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Coaching Problems
May 14, 2024

Surf’s Up

I like penguins.

There is nothing more draining and tiresome than being around people who are constantly criticizing every little detail about everything. They make imagination seem dull and the possible seem impossible. These people claim to be realists; they are the type of people who wouldn’t want to rob a bank because they “just don’t think it’s going to work.” They are the type of people who watch reality shows and say “that’s not real” or “that wouldn’t happen in real life,” stating the obvious when the obvious is supposed to be the joke itself. They could be watching Zootopia and still have to comment that “animals can’t talk.” They are more pessimists instead of realists, in my opinion, and they are the type of people to say that Cody Maverick, a rockhopper penguin, would not be alive. 



Rockhopper penguins, named after their behavior on land, are the smallest of the yellow-crested, black and white penguins and are divided into Northern, Southern, and Eastern (which are a group divided from the Southern Rockhopper penguins) species. They are about 20 inches tall and 5.5 lbs, have red eyes, and are known for the irreverent crest of spiky yellow and black feathers crowning their heads, which could be described as punk-ish. Rockhopper penguins typically live in Sub-Antarctic islands and the southern tip of South America, on rocky shorelines, burrows, and nests in high grasses called tussocks. What makes them different from other species of penguins, besides their looks, is their aggression towards each other, bitterly fighting for territory, mating rights, and food. They have a scrappy, pugnacious personality.

I was surprised to find out how long penguins live since I’ve always compared them to humans (and because most of my information about penguins came from Happy Feet). When speaking of penguins in general, most people think of an Emperor penguin. These penguins are well-known for being cute and acting funny, penguins that eat fish and live in Antarctica, where it is assumed all penguins live. But there are eighteen species of penguins, with only two of those species being in Antarctica and the rest being from Africa to Argentina. All of them even have varying lifespans. For example, Emperor penguins live for an average of 15-20 years, while Rockhopper penguins only live for about 10 years.


Cody Maverick

Cody Maverick is the protagonist of the 2007 film Surf’s Up. He is a 17 year old Rockhopper penguin living in Shiverpool, Antarctica and is the only penguin there that surfs. His dream is to leave his hometown and make it big as a surfer like Big Z, who has been his role model since he was young. Big Z told him, “You know, kid, never give up. Find a way, because that’s what winners do,” and that stuck with him. 

Cody has always been small compared to his brother, Glen, and the other penguins in Shiverpool, which is saying a lot because Rockhopper penguins are already small. But he’s the only one there with a dream, a big one, and that makes him different, “All the time with the different.” Surf’s up is a mockumentary that satirizes the idea of penguin surfing and provides a behind-the-scenes look at it, making Greg Noll become Big Z and hang-ten become hang-six. This is not a movie meant for “realists” or penguin specialists, who would only be bothered by the fact that Cody is 17 and lives in Antarctica.

Surf’s Up is a criminally underrated movie. It’s straight up fiction, but it is the realest thing I’ve ever seen. Every character has a personality that reflects an aspect of humans, despite being a penguin, chicken, or an otter. They mirror human-like qualities and convey values about life through real scenarios or events that a human would experience.

The interviews taken during the movie allow us to see inside the minds of each character which shows us who they are in depth and allows for an emotional connection. Cody wants to leave, he wants to get out of Antarctica to be known and respected for who he is and who he wants to become. “Cody’s me, bro. Let me be me. When is that gonna start?” His frustrations, his longings for success and understanding, is what makes him relatable. 

People who watch this movie can see a part of themselves in at least one of the characters. They see their own desires, longings, and growth, adding a sense of humanness and realism that isn’t conspicuously shown in any other animated movie. The characters in the movie go through the same obstacles that most humans go through everyday, and like humans, sometimes they just need guidance like how Cody needed Big Z. 

When I used to surf, I would always try so hard to catch a wave that I would tumble headfirst into the water and lose it. And just like Cody, “Man. I thought I was gonna lose it, and then I just…I just let go, you know. I let go, and there it was.” This was because I stopped trying so hard to chase it, which is the result of watching this movie without criticizing the fact that Cody is 17, or that a chicken can surf in Lake Michigan. I give Surf’s Up five stars.

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About the Contributor
Lillian Morlet
Lillian Morlet, Advice Columnist
Lillian Morlet is a sophomore at Timnath High School. She is the advice columnist for Cub Reporter.
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