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‘Surf’s Up’: how Chicken Joe helped me face my fear of chickens

Spoiler Alert: this review contains plot details
The image highlights the significance of the Island lifestyle of what Chicken Joe, in Surf's Up portrays. It resembles a scenic visualisation of a jungle to highlight the important scenes the movie, where he searches for Cody, the main protagonist due to the importance of their friendship.

Heroes, life and laughs – that’s what we all seek in a movie. A happy ending (something to change our perspectives) that shapes, builds, and livens our reality, it’s happened to me, and this is because of the movie, Surf’s Up.

With this, I have a confession: I am afraid of chickens!

But … this movie completely changed my outlook on the bug-eyed creatures – especially when chased and pecked by them many times.

I couldn’t pick them up, and where I came from, some neighbours would have them as pets. Basically the neighbourhood alarm clock. It was so annoying.

I even had chickens of my own. I never really knew why we got them, but ‘Coco’ and ‘Bubbles’ were cute because they were ours but scary because they were chickens.

However, all of this changed when watching the movie Surf’s Up, as it showcased a relatable story of unrealistic expectations with a twist of Chicken Joe.

Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

The movie was a 2007 original animated feature that showcased a very competitive and goal-orientated penguin – Cody Maverick – wanting to compete in the pro competition to live up to the expectation of his all-time hero ‘Big Z’. The event is covered by a documentary film team who follows the journey of the entire experience, especially Cody and Chicken Joe’s.

Cody leaves his family to pursue this dream and is introduced to chicken Joe on the way to Pen Gu Island, where the competition occurs. Through this journey, anyone could tell the difference between these two; their attitude, their intentions of the competition and the value of truth of identity.

This is a journey whereby ‘fun’ should be incorporated into all aspects of your life; it is the essence of living, not just existing. It’s the perfect movie to set as a reminder that life can be exhausting but to make the most of it.

I use the medium of film to constantly relate because I am a very passionate person. My identity requires instances where stress and seriousness are a no-no.

Which is why, when Cody (as the protagonist), uses language such as “I’m not gonna lie to you. This is like, and it’s huge, man. Winners find a way, no matter what, right?”

I can’t relate.

I love the beach, and I love the chilled life of enjoying and spreading joy in life. Therefore, when Chicken Joe expresses, “whoa! that cloud looks just like a kitten. Aww”, and “dude, the jungle is like the most peaceful place on the planet.” I can better relate here.

The attitude and lifestyle are entirely my vibes, Chicken Joe’s whole persona represents who I strive to be, and it’s so refreshing.

Credit: Now Playing

I love each scene with Chicken Joe, but one of my favourite scenes occurs when they travel to Pen Gu Island from Antarctica. Cody tries to get onto the whale with immense determination to partake in the journey.

Seeing this, Chicken Joe uses this opportunity to help Cody onto the whale. The two characters spark an instant friendship through commonalities which leads Chicken Joe to welcome Cody onto his journey.

This ‘radical’ moment is excellent because it exhibits his free spirit in allowing the journey to be filled with essential individuals who strive for inherent happiness.

This is a great scene to teach the audience about how competitiveness can be toxic in relationships. Chicken Joe’s attitude uplifted Cody’s expectation of himself by teaching him about compassion.

Another great example of this wholesome friendship, is the length of time Cody goes missing after a wipe-out while competing in a petty surf-off with rival, Tank. So, Chicken Joe goes on an adventure looking for Cody through the Island’s jungle.

This movie inspires all viewers about the significance of friendship, the importance of emotional conection and environmental comfort (both physical and emotional).

Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

The only disadvantage of the movie is that they should’ve shown Chicken Joe more in the film. The storyline was great and had substantial intervention to the significance of Cody’s journey. However, Chicken Joe is arguably just as important.

I wouldn’t have liked the movie as much if Chicken Joe was not in it. He is like that turtle from Finding Nemo who we all enjoyed but only featured once.

 We need more characters like this.

Because of the movie’s success, Surfs Up 2: Wave Mania came out in 2016. I recommend it if you thoroughly enjoyed the first one, as I have.

As previously mentioned, Chicken Joe is the physical represenation of the healing concept that cures the negligence of happiness. It drives home the message of the importance of finding your own happiness.

This chicken is the best, and, with my fear of chickens, I look forward to one day owning a few of them – not just looking at them as a bucket of chicken.

It is my aim to pick one up, even if they are fidgety because, from now on, when I look at them, I will always see my beloved Chicken Joe.

This character brings forth humour to the forefront of the movie making it an excitable, adventurous and moving cinematic experience.

Original photo by Jaheedah Arendse