Monday, January 18, 2016

Movie Review: "Kung Fu Panda" (2008)

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Movie"Kung Fu Panda"
Director: Mark Osborne & John Stevenson
Year: 2008
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

A panda named Po (Jack Black) works for his father at their noodle restaurant, but dreams of being a kung fu master. When the head of the Jade Temple, Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), has a vision that the sinister Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will escape from prison, he decides to name the Dragon Warrior. Everyone is shocked when Master Oogway names Po the Dragon Warrior despite him being fat and having no kung fu skills.

When a movie is titled "Kung Fu Panda," you pretty much know what you are going to get right off the bat. This Dreamworks animated feature is about a fat panda bear named Po, who is voiced by Jack Black. Po is also pretty much modeled after Jack Black, too. He has the same humor, mannerisms, and attitude of the real life Black, so how much you tolerate Po as a protagonist will be directly contingent on how much you tolerate Jack Black in non-animated form. Po works in his father's noodle house, but has fantasies of being a great kung fu warrior. His dream looks like it is headed towards becoming a reality when Master Oogway, a Kung Fu tortoise voiced by Randall Duk Kim, dubs Po the Dragon Warrior to the surprise of everyone. No one is more surprised than Master Shifu, voiced by Dustin Hoffman, who expected one of his super trained students to be chosen. Shifu now wants to show Oogway that he made a mistake and wants to train Po so hard that he will quit. Po, however, won't give up without a fight because being a kung fu panda is all he's ever wanted.

The "Kung Fu Panda" franchise has been immensely popular among kids, and a third one is coming out at the end of January this year. The first film in the series is one of those feel good underdog stories, teaching kids that greatness can come from the most unexpected places. It also offers up the message that the most important part of success is to believe in yourself. This is obviously a very popular subject for kids movies, but it does so in a cute, mildly amusing way. It uses the voice talents of Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Ian McShane to create a decent animated comedy. It follows the same formula you'd find in films like "Kickboxer" and "Karate Kid," complete with training montages and lots of kung fu lingo, but targeted towards a younger audience. Overall, this is a fun movie, and we can totally see why children eat this up, but for us, there's really nothing super spectacular about "Kung Fu Panda." We felt the same way when we watched it when it came out, and we still feel this way today. It has not found its way into our regular viewing rotation like many Disney and Pixar films have, and we doubt it ever will.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Into the Woods"

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