The voice cast of the movie are particularly brilliant. Shia Labeouf leads the cast as surfer wannabe Cody. Labeouf was until recently one of the few actors I could not stand to see on a screen. My past experiences with him on movies were usually films that cast him as the annoying kid. For this reason I couldn't stand him. However, then he starred in Transformers and changed my mind completely. He is actually a great actor, he can deliver a joke easily, he's easily likable and he just does everything in such a great way. This shines through again with his performance here, and because of his work in this movie I would be quite happy to see him lead another animated movie some time in the future. His character is always funny, he definitely gets some of the best lines and moments in the movie. Jeff Bridges is pretty good in his role, he works best in the funny moments of the films, when it comes to the sentimental stuff I just found his voice work to be not as good. Jon Heder almost runs off with the movie as Chicken Joe, who got the biggest laugh from the audience. Zooey Deschanel was average I suppose, her character deals more with the icky stuff towards the end than the great comedy stuff. James Woods seems to be having a great time as Reggie, he also gets some great comedy moments.
The actual comedy side of Surf's Up is perhaps the movie greatest success. The mockumentary style allows us to see a different way of making animated movies. The movie of course has to switch to a more movie-ish feel at some points, its in these moments the movie isn't at its best. Whenever they're doing the documentary style the movie is as perfect as you could hope for. Meeting Cody's family at the beginning is pretty hilarious, and meeting all the other supporting characters, especially Tank who has the best scene of the movie with his trophies, is definitely the movies highlights. If you are planning to see this I highly suggest you watch the characters in the background more so than the characters in the foreground, they made me laugh all the time to see them waving at the camera or pulling faces behind the other characters backs. Chicken Joe is definitely best comically, the best scene with him involves a hot tub and the natives, its pretty hilarious, a shame most of the joke is ruined in the trailers.
So what are the negatives of the movie then? Well I suppose if I look at this from a kids point of view then I realise that there are a lot of jokes that might leave the kids a bit cold. The kids will still be entertained for the majority of the movie, especially during the very cool looking surfing sequences, but some of the humour is more directly aimed at adults than anyone else. Also the sentimentality factor obviously starts to kick in towards the end. While its never sickly like a lot of other animated movies are, it still feels a tad forced. I wish for once we could have a kids movie without all the obligatory kiss and make up feel at the end of it. Why can't everyone just still hate each other or something like that? Anyway the sentimentality never makes the film bad at all, its still a great movie.