Screen Gems Movie Reviews
with Kennie Bass. You'll find it First On Fox!

Kung Fu Panda June 6, 2008
Kung Fu Panda
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Rating: PG for sequences of martial arts action.

Finding your true destiny, even if it's something unexpected powers the latest animation entry into the summer box office sweepstakes.

Channel your chi and check out "Kung Fu Panda."

The biggest complaint about DreamWorks Animation, at least compared to the movies put out by Walt Disney and Pixar...has always been that the studio goes for cheap laughs while its stories lack substance and heart.

"Kung Fu Panda" changes that. Jack Black stars as Po. While working in his dad's noodle shop he dreams of becoming a famous warrior, like his heroes the Furious Five.

When the evil Tai Lung (Ian McShane) escapes from prison, the decision is made to find the legendary Dragon Warrior. While it's expected one of the five will be chosen, fate has another idea. Po is picked and his training begins.

Not very happy that a fat, clumsy panda has been anointed Dragon Warrior, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is determined to make him quit. He turns to the Furious Five to teach Po a lesson. But the panda refuses to quit, forcing Shifu to re-evaluate his heart and fighting spirit.

Sure, "Kung Fu Panda" has a familiar message. But at least it's a good one. Follow your heart and your dreams can come true.

Black manages to tone down his familiar act just enough to give Po a real personality. But the standout performance in this movie belongs to Hoffman. Shifu isn't just a caricature of a martial arts master, he's carrying some baggage from a previous failure. His resistance to working with Po and his ultimate decision that the panda must become the Dragon Warrior is fun to watch. Even though it's just his voice this is one of Hoffman's best performances in years. He doesn't just chew up the scenery. He give Shifu dignity and strength.

Voices powering the Furious Five belong to Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogan and Ben Cross. Although that's a star studded lineup none of them really have very much to do. This show really belongs to Black and Hoffman and they shine.

The animation is gorgeous with spectacular kung fu action. This is a fun movie for young and old viewers.

On my rating scale, "Kung Fu Panda" smashes its way to a Home Run.

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