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Surf's Up (film)

Surf's Up
File:Surfs upmp.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ash Brannon
Chris Buck
Produced by Chris Jenkins
Screenplay by Don Rhymer
Ash Brannon
Chris Buck
Chris Jenkins
Story by Chris Jenkins
Christian Darren
Starring Shia LaBeouf
Jeff Bridges
Zooey Deschanel
Jon Heder
Mario Cantone
James Woods
Diedrich Bader
Music by Mychael Danna
Edited by Ivan Bilancio
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • June 8, 2007 (2007-06-08)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million[1]
Box office $149 million[2]

Surf's Up is a 2007 American computer-animated mockumentary family comedy film directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck. It features the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods and Jon Heder among others.

In production since 2002 at Sony Pictures Animation, it was the studio's second theatrical feature. The film premiered in the United States on June 8, 2007, and was distributed by Columbia Pictures.

It is a parody of surfing documentaries, such as The Endless Summer and Riding Giants, with parts of the plot parodying North Shore. Real-life surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado have vignettes as their penguin surfer counterparts. To obtain the desired hand-held documentary feel, the film's animation team motion-captured a physical camera operator's moves.


A documentary crew follows the events of Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf), a 17-year-old rockhopper penguin who has wanted to be a professional surfer ever since a visit from surf legend Zeke "Big Z" Topanga several years ago. When a talent scout shorebird named Mikey (Mario Cantone) arrives to find entrants for the "Big Z Memorial" surfing contest, Cody jumps at the chance despite lackluster support from his family. En route to the contest, Cody befriends another entrant, Chicken Joe (Jon Heder).

The entrants arrive at Pen Gu Island, the site of the contest, where Cody meets—and immediately falls in love with—Lani (Zooey Deschanel), an eighteen-year-old female gentoo penguin who is a lifeguard. He also meets Tank "The Shredder" Evans (Diedrich Bader), an egotistical penguin who has won the Big Z Memorial nine times since it was first held after Z's disappearance during a previous match 10 years ago.

Cody sees Tank disrespecting Big Z's memorial shrine and then Tank attacks Chicken Joe. Cody immediately challenges Tank to a surfing duel, which Tank easily wins while Cody nearly drowns. Lani rescues Cody and takes him to her uncle, the "Geek" (Jeff Bridges), to help Cody recover from his injuries. Cody wakes up and panics when he can't find the souvenir necklace he got as a kid from Big Z. Geek downplays the necklace, but decides to return it when he later finds it in his hut.

Geek finds Cody sitting on an koa log and offers to teach him to make a perfect surfboard. They attempt to take the log back to Geek's house, only to lose control of it and end up on a beach away from the contest. When Cody gets to the beach, they discover a shack full of old trophies and surfboards, which are actually Z's old belongings. He spots Geek watching all those things, and he realizes that Geek is actually Z, the same surfer he had idolized all those years, and asks Z to teach him to surf. Reluctantly, Z agrees, but says that Cody has to make his own board first.

The attempt doesn't go well, however, as an impatient Cody doesn't listen to Z's advice about using long, smooth strokes and makes a board that shatters as soon as he tries to enter the water. Frustrated, he storms off, running into Lani, who eventually persuades him to return. That night, a calmer, more patient Cody works on a new board, finishing it by morning, falling asleep.

Z compliments Cody on his board, but when Cody is eager to start training, Z instead has him do seemingly menial tasks unrelated to surfing. Cody loses his patience with Z only playing with him, but when Z is asleep, he places him on the board and pushes him into the water. Z asks him if he had fun, and when Cody tells "yes", Z takes him to the water. Z teaches Cody, telling him to surf the waves with long, smooth strokes, just like making the board. Lani comes in and joins them. Cody then asks Z if he'll come watch the contest, but Z refuses, saying he faked his disappearance because he realized he couldn't compete with Tank, and that he was tired. Upset that Z just gave up, Cody leaves, meets up with Joe, and gets back to the contest just as it begins.

