Nearly 10 years after Sony Pictures Animation released their Oscar-nominated penguin surfing mockumentary “Surf’s Up”, the studio has returned to Pen Gu Island – and brought some of the biggest WWE superstars with them – for the entertaining direct-to-DVD sequel, “Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania”.
The opening few minutes recap the climactic events of the original film: aspiring surfing champion Cody Maverick, after meeting his idol Big Z, falls short in his attempt to become a champion. Surfing TV network ‘SPEN’ (nice!) tracks down Cody to see what he’s been up to the past 10 years. We discover that he and gal pal Lani are happily running a surfing school on the island. However, Cody still regrets not becoming the international superstar that his best friend Chicken Joe did after he won the title. Jon Heder returns as the voice of the quirky sidekick. His delivery is just as sharp and funny as in the original.
Turns-out Cody had other surfing idols as a kid besides Big Z. He also followed “The Hang 5”, a legendary surfing team comprised of three penguins (J.C. – voiced by JOHN CENA, Hunter – Triple H, and an animated version of The Undertaker), a bird named Paige (voiced by WWE’s Paige aka Saraya Jade-Bevis) and the leader of the group, an otter named Mr. McMahon. WWE head Vince McMahon lends his scraggly voice. McMahon is retiring and looking for someone new to join The Hang 5. Will it be Cody? Lani?Chicken Joe? Or their arch-enemy, the evil Tank Evans? The competition to win the spot IS ON!
At one point, Cena’s J.C. says, “That Tank is ridiculous. He’s like a cartoon villain.” The movie is filled with similarly clever references, gags and inside jokes on both the surfing and wrestling worlds, and the WWE characters even get to display some of their signature moves (folding chair included).
“Surf’s Up 2” amps-up the surfing aspects of the story quite a bit, with crisp and colorful animation sequences involving lava, quicksand, high wires and even a tsunami. Considering the young audience, there’s not enough emphasis on the dangers involved with the actions the Hang 5 perform throughout the movie, including surfing during a lightning storm. However, other messages and themes – such as the importance of teamwork, friendship and forgiveness – come through loud and clear.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania” gets a B.
Running Time: 84 min.