Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yes, they use the Carl Douglas song.

Kung Fu Panda

Release: 06.06.2008
Rated PG

1 hour, 28 minutes

Full Price ($$$$) < > Matinee ($$$)

All his life young Po (Jack Black, Nacho Libre) has had dreams of being a legendary kung fu warrior like his idols the Furious Five. He knows about their every adventure; he knows every maneuver by heart, but he's the son of a noodle chef, and as dear old dad (James Hong, Mulan) reminds him,"broth is in our veins." When kung fu master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman, Hook) is forewarned of the dreaded return of Tai Lung (Ian McShane, Shrek the Third), a tournament is announced to name the dragon warrior. As the Furious Five contend for the honor, Po's attempts to glimpse the competition create a commotion that awards him the opportunity to train alongside the Five. With Tai Lung approaching, Shifu and the Five have little time to impart to Po the wisdom of the ancients.

Having mainstream actors lend their voices to animated films can be a mixed bag. During the first chunk of Kung Fu Panda, I found myself preoccupied in the throes of 'Dammit,I know that voice!' I got James Hong immediately (who wouldn't!?) but it was the credits that revealed Hoffman as Shifu and Angelina Jolie as Tigress. Personally, I like my animated characters' voices with a little more pizazz and, um, character. In that regard, Black and McShane save this film. Their voices, the staged antics and the familiar-but-well-laid plot drew my attention from my nagging hang-up and I began enjoying Kung Fu Panda.

Black, who I worried would grow tiresome, is quite lovable as an animated panda. His interactions with his compatriots offer up cute and funny moments aplenty. The CGI wasn't exceptionally cuddly - the animals had the appropriate fur or scales but they didn't have the rich visual texture of, say, Monsters, Inc.

Dirty Undies
You may not believe I'm going to say this: Kung Fu Panda is more action-packed than Indiana Jones 4. Sure, they're all cartoon animals but the fervor with which the Furious Five and Tai Lung battle rocks the very foundations of the city. The excellent crafting of the tale makes the impact of their punches feel more real as you actually fear for these characters. It's not as heart-wrenching as watching Optimus Prime die in Transformers: The Movie (circa 1986), but it does tug the heartstrings a little.

The Money Shot
Conventional and uninspired? Two of the scribes credited for this also wrote Bulletproof Monk; the same film sans the cute animals. It's absolutely conventional, but sometimes great storytelling is all you need. Quick paced with humor for both child and parent, this uphill climb is a fun exercise to enjoy with our underdog underpanda.

A.D.A! (Arrested Development Alert!)

Last thing, I promise:

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I use my kids as an excuse to go these kind of flicks. I dug this flick in a big way.

  2. This has been my fave animated film this year.

    I have no kids. If it weren't for my wife tagging along I'd be seen as the creepy guy at the kids movie!