It’s safe to say the last few years have boldly announced the return of the penguin. While their sheer relevance remains a mystery, our tuxedoed brethren have certainly made a splash onto the silver screen in recent years. Each portrayal of their waddling lives has been memorable, but none has emanated the same level of gusto and stoke as the little guys in Surf's Up.
The film, featuring the likes of surfing icons Sal Masekala, Rob Machado, and Kelly Slater, premiered last night at Edwards Big Newport Theater, and met unanimous approval from the surfing community. Quiksilver hosted the screening and ensured the pre-screening party was up to snuff, i.e. killer food and a steady supply of drinks. After dinner, the crowd of surf-industry giants and media made their way into the theater.
"It's awesome. I get a kick out of seeing myself in penguin." – Rob Machado
Surf's Up follows the surfing aspirations of Cody Maverick, a teenage penguin hailing from the mean streets of Shiverpool, Antarctica. Determined to compete against some of surfing's most prominent penguins, he gets his feathers ruffled by an antagonist cruel enough to make Lance Burkhart look like Pat O'Connell. Through determination and good friends, Cody manages to find his bearings and – eventually, himself.
"It was an amazing experience," commented Director Chris Buck on the making of the film. "We even got surf lessons at Seal Beach and started learning to surf. My kids even learned to surf while making this film."
Among the film’s many highlights was its stellar animation. Aided by countless hours of research and insight from eight-time world champ Kelly Slater, the folks behind Surf's Up nailed the look of the waves.
"Rob and Kelly provided a lot of insight into waves and the ocean,” said Buck. We tried to emulate Pipe and Jaws and Teauhupoo, and Kelly would explain how the bottom contours might affect the speed and things like that and I think it shows in the final product…"
It definitely showed. As WQS ripper, Jesse Merle Jones attests, “You could tell they put a lot of time in the movie and really tried to get it right."
The crew's perseverance in accurately portraying famous breaks like Pipeline make many screen shots indistinguishable from the real thing. In fact, for some it might be difficult to differentiate the real Rob Machado from his penguin doppelganger.
Machado commented, "It's awesome. I get a kick out of seeing myself in penguin."
Complete with his trademark sun-bleached mop, the film certainly channels the Machado to highlight an all-around, feel-good surf flick. Kudos to all involved in Surf's Up and hopefully we can punctuate this penguin era with a good ol' fashioned march to the beach.