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Movie Review

Kung Fu Panda a.k.a. “Kung Fu Panda: The IMAX Experience,” “Gongfu xiongmao,” “O Panda do Kung Fu”

MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of martial arts action.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Animation, Action, Comedy, Family
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 6, 2008
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, DreamWorks Animation

Animals in the Bible



Can mysticism lead to God? Answer

Jesus Christ 2, Buddha 0

For kids
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Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Cross, Dan Fogler, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim
Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Producer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Melissa Cobb
Distributor: DreamWorks Animation

“Prepare for awesomeness.”

“Kung Fu Panda” follows the bodacious and daring kung fu heroics of its protagonist, Po (Jack Black). Unfortunately, Po is a Panda who works for his father in a noodle stand and whose only kung fu moves include rolling out of bed. Despite his limitations, Po wants nothing more than to be like the Furious Five who are the local kung fu masters. At a village gathering to choose the new Dragon Master, Po finally feels that he has his chance to fulfill his dreams.

Through a series of events that some would deem “accidents,” Po is chosen, without any training at all, to be the new kung fu Dragon Master. This honor also comes with a great burden, however, because the new Dragon Master carries the responsibility of bringing peace to the land by defeating Tai Lung, a vengeful kung fu master, who has just escaped from prison.

Possible Objectionable Content

Surprisingly (since this is a movie starring Jack Black), “Kung Fu Panda” has less objectionable content than I expected. Since this is a movie about a fat panda that constantly ate, I expected the trite “potty humor” that so many movies have. However, there is not a single reference or joke along these lines. Also, I did not notice a single curse or swear word of any kind, including any taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Obviously, the movie contains stylized kung fu fighting throughout, and some scenes could be scary to very young viewers. Ironically, one of the things that makes the fighting less intense and less objectionable can also have its own downside. In many of the scenes with fighting or kung fu moves, the characters react to the blows in a humorous manner to lighten the intensity of the movie. Characters routinely fall to the ground or are hit in a comical manner, and the audience laughs as Po is beaten up repeatedly, because the manner in which it is done IS funny. Unfortunately, as many parents know, children LOVE to imitate the things they see in movies, and I can certainly see two siblings playing in the family room while trying fake kung fu moves on each other and the resulting injury and tears. If you, as a parent, object to fighting or have a problem with your children imitating fighting that they see in movies, this aspect of the movie would be a big reason to steer away from “Kung Fu Panda.” Po straps himself to a chair with fireworks and shoots himself into the air. He smashes himself into a building. When Po is getting beat up, he is laughing and says he is going to pee.

The spiritual aspect of the movie in regards to kung fu mysticism and spirits is negligible. Most of the Buddhist mysticism that often accompanies movies of this type is very low key and mild. For instance, a kung fu master is “spirited away” (my term for it) and simply vanishes when he feels his time has come. Also, while looking at the ancient kung fu relics, Po finds an urn of whispering souls. He tries talking to it and hears a voice, but the voice is just someone off camera talking to him; however, when he accidentally breaks the urn, the spirits inside of it moan. For a very short time, a ying-yang symbol is shown. In a dream, Po jumps off a hill to fight 10,000 demons and then wakes up. There are various characters meditating in the cross-legged position.

The only other objectionable content includes when Po lies to his father about a dream. Po says it was about noodles when it was actually about kung fu. Later, Po neglects his job duties to see the Furious Five. Also, Po is hit in his groin region and refers to them as “my tenders,” and I suppose if you don’t want your children running about screaming that in the mall that, that particular line could be objectionable. Po has 2 noodle bowls on his chest.

Spiritual references

There are some themes in the movie that one could relate to the Bible. Over and over again, the movie emphasizes that we are not actually in control of our destinies and that there are no true “accidents.” In fact, the movie says that we only have the “illusion of control” in our lives. It used the example of a peach tree, you can plant the tree or harvest its fruit; however, you can never control when it ripens or whether peaches or apples grow on it. The “control” we have over the tree is very limited and only an illusion. When Po is chosen as the Dragon Master, his trainer feels that he is not qualified, but Po being chosen is no accident.

In the same way, we know that God is in charge of our lives. In fact, in the Bible, God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

I would recommend this movie to people of all ages. Although a very few scenes might be scary or too violent for some younger viewers, there is nothing in the movie that would surprise or offend. Essentially, if you saw the preview and thought the movie would be okay, it should be. It is legitimately funny, and if the audience is an indicator of anything, I was not the only one that thought that.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This was such a cute movie!! My boyfriend wanted to see it when he first saw the trailers, I thought it looked pretty stupid, but nonetheless, we went to see it.

