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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Surf's Up 2: Wave Mania is a sequel to Surf's Up, a popular movie from 2007. Surfing penguins Cody Maverick, Lani Aliikai, and Tank are back along with Chicken Joe, ready for a new adventure in an animated, direct-to-DVD movie that stays with the original's mockumentary format -- a documentary television crew follows the adventures of surfers from Pen Gu Island, where the waves are sweet and the competition among wave-riders is fierce. Tank is still the bully of the piece, tormenting Cody and Chicken Joe with put-downs and bragging. This time, however, there's an added element: Hang 5, a "world-renowned surfing troupe" (made up of popular wrestling performers/voices from the WWE) joins the company. The story includes plenty of thrills and spills for young fans of both surfing and action-adventure: wipe-outs, giant waves, lightning storms, a sea of lava, a high-wire act, and multiple narrow escapes. Characters are knocked out and trapped and nearly drown, but all's well that ends well for everyone. This is OK for kids who are comfortable with pretend vs. real violence.
What's the story?
In SURF'S UP 2: WAVE MANIA, Penguin Cody Maverick (voiced by Jeremy Shada) is still reconciling himself to the fact that to save Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) from disaster, he had to give up the Penguin World Surfing Championship title. He knows he did the right thing in Surf's Up, but it still hurts to think of what might have been if he'd just been a little less heroic. For now, he's content to teach little kids the art of surfing along with his pal Lani (Melissa Sturm) at their Penguin Surf Academy. The only thing he has to deal with is a crazy rivalry for students with his archenemy, Tank "The Shredder" Evans (Diedrich Bader). Everything changes for Cody when he hears that Hang 5 -- the most famous surfing team in the world (made up WWE wrestling stars such as John Cena & Saraya-Jade Bevis) -- will be passing through Pen Gu Island. It's the chance of a lifetime for Cody -- he can show his skills to the masters! And, rumor has it that Mr. McMahon, Hang 5's captain (voiced by WWE exec Vince McMahon) may be retiring and the team will be looking for a new leader. Is there an opportunity any better than that? So, when Hang 5 invites all the Pen Gu gang to join them on a trek to Slaughter Island where they'll surf "the Trenches," the most dangerous surfing beach in the world, they're off on the adventure of a lifetime. It gets spooky; it gets dangerous; it gets outright death-defying, but the Pen Gu surfers must rise to the challenge. If they do, they just may learn a lot about what it takes to be a champion human being as well as a big-time surfer.
Is it any good?
This sequel with its amusing -- if not unique -- surfer characters, along with inventive rivalries and stunts, should satisfy fans of the original movie and may appeal to first-timers as well. You don't really have to have seen Surf's Up to catch on to both the plot and the players. In fact, some of this film's solid messages are repeats. As with most direct-to-DVD sequels to big-screen features, Surf's Up 2: Wave Mania lacks the big-name stars (Shia LaBeouf, Zoey Deschanel, Jeff Bridges) and big-time budget of the first movie, but it's an earnest and basically likable effort. The filmmakers stay with the character-driven plot rather than simply continuous action, and Jon Heder and Diedrich Bader are back in featured roles. WWE's quest for cross-promotional opportunities continues. The wrestlers have appeared in The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo! movies, show up here, and even join The Jetsons in yet another marketing DVD bonanza, hoping to initiate ever more young fans to the "sport" of wrestling as entertainment. It's not as cute as the first adventure, but it should appeal to kids who like (and are comfortable with) cartoon action and some familiar laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.) has been appearing in a number of cartoon franchises meant for kids and tweens. Were you familiar with WWE before you saw Surf's Up 2: Wave Mania? How does the organization benefit from inclusion in these franchises?
What is meant by the statement "I want to be remembered for who am I, not what I did"? How does Cody learn the meaning of this concept?
If you saw and liked the original film, Surf's Up, did this movie meet your expectations? How was what Cody learned about "winning" in the first movie different from what he learned about "winning" in this one?
- On DVD or streaming: January 17, 2017
- Cast: Jeremy Shada, Melissa Sturm, Jon Heder
- Director: Henry Yu
- Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude humor and mild action
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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