A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate, but it offers positive lessons about friendship and teamwork.
Family is important, but it's not always defined by blood: The people who love and nurture you are also part of your family. Let go of outside expectations, and instead, seek inner peace. Integrity, perseverance, and teamwork are also themes.
Positive Role Models
Po is a great example of someone who must learn to accept -- and resolve -- complicated relationships in his life. At first he refuses to acknowledge some hard truths, but through courage, teamwork, and humility, he's able to attain inner peace. Guided by his wise and patient mentor, Shifu, and surrounded by his Furious Five teammates, Po and the others depict a powerful tale of self-discovery.
Kung Fu Panda 2, like the original film, is mainly voiced by White actors, though the sequel does add Michelle Yeoh to its roster as Soothsayer. In addition, the previous film's White directors are replaced by Korean-born American Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the first Asian American to direct a major American animated film. The result achieves a balance of traditional Chinese elements (architecture, cuisine, etc.) with a modern flair. Elders are respected for their wisdom and female characters have complicated inner struggles. Tigress gains depth in this installation. The discovery and acceptance of a non-traditional family unit is central to this film.
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Violence & Scariness
Plenty of hand-to-hand combat. The fight scenes are fast and furious, but hardly anybody seems to get injured. An important theme here is modernization, as the martial arts warriors must face off against an opponent who's armed with gunpowder and cannons. Scenes involving a baby Po being separated from his parent (and the parent's implied death) may upset some kids.
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Products & Purchases
No product placement within the film, but Kung Fu Panda spin-offs, video games, sequels, and tie-in merchandise all exist.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kung Fu Panda 2 is the sequel to 2008's hit animated film about an unlikely martial arts hero who returns to China to become a kung fu master. Po (again voiced by Jack Black) and the rest of his team, the Furious Five, must defeat a new villain who's armed with gunpowder and cannons. The movie's surprisingly poignant, sometimes serious story addresses the conflict between tradition and modernization, as well as Po's discovery of a long-hidden tragedy and his journey to accept an unusual upbringing. Not surprisingly, there's plenty of action -- including explosions, swordfights, and lots of kung fu fisticuffs. Scenes involving parent-child separation could also be upsetting for kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is one of the best sequels to grace the screen in a while. Kung Fu Panda 2 fully stands on its own, independent of its predecessor. Jumping ahead to show Po and the Furious Five as a well-trained unit, this installment takes a more serious tone, though it's still entertaining -- Po yearns to discover and understand where he came from, and the movie makes a strong point that your past need not define you. Kung Fu Panda 2 has more heft and heart, a potent, sometimes profound combination. And while Po is the lovable lead, both Shifu and Tigress show that Po is not the only member of the Furious Five in need of looking inward. The film finds a masterful way to balance the whimsical with thrilling special effects to boot, making it a joy to watch for all ages.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.