Surf's Up

  • Review Date: October 8, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Kids will dive into penguin adventure, dude.
  • Review Date: October 8, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 89 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The underlying message is to follow Big Z's motto: "Never give up ... find a way." Cody's determination gets him the chance of a lifetime.

Violence & scariness

Slightly disturbing images include a photo of Cody's dad about to be eaten by a shark and footage of the Z's wipeout wave when he supposedly died. Tank punches Cody.

Sexy stuff

Cody flirts with and hugs Lani. Female penguins follow Tank, who, in turn, has an unusual, almost sexualized relationship with his surfing trophies (he even hugs and kisses them). His mother yells "Are you polishing your trophies again?" and in one scene, a penguin's genitals are "blurred out."


Mild PG words and insults: "crap," "butt," "sucks," "shut up," "go cut yourself," "you're a trash can full of poop," etc. There are also a few fart jokes.


Surfing commentators Kelly (Slater) and Rob (Machado) are real professional surfers.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated comedy has been heavily marketed to kids, and those who liked Happy Feet will be particularly interested in seeing it. Although there's not much violence, there are a few mildly perilous scenes during the surfing competition and in old photos/footage. And (big surprise for an animated story) the main character has a dead parent -- in this case, a father who was eaten by a shark. There's some unfortunate potty talk (which parents might want to manage at home), a harmless flirtation between two penguins, and a surfing champ's bizarre attachment to his trophies, which he refers to as his "girls."

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

A clever homage to surfer flicks and documentary-style comedies, SURF'S UP follows the adventures of misfit penguin Cody (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) as he tries to become a surfing legend. Crediting his tenacious spirit to a childhood encounter with legendary late surfer Big Z, Cody (followed by a camera crew) ends up in Hawaii for a major surfing competition held in Z's honor. Cody eventually meets a hermitic penguin named Geek (Jeff Bridges), who's modeled exactly after Bridges' iconic alter ego The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Obviously, Geek is Big Z -- who never really wiped out after all -- and eventually, Z and the fatherless Cody get on the same wavelength. Jon Heder adds extra comic relief as Chicken Joe, Cody's laconic rooster surfing buddy who's so chill that he doesn't realize a tribe of penguins is trying to stew him, not give him a hot bath. Also adding to the comedy mix are Lani Zooey Deschnael, a beautiful lifeguard who's smitten with Cody, greedy surfing promoter Reggie (James Woods) -- an otter with a Don King hairdo -- and the competition's egomaniacal champ Tank Evans (voiced by comedian Diedrich Bader).

Is it any good?


Penguins have been all the cinematic rage since the Academy Award-winning documentary March of the Penguins became a surprise summer blockbuster in 2005. Next came 2006's coming-of-age musical -- and fellow Oscar winner -- Happy Feet. Surf's Up doesn't surpass the award-winning caliber of previous penguin films, but with its soundtrack of surfer tunes, impressive oceanic action visuals, and cast of droll characters, it's a fresh take on an otherwise overexposed animal.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the current penguin craze. Why do you think there are so many movies and cartoons featuring them, from March of the Penguins to Madagascar? Are newer movies just copying the older ones, or do they all have different things to offer? Families can also discuss sportsmanship and determination. Is it more important to enjoy a sport or be competitive at it? Can you be both without placing winning above all else? What does Big Z teach Cody about idolizing role models too much? Why do we place professional athletes on a pedestal?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 7, 2007
DVD release date:October 9, 2007
Cast:Jeff Bridges, Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel
Directors:Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
Studio:Sony Pictures Animation
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Ocean creatures, Wild animals
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild language and some rude humor.

This review of Surf's Up was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byjslatte December 24, 2009

Really not worth the hassle.

This show had too many sexual inferences for my taste. In one scene, a penguin was practically drooling over these trophies that he had named after women, and his tone, the way he behaved, was a bit over the top. And a statement made while a male and female penguin were showering together was inappropriate for a children's movie.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byjenwen3 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Iffy potty language, penguin unination...necessary???

Superb animation, cute story. Why must we have to muck it up with so much poop, pee talk and farts etc? The penguin urinating on the other penguins foot while the girl penguin stands by was a little much. Good movies really can stand on their own without so much attention to bodily functions.
Teen, 14 years old Written byOldBob13 April 10, 2010

A superb (and utterly breathtaking) animated movie

When I was going to see Surf's Up for the first time, I didn't have high expectations. After watching the entire 88 minutes, I came out pleasantly suprised. Surf's Up is a fun animated comedy with heart, wit, and charm. The CGI is amazing, and kids (and parents) won't be disappointed by its engaging story. After seeing Ratatouille, Surf's Up rose my expectations on movies rivaling Pixar, as this was probably better than the former. Parents should keep in mind that there is a bit of language for a family-animated comedy. And some scenes are startling for younger kids.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


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