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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2008!
Directed by Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Po the Panda is the laziest animals in all of the Valley of Peace, but unwittingly becomes the chosen one when enemies threaten their way of life.
Never has actor Jack Black played a character so similar to himself than in Kung Fu Panda. Yes, this is an animation film and he is playing the voice of a Panda. But the Panda is his persona. An overweight, lazy guy who has big dreams and accomplishes those big dreams. The Panda's appearance has no right to be the Kung Fu saviour, just as Jack Black's appearance has no right to be a major movie star. But they both are and we watch because of their fish out of water existence.
As with most animation movies made these days, Kung Fu Panda has a great theme for the kids. This one is about following your dreams no matter what you parent has planned for you. This theme has been done before, but I don't mind the recycling because this is an important story for kids to watch.
I guess this is the next stage in the evolution of movies seeing animals perform martial arts and speak in Eastern Philosophy. The kids learn some cool tricks while also hear wisdom that probably haven't heard before unless they've seen The Empire Strikes Back. Dustin Hoffman plays this movies version of Yoda, which is an interesting but great choice as he plays it very surly -- kind of like he really doesn't want to be there.
How it works in these animation films is that the actor comes in before any animation is done and does their voice over work with the written script. This gives the comedy actors a change to do some improv work with the script in hand and add their persona to the animation character they are voicing for. So the only question I have after seeing this film is why they didn't use any of these actors to their full potential. It's like bringing on David Mamet to write your play but giving him the exact material he needs to write. The story kind of fails overall as we really never get to know any character while the plot is a bit flimsy. But that's really not why we're watching, is it? Animation films are for education with strong themes and pure entertainment. And the fighting scenes in this film are exciting and a whole lot of fun to watch.
So, I can't completely recommend this film for everyone. But it's a great movie to take the kids to. It's just wouldn't be my first choice for adults to see.