Dreamworks has been the creator of several hit animated films over the years. Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon are just two examples I can name off the top of my head. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda can be added to that list. Kung Fu Panda had the fourth highest grossing opening weekend for DreamWorks studios, behind, of course, three Shrek films, and it’s easy to see why. The film is adorable. It’s funny, well written, craftily animated, and boasts a phenomenal voice cast.
Panda Po (Jack Black) is clumsy and lazy. He works with his adoptive father in a noodle shop in the Valley of Peace in Ancient China. He dreams of being a kung fu master and longs to meet the Furious Five–Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Crane (David Cross), and Monkey (Jackie Chan)–who are taught by red panda Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). Grand Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) tells Shifu that a former student of Shifu’s Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will escape prison and wreak havoc on the Valley of Peace unless he is made the legendary Dragon Warrior. Oogway, however, picks Po as the new Dragon Warrior, despite being overweight, clumsy, and lazy. The Furious Five don’t accept him and Shifu wants to get rid of him. However, Po proves everyone wrong and does indeed become Master Po, Dragon Warrior.
The greatest thing about Kung Fu Panda is Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman. The film is funny and full of lessons for kids but, seriously, Black and Hoffman are great. I wonder if they were in the sound booth together working off of each other for the voice-over work because if they weren’t they really did well at manufacturing chemistry between their characters based off the script–which just makes the story that much better. I think that is really important seeing as Po and Shifu are the two main characters and their relationship makes up the whole basis of the film. That was just another thing that really worked toward Kung Fu Panda’s success and entertainment quality.
Also, the narrative is strong. Yes, kids films are hard to appeal to adults sometimes but I think that the story Kung Fu Panda told is important to both children and adults. Basically, the moral of the story is that you can be anything you want to be. Another lesson is if you can’t accomplish things the same way and at the same speed as others, that’s okay. Find your own motivation and go for it. I think those are really good lessons and I liked seeing them portrayed with fuzzy anthropomorphic animals.
All these wonderful techniques and characters really culminated into a movie full of heart and lessons that didn’t feel preachy but felt fun and humor. I can’t wait to watch the second one.
Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)
She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.
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