NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Jackie Funshine.
The entire film is in documentary format, with the penguins often speaking directly to the camera or with crew and equipment showing in a few shots. It aims to chronicle the journey of one penguin and his participation in the Penguin World Surfing Championship.
Cody Maverick has basically been looked down on his entire life by his family and friends because he's smaller than the other penguins. He aspires to become a famous surfer like Big Z. Big Z is believed to have perished many years ago after a terrible surfing accident, and Cody cherishes a seashell necklace he once received from the legend. He finally travels to the island Penguan (?), where he is immediately challenged by the competition. Cody acts rather cocky for an amateur, and his attitude affects his surfing. He has a terrible wipeout and is treated as a joke by both the other contestants and the bystanders. Cody also meets a pretty lifeguard named Lani and his friend Chicken Joe gets lost in the jungle while searching for Cody.
Sometime later, Cody is wandering aobut the island when he finds out that Big Z isn't dead. He's just been hiding out on a remote area of the island for the last few years because he couldn't face his fans after his crushing defeat. Cody is eager for Big Z to help him win the competition, but Big Z seems unwilling. He clearly likes Cody, but dislikes his attitude. Big Z tells Cody that he will not learn how to surf well unless he makes his own board first. He cuts down a tree and splits it in half. He teaches Cody how to use a shell to calmly scrap the wood. He also explains that "the board is already inside the wood. You just have to look for it and bring it out." Cody is impatient throughout Big Z's lesson and he insists on taking over. As a result, his board looks terrible and snaps as soon as it's set in the water.
When Big Z laughs at Cody's effort, he gets angry and storms off. He's stomping through the jungle when he runs into Lani. She drops all of the clams she was carrying and asks Cody whether he'd like to go somewhere fun. He flirts with her, but she brushes it off. They soon arrive at a clearing and Lani tosses a large leaf to him. He tells her that this is stupid and starts to walk off, but falls into a huge hole. The two of them fall into and out of these large underground tunnels and Cody keeps trying to fight the tunnel. Lani tells Cody that he has to let go or else it isn't any fun. Cody finally listens to her and really enjoys himself. He takes the wrong tunnel and ends up in a huge lake of glow worm feces, but he doesn't mind because he's having too much fun. Later on, Lani and Cody are washing off in a waterfall. She explains that Big Z is her uncle and he's the only family she has left. She also confesses that Big Z must really think a lot of Cody because she's been trying to coax him out of the jungle for years and Cody managed to do it in a few days. Cody realizes that he's been a jerk to Big Z and goes back to impress him.
Cody works on the board all night and Big Z is clearly impressed. He tells Cody that now they are ready to start practicing. Cody prances towards the beach, but Big Z laughs and tells him that the practice begins on the shore first. He has Cody put pineapple slices over his eyes, then laughs silently as Cody sits on the beach waiting for the fruit to have an effect on him. When Cody goes out to sea, Big Z draws an X in the sand and counts down. Within minutes, Cody has been wiped out and is washed onto the shore over Big Z's mark. Cody decides to pull the same trick on Big Z while he's sleeping, and manages to drag Big Z all the way out to sea. When Big Z is washed back onto the shore, Cody laughs at him. Big Z looks angry, but instead he asks whether or not Cody is having fun. Cody smiles smugly and tells him that of course he's having fun. Big Z announces that now the real training can begin. He takes Cody out to the ocean and Cody soon realizes that surfing is a lot like making the surf board. You must take smooth strokes and just go with the board. Lani even joins in and the three of them enjoy themselves in the sun.
As they're finishing the day with a dinner of shrimp, Cody decides to ask Big Z about his final compeition and why he decided to hide away. Big Z tells Cody that he couldn't face the disappointment from his fans so he just gave up. Cody is infuriated by this because when he was younger, Big Z was the one who inspired him to keep trying when everyone else told him he was useless. Big Z is also upset at Cody because all he wants to do is win the surfing competition. He's been trying this entire time to illustrate the importance of just enjoying the sport instead of always trying to win, yet Cody doesn't understand. Cody wants Big Z to come watch up surf at the big compeition, but Big Z just walks off sadly.
The next day, all the other contestants are lined up and ready to compete. Tank, the winner for the past 9 years or so, is still jeering at Cody, but this time, Cody just keeps his head up high and ignores the rude comments. Most of the others are eliminated almost immediately by a huge wave, leaving Tank, Cody, and Chicken Joe as the finalists. Chicken Joe is a great friend, but not the smartest bird in the bunch, so Tank doesn't think much of him as compeition. He aims to wipe Cody out as soon as possible in the next round. Knowing this, Cody manages to avoid Tank and Tank actually ends up crashing. Cody and Chicken Joe are in the safe, but then Tank gets back on his board and aims to crush Chicken Joe. Cody once again cuts Tank off, ensuring Chicken Joe the victory. The camera now shows Big Z in the background of the bystanders, watching Cody sacrifices the trophy for his friend. Tank gets back up once again and this time, drives Cody to an area filled with sharp rocks. He ends up crashing and Lani has to rescue him. Cody seems doomed until Big Z shows up and draws the X marks the spot thing on himself. Cody lands directly on Big Z and they manage to swim back to shore.
Just as the crowd is mourning for Cody, Big Z emerges from the water and everyone celebrates. Because Cody has overcome his desire to win, Big Z is inspired to stop hiding from everyone and to welcome everyone to his side of the island. Cody and Lani finally end up together and they both watch over the little penguins who are trying to learn how to surf. Tank's trophy is ruined by the tiny penguins and the last few shots show the camera crew interviewing Cody's mother and brother. His mother no longer thinks of him as a failure, but his brother is scornful.
After the credits: Cody's brother is shown throwing all the filming crew's expensive equipment out of the home and into the water while telling them that he knows what all of it is and that he's not really causing much damage.
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