Plot: Cody might not have won the big surf competition, but he is still a hero to the Pengu Island locals and he still loves to surf. He also still has big dreams, but struggles with self confidence and his place in the world. Lani tries to soothe his wounded ego, but it does little good, while even Chicken Joe’s return fails to motivate him to chase his dreams once again. But when the legendary surf crew Hang Five show up looking for new recruits, Cody knows this is his chance to leave his small island and travel the world as a famous surfer. While one of the Hang Five thinks he has what it takes, some other local talent has caught the eye of other members, including Lani, Chicken Joe, and Cody’s old rival, Tank. A journey to the infamous Trenches will determine who will be given a coveted spot in the Hang Five, but as the friends compete for the lone opening, how will it impact their relationships?
Entertainment Value: This sequel to Surf’s Up arrived a decade after the original and retains little of the original cast, but it does have Vince McMahon as a seal who likes to drink milk out of fish. The premise here ignores much of the original and tells a fairly similar story, as Cody tries to prove himself once again and learn a valuable lesson in the process. But for younger audiences, it is a passable sequel and while similar, the new characters help keep it fresh. The inclusion of the WWE superstars provides a unique draw for fans of the grapplers, especially to see them presented as penguins (and one seal). So while it is a gimmick in a sense, the WWE talent are woven into the material well and seem like a part of the Surf’s Up world. The humor is fine, mostly physical pratfalls and one liners, as well as some wrestling related jokes, inspired by the personas of the superstars. The original Surf’s Up was no animated classic, so while this one isn’t as effective as the first, it is a suitable sequel.
As I said before, the original cast is mostly gone for this sequel, with only Jon Heder and Diedrich Bader back again. But Heder’s role as Chicken Joe is the most popular part of the original, so his return is valuable. The new voices brought in for existing roles are fine and don’t detract much, especially with the influx of new characters to keep us distracted. The wrestling superstars play themselves, more or less, but still feel like a part of the movie world, not outsiders wedged into the narrative. Vince McMahon is hilarious and as boisterous as you’d expect, while Triple H, John Cena, Paige, and even The Undertaker are also present here. I appreciated that the wrestlers embraced the comic element here and weren’t afraid to make fun of themselves, even The Undertaker plays off his persona quite often here. So even if you’re just here for the novelty of the WWE presence, it is a fun movie. This sequel isn’t high art, but it is a brisk, fun watch and younger audiences should appreciate this one.