Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2024 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'Surf's Up'

Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf) chases surfer stardom in <em>Surf's Up</em>.
Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf) chases surfer stardom in Surf's Up.

Third time's the charm with the penguins. Who'd have thought? The premise of this digitally animated flick is high-concept enough — it's supposedly a documentary about penguins hanging six, as it were, in the Penguin World Surfing Competition in Hawaii — to make you wonder just how high the conceptualizers were when they thunk it up.

But the film turns out to be a laid-back delight; complete with the animated equivalent of hand-held cameras, boom mikes accidentally descending into the frame, and a loose mockumentary format much like the one Christopher Guest developed for Waiting for Guffman, it's got as much to offer adults as kids. And when glacier-kid Cody Maverick (voice of Shia LaBeouf) gets taken under the wing of surfing legend Big Z (voice: Jeff Bridges), the improvised, ad-libby ethos gets pretty giddy. It helps that computer animation can take you where cameras can't — alongside two surfers inside the curl of a perfect wave at sunset — as easily as it can to the ocean floor with a wipe-out. And the picture's message, which is basically that winning's not as important as having fun, will sit well with any parent who's ever had to console a car full of Little Leaguers after a heartbreaker.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.