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Surf's Up Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… a mess … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    First they marched, then they tap-danced. Now they ride the waves on souped-up boards.It really doesn't matter what stunts they try to pull off: Who can resist an animated mockumentary in the style of "This Is Spinal Tap" starring the black-and-white big birds of the moment?

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    A cheerful and frequently amusing bit of nonsense, which certainly will provoke children into giggles. The film does not measure up to "March of the Penguins" or "Happy Feet," both Oscar-winning efforts. Nor is it trying to.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    If you have to see one penguin movie, this is it.

    Read Full Review

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    An animated family movie about penguins -- in the wake of "March of the Happy Feet," they're the Angelina Jolie of animals, both cute and admired everywhere. Plus, it's about surfing.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Surf's Up reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 5+

Kids will dive into penguin adventure, dude.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated comedy has been heavily marketed to kids, and those who liked Happy Feet will be particularly interested in seeing it. Although there's not much violence, there are a few mildly perilous scenes during the surfing competition and in old photos/footage. And (big surprise for an animated story) the main character has a dead parent -- in this case, a father who was eaten by a shark. There's some unfortunate potty talk (which parents might want to manage at home), a harmless flirtation between two penguins, and a surfing champ's bizarre attachment to his trophies, which he refers to as his "girls."

  • Families can talk about the current penguin craze. Why do you think there are so many movies and cartoons featuring them, from March of the Penguins to Madagascar? Are newer movies just copying the older ones, or do they all have different things to offer? Families can also discuss sportsmanship and determination. Is it more important to enjoy a sport or be competitive at it? Can you be both without placing winning above all else? What does Big Z teach Cody about idolizing role models too much? Why do we place professional athletes on a pedestal?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The underlying message is to follow Big Z's motto: "Never give up ... find a way." Cody's determination gets him the chance of a lifetime.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence and scariness: Slightly disturbing images include a photo of Cody's dad about to be eaten by a shark and footage of the Z's wipeout wave when he supposedly died. Tank punches Cody.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Cody flirts with and hugs Lani. Female penguins follow Tank, who, in turn, has an unusual, almost sexualized relationship with his surfing trophies (he even hugs and kisses them). His mother yells "Are you polishing your trophies again?" and in one scene, a penguin's genitals are "blurred out."

  • language false0

    Language: Mild PG words and insults: "crap," "butt," "sucks," "shut up," "go cut yourself," "you're a trash can full of poop," etc. There are also a few fart jokes.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Surfing commentators Kelly (Slater) and Rob (Machado) are real professional surfers.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue