Sony toon makes a splash in Westwood

HOLLYWOOD — Sony Pictures Animation’s mockumentary “Surf’s Up” was met with a tidal wave of excitement at Saturday’s Westwood premiere. Stars Jeff Bridges, Jon Heder, Shia LaBeouf and Zooey Deschanel walked the ocean-blue carpet alongside co-stars Diedrich Bader, Mario Cantone and pro surfer Kelly Slater.

Even Sony topper Jeff Blake came out to hang ten at the Pen Gu Island-themed after-party with producer Chris Jenkins and co-directors Ash Brannon and Chris Buck, who provide the voices of the toon’s documentary filmmakers. Rather than record the voice cast individually, a standard industry practice, the directors put everyone on a small soundstage together where cameras captured the actors’ movements and improvisation was strongly encouraged.

As penguin surfing legend Big Z, Bridges seemed to be channeling a certain Coen brothers character. “I wasn’t playing the Dude as a penguin, but there is a lot of Dude nature in the movie,” the thesp admitted. “I didn’t entirely get the mockumentary concept at first, but I’m a big fan of ‘Spinal Tap,’ and the directors admire that film too, so it’s a credit to both of them that they were able to pull it off.”

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