"Panda" express

image When I first read about the concept for “Kung Fu Panda” about a year and a half ago, I couldn’t help but smile.  I mean, doesn’t the title just say it all?  I was especially glad to see about a month ago that the movie’s PG rating was only “for sequences of martial arts action.”  That’s because every single DreamWorks animated movie to date, from “Shrek” to “Shark Tale” to “Madagascar,” has included (and often showcased) rude and/or scatological humor.  I’ve lamented this trend before in my DVD review of “Robots” – that sex jokes and gross-out gags are poor substitutes for dynamic, original storytelling, particularly in movies aimed at children – but I still harbor bad memories of watching “Happy Feet” with Jonathan a little over a year ago and afterward vowing that I’d think twice thrice before taking him to another movie like that again.

So with the generally very positive reviews for the movie accumulating over at Rotten Tomatoes, I decided to take a chance on another non-Pixar animated film.  What I got was a very bright, colorful, and amusing little tale with a nice take-home message and very little in the way of objectionable content.  “For a movie starring Jack Black as the title character?” you ask.  Yes, I’m just as surprised as you.  But it’s true.

It’s unnecessary to recap the plot of a movie like this, except to say that it follows the standard “lovable-loser-becomes-unlikely-hero” storyline beat for beat.  Indeed, if the whole thing weren’t so darned enjoyable to watch, I’d be doing another mini-course in movie predictability a la my review of “The Devil Wears Prada” a while back.  But Black and (especially) Dustin Hoffman bring just the right light touch to the tried-and-true story template.

This was the first time I’d brought Jonathan to the movie theater with me since taking him to the dollar theater in Provo to watch “Cars” back in 2006.  He was just over two years old then, and I really didn’t know what to expect.  He ate a lot of popcorn, spilled his drink, and occasionally wanted to wander around the theater rather than watch the movie.  He’s become quite a movie junkie since then – like father, like son – so when I proposed the idea of going to see the “Panda movie” on a “really big screen,” he was pretty excited.

We were a few minutes late for the show, so we walked in as the previews for coming attractions were playing.  He was a little apprehensive about going into a dark room with a great big picture and loud sound, but I held his hand as we went in and found our seats.  He often asked me questions about what was happening on-screen, so I encouraged him to whisper and responded to him as best I could.  But at least he stayed put for the entire movie!  It was a good indicator of how he’ll handle “Wall-E” later this month.

Before the show we got lunch at McDonald’s.  (I know – what a bad parent am I.)  And wouldn’t you know what the Happy Meal toy was:




For the uninitiated, this is Po, the title character of the film.  His arms twist around in their sockets a little, but his main feature (which can be turned off, fortunately) is that when you tip-‘n-flip him around he says things like “Hi-yaa!”, “Wha-haa!,” and “Ska-doosh.”  Jonathan got a kick out of playing with him after the movie.  Just like the film, the toy brought a smile to my face.  Nothing profound, but a nice bit of fun on a hot summer day.


One Response to “"Panda" express”

  1. Yes, I am VERY glad that the talking feature of the toy can be turned off. :) I put that to good use that very night as Jonathan wanted to take the panda to bed with him. :)

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