Come join Cody, a Rockhopper penguin, as he journeys from his home in Shiverpool, Antarctica, to take part in the Big Z Memorial Surf-Off on beautiful Pen Gu Island. During his adventure he meets many new friends, including surf nut Chicken Joe and spirited lifeguard Lani. Cody believes that winning is everything until he meets Geek, an old, washed-up pro surfer, who may just show Cody that a true winner isn’t always the one who comes in first.
Surf's Up is a computer-animated sports mockumentary about penguin surfing contests, which makes it stand out from the crowd of penguin movies. The story unfolds as it would on ESPN, with interviews (with penguins) overlapping footage of (penguin) surfing action, gradually unveiling the tale of Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf, Holes), a young penguin from Antarctica with dreams of winning a surfing competition--a competition named after his idol, the missing Big Z (Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski). But when he joins the competition, Cody finds his zeal for winning may not be enough to defeat the cruel reigning champ, Tank Evans (Diedrich Bader, Grim & Evil). The story of Surf's Up is typical stuff: Youngster learns to value friendship over material success. But the documentary style gives the movie a different rhythm from the usual feature-length cartoon; it stutters and skips around, dithers on side topics, and backtracks to catch up with supporting characters. Some viewers may be annoyed, but others--perhaps the more media-savvy--will find it a refreshing change of pace. (Kids who don't watch much sports, however, may just find it confusing.) Surf's Up also features the voices of James Woods (Hercules), Zooey Deschanel (Elf), and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite). --Bret Fetzer