Is Kung Fu Panda a definite winner? Well, I’m afraid not for its core ideas - they aren’t exactly a breathe of fresh air on the American “Family Movie” scene. But purely for incredible animation and good, simple FUN, Kung Fu Panda is most certainly in the Top 1! Yet, even with a star- studded cast (Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan) and stunning animation, I’m not quite sure it lives up to the hype….
For a start, the basic plot of this movie is pretty much the same as every other family film to be released this decade; the unlikely hero, believe in yourself, follow your dreams, etc, etc.
The comedy is also rather basic, the sort of humour that is based on running into walls and falling over, although, it has to be said that writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have managed to write some truly funny scenes. For example, the fight over the dumplings between Shifu and Po for fantastic surreality. Or, the scene with Po’s rocket chair creation that has a promising and funny start, even if the conclusion is completely predicable.
The jokes are the kind that 10 year olds would laugh at, although again I must admit that there are a few one liners that are almost un-cringe worthy. “The Furious Five!,” says Po, “you look a lot bigger than your action figures! Except you, Mantis. You're about the same.” Or, “I just ate, so I'm still digesting, so my kung fu may not be as good as later on.”.
There is nothing really wrong with that, but one would expect slightly more of an effort to create more “grown up” and original jokes from a film that is said to be “fun for the entire family”.
Po (Jack Black) well and truly steals the show. Black creates a very loveable character that is very different from his normal self – a contrast to characters in past movies, where he seems unable to create a persona separate to himself. His fat, maybe a little slow panda is shown to be the underdog, and that’s what really makes us will him on, all the way through the film – we really do want him to defeat Tai Lung, and show the Famous Five and Shifu he has it in him. The only scene which really grates is one...