The first 5-10 minutes, it seems like its going to be really stupid and boring, but then it picks up its pace. It was SUCH a cute movie… NOTHING objectionable that I can think of, maybe a part where Po (the panda) gets hit in a “certain spot” and then complains of his ‘nuggets hurting’… but it was all done for laughs. It was a very sweet, loving movie. I would recommend this to any family that has any age kids, that wants to see a family movie!! It was MUCH better than I expected it to be!! Go see it, you will be pleasantly surprised!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Casey, age 20
Positive—Charge? There's no charge for awesomeness… or attractiveness. Jack Black is a funny guy. He was great in “Nacho Libre,” a clean film where his talent was put to good use sans vulgarity. The same can be said of Panda. Black's the main attraction, and is the perfect person to play the fat, out-of-shape, kung-fu gung-ho panda. Like “The Forbidden Kingdom,” Panda is about a geeky kung fu know-it-all actually learning kung fu and taking names.

Only Panda is a heck of a lot more entertaining. Monumentally entertaining. Colossally entertaining. Among other morsels of hilarity, Panda makes use of the classic slow motion scenes with a guy yelling “oooooaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh.” You know you've done it at one point yourself—moving real slow, etching out a real low note. They're fun. Panda packs about 5 or so of these scenes, and they're gut-busters every time. They never get old.

Aside from the sheer comic antics, Panda is visually breathtaking. The colors are such a beautiful blend of lights and darks and create a visceral pastel feel unlike any other animated film I've ever seen; it never lets up. Even the tigers’ eyes are amazingly bright, like LED screens. Unbelievably incredible. Or the blue fire in the fight sequence between master and former student—it's so pure. It's the coolest thing since the other side of the pillow. The flames are rich and vibrant, flickering with raw energy that resonates on such a deep level it passes as being real. 'Tis truly amazing. Animation has come a long way since Toy Story my friend. On a technical, artistic level, Panda is a 10/10.

Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, James Hong, Michael Clarke Duncan, Seth Rogen, Dan Fogler, et. al star in this Mega Blockbuster. “Kung Fu Panda” is more star studded than space and packs more punch than the title suggests. It's not just a rental, it's a keeper.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jacob Keenum, age 21
Positive—This is what I expect from a rated PG movie. It had a good story with only a handful of slightly questionable material. The reviewer did well in mentioning objectionable content. I thought it a bit slow in spots, but worth it for the funny parts. DreamWorks usually makes movies that I find less than stellar, but this one is OK
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Trina W, age 40
Positive—This is a movie that all ages can enjoy. I saw it opening day with my 18 year old daughter, 75 year old mother in-law, and 3 and 6 year old nephews. We all found ourselves laughing and cheering at the antics of the panda and other characters. Most refreshing to me was that this movie did not rely on potty humor to be funny. The message was to believe in yourself and your dreams, a worn theme to be sure, but still done with style and wit. I truly liked this more than I anticipated, and have already been recommending it to friends and family.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Lynn, age 44
Positive—My husband and I and our 4 year old son saw this, and I must say it is the least offensive movie I have seen in years, probably the best kids movie that I have seen in 10 years! There were none of those “little jokes” for adults hidden in the movie that all kid's movies (like “Shrek”) seem to have these days. It was a kid's movie that I was able to watch with my youngster and never feel uncomfortable. For a movie without a Biblical theme, you can't go wrong with this one. My husband and I laughed out loud many times and enjoyed it as much as our son. I would like to see Hollywood get back to less of the raunchy humor, especially since they don't seem to make enough movies including Christian view. God Bless!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Paula Strausbaugh, age 41
Positive—KUNG FU PANDA is a fun little romp of a family entertainment. Po (Jack Black) is an unlikely hero who through a series of accidental events lead him to be the chosen Dragon Warrior, beating out Tigress (Angelina Jolie) and her team, the Furious Five. Though he is self-actualization and good hearted nature and with the will and determination, nothing Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) tried, Po seemed hopeless, yet, as any kid movie about such empowering stance, we are all too happy when he triumphant. The animation are top tier with Matrix inspired battle sequences (at times, it maybe a bit too much for the youngest child, but it is recommended for ages 8+ for some fast action fighting) and a Jedi like enlightenment. It's not quite literally “May the Force be with You,” but a nice touch of following what your heart tells you. This is not a Christian film therefore, Eastern mysticisms are mentioned but does not dwell too much into it. Jack Black shines here and thank goodness, there aren't any potty pop culture references like the SHREK franchises. Kudos to Dreamworks, it remained with a good nature dialogues comes closely related to most of Pixar's films.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mang Yang, age 36
Positive—Absolutely fabulous movie with great animation. Pure family entertainer with an inspiring touch. Though the movie is concentrated on slapstick humor, it's nice to see that there are no double meanings, swearing, or objectionable content in Kung fu Panda. Enjoy with your family.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Cyril Thomas, age 27
Positive—I watched this film with my 5 and 7 year old and they loved it. I did, too. I read the reviews on this movie before seeing it as I always do, and I agree with the Web site comments. It teaches you to never give up on your dreams and to believe… they do not make a reference to God, but I talked to my kids about it after the movie.

