Prepare for awesomeness.
Running Time: 92 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG
Country: United States
Kung Fu Panda looked cute in the trailerswho doesnt love a panda, right? DreamWorks has had some animated success (Shrek, Madagascar), but for every big, green ogre, theres a time waste like Bee Movie or Flushed Away. Kung Fu Panda looked to fall somewhere in between, not quite the classic of Shrek but definitely not a Seinfeld-starring debacle. Happily, short previews didnt do this movie justice, and I think its safe to say the big guy is destined for stardom.
Po (Jack Black) sells noodles, the perfect career for a roly-poly panda with an insatiable appetite, but not exactly the path to becoming the Kung Fu expert he dreams of being. In other parts of the land, when wise Master Oogway envisions the escape of vicious Tai Lung (Ian McShane) from prison, Kung Fu Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is confident that one of his skilled protégés will be chosen to be the Dragon Warriora superior fighter who can defeat the big baddie. Fate steps in, and a series of events leads to the selection of Po to be the Dragon Warrior, much to the dismay of Shifu. Pos got heart, though, and what he lacks in skill, he makes up for with major effortproving that his destiny may not be governed by coincidence after all.
This isnt one of those animated films that needs a but its for kids caveat added on to make it worth watching. Yes, it is indeed a family movie, but its also genuinely funny, has a solid story, and benefits from the voice talents of Black, who infuses Po with a self-depreciating humor that would have been lost had the job gone to someone else. The animation is some of the best Ive seen in a while, especially the fight sequences and the background shots of the mountains and landscape. And, as for those action scenestheyre actually pretty exciting, maybe even a little too intense for very young kids. What Kung Fu Panda benefits from the most is in the things it DOESNT havegross-out humor, tons of one-liners and pop culture references, or a simple story. Sure, its a tale weve all heard beforefind the inner beauty or power or what have youbut its done well in this case with very little cliché and a lot of clever humor that doesnt feel like a big wink-wink-nudge-nudge to adults. This is what the best of any genre should be, regardless of intended audiencetimeless.
It's Got: Humor, heart, and fighting praying mantis.
It Needs: Maybe more interaction with some of the other fightersagain, gotta love a Kung Fu Mantis.
DVD Extras Meet the Cast, Pushing Boundaries (CGI featurettes), Sound Design, Kung Fu Fighting music video, Mr. Pings Noodle House (shows how to make a noodle), How to Use Chopsticks, Dragon Warrior Training Academy game, DreamWorks Animation Jukebox, Trailers and DVD-Rom stuff. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10
Better than your typical family film, Kung Fu Panda has all the laughs, love, and action you could hope for in any movie, let alone one about a noodle-selling panda doing Kung Fu.