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Western Animation: Surf's Up

Despite being set in a world of anthropomorphic talking animals, the film parodies surfer documentaries, complete with handheld camera shots and interviews with the cast spliced in various places. It tells of a young Rockhopper penguin named Cody Maverick, who dreams of moving to the tropics and becoming a legendary surfer, like his idol, Big Z.

A 2007 CGI animated film, and the second one from Sony Pictures Animation. It earned a surprising Academy Award nomination, and is so far the only feature film from Sony's animation division to do so.


This film provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of surfing documentaries.
  • Almost Kiss: Cody and Lani
  • Aloof Older Brother: Glen Maverick for Cody.
  • Alter Kocker: The elderly penguins in Shiverpool
  • Ascended Fanboy: Cody.
  • As Himself: Real life surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado appear as penguin versions of themselves.
  • Attack Backfire: Cody tries to beat up Tank when he hits Chicken Joe, but Cody's punches are so weak that Tank takes it as a massage.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Cody Maverick and Tank Evans.
  • Bad Boss: Reggie.
  • Badass: Tank.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Reggie's sandpiper assistant.
  • Big Game
  • Birds of a Feather: Cody, Joe and Lani bond because they are all orphaned.
  • Broken Ace: Big Z / Big Geek
  • By Wall That Is Holey: At one point Cody and Joe knock over one of those cut-out figures you put your own face in; baby penguin Arnold is walking past and escapes being squashed by being in the exact place the hole for the face falls. What makes it funny is that he doesn't notice.
  • Camera Abuse: The camera was busted by Pen Guans when the crew followed Chicken Joe in the forest. Not to mention numerous interferences between the characters and the cameraman.
  • Character Development: Like most people that appear on reality television, Cody is initially under the impression that he's the most fascinating person on earth. By the end of the movie, he tells the camera crew: "To be honest, I'm kind of bored of talking about myself."
  • Cheaters Never Prosper
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Chicken Joe.
  • Clucking Funny: Chicken Joe is there purely for laughs. Until he beats both Cody AND Tank to win the surfing competition.
  • Companion Cube: Tank to his various surfing trophies. With more than a hint of Cargo Ship, too.
    Tanks' Mom: Tank! Are you polishing your trophies again?!
  • Creator Cameo: The voices of the never-seen documentary filmmakers are provided by the actual directors of the movie.
  • Cucumber Facial
  • Curse Cut Short: In one scene, Tank takes a bite from a squid on a stick and says "Bleah, tastes like sh—"
  • Dark Horse Victory: Double-subverted; both Cody and Tank lose to Chicken Joe..
  • David Versus Goliath
  • Disappeared Dad: Both Cody and Chicken Joe never knew their fathers. Cody's dad was eaten by a killer whale, while Joe's was served as part of a six-piece meal.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Reggie.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Made around the time penguins became popular in movies. Lampshaded when Cody, in an interview, wonders, "What do you want me to do? Dance?!"
  • Evil Counterpart - Tank lives with his mom like Cody. He and Big Z also look alike when Geek was younger.
  • False Camera Effects
  • Feather Fingers: Averted with the penguins who have flippers but played straight with Chicken Joe.
  • Flashback
  • The Fool: Chicken Joe, full stop. Dude had no clue that the Pen-Guans wanted to eat him, or even that he won the surfing competition.
  • Fun with Acronyms: SPEN for the penguin version of ESPN.
  • Funny Animal
  • Furry Confusion: The seagulls act like normal animals, and then there are the piles of fish. Even a SEA URCHIN gets lines.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Cody says "Bring it on, pecker face!" to Tank. We're pretty sure they meant his beak, right?
    • While showering under a waterfall:
      Lani: Can I tell you something personal?
      Cody: (flirty tone) Lani, we're in the shower together, y'can say whatever you want...
    • Also, Chicken Joe, who's clearly a stoner.
    • Tank sure loooves polishing his trophies...
    • When the kids bury Chicken Joe in the sand, they put one of the sand castle towers on his crotch.
    • Chicken Joe also refers to his "nuggets".
  • Hated Hometown: Cody. "Good-old Shiverpool. *razz* This place sucks, bro!"
  • Heroic BSOD: Cody and Big Z both get one after losing to Tank. Ironically it was Cody's that caused Big Z to take the first initiative towards helping them BOTH get back on the surfboard.
  • Hollywood Natives: The Pen Guans, who try to cook Chicken Joe and occasionally attack the camera crew.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: In the end, Big Z doesn't see himself as "the greatest surfer" or consider himself a legend, he's just a guy who really loves surfing.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Cody, he wants to win.
  • In-Universe Camera