The movie did make a bit of a new age reference when Po was talking to his Dad and he told Po that there was no secret ingredient in the noodles. People like it because they thought that there was a secret ingredient. Then Po looks at the the secret scroll and he sees an image of himself. Meaning he is the secret. My kids did not get the deeper meaning, but they enjoyed a good clean show.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Renee Clark, age 40
Positive—What can I say? I went to see this movie with my church's youth group. I am a Martial Artist who has studied a some Kung Fu, and I have to say that Kung Fu Panda, makes fun without making fun of the training and the philosophy behind Kung Fu. Some reviewers may mark it as Better than Average because of some of the mysticism involved in the movie, but I thought that it was seen more of a joke than anything. I did not find it offensive in any way. The movie was very well made and the voice actors were well-chosen, but I did wish that Jackie Chan would have been given more dialogue. “Kung Fu Panda” is smart, funny, teaches you a good lesson, and very entertaining. Take everyone to see it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jacob Airey, age 19
Positive—I took my 7 year old to watch this film and we both enjoyed it very much. The main theme to me was that you were special no matter what you look like. The graphics were just great and the story seemed to flow very nicely… no boring parts. There was some intense fighting scenes that were great but may be too much for some 2 or 3 year olds. Other than that it was funny and I would recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Johnny D, age 39
Positive—This was a good movie. It was very entertaining while teaching a lesson of good and evil. The eastern religion stuff always makes me a little uneasy but there wasn't too much of that. It was all clean. No vulgarity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Shane Linder, age 38
Positive—I thought this was such a cute and humorous movie! I found it was really clean (some cartoon are not nowadays!) and no objections to it. There were a few scenes that may frighten really young children. A good family movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Krys, age 27
Positive—I took my 5 year old grandson to see Kung Fu Panda, it was very entertaining. He loved, I loved it. There was nothing in it that I thought to be offensive just funny and full of action. Po the panda follows his dreams and against all odds becomes an unlikely hero. To me, the movie was encouraging with the message 'don't allow society to dictate whether or not you look the part to achieve your hopes and dreams'. It's one we will add to our movie library when it's out on video.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Connie Christopher, age 51
Positive—This computer-animated movie comes from Dreamworks so I was ready for tons of bathroom humor and some sexual innuendo, typical of “Shrek” movies. Glad to see they focused on developing an interesting story instead. I grew to like Po, the panda character. The visuals are top-notch and the Chinese music in the background plays nicely, without drawing attention to itself. Recommended to all but small children due to the intense martial arts fights (which to adults would look more like video games). Biblical message, repeated throughout the movie: “there are no accidents” in life.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Narcis, age 36
Positive—This an enjoyable family flick. It is refreshing to walk away from the theatre and not have to explain to my children the objectionable content. You will be pleased with the movie and not feel offended at any anti-Christian themes.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Heath, age 38
Positive—This was really a great movie to see. My 11 (soon to be 12) year-old son and I went to see this… despite the little slow beginning, we laughed the entire time. It's kung fu… you have to expect some fighting! But it is always the good vs. evil and the GOOD wins. …

HILARIOUS… I didn't know all those big names were in it until the credits! WOW! GREAT… go see… we'll probably buy this one too! There was no biblical offensive content. Again, Kung Fu, Should expect to see some eastern religious content. It's not strong and overdone.

In fact, if you think about it… isn't the Christian story about a STRONG WARRIOR (CHRIST) coming to save the lost… and when He did come… those on Earth at the time couldn't believe that it was really HIM! But then he did miraculous things and raised from the dead to save all of us! ENJOY!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Dina, age old :)
Neutral—One thing that the reviewer didn't mention was the humanist theme that appeared several times. Great emphasis was made on learning what was written on a sacred scroll only to find the scroll was blank and it reflected the image of the reader, symbolizing that there is no secret knowledge—you just have to believe in yourself. The same theme was reinforced when it was discovered that the Secret Ingredient Soup really had no secret ingredient—you just had to believe it had a secret ingredient and it would taste better. The message behind it was that there is no God… we are on our own. This was presented strongly in the movie and it could influence the viewers if they are not prepared to recognize it and reject it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Steve Emmert, age 46
Neutral—While this movie was really cute and original, I can't recommend it. There were a couple of innuendo type situations that made it so I can't show it to my kids. One involves Po putting two bowls on his chest and they looks like boobs… the other involves Po being hit between the legs and him saying, “My tenders.” It always disappoints me when filmmakers have to include one or two STUPID and needless things to ruin a picture entirely.

