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Evan Almighty; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; 1408; others



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SURF'S UP The world needs another penguin movie about as much as it needs another Rambo flick. Turns out we're getting both, but while it's too early to comment on the upcoming Stallone sequel (though be sure to check out that incredibly violent trailer on YouTube), the animated film about the flightless fowl isn't bad, with a narrative slant that overcomes its typically blasé story about an underdog who triumphs against the odds while learning important life lessons regarding friendship, sacrifice and self-awareness. Employing a mock-documentary format rarely seen in animated films -- only Aardman's Oscar-winning Creature Comforts (screened this Sunday in the NoDa Film Festival; see the lead Flicks story) comes to mind -- this pleasant time filler plays like Dogtown and Z-Boys or The Endless Summer for the small fry, with its tale of a slacker penguin named Cody (Shia LaBeouf) who's only happy when he's surfing. He enters into a major international competition, where his rivals include new pal Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) and the bullying (and nine-time defending champion) Tank Evans (Diedrich Bader). An underachiever from the start, Cody eventually finds romance with a cute lifeguard named Lani (Zooey Deschanel, sexy even when voicing a penguin) and a mentor in The Geek (Jeff Bridges, slyly channeling The Dude from The Big Lebowski), a beach bum harboring a big secret. The abundance of schmaltz that plagued Happy Feet is thankfully missing here, though the movie does make sure to shoehorn in the obligatory flatulence gags.  **1/2


GOLDEN DOOR: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vincenzo Amato.


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