  • Ironic Echo (with a side order of Tempting Fate): Before his first contest with Tank, Cody brags that his performance will be so impressive, people will want to watch it "over and over and over and over again". Cue instant-replay footage of his embarassing wipeout.
  • Jerk Ass: Tank Evans, Reggie Belafonte, Glen Maverick.
  • Jerk Jock: Tank. Oh so much.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Geek/ Ezekiel ‘Big Z’ Topanga.
  • Kick The Surfing Baby Penguins: Tank, first appearance on screen.
  • Meaningful Name: Cody's last name, Maverick, is another term for an outcast. Maverick's is also a major surf spot in Northern California.
  • The Mentor: Geek
  • Mockumentary
  • Momma's Boy: Tank
  • Musical Slapstick Montage
  • Not So Different: Big Z cared more about winning, as a result of the contests taking the fun out of surfing. Lani pointed out to Cody that he cared more about winning than her or Zeke.
  • Official Couple: Cody Maverick and Lani Aliikai.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Cody and Joe's fathers were eaten by a whale and fried for dinner, respectively, and Lani was apparently raised by her uncle, the Geek/Big Z
    • After seeing Big Z as a quitter, Cody felt like he lost another father.
    Cody: It's bad enough to lose one dad...
    Interviewer: What do you mean by that?
    Cody: Nothing, just forget it.
  • Parental Favoritism: Cody's mom at first favors his older brother, but after the contest seems to favor Cody, much to his brother's displeasure ("I really hope, that some day, you can be more like Cody." "...This interview's over.")
  • Precocious Crush: The young penguin Arnold has one on Lani, to the point where he routinely drowns himself, just so she can rescue him.
  • Punny Name: Cody's hometown of Shiverpool.
    • Spanish and Brazilian-Portuguese dub: Frio de Janeiro (Cold of Janeiro).
    • Buenos Eisig (Buenos Icy) in Germany.
  • The Reveal: Geek/Zeke is revealed to be Cody's idol, Big Z, who was lost many years ago!
  • Real Men Wear Pink: You have to very manly to hatch an egg to term.
  • Rule of Cool
  • Scenery Porn: Zooey Deschanel was sold after seeing test footage of the giant waves, and the finished product is spectacular too.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Subverted. Big Z humorously calls Cody a "loser" because he didn't come in first, and Chicken Joe is shocked he won - he was just having fun and it isn't clear he even know he was in a contest. During the entire film, all of the interviewed characters say that loser is as loser does, regardless of whether they come in first or not - save Tank of course.
    Cody: (amused) Well, I lost.
    Big Z: (amused) Yeah. Me, too. Come on, loser.
  • Shout-Out / Take That:
  • Shown Their Work: They consulted several experts to make sure the surfing information was accurate.
  • So Proud of You: Geek does this a few times to Cody.
  • Stewed Alive: The oblivious Chicken Joe thinks the native Pen Guans are giving him a hot tub bath.
  • The Stinger: Glen throws the interviewers' equipment out the window after the credits.
  • The Stoner: Chicken Joe.
  • Suntan Stencil: A penguin is seen sunbathing, his flipper restsing on his belly. When he moves the flipper it leaves an outline on his sunburned underside.
  • Surfer Dude: Everyone on Pen Gu Island, but Chicken Joe is the funny stereotype.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Turned inside-out; Big Z's complaint was that surfing competitions took all of the fun out of the pastime. Chicken Joe, obviously just happy to be there and surf, takes the competition and the trophy. Cody, happily reunited with Z, is the sweet side. Tank, on the other hand, is sucking lemons.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: Which is basically I Am A Humanitarian where Chicken Joe is concerned. It saves his life when he gives the food to chicken-eating natives.
  • Tastes Like Friendship
  • Totally Radical: Chicken Joe, Cody to some extent uses a 00's appropriation of the dialect with use of 'bro' in place of 'dude'.
  • Training Montage
  • Undercrank: Parodied in a sped-up montage when the surf contest is being set up. The backing music starts to speed up faster and faster along with the camera, and at the end, Mikey says "I feel lightheaded" in a chipmunk voice.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Averted. Tank loses, but Cody doesn't win.
  • Wax On, Wax Off. Parodied and subverted, in which Zeke has Cody doing ridiculous training exercises to help him "learn how to surf". Cody finally figured out that Zeke was playing practical jokes on him, and learned that the real lesson was to relax and just have fun.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Cody asked Big Z to watch him surf in the contest. But Z refused the offer. Both Cody and Z then get into an argument until Cody wants to know why he was hiding after his wipeout. After Z tells him the whole story, Cody becomes disheartened that his hero quits. Z admits it and walks off in anger. Lani follows him and gives Cody a "what the hell" look. Later, she berates Cody for caring more about winning.

SpikeAll-CGI CartoonStarship Troopers: Invasion
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alternative title(s): Surfs Up
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