind me just kept on asking his grandparents what was going on, and his grandparents just spoke back without, like, you know, lowering their voices.

And of course, there was a guy sitting behind me who just couldn't stop pointing out the obvious. Once is all right, but repeating numerous times "hey, he's Big Z!" before the 'twist' is actually revealed FIVE MINUTES later wasn't cool.

I wanted to just turn around and say "yes, thanks a lot for pointing out, captain obvious, can we just watch the film in silence?"

But of course, snapping at the guy will result in me being beaten up by the already cranky and impatient grannies sitting behind me anyway.

So, how's the film?

SURF'S UP will most definitely sail past the heads of most Malaysian audiences, because of some pop-cultural references and quick witty humour (it has its share of slapstick humour for the kiddies, but it's generally more subtle and sophisticated compared to... Shrek 3), and the fact that it may be a bit too intelligent for someone expecting to watch something like, again, SHREK 3.

After all, despite being another one of those 3D animated films, this film unfolds like a mockumentary! It's supposedly a parody of surfing documentaries. The characters of the film are constantly being interviewed by a duo of unseen filmmakers voiced by the film's actual filmmakers, Ash Brannon (co-director of Toy Story 2) and Chris Buck (Tarzan).

The story of this film isn't the most original, and its central twist can be seen from miles away. But I like the mockumentary-style tremendously since it does separate the film from the others.

(Actually, my last short film, GIRL DISCONNECTED, a tale of a girl flying to the moon to seek her love, was originally planned to be a mockumentary as well)

I'll just copy and paste the synopsis of the film from Wikipedia:

Surf's Up profiles teenage Rockhopper penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming surfer, as he enters his first professional competition. Followed by a camera crew to document his experiences, Cody leaves his family and home in Shiverpool, Antarctica (a pun on Liverpool, England) to travel to Pen Gu Island for the Big Z Memorial Surf Off (Big Z's a legendary surfer worshiped by Cody). Along the way, Cody meets surf stoner Chicken Joe (Jon Heder), Don King-like promoter Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), surf talent scout Mikey Abromowitz (Mario Cantone), and lifeguard Lani Aliikai (Zooey Deschanel), all of whom recognize Cody’s passion for surfing, even if it sometimes goes too far. Cody believes that winning will bring him the admiration and respect he desires, but when he unexpectedly comes face-to-face with a washed-up old surfer named Geek (Jeff Bridges), Cody begins to find his own way, and discovers that a true winner isn’t always the one who comes in first.

No points for anyone who can guess Geek's true identity. (which, thankfully, was revealed pretty early on in the film)

So, like I said, the story isn't that original, it's pretty similar to last year's Pixar movie, CARS.

It's also unfortunate that this film will also be written off because it's released just half a year after the much heralded and Oscar-winning penguin film, HAPPY FEET (which Surf's Up did refer to).

I enjoyed the movie, despite having to endure the crap shoveled at me by the other sadistic audience members.

No, this isn't as good as HAPPY FEET (and I don't think it's aiming as high as HAPPY FEET did), but it's still better than Shrek 3.

But like I said, too bad this unique little film will most probably end up unappreciated.

SURF'S UP trailer