Reviewed by: Jennifer Smith
|Featuring:||Jeff Bridges, Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, Jane Krakowski|
|Director:||Ash Brannon, Chris Buck|
|Producer:||Christopher Jenkins, Lydia Bottegoni|
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures International|
“A Major Ocean Picture”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on the groundbreaking revelation that surfing was actually invented by penguins. In the film, a documentary crew will take audiences behind the scenes and onto the waves during the most competitive, heartbreaking and dangerous display of surfing known to man, the Penguin World Surfing Championship.”
Penguin Cody Maverick, 17, of Antarctica, loves to surf, unlike most others in his fish-sorting hometown of Shiverpool. Inspired by a great legendary surfer, Big Z “Zeke” Topanga who visited his hometown when he was a small child, Cody dreams of pursuing the next big wave, though he keeps his feet on the ground working at the fish-sorting business to try to please his mother. He is somewhat overshadowed by his large and selfish older brother, and misses the presence of his father who was eaten by a killer whale when he was a young penguin.
When a surf scouting bird from warmer places comes looking for potential surfers to participate in a surfing contest, Cody is eager to go. His persistence and boldness earns him a place on the whale-ride back to the islands. Along the way, Cody befriends a chicken named Joe with whom he shares a love of surfing, and is greeted by a greedy, opportunistic promoter, Reggie, who immediately gives him an opportunity to surf against the reigning champion. When Cody wipes out against Tank, he is rescued by Lani, a female lifeguard who takes him to her uncle for help. Cody finds a father figure in this older penguin who supports him on his quest to build a board and become a better surfer. Ultimately, the older penguin, Geek, helps Cody understand that friends are more important than winning trophies, and Cody helps Geek to regain his joy and excitement about life and friendship.
This delightful animated film is “shot” in the form of a “mockumentary” in which Cody is being interviewed as the main subject on his journey to the surfing finals. That only adds to the enjoyment of what is also a fun and heartwarming film that many kids, as well as adults, will enjoy. Lighthearted surf-style music and cute interviews with penguin children also add to the fun. My favorite part of the film is the developing relationship between the main character, Cody, and his mentor, Geek, which is endearing and a positive bond for both the characters.
There was no gross profanity or use of the Lord’s Name in vain in this film.
A few mild bathroom-related jokes are present, as well one use of the word, “crap.” Cody calls Tank, the selfish, uncaring champion penguin, a “peckerface.” To help a sea urchin puncture wound, one character urinates on another, though nothing is seen, only heard. Some of the children refer to Tank as “a dirty trashcan full of poop,” while others state that his “mom pooped him out.” Some mild innuendo occurs when Cody and Lani stand under a waterfall and Cody rather benignly comments that they are in the shower together. The surf champion, Tank, is also very enamored with his trophies, whom he treats as “ladies,” referring to one as his “dirty girl.” This behavior is odd, but I believe this innuendo would pass over most children’s heads. Joe, a chicken from Michigan, is a very relaxed surfer who joins in the pre-contest festivities by having a heart painted on his hindquarters and by donning a grass skirt and coconut top. At one point in Joe’s search for Cody, he states, “I can feel it in my nuggets.”
I will add that for an animated film with a PG-rating, I believe the content to be milder than average and less embarrassing than “Happy Feet” or “Shrek.” Still, if your children are very young or impressionable, be advised, and prepare to speak with them, or to choose another film, if you feel that is warranted.
The family and relational themes in this film are excellent. Although Cody is not his mother’s favorite son and is criticized by those around him for his love of surfing, he maintains a positive attitude. The friends he makes on the islands are immediately loyal and helpful to Cody, and Cody learns to value the gift of friendship above the status of winning a competitive goal. There is a bit of the “enjoy life” philosophy present, which is to be expected, but it is not as prevalent as the emphasis to treat others with kindness and respect. Because Geek takes an interest in Cody, Cody learns to appreciate self-sacrifice and ultimately sacrifices his goal to help a friend. This is not unlike our Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave His life to save us and humbled himself to be our Help.
Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild