Kung Fu Panda Reviews
Just about all animated movies teach you to Believe in Yourself, but the image of a face-stuffing panda-turned-yowling Bruce Lee dervish is as unlikely, and touching, an advertisement for that message as we've seen in quite some time.
Kung Fu Panda illustrates the dilemma CGI movies find themselves in: They're suspended on a rickety bridge between product and moviemaking, and the boards of our interest are beginning to rot away.
This is an unashamedly old-fashioned children's movie, and a predictable message is part of the mission. But that's okay; what the movie lacks in surprises, it makes up for in whimsical fun
The film settles into a succession of ritual spoofs of the kung fu genre, and peddles the sort of cloying preachments about self-esteem and human potential -- panda potential -- that little kids hear all the time on TV.
The aphorisms creak. The plot's an open book. But all of those cliches are part of the joke in this ebullient ursine coming-of-age tale about a humble panda destined for greatness.
With loads of laugh lines, Kung Fu Panda plays with the ying- yang tension of sincerity and irreverance. And it never shirks a popcorn tenet: kernels of wisdom must be tasty.
It's elegantly drawn, the action sequences are packed with energy, and it's short enough that older viewers will be forgiving. For the kids, of course, all this stuff is much of a muchness, and here they go again.
Everything about Kung Fu Panda is a little better, a little sharper, a little funnier than the animated run of the mill. It's one of the few comedies of 2008 that knows what it's doing.
While its storyline might seem familiar (in fact, very familiar if you've seen the recent live-action Jackie Chan/Jet Li hit, The Forbidden Kingdom), there's enough invention and irreverence to make the film feel fresh.
Kung Fu Panda isn't the kind of movie that will make you gasp with surprise as it moves toward its believe-in-yourself destination. But it is the kind of movie that will make you enjoy the journey.