Kung Fu Panda
****1/3 out of five
Directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
Starring the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, and Angelina Jolie
Kung Fu Panda isn't just another stupid C.G.I. movie for the kids. It's an homage to kung fu and the great movies about it, with plenty of action and comedy to entertain all ages. Think of it as a Jackie Chan movie that happens to star a bunch of animated animals.
In fact, the man himself has a cameo, lending the film some kung fu credibility. So does the film's inclusion of the real-life kung fu salute and different martial arts styles, along with Kung Fu's James Hong as Mr. Ping. I suppose I can mention Lucy Liu's portrayal of Master Viper as well...she was in Kill Bill, a more adult homage to action movies.
Jack Black portrays the heroic, likable underdog of a title character, and the filmmakers give him plenty of room to be himself. Our generation's clown is apt for the role of Po, showing the same enthusiasm for kung fu as his other roles had towards rock and roll. Black was always a little chubby, but his character is the movie's biggest. Get ready for lots of fat jokes.
However, Po's giant appetite also serves as a key plot point. Head Master Shifu, voiced by Hoffman, realizes that he can't train the giant panda the usual way, and instead motivates him with snacks. This unconventional training proves effective, and Po becomes a warrior you don't want to mess with.
It doesn't matter how old you are. Kung Fu Panda is a fun movie, perfect for the summer. Catch it on the big screen while you can.