MPAA Rating: PG, for mild language and some rude humor
Genre: Animated Comedy/Family
Age range: Ages 5 and up
Runtime: Approx. 86 minutes
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, Jane Krakowski, Jon Heder, Mario Cantone, Brian Benben, Michael McKean
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: June 8, 2007
Surf's Up - Guide Review
Presented in documentary style, the CG animated film Surf's Up tells the story of Cody, a penguin from a small fishing town who dreams of becoming a surfing champion like his idol, the late Big Z. When Cody met Big Z as a young penguin, the surfing legend left an impression that Cody would never forget. The documentary follows Cody as he makes the journey to Pen Gu Island and the Big Z Memorial Surf Off, where he hopes to win the competition and follow in Big Z's wake.
On his way to Pen Gu Cody meets Chicken Jo, a chicken from Sheboygan who just loves to surf. With his new friends and the giant opportunity ahead, Cody is on top of the world. But, no sooner does Cody arrive to Pen Gu than he has a run-in with the self-centered reining surf champion, Tank.
Cody winds up having to be saved by the beautiful lifeguard, Lani, after an embarrassing surf off with the surfing king. Feeling sorry for the inexperienced kid, Lani takes him to see her uncle Geek. As Geek tries to help Cody get back to surfing, Cody realizes that Geek is Big Z, and that he has been hiding away to avoid the pain of losing a competition.
Geek becomes a sort of father figure to Cody and tries to help him regain his love for surfing. In chasing after the shadow of who Big Z used to be, though, Cody may miss the point altogether, and fail to learn the most important lesson that Geek is trying to teach him.
The documentary style of Surf's Up is somewhat unique in the wide world of CG animated movies. In addition to being entertaining, the technique allows the movie to highlight different elements of the plot and thereby strengthen the overall positive moral of the story.
The moral is a great one for kids, and the movie is not afraid to sacrifice a satisfactory ending in order to bring it home. Kids will love the colorful and masterful animation of penguins and surfing scene, and the movie is short enough to retain their attention.
Surf's Up - Note to Parents
Characters in the movie Surf's Up display imitative behavior that will catch many kids' attention. Being a surfer movie, the characters use surfing lingo and and play the "cool surfer dude" role. Of course, Chicken Joe is the clueless sounding beach dude, and Cody shows a lot of attitude in his discussions about surfing and winning. Also, the resident bully, Tank, prizes his trophies over other penguins and will stop at nothing to win.
The movie contains some innuendo surrounding Tank's love of his trophies, which he as named using various girl names, and his continual holding and kissing them. The movie also contains some mild profanity .
Surf's Up - Content OverviewThe following lists a few of the most prominent examples of possibly offensive content in the movie (may contain spoilers):
- Two penguins get into a minor scuffle; one throws a rock at the other.
- A tribe of penguins aim/throw spears at Chicken Joe. They put him in a pot like they are going to cook him.
- Various surfer penguins are shown crashing in the ocean with waves crashing down on them and some being thrashed into rocks (no gore is shown). Tank runs into and knocks over other penguins as he tries to win surfing competitions.
- Tank names his trophies girls names. He hugs and kisses them, calling one a "dirty girl."
- Chicken Joe wears two coconut halvs like a bra.
- The words "damn" and "crap" are used. Child penguins talk about "poop," and Tank refers to his mother having "pooped him out" (saying that he has been in the water ever since then).
Bad/Disrespectful Behavior (Moderate)
- Cody is determined to go to Pen Gu and win the surfing competition. His brother is skeptical of his ability and obviously does not want Cody to succeed. His mother is doubtful about her son's talents. Cody acts cocky and like winning is the most important thing.
- Big Z doesn't want anyone to know he's alive because he is afraid of looking like a loser.
Scary Scenes (Mild)
- The scenes listed under "Violence" may be scary or unsettling to children.
- Old footage is shown from the time when Big Z disappeared and everyone thought he died. Also, old footage of penguins crashing into rocks is shown.
- Cody surfs into a dangerous rocky zone and waves crash down on him, but Big Z saves him.
Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Mild)
- Cody's late father is shown in a picture, and behind him is a huge whale that is about to eat him. Cody makes a statement about not missing his father because he was too young when he died to get to know him. We also find that Chicken Joe's father is deceased.
- Lani becomes upset with Cody when she feels that he has abandoned Geek and Cody becomes upset when Geek says he will not watch him in the surfing competition.
Surf's Up - Topics to Talk About
- In sports, what does it mean to love the sport more than winning? What are the dangers of making winning the most important goal?
- Why does Cody's brother act so negatively toward him? What could he do to be more supportive?
- After watching Surf's Up, kids may become interested in surfing. Kidz World has a great article on the science of surfing.