Another aspect that may be worrisome to parents is some of the action/violence can be intense, so maybe you should avoid showing kids under 5 this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Angelica, age 23 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—Hi y'all! I went to see this as a fun movie that wouldn't make me flinch, and I wasn't disappointed. The animation and voicing is great (although the latter is perhaps a bit off-sync at times). It made me laugh in many different places, and I wasn't alone.

As far as morality goes, I was pleasantly surprised—there was a little bit of crude humor here and there, but overall it was clean. And I hate to admit it, but they managed to use it so that it actually WAS humorous. The themes in this film are generally solid. They hinge around personal destiny. Throughout the course of the movie, we see characters denying, accepting, and trying (ultimately failing) to change it. However, don't come if you're looking for any hidden, intrinsic meaning—this was a fun flick, and a good family movie, but I don't think it's particularly deep. That's not the point. I should probably add that I ate a whole medium sized container of popcorn while I was watching, without noticing. It's definitely entertaining in that respect. I think I'll trot off and be sick now. God Bless! -L
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Laura, age 16
Positive—This movie was not the best DreamWorks film or Jack Black film to roll out but it was still pretty funny. Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman get plenty of funny lines, but some people don't get enough. All of the furious five members don't get enough lines, especially Jackie Chan's character. But overall, it's a good, funny film. The only thing bad about it is the plentiful violence which could give kids a bad example. But go see it, if your kids won't fight each other afterwards.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sam, age 12
Positive—This movie is absolutely appropriate for children of all ages. I went to see it with my family a few days ago and loved it! It was the absolute best animated film I ever saw! The acting was phenomenal and the script was superb. The plot was very original and excellently coordinated. There were some scenes of meditation, but, other than that, it was awesome. The main villain in the film did want revenge against his step father and against the Dragon Warrior, but he learns that revenge isn't the best way to go.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Danielle, age 14
Positive—I love this movie! its really funny, in fact its my favorite movie. I would have rated it excellent if it didn't mean its was completely biblical. it does have a good message, but what you said about no true accidents is not that true if I choose to do drugs that's not Gods fault. I would love it if we could talk more(I'm talking to who ever wrote the summary of this movie.)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—David, age 10
Positive—I thought that this movie was very funny! I went to see it with a group of friends and we laughed through the whole thing! The fighting scenes were not scary because they had the people making funny faces and you didn't have to think about it being scary because it was so funny, although there is part where some people are frozen by a punch that might be a little scary for very young children, but other than that I think that this movie is appropriate for all age groups. Have fun!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Alanna, age 15
Positive—I think this movie rocks! The plot was exceptionally good and the script was awesome! There was some meditation, revenge, and intimidation, but over-all it was super. This was the best animated film I have ever seen. Go take your kids to see this film. Any age will love it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Danielle B, age 14
Positive—Have you ever been bored on a Saturday evening with nothing to do and want to see a movie that is not vulgar or offensive? Well, Kung Fu Panda is your type of film! This movie has amazing graphics and an exceptionally good script! The plot is original and very unique. Although there are some scenes of meditation and one of the characters says that he is “departing” and he floats away and implies that he died, the overall movie is good. This is movie that you would want to see over-and-over again. Very good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Danielle B., age 14
Positive—“Kung Fu Panda” is an extremely funny movie. All ages would like this movie. It is extremely clean movie. Even the kung fu side of it isn't mystical or against God. I think that if your looking for a good movie for everybody see this movie! It was one of the cleanest funniest movies I have ever seen.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Josh, age 11
Positive—Me and my friends chose to see this movie even over Iron Man by anonymous decision. As far as content goes this movie was completely fine. The only thing I found slightly objectionable was that Pow (the main character) said he “sucked” more than once. But that's it. Two reasons I enjoyed this movie was that it was funny (for the most part) and had great and engrossing animation. I completely recommend this movie for any family and/or a group of people who just want to go out to the movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Zac P., age 13
Neutral—“Kung Fu Panda” is a huge disappointment from Dreamworks this year. It is extremely predictable, unfunny and most of all its not entertaining. This review is short because I don't have much to say about. All I'm going to say is go see Batman or Indy because this movie isn't that great.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Langston, age 10
Neutral—It is a good/bad, no point/bad point, funny, mild crude movie. Ok, it could be better, but I would say it is a movie for a aware 6-12 year old children. It is funny, but also has some pagan content, like the “Believe in Yourself”—it sends a bad message. It has some mild crude humor, but it is not overwhelming. I wouldn't waste your money on getting it right when it comes out—wait till it's in the library.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Josiah Dickens, age 13
Positive—This was such an awesome, hilarious, cute movie! I recommend it for all ages! I was laughing almost every minute while watching it. But I'm crazy for slap-stick humor. :) I definitely must-see! Enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Vicki, age 15 (USA)