Story

Surf’s Up is an animated comedy mockumentary. It traces the adventures of young penguin Cody (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), from Shiverpool, Antarctica, who seeks to become a professional surfer. Despite receiving little encouragement from family or friends, Cody continues to train until one day he is discovered by a talent scout. Cody then leaves home to compete in several surfing competitions. 

While on the surf circuit, Cody meets several new friends. They include fellow surfer Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) from Wisconsin and Lani the lifesaver (Zooey Deschanel), who is the niece of legendary penguin surfer ‘Big Z’. During one practice session, Cody steps on a poisonous sea urchin and is badly injured. Lani rescues him and takes him to be nursed back to health by a reclusive aged penguin named ‘Geek’ (Jeff Bridges). Geek takes on a fatherly, mentoring role and helps young Cody prepare for the Big Z Memorial Surfing Competition.  During their time together, Cody learns that winning is less important than personal integrity and Geek learns to face his greatest fears.

Themes

Bullying

Violence

There is some violence in this movie. For example:

  • Cody’s brother Glen bullies and verbally harasses Cody on several occasions.
  • In one scene at the dinner table, Glen is shown hitting Cody in the face.
  • Pro-surfer Tank Evans is shown bullying fellow surfers in several scenes.
  • Tank Evans yells at Cody and then hits him with enough force to knock him to the ground.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In two scenes, Cody is sucked under a wave while surfing and it appears that he may drown. In the first incident, Cody swims to safety unaided. In the second, he is eventually rescued by lifesaver Lani.

Over 8

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Sexual references

Pro-surfer Tank Evans, in his trophy room, caresses and speaks to the gold cups and plaques in a very sexually suggestive manner. Tank has given each trophy a feminine name – his favourite being Leah the ‘dirty girl’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Surf’s Up is an entertaining animated comedy mockumentary with very realistic animated surfing scenes. This movie will mainly appeal to pre-teens, although many adults will also find its simple story enjoyable.

The main message from this movie is to never give up, but keep working towards your personal goals. This movie shows the value of personal integrity as more important than winning, and that friends are important. You could talk about these values with your children as well as the real-life consequences of bullying, verbal and physical harassment.