Kung Fu Panda
More and more often in
modern film, animated films are made more for adults than for children.
Kung Fu Panda is an excellent example of this.
That is not to say
that children won’t enjoy Kung Fu Panda – they will – though it is
way too violent for smaller children. Then again, so were Looney Tunes and
the Three Stooges, so this is nothing new. My six-year-old nephew just knew
there were a bunch of animals fighting and that was all that was really
needed to make him happy.
However, I doubt
that children watching Kung Fu Panda will comprehend much of what is
going on or what films are being parodied. Many of the gags will go right
over their heads.
Which is okay,
there is no law saying animation is the divine providence of children (see:
The Simpsons). Also unlike some more adult animations, it can be
seen and enjoyed by children, even if it is on a different level.
Kung Fu Panda
is a parody
of the chop-socky martial arts films. Basically, it could be just about any
of Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee or Jet Li’s films – if only these actors
Jack Black does the
voice of Po, an overweight panda who works at his father’s noodle shop but
dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. (The movie takes place in a weird
alternate world where apparently dodo birds can give birth to pandas – the
movie teases with the idea of a revelation of Po being adopted by his
feathered dad, but it never comes.)
The real masters of
Kung Fu are a tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), a monkey (Jackie Chan), a
viper (Lucy Liu), a crane (David Cross) and a mantis (Seth Rogen). The
fighting force is known as the Furious Five (hey, wasn’t that Grandmaster
Flash’s posse?) and are taught the ways of the ninja by their wise elders:
an aged turtle and some kind of weird little owl/chipmunk-y looking thing
(voiced by Dustin Hoffman – they really got some serious talent for these
Somehow, through a
set of slapstick mishaps, it is decided that Po is the missing link to the
fighting force and the only being who can turn back an evil panther that
wants to destroy their village.
The story doesn’t
make much sense, and it really doesn’t have to. However, it has some clever
dialogue and some nifty visual effects to keep the interest.
How you react to
Kung Fu Panda probably depends somewhat on how you feel about martial
arts movies. I couldn’t care less about the genre, so often Kung Fu
Panda left me a little cold. That said I do respect the craft and humor
of the film – so while for me it’s a qualified recommendation, I can totally
see why many people would embrace the movie wholeheartedly.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: November 12, 2008.