Surf’s Up

image for Surf’s Up

Short takes

PG under 8 (Violence; scary scenes )

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Surf’s Up
  • a review of Surf’s Up completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 September 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scenes of accidental injury.
Children over the age of 8 OK without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Surf’s Up
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length: 85 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Surf’s Up is an animated comedy-documentary.  It traces the adventures of young penguin Cody (voice of Shia LaBoeuf), from Shiverpool, Antarctica, who seeks to become a professional surfer.  Despite receiving little encouragement from family or friends, Cody continues to train until one day he is discovered by a talent scout.  Cody then leaves home to compete in several surfing competitions. 
While on the surf circuit, Cody meets several new friends, such as fellow-surfer Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) from Wisconsin and Lani the lifesaver (Zooey Deschanel), who is the niece of legendary penguin surfer ‘Big Z’.  During one practice session, Cody is badly injured after stepping on a poisonous sea urchin.  Lani rescues him and takes him to be nursed back to health by a reclusive aged penguin named ‘Geek’ (Jeff Bridges). Geek takes on a fatherly, mentoring role towards Cody and helps the young surfer prepare for the ‘Big Z Memorial Surfing Competition’.  During their time together, Cody learns that winning is less important than personal integrity and Geek learns to face his greatest fears.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.


Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Several incidences of verbal harassment and bullying of Cody by his brother Glen.
  • In one scene, Glen is shown hitting Cody in the face across the dinner table.
  • Several incidences of bullying by pro-surfer Tank Evans, who targets fellow surfers.
  • Tank Evans yells at and then hits Cody with enough force to knock him to the ground.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In two scenes, Cody is sucked under a wave while surfing and it appears that he may drown.  In the first incident, Cody swims to safety unaided, while in the second, he is eventually rescued by lifesaver Lani.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Pro-surfer Tank Evans, in his trophy room, caresses and speaks to the gold cups and plaques in a very sexually suggestive manner.  Tank has given each trophy a feminine name – his favourite being Leah the ‘dirty girl’.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Crap;
  • That sucks;
  • Pecker face;
  • Shut Up;
  • Trash can full of poop.

In a nutshell

Surf’s Up is an entertaining animated comedy “mockumentary” with very realistic animated surfing scenes. This film will mainly appeal to pre-teens, although many adults will also find its simple story enjoyable.

The main message from this movie is to never give up, but keep working towards your personal goals.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Personal integrity is more important than winning.
  • Friends are important

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the real life consequences of bullying, verbal and physical harassment.