Surf’s Up soundtrack review

Liz Foster ’22

Song and Song Editor

Reggae, charming island melodies, beach-rock, wonderful waves, surf competitions, sunny days and penguins – where can we find the commonalities? The 2007 Dreamworks movie surf. Starring Shia LaBeouf as the film‘s protagonist, a Rockhopper penguin named Cody Maverick, surf is a hero’s journey to self-love, camaraderie and the universal power of surfing. The timeless tale is a criminally underrated film with an even more underrated soundtrack. Although officially titled Surf’s Up Music from the moviethe album stands on its own as a masterful collection of jammy tracks that occasionally wander into tasteful and soulful reflection.

surf is the story of Cody Maverick and his desire to be a world famous professional penguin surfer. He leaves his home in Shiverpool, Antarctica, in favor of a pseudo-Hawaii named Pen Gu Island. Pen Gu Island hosts the annual Big Z Memorial Surf Off and Cody, recruited by an idiot named Mike, is determined to leave the champion, beating the usual winner of the competition: a bully named Tank Evans. The titular Big Z of the commemorative competition is a surfing legend renowned for his talent and his kind, laid-back attitude. Z is presumed dead until he saves Cody from an accident and becomes his Obi-Wan Kenobi. Cody enters the memorial competition, nearly wins, but ultimately chooses to save his eccentric friend Chicken Joe from a surf attack by the malevolent Tank. Big Z is revealed to be alive, Chicken Joe wins the Surf Off, and the people of Pen Gu rejoice. All along surf, music plays a vital role in scoring the triumphs and upsets of Cody and his comrades. Green Day’s “Holiday” plays as the title screen scrolls and the viewer is immediately immersed in the waves of Cody Maverick’s life. We know exactly what we are working with from the start.

Days before being recruited to join the competition, Cody melancholy surfs the dark waves of Antarctica while Incubus’ “Drive” plays. The song foreshadows his arrival on Pen Gu Island with the moving and promising lyrics that declare, “Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there.” The song balances Cody’s self-doubt and optimism with its uplifting lyrics and sad production.

Pearl Jam’s “Big Wave” comes at a well-placed moment when Cody tries to prove himself against Tank in a pre-competition surf off. The song plays as Tank and Cody face off on one of their first waves, with Tank falling and Cody receiving a high score from the three surfing competition judges. Pearl Jam marks one of the film’s most iconic scenes: Chicken Joe’s no paddle drop in. In a film about the glory of surfing and the sea, the track is immaculate. worthy of a scene featuring the song’s titular waves.

Another Green Day record, “Welcome to Paradise,” explodes while establishing that Pen Gu Island exudes joyful energy. Cody is dating leis around his neck, bonding with his competitors, catching waves and developing his integral friendship with Chicken Joe. Green Day serves as an epic score for Cody’s delight, serving up thumping guitars that only do Kerplunk could offer. Cody begins training against the threat Tank Evans, returning to the waves of Pen Gu Bay for countless hours as he expresses his confidence ahead of his appearance in the Surf Off. After Billie Joe Armstrong unleashes his cheerful glow on shimmering waves, Cody sadly crashes, leaving him unfit and presumably out of the competition.

Heaven turns to hell, but he is soon rescued by lifeguard Lani and a large penguin named “Geek”. Geek is actually Cody’s idol, Big Z, but the young penguin doesn’t know it. Cody conveys his new found lack of confidence in the wake of his fall, but Ken Andrews’ “Just Say Yes” indicates the penguin might change his mind. Big Z notices Cody’s necklace – a seashell engraved with a Z in honor of the surfing legend – and chases after him as the track plays. The soft strings and equally bashful vocals tell Cody to “just say yes” to Big Z’s advice.

The atmosphere quickly changes as fancy jungle and beach music plays and Cody and Big Z work to build a surfboard. The instrumentals sound like those of a video game loading screen or a SpongeBob SquarePants interlude, but are nonetheless a fiery transition from the depressing vibes that preceded it. Some of the songs in the film are closer to the score than the soundtrack, lacking vocals and clearly implemented just to maintain the laid back, laid back vibe of the film. The silly tropical tunes permeate throughout the film along with cartoon sound effects that remind you that you are, in fact, watching a children’s movie.

Continuing the ridiculous theme, we see Chicken Joe being dropped into a pot of water and left to become stew for a tribe of “Pen Guans”. What does the audience hear when Joe’s life is in danger? “What I Like About You” by The Romantics. The song is reminiscent of another Dreamworks production from the 2000s: Shrek. While vastly different, the films’ sharing of this timeless track shows just how well the studio can pull together a cohesive score.

surf continues to switch thematically, alternating between sad Cody and hopeful Cody. Yet each time, a relevant song plays. When Mr. Maverick builds a surfboard for himself, the audience indulges in “Stand Tall” by the Dirty Heads. The song is filled with ocean imagery, groovy guitars and drums, creating an energy identical to our protagonist’s actions.

Sugar Ray, the iconic Californian alt-rock-new-wave-reggae band, makes an appearance with “Into Yesterday”. The song was taken from the Sugar Ray archives for the Surf soundtrack after the group’s relatively inactive period in the second half of the 2000s. Although not explicitly a reference to penguin surfing, Mark McGrath sings “As the ocean needs the moon to keep the tides away / All we need is a little time to chase the blues” as he wrote the song to portray Cody’s passionate relationship with surfing. . Big Z returns to surf for the first time in years, telling Lani “Thank you” before the two swim out to catch the waves with Cody. The vibes are exquisite as the penguins carve beautiful turquoise waves. As a glorious sunset sinks behind the horizon, the song fades away with a sweet chant of “Let this last forever and tomorrow be yesterday again”, before cutting out Big Z himself playing the ukulele.

Nine Black Alps’ “Pocket Full of Stars” is one of the most heartfelt songs on the album, yet still retains the consistent island sound of the soundtrack. In a soft voice, lead singer Sam Forrest laments, “Now you know I need a miracle/A star-crossed lover, an arrow in my heart/I need a rainy day in an endless summer/A pocket full of stars.” The song is another well-placed ballad that hints at the strength of the soundtrack, setting a mood that lowers the audience’s mood before allowing it to ricochet onto more energetic tracks.

As the vibes rise in one of the film’s most pivotal moments, “You Get What You Want Plays” seems to bring the story to a close. Chicken Joe, rescued by Cody in a moment of dire need, wins the Surf Off. Cody recounts his amazing time on Pen Gu Island while calling Z the best friend he’s ever had, running to catch another wave before the final scene begins. “Don’t give up” sings Gregg Alexander as we see Big Z catching waves, feeling the power of the surf from outside the film’s lens.

The opening of the soundtrack is also the last song of the film: “Reggae Got Soul”. Performed by Nebraska-based band 311, the song repeats that “Reggae got soul” and that soul is inside everyone, including the penguins of Pen Gu Island. The song references the fact that Cody, Chicken Joe, Lani and Biz Z all have a soul, starting with the Surf narrative with a classic, upbeat reggae sound. It’s one of the few tracks that actually references the film and its main characters, making it an explicitly unique quirk to Surf.

A soundtrack’s job is to be applicable, coherent and relevant to the heart of its film. the surf The soundtrack is a delightful complement to the film itself. The energy retained by the soundtrack’s diverse vibes is enough to tell the story on its own. Most often straddling the line of reggae and soft alt-rock, Surf’s Up Music from the movie forms a delightful compilation of feel-good melodies that transport you to the unique soundscape of Pen Gu Island with every listen. Long live Big Z.

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