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New Review: Kung Fu Panda

June 8, 2008

Dreamworks has made a delightful little Jack Black comedy, only animated. You can’t go into Kung Fu Panda with expectations of it being the best new animated film ever, but knowing it will be a delightful time, you can at least enjoy it. Although the animals are voiced by a wide variety of well known actors (Angelina Jolie is the Tigress, etc), it is Jack Black as the Panda, and more so, Dustin Hoffman as Shifu that make a powerful comic duo. David Cross is also delightful as the Crane.

Po is a panda working in his father’s noodle shop (a goose, which is never really explained as to how that is his father). He is a klutz but dreams of kung fu (sound somewhat like Jack Black as an orphan klutz that dreams of wrestling? hmm, yes..very similar). Master Oogway has a premonition that the evil  Tai Lung will escape prison and return to destroy them all. He does escape and only Po can stop him. Most of the film is the tension between trying to convince Shifu that he must train Po and then getting them both to believe in him.

The story is simple and yet easy enough for kids to follow. More importantly, it doesn’t poke fun at Chinese philosophy but instead embraces it and shifts into something understandable for its American audience, leaving a nice message for kids. If you can dream it, be it. Oh wait, no that is Rocky Horror Picture Show. Er, well. Either way, it has a fun approach to martial arts (one of the voices is even Jackie Chan).

What I enjoyed the most though was the hand drawn imagery of the opening and closing sequences. Drawn somewhat in the style of Chinese hand puppetry, there is some very lovely artwork in these scenes. What I found especially exciting in the closing sequence was the voice of Pig Fan was none other than one of my favorite filmmakers, Kent Osborne. Osborne was recently in Joe Swanberg’s Nights and Weekends and created all of the delightful shorts at this years SXSW fest.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. tasithoughts permalink
    June 8, 2008 11:57 pm

    Thank you for your review on the movie. I am considering watching it and reading all the feedback.

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