Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Reviewed on 2008 July 15
This is a silly, sweet, and beautifully animated DreamWorks summertime gift to animation junkies and any parent looking for a good movie they can enjoy with their kid. No stuff you’ll dread explaining to your child later or bits so dumb you’ll keep looking at your watch. Just a story of a panda who dreams of meeting some local kung fu masters and gets much more than he bargained for.
To give you an idea of the humor in this movie, it begins with flashy, stylized, two-dimensional animation while Jack Black (the voice of Po, our panda) explains “Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend”. A warrior panda is in martial arts garb and throwing down, protecting his village and earning the respect of fellow masters. We’re quickly dumped into Po’s reality (and gorgeous 3-D land) when Po’s daddy calls him to work… in the family noodle shop.
Po certainly likes to eat good food, but he’s not interested in selling it. His passion is kung fu, and he can’t get his goofy but well-meaning father to understand they don’t share the same dream. One fateful day, Po takes matters into his own hands and decides to pursue his dream — little suspecting what destiny has in store for him.
The animation here is almost Pixar-grade. Not only are the facial expressions classic but in some close-ups you can see the animals’ individual hairs being ruffled by the breeze. The voice actors are all good, but Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman stand out. The story is cute, and there’s several nods to The Matrix and those old kung fu movies that some UHF stations used to show on Saturday afternoons. What’s not to love?
Three chocolate morsels.