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Western Animation / Surf's Up

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"It's gonna be great... Can I get in line to not see it?"
Glen Maverick

Surf's Up is a film by Sony Pictures Animation. It takes on an interesting style: 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. The plot 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's animation division. It earned a surprising Academy Award nomination, and was the only Sony Picture Animation film to do so until Spider Man Into The Spiderverse.

In early 2016, Sony announced that they were partnering with WWE to produce a sequel, entitled Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, that was released Direct-to-Video on January 17, 2017, 10 years after the original film. The pitch is that Cody accompanies the Hang Five, a group of big wave riders (voiced by John Cena, Triple H, The Undertaker, Paige and Vince McMahon), in their quest for "The Trenches", a legendary surf spot holding the biggest waves in the world.



  • Affectionate Parody: Of surfing documentaries.
  • Almost Kiss: Cody and Lani
  • Aloof Big Brother: Glen Maverick for Cody.
  • Alter Kocker: The elderly penguins in Shiverpool
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Angry that Zeke refuses to watch him compete, Cody demands to know why Zeke disappeared after he wiped out of the contest.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology: The most blatant example is when Geek pees on Cody to heal a burn - birds don't urinate (like reptiles, the excretory system's products are released on the feces). Of course, this is likely just Rule of Funny.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Cody.
  • As Himself: Real life surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado appear as penguin versions of themselves.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Cody Maverick and Tank Evans.
  • Bad Boss: Reggie.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Reggie's sandpiper assistant.
  • Big Game: The Big Z Surf Open.
  • Advertisement:
  • Birds of a Feather: Cody, Joe and Lani bond because they are all orphaned.
  • Broken Ace: Big Z / Big Geek
  • Broken Pedestal: Cody is none too pleased when Z admits he's a Broken Ace. Both get over it.
  • Brutally Honest: After Cody made a disastrous wipeout on his first try, Reggie's sandpiper assistant Mikey whispers to him "You should've stayed in Antarctica, kid". And he's the only one who feels Cody is out of his league from the start, and spends most of the contest worried about his safety.
  • 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.
  • Cannibal Tribe: The Pen Guans. Thankfully, anything that Tastes Like Chicken is a good replacement.
  • Central Theme: Winning isn't everything.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Cody's father being eaten is first Played for Laughs when it is revealed at the beginning of the film, but when Cody is arguing with Big Z, he lets slip that he's actually pretty torn up about it. But said too much already, he immediately drops it.
  • 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."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: 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.
    Tank's Mom: Tank! Are you polishing your trophies again?!
  • Crash-Into Hello: Cody and Lani crash into one another when the first is ranting about Geek and the other is bringing Geek more clams.
  • Creator Cameo: The voices of the never-seen documentary filmmakers are provided by the actual directors of the movie.
  • Cucumber Facial: Big Z makes Cody meditate with pineapple slices on his eyes as part of his surf training and as a joke to make Cody look ridiculous in front of the camera crew.
  • Curse Cut Short: In one scene, Tank takes a bite from a squid on a stick and says "Bleah, tastes like sh—" The DVD Commentary confirms that yes, he did in fact say shellfish
  • Dark Horse Victory: Double-subverted; both Cody and Tank lose to Chicken Joe..
  • 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.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Tank doesn't consider himself a role model, but he does consider himself someone who people should look up to and try to emulate.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Reggie.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Mikey pulls off Reggie's wig. Reggie fires Mikey for it.
    "I never imagine a better day!"
  • Erudite Stoner: Chicken Joe.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Made around the time penguins became popular in movies. Lampshaded when Cody, in an interview, is asked about his talents, and he responds "You mean like singing and dancing?"
  • 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 film has several, done in the form of old film footage or photographs; they include the first time Cody met Big Z and when Z faked his death.
  • 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.
  • Genius Ditz: Chicken Joe, for all his airheadedness, turns out to be such a good surfer that he doesn't even realize it when he wins the surf competition.
  • 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. He then invites Cody to come see his trophies, and winks at the camera. invoked
    • 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".
    • Tank's admiration of his trophies (especially named after women) and his mother arguing with him about it sounds rather suggestive once you think about it.
      Tank's mom: Tank! Are you polishing your trophies again!?
      Tank: Mom! I wasn't polishing, I was talking to my friends. (looks back at the camera; whispers) I'm gonna be polishing later...
  • 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.
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: Downplayed. Cody is by no means a "bad" surfer. However, he is lacking in both patience, discipline and understanding of what surfing means to some people. Once he finally understands that, his surfing skills improve ten-fold.
  • Hollywood Natives: The Pen Guans, who try to cook Chicken Joe and occasionally attack the camera crew.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Lani has a physique that's much more curvy and humanoid than most of the other penguins.
  • The Idol's Blessing: As a young child, Cody is greeted and quickly enamored by Big Z, inspiring him to learn the sport himself. Many years later, after losing his first competition, he meets Big Z himself, who teaches him how to surf and helps him learn that the real goal is just to have fun.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: In the end, Big Z doesn't see himself as "the greatest surfer" or consider himself a legend anymore, he's just a guy who really loves surfing.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Cody. He desperately wants to win the surfing competition and become a legendary surfer like Big Z.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: Tank Evans, Reggie Belafonte, Glen Maverick.
  • Jerk Jock: Tank. Oh so much.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A lot of characters, actually.
    • First there's our main character, Cody. He's impatient and short-tempered, caring only about becoming a surfing legend like Big Z. However, he does care for the friends he makes along the way, and learns some important lessons about surfing in the end that make him much more humble.
    • Geek/ Ezekiel ‘Big Z’ Topanga. He's lazy and a bit grouchy, but it's mostly due to his humiliating defeat by Tank. Underneath it all, he sees Cody's real potential and decides to teach him how to surf like a pro despite the fact he left that life behind him.
    • Mikey is a bit snarky, but that's mostly because he has to work for Reggie and is constantly belittled by him. Underneath it all, Mikey worries about the surfer's safety as is actually a pretty sensitive guy.
  • Kick the Dog: Tank, on first appearance on-screen, kicks the surfing baby penguins.
  • 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
  • Moment Killer: The sad moment when Geek wanders around his old shack from back when he was Big Z is interrupted by an excited Motor Mouth Cody peppering him with questions.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: 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.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Cody's main rival Tank is a egoistical but skilled bully of a surfer.
  • 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.
  • Prone to Tears: Mikey is the only one who was moved to tears by Geek/Big Z's speech. When he's caught on camera, he averts the camera and begs them to please give him a minute.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: 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.
  • 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 album of Mychael Danna's music for the film is billed as the "Original Ocean Picture Score".
  • 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: Just about every unrealistic animal behavior. Or how dangerous the stunts are!
  • Scenery Porn: Zooey Deschanel was sold after seeing test footage of the giant waves, and the finished product is spectacular too.
  • Sea Hurtchin: Cody accidentally steps on a sea urchin at one point, which leads to the "urinate on it" remedy.As a bonus, there is also an interview clip of the sea urchin disputing that he was merely stepped on.
  • 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 knows 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
  • 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 resting 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: Squid on a Stick, 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: Subverted, as Big Z constantly Trolls Cody instead of actual training. The lesson? Have fun.
  • Tribal Carry: Chicken Joe is tied to a pole and carried to the village of the savage penguins. He's completely oblivious to the fact they intend to eat him.
  • 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.
  • Waterfall Shower: Cody and Lani end up cleaning themselves up under a waterfall after getting covered in glowworm poo.
  • 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, which almost made him feel guilty until Reggie's praising distracted him.


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