Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
|Better than Average
|Animation, Action, Comedy, Family
|1 hr. 35 min.
|Year of Release:
June 6, 2008
|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
|DreamWorks Pictures, aka DreamWorks Studios, a production label of Amblin Partners
“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.
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.
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.