Tank easily makes the finals, as do Cody and Joe, and Joe turning out to be a natural born surfer. In the semi-finals, Tank battles with Cody, with Tank playing with him, but he falls off the board and loses. Cody and Joe make it to the finals. During the finals, however, Tank bursts in and tries to cause Joe to wipe out. Cody intervenes at the last minute, sending him and Tank out of bounds on the rocks. Tank wipes out and is rescued by Lani while Z, who had been secretly watching Cody's performance, helps Cody get back to the beach.

Z and Cody find out that Joe won by default since Tank and Cody were disqualified. Cody no longer cares about winning, however, having decided he'd rather just have fun instead. Z reveals himself to the audience and invites all the spectators to surf. Cody finishes his interview and joins the rest of his friends (including Z and Joe) in the water.


  • Shia LaBeouf as Cody Maverick - A seventeen-year-old northern rockhopper penguin who is determined to win the tenth annual Big Z Memorial Surf Off.
  • Jeff Bridges as Ezekiel 'Big Z' Topanga[3] a.k.a. "Geek" - Cody's idol, a professional surfer who is presumed dead.
  • Zooey Deschanel as Lani Aliikai - A gentoo penguin[4] lifeguard and Big Z's niece. She quickly becomes Cody's love interest.
  • Jon Heder as Chicken Joe - A rooster from Sheboygan, Wisconsin who also participates in the Big Z Memorial Surf Off and befriends Cody.
  • Mario Cantone as Mikey Abromowitz - A talent scout shorebird who is sent out to find wannabe surfers.
  • James Woods as Reggie Belafonte - a sea otter who acts as Tank's manager. His character is loosely based on boxing promoter Don King.
  • Diedrich Bader as Tank "The Shredder" Evans, a surfer who has won the Big Z Memorial Surf Off nine times.
  • Dana Belben as Edna Maverick - Cody's mother.
  • Brian Posehn as Glen Maverick - Cody's older brother.
  • Kelly Slater as Himself, professional surfer and sportscaster.
  • Rob Machado as Himself, professional surfer and sportscaster.
  • Ash Brannon as Himself, the filmmaker of the movie.
  • Chris Buck as Himself, the other filmmaker of the movie.
  • Sal Masekela as SPEN Announcer
  • Reed Buck as Arnold, a young gentoo penguin who wants to become a surfer.



Surf's Up: Music from the Motion Picture
File:Surf's Up Soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released June 5, 2007
Genre Film soundtrack
Length 50:17
Label Columbia Records

Surf's Up: Music from the Motion Picture was released on June 5, 2007. The following 14 songs are on the Sony's official film soundtrack.[5]

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Reggae Got Soul"  311 3:09
2. "Drive"  Incubus 3:52
3. "Stand Tall"  The Dirty Heads 3:11
4. "Lose Myself"  Lauryn Hill 4:35
5. "Just Say Yes"  Ken Andrews 3:40
6. "Forrowest"  Forro in the Dark 4:44
7. "Pocket Full of Stars"  Nine Black Alps 3:32
8. "Into Yesterday"  Sugar Ray 4:11
9. "Big Wave"  Pearl Jam 2:57
10. "Wipe Out"  The Queers 1:41
11. "Run Home (Instrumental)"  Priestess 3:37
12. "What I Like About You"  The Romantics 2:57
13. "You Get What You Give"  New Radicals 4:57
14. "Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)"  Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys 3:14
Total length:

According to the film's end credits, the version of "Wipe Out" heard in the film is actually performed by the punk band The Queers. The official soundtrack includes this version under the pseudonym "Big Nose", presumably for marketing purposes.[6][7] Two songs by Green Day, "Welcome to Paradise" and "Holiday" in an instrumental version, are used for background music in the film.[8] However, neither song appears on the official soundtrack album. In the primary teaser trailer, the song "Get on Top" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers can be heard in the background. "Welcome to Paradise" was also used in the second trailer promoting Surf's Up, as well as "Three Little Birds" by Sean Paul featuring Ziggy Marley.

