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kung fu panda
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Kung Fu Panda

Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and David Cross
Screenplay by Jonathon Aibal & Glenn Berger
Based on a story by Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris
Directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson

IN SHORT: Ah, 'Toon Bliss . . . and funny, too. [Rated PG for sequences of martial arts action. 88 minutes]

Give us a second, if you would. Cranky has to get serious for a bit. Those long time readers (we've been doing this work over 14 years, so that could mean some sabretooth length long in the tooth fans y'know) couldn't have missed the fact that we haven't been reviewing as many films as we did, say, in the last century. Newbies may be assuming any slacking off has to do with the oft mentioned "bad back" that has been afflicting Cranky specifically over the last year or so.  The problems aren't in my back, they're in my spinal cord and. by the time the screening of Kung Fu Panda came around, we could barely walk! The pain in the back, the weakness in the legs and arms, the numbness in the hands and so on made it impossible to sit up for more than twenty minutes at a time. I've also written that I'm a major 'toon freak and that, come hell or high water I was going to get to a screening of Kung Fu Panda, even if it was the very last one. And it was. Despite a fistful of painkillers, my chest and back muscles went into spasm an hour before the show and didn't let up for two days after. The nerves were firing off like fireworks; red hot needles were doing the acupuncture thing in my pain engorged nerves and on the screen comes a 'toon of a slovenly fat panda named Po (Jack Black) who labors serving bowls of noodles for his father, Mr. Ping (James Hong), but dreams of being a star in the kung fu heavens.

In his world, a hero must be chosen to save the kingdom from unstoppable enemy called Tai Lung (Ian McShane), who has escaped from an inescapable jail tomb. The Bad Guy wants to get his hands on something called the Dragon Scroll, which will grant unbelievable power. The aging Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), must select a hero to become the new "Dragon Warrior" and save the Kingdom. He must choose from among the greatest anthropomorphic personalities to ever represent kung fu styles, the Furious Five -- Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogan) and Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross)

Master Old Guy chooses our Fat Panda pal.

The Furious Five are not amused.

And in the Quest to uncover the secrets held by the Dragon Scroll, Fat Panda gets there first, learns a secret and boy does that piss off the bad guy. and 'nuff said about that.

Kung Fu Panda was much more than a tonic for this troop. It shows great knowledge of the history and use of various types of animation styles (told you I was a toonhead!). It is funny. It is beautiful to look at. It is as calming as it is full of action. And if I find it geared slightly towards the younger demographic, well, I do have that inner child git roaring to get out to get his pebbles off. It is a perfect family picture; one which grownups can send their kids in solo, fully loaded with popcorn etc, and then hide in the back row to enjoy it themselves. 

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Kung Fu Panda , he would have paid . . .


Kung Fu Panda is a happy happy joy joy of a 'toon.

amazon com link Click to buy films starring Jack Black
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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.