Kung Fu Panda 

Jack Black's Animated Chop Socky

The latest animated film from DreamWorks, Kung Fu Panda features Jack Black as a paunchy panda who unwittingly becomes the kung fu savior of the world. So it's kind of like Beverly Hills Ninja, but, um, animated.

Kung Fu Panda starts off punchy, with a terrific opening sequence that sets the tone: kung fu slapstick for the young 'uns. A bevy of unnecessary celebrity voices (seriously, Dustin Hoffman? You're hurting for a paycheck?) give us a story about Po the panda, who must protect a magical scroll from the clutches of an evil kung fu superpower. The slapstick is fun for a while, but at some point, adults will be yearning for a break from Jack Black—and fortunately and surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda prevails in its action sequences. Like any good film in the Hong Kong cinema tradition, style rules above all else, and Kung Fu Panda's CG proves to be a perfect fit for chop-socky aesthetic. It's incredibly detailed, too: The animators are so OCD that they even go to the trouble of animating the nipples on the rhinoceros prison guards. Seriously, keep an eye out for that. This movie should be rated PG-13 for that alone.

Kung Fu Panda
Rated PG · 91 min. · 2008
Official Site: www.KungFuPanda.com
Director: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
Writer: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff
Producer: Melissa Cobb
Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim and James Hong


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