The DVD and Blu-ray behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "Making Waves" features the song "The Water", performed by Venice. This also does not appear on the "Surf's Up" soundtrack, but can be found on Venice's "Garage Demos Part 2: Fast Stuff" CD.


Surf's Up: Original Ocean Picture Score
File:Surf's Up Score.jpg
Film score by Mychael Danna
Released January 29, 2008
Genre Film score
Length 28:15
Label Sony

Surf's Up: Original Ocean Picture Score was composed for the film by Mychael Danna and it was released on a limited edition (of a thousand units) 23 track CD.[9]

All songs written and composed by Mychael Danna
No. Title Length
1. "Legends"   2:28
2. "Sports Network Presents"   1:05
3. "You're In"   2:33
4. "Big Z's Shrine"   0:43
5. "Taking on Tank"   1:20
6. "The Geek"   1:00
7. "Stuck With This Guy"   0:34
8. "I Don't Have a Way"   0:58
9. "Log Roll"   0:44
10. "The Board Shack"   1:52
11. "Cody Struggles"   0:59
12. "Lani and Cody"   1:11
13. "Waterfall"   1:04
14. "In the Bogus"   0:54
15. "Training"   1:32
16. "The Has Been"   0:51
17. "The Big Z Memorial"   0:45
18. "First Round"   1:02
19. "Shredding"   0:55
20. "Winning Is..."   1:05
21. "Boneyards"   2:34
22. "Losers"   0:46
23. "Pointed the Way Back"   1:20
Total length:



  • To promote the film's release, surfboard wax bearing the film's logo and a rendering of Cody was given out at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con
  • On June 8, 2007, McDonald's issued eight Surf's Up toys in their Happy Meals for one month. In the Australian market, a few small plush characters of Cody, Lani, Chicken Joe, and Geek replace some of the toys in the US lineup.
  • There was also a tie-in with the candy Air Heads which introduces a "New Wave" flavor (pineapple) and four collectible lenticular motion surf board shaped pieces.
  • Build A Bear stores sold plush toys of the film's protagonist, Cody Maverick. Patrons could "build" their own Cody as well as dress him up in an array of surf-themed clothing and other accessories in Build A Bear workshops. They could also purchase Cody and accessories at the official site.
  • Several plushes from Nanco intended for claw machines can also be found and purchased in varying sizes (from 6 inches to 11 inches to 17 inches). Characters available: Cody, Lani, Tank, Geek, Big Z, Chicken Joe, and Reggie Belefonte. A rare set of larger (Geek measures 15 inches) and higher quality plushes had been made available at the premiere's after party. Won either through available games, or given away with gift sets for attendees. Cody, Lani, Arnold and Geek were created and so far no plans for the dolls to be sold commercially have appeared.
  • A series of children's 100 piece puzzles are available as well depicting various characters and setups.
  • Five inch waterproof plush tub toys released by Jakks Pacific in minimal quantities to most major retailers. Five characters were produced, including Cody, Tank, Big Z, Arnold, & Chicken Joe. Each character has an attached washcloth/surfboard, but sport questionable likenesses (and in the case of Chicken Joe, entirely off model, bearing more of a resemblance to Mikey).
  • Along with the release of the film, a companion Surf's Up video game was released for all the current video gaming systems on the market. All versions of the game are the same with mild graphical differences, with only the Nintendo DS version changing the overall format.

Home media

Surf's Up was released on high-definition Blu-ray Disc, PSP UMD Video and DVD in the United States on October 9, 2007. The DVD and Blu-ray included two animated short films: The ChubbChubbs! and The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas, which premiered with this release.[10]


Critical response

Surf's Up has received generally positive reviews from critics, and the film is 'Certified Fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 78% approval rating among reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Surf's Up is a laid-back, visually stunning animated movie that brings a fresh twist to some familiar conventions. Its witty mockumentary format is fun and inventive, and the CGI is breathtakingly realistic."[11] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a score of 64 out of 100, based on 26 reviews.[12]

