Kung Fu Panda (2008) voices Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross directed by Mark Osborne, John Stevenson Movie Review

Kung Fu Panda (2008)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Kung Fu Panda (2008) voices Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane

Crouching Panda Hidden Gem

Po the Panda lives in China's Valley of Peace where when he isn't daydreaming about being a great martial arts fighter he is reluctantly working for his father in his Noodle Soup shop. But at the nearby temple Master Oogway has a premonition that the evil Tia Lung is about to escape from prison and will be returning to the Valley looking for revenge. In order to prevent him Oogway decides that they need to pick a new Dragon Warrior which Master Shifu believes will come from one of his apprentices. Much to Shifu's surprise Master Oogway chooses Po instead who nobody thinks has it in him to battle the mighty Tia Lung. But as Shifu sets about trying to train him Shifu discovers this accident prone, over weight and frankly clueless Panda may have hidden talents.

I will be the first to admit that I have a love hate relationship with Jack Black and his movies because for everyone which impresses me there are two or three which just annoy me. Thankfully "Kung Fu Panda" is one of those which impresses and I am pretty sure that with just his voice and a script to stick to Black didn't fall into the habit of doing his usual comic riffs which are often the thing that ends up annoying me.

Kung Fu Panda (2008) voices Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross

Anyway, aside from Jack Black who voices Po quite brilliantly "Kung Fu Panda" is actually an enjoyable but curious animation as to me despite its PG certificate is more an animation for older teens and grown ups. Young children might enjoy the accident prone Po but there is a darkness to this movie which you don't always see in animations and all the martial arts animation whilst not bloody thirsty in truth references movies which young children should not have seen such as "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". That may also be why "Kung Fu Panda" ended up entertaining more than I had expected because it does target an older audience who can appreciate Po's fascination with martial arts and all the mythology which Po goes on about in an over excitable way.

The thing is that whilst "Kung Fu Panda has a very clear and enjoyable grown upside it also has a more general slapstick side which focuses on the accident prone tendencies and over eagerness of Po. Yet whilst all this slapstick from accidentally knocking over an ancient vase to constantly pulling up his shorts is strangely more entertaining because it doesn't seem so stupid when you have the more grown up martial arts side. And the knock on effect of this is that of course the message of the movie about believing in yourself doesn't seem so cheesy either.

What this all boils down to is that "Kung Fu Panda" is a pleasant surprise of an animation as it has a much more grown upside which will appeal to older teens and adults. And what for me makes it even better is that it is a Jack Black movie where Jack Black's riffs he uses in so many movies are nowhere to be seen.