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Movie Review: Surf's Up

Membership Level Guest

Author/Source: Andrew VanderLinden

Topic: Movie Review

A review of Surf's Up including a description of the movie, areas of concern, teachable themes, and scriptures to use.

Movie Review: <i>Surf's Up</i>

Overview

Shiverpool, Antarctica-native Cody Maverick is an undersized penguin with an oversized passion to be a winner. Having met surfer legend Big Z as a child, Cody now thinks of nothing more than surfing. Because he thinks that a surfing trophy will bring him every thing he has ever wanted, Cody is determined to do whatever it takes to win the 10th Annual Big Z Memorial Surf Off.

Unfortunately for Cody, he lives in a small village in Antarctica where his future is sure to be filled with sorting fish and nesting eggs. Surf's Up is a behind-the-scenes look at the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship, and its newest participant, up-and-comer Cody Maverick.


Concerns

Although the movie has been heavily targeted to children, it seems the content is more appropriate for older elementary and teens. Surfs Up has a fair amount of mildly rude language and potty humor. Most, if not all of the innuendos will go right over kids heads, but could have been left out all together. Below is a brief description of some of the questionable content.

  • Sexual Content:
    • Main character Cody Maverick has a crush on lifeguard Lani and they flirt through out the movie.
    • Surfing champ Tank Evans has an unusual, nearly sexualized relationship with his surfing trophies -- which he treats like girlfriends -- giving them names, holding, and kissing them. In one scene Tanks mother yells, "Are you polishing your trophies again?"
    • Near the beginning, surfing promoter Reggie stands up from the hot tub and his genitals are "blurred out."
    • As a remedy for an injury, Geek urinates on Cody's foot to ease the pain.
    • Chicken Joe dresses in a girl's bikini for no apparent reason.
    • Chicken Joe and Cody are referred to as boyfriend and girlfriend.
    • Cody and Lani take a shower together in a waterfall while music plays in the background
    • While searching for Cody in the Jungle Chicken, Joe says, "I know he's out here. I can feel it in my nuggets."

  • Violence:
    • Cody's mother, while preparing dinner, uses a meat clever, cutting fish in half with one shot.
    • There is an image of Cody's late father about to be eaten by a shark while posing for a picture.
    • There is footage of the wave that supposedly killed Big Z in his last surfing competition.
    • Tank Evans, exhibits bully-like behavior, punching Cody and running other surfers off their surf boards, including young children.

  • Language:
    • Rated PG, Surfs Up includes many insults: "crap," "butt," "sucks," "shut up," "go cut yourself," "you're a trash can full of poop."

Teachable Themes

Young Cody's dream is to leave his family and home in Shiverpool and to travel to "Pen Gu Island" for the Big Z memorial Surf off. Cody's mantra for the movie is "Find a way. 'Cus that's what winners do." Eventually Cody realizes that winning isn't everything and there is more to life than taking home the trophy. Cody also makes a huge sacrifice to better a friend. Many children will be able to identify with Cody, a teenager who has dreams and desires as well as fears of what his future holds.


Biblical References

  • Heart: Rewewal, Regeneration:
    • When Geek was teaching Cody how to make a surfboard, he mentions how ancient islanders believed that a person's heart was infused with the board as they were shaping it.
      • John 3:3 - "In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."" (NIV)
      • 1 Thessalonians 3:13 - "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." (NIV)

  • Worship, Thankfulness (private & public):
    • There is a clip of Big Z, riding through the tube of a wave. After exiting the tube he closes his eyes and bows to the wave in a time of salute/worship.
      • Daniel 6:10 - "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." (NIV)
      • Psalms 35:18 - "I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you." (NIV)

Final Thoughts

Many will enjoy the documentary-style of this movie. With cool surf music, excellent animation, and suburb surfing sequences it is another fun penguin film!


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