Some reviews noted that in spite of it coming so soon after many films featuring penguins (March of the Penguins, Madagascar, and Happy Feet), Surf's Up was able to stand out on its own. Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times reviewed: "The originality of the documentary format coupled with the splendid CGI effects qualifies Surf's Up as not just another penguin movie."[13] The Dallas Morning News' critic Nancy Churnin agreed: "Sorry, cynics, Surf's Up is a charmer. And if the birds look somewhat familiar, they have something fresh to say about friendship and what winning is all about."[14] While James Berardinelli of ReelViews said: "If you have to see one penguin movie, this is it",[15] Kyle Smith of New York Post had a different opinion: "Maybe the next penguin flick will do more justice to the subject."[16]

Roger Moore of Orlando Sentinel gave the film a very positive score, noting that it was "beautifully animated, terrifically acted and edited in a way that hilariously mimics those Endless Summer surf documentaries."[17] On the other hand, Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic's critic, disliked almost everything: "From the nondescript voices to routine animation to an over-written story, this movie spends much of its time gasping for air."[18]

Box office

The film opened at number four and grossed $5,804,772 at the box office on its opening day in North America. It grossed $17,640,249 in its opening weekend. The film eventually was a failure at the box office as it grossed $58,867,694 in North America, and $90,176,819 in the other territories, making the total worldwide gross $149,044,513.[2]


Surf's Up was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 80th Academy Awards, but lost to Ratatouille.[19]

The films was also nominated for 10 Annie Awards at the 35th Annie Awards, and won two awards: Animated Effects, and Animation Production Artist:[20]

  • Best Animated Feature
  • Animated Effects: Deborah Carlson (won)
  • Animation Production Artist: John Clark (won)
  • Character Animation in a Feature Production: Dave Hardin
  • Character Animation in a Feature Production: Alan Hawkins
  • Character Design in an Animated Feature Production: Sylvain Deboissy
  • Directing in an Animated Feature Production: Ash Brannon & Chris Buck
  • Production Design in an Animated Feature Production: Marcelo Vignali
  • Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production: Denise Koyama
  • Writing in an Animated Feature Production: Don Rhymer and Ash Brannon & Chris Buck

Cancelled sequel

Since the release of the original, Mario Cantone, Jon Heder and Shia LaBeouf have mentioned the possibility of a sequel several times. No release dates, cast, filming crew or details about a possible script have been brought up since, due to the box office disappointment of the first film. [21]


  1. ^ "Surf's Up". The Numbers. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Surf's Up". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ Lemire, Christy (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up:Animated penguin mockumentary a righteous ride". Capital Gazette. Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ Edelstein, David (2007). "Surf's Up". New York Magazine. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Surf's Up (Music from the Motion Picture)". iTunes. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ Surf’s Up (DVD). Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures. 2007. 
  7. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". The Soundtrack Info Project. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  8. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". The Soundtrack Info Project. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  9. ^ "Surf's Up (Original Motion Picture Score)". iTunes. Retrieved October 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ Desowitz, Bill (July 30, 2007). "Surf's Up DVD to Include New ChubbChubbs Short". Animation World Network. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Surf's Up". Metacritic. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 8, 2007). "Critic Review - Chicago Sun-Times". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  14. ^ Churnin, Nancy (June 8, 2007). "Critic Review - Dallas Morning News". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ Berardinelli, James (June 9, 2007). "Surf's Up". Reelviews. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  16. ^ Smith, Kyle (June 8, 2007). "THESE PENGUINS RIDE THE MILD SURF". New York Post. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  17. ^ Moore, Roger (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up (4 stars out of 5)". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  18. ^ Muller, Bill (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up". Arizona Republic. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  19. ^ "The 80th Academy Awards (2008) Nominees and Winners". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. February 24, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Legacy: 35th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (2007)". The Annie Awards. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  21. ^ Frosty (May 29, 2007). "Exclusive Video Interviews from the SURF’S UP Premiere in Hawaii". Retrieved October 9, 2012. 

External links