Surf's Up 

Reviewer's grade: B

Let's concede right off that the world didn't exactly need another movie about cute 'n' cuddly penguins, but "Surf's Up" is no knockoff. This computer-animated, family-friendly flick visits the world of penguins, but the resemblance to last year's "Happy Feet" ends there.

 

"Surf's Up" is more charming and less bombastic. Consequently, parents might actually enjoy it more than the kiddies. Taking a page from the Christopher Guest comedies and TV's "The Office," "Surf's Up" is set up as a faux documentary chronicling the saga of Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), a spirited rockhopper with a love for surfing. He travels to the world penguin surfing championship in Hawaii, where he is schooled in the ways of surfing by Geek (Jeff Bridges), a laid-back surfin' bird whose approach to the sport is decidedly Zen-like.

 

Some of the humor will soar over the heads of the youngest viewers, but the relationship between brash Cody and his mellow mentor might touch audiences of all ages. PG

 

-Phil Bacharach

 

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