Kung Fu Panda
Rated PG for sequences of martial arts action.
Recommended for ages 4 and up
Run Time: 91 minutes
Quick Take: Plenty of kung fu action (though minimal violence) combined with panda-sized laughs make this flick -- and its adorably round hero -- a hit with kids of all ages.
Kids Will Get a Kick Out of This 'Panda'
Sometimes, a title says it all. Kung Fu Panda? Yup, as goofy as it sounds.
The Dreamworks flick about a portly panda (Po) with the ambitions of Bruce Lee and the measurements of Winnie the Pooh pulls out all the stops on silly, from Po's use of his ample behind as a weapon, to his dad, who is rather inexplicably, um, a duck (goose?), to a pint-sized kung fu master of questionable species who dispenses mystical wisdoms like, "We don't wash our pits in the sacred pool of tears." Having Jack Black as the star -- let's just call that the film's coup de grace.
Yet with his expressive CG eyes and so-cute-it-hurts stuffed-with-fluff bod, Po is no one-trick panda. Beneath all that fur is a John Hughes character trying to get out -- panda meets world, panda wins over cool kids, panda learns, "Yes, I can." The road to self realization is a rocky one and you'll be hard pressed to not want to reach out and belly-scratch him when his bear-ears droop after overhearing some unkind comments about his girth.
Happily, overcome he does. And, this being a kung fu movie, animators haven't forgotten the serious business of climactic fight scenes. They're breathtaking. Not that they could resist a Matrix-style slow-mo of Po's impressive backside dramatically hitting its mark. "I'm not a big fat panda," Po victoriously proclaims to the bad guy. "I'm the big fat panda."
Goofy? Yeah. But that's just part of its charm.
Kids Will Like:
Depends on the kid. Girls favor the slapstick, especially the oh-so-impressive move one tot nicknamed "The tushy squish." Count on some big laughs when Po tries to get into the palace -- especially the finale, when he straps himself to a chair of fireworks while shouting, "I LOVE KUNG FUUUUU..." And, when was the last time you heard a kung Ffu champion defend himself by giggling, "Stop! I'm gonna pee!" The boys: they liked the fighting. In fact, said one, only one thing could have made the movie better: more fighting.
Parents Will Like:
Po. He's so. Darned. Cute. And, you've gotta love Jack Black. Anyone who's endured a StairMaster will find his breathless treks up the palace steps achingly familiar. The training sequence over dumplings is a hoot. And, those dumplings -- in all their CG perfection -- even look delicious.