Kung Fu Panda
Action-packed start of a franchise; scary scenes, fatphobia.
Based on 82 reviews
Based on 125 reviews
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Kung Fu Panda
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this 2008 film is the first entry in what's become a franchise of Kung Fu Panda TV spin-offs, video games, sequels, and merchandise. Jack Black stars as the voice of martial arts-loving panda Po. Kids (and likely adults, too) will enjoy the film's humor and message about being who you are and believing in yourself, though the fatphobic insults hurled at Po (both by others and by himself) muddle the execution. The film heavily features Chinese culture, but the portrayal lacks authenticity: Directors, writers, and main voice actors are all White. Expect plenty of fast-paced battle scenes with kicks, punches, falls, weapons, explosions, and more. Even though they're animated, some sequences -- especially the one in which an intimidating villain escapes from prison -- may be too scary for the youngest viewers.
A Comedy For Both Kids And Adults
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Po epicly owns snow leopard
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What's the Story?
KUNG FU PANDA asks the question "Can you achieve greatness if you're not destined for it?" Of all the possible kung fu masters-to-be, Po (voiced by Jack Black) -- a lumbering, lovable panda -- seems the least likely candidate. Besides, his family is in the noodle business, and that's where his father (Randall Duk Kim as, improbably, a goose) expects him to make his mark. But a snafu at the Jade Palace leaves Po as the top pick for the legendary Dragon Warrior. The position comes with a huge responsibility: The Dragon Warrior is charged with protecting the town from Tai Lung (Ian McShane), a brilliant martial artist who crossed over to the dark side long ago. He's been locked up for years, but now he's on his way to defeat Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and his elite Furious Five. Can unlikely hero Po stand his ground and save the day?
Is It Any Good?
This family movie is a pleasure, and Po is the ideal animated incarnation of the engaging, electric Black. He's wonderful in Kung Fu Panda, giving Po the perfect mix of irreverence and sincerity. When Po meets his idols, the Furious Five -- Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Monkey (Jackie Chan) -- he's charmingly awestruck. To watch him metamorphose from kung fu fanboy to master is a delight. And the message -- there's no secret to greatness besides faith in yourself -- is admirable, if clumsily executed.
Kung Fu Panda's story may not be the most inventive, nor as inclusive as other Chinese-themed animations like Mulan or Over the Moon, but it's undeniably charming. And there are definitely moments of brilliance: A training battle between Shifu and Po involving chopsticks and a lone dumpling will go down as one of the best in cartoon history.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Po's decision to follow his dreams and pursue martial arts greatness in Kung Fu Panda. Was he right?
What makes Po different from the other heroes in the movie? What do they learn from him? How do they demonstrate teamwork?
What does Kung Fu Panda say about Po's relationship with food? Does it embrace his love for eating, or does it shame him for it? Do you agree or disagree with how the film handled Po's journey to loving himself?
How do the characters in Kung Fu Panda demonstrate perseverance, self-control, and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?
- In theaters: June 6, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: November 9, 2008
- Cast: Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black
- Director: Mark Osborne
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, Teamwork
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sequences of martial arts action.
- Last updated: March 13, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Kung Fu Panda 2
Panda hero saves the day in surprisingly deep family film.
Clever, funny, touching; like a great road movie.
Cute story has some crude humor and innuendo.
Kid-friendly film serves up inconvenient truth.
For kids who love funny animated movies
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