I saw a preview screening of Dreamworks’ new animated feature “Kung Fu Panda” last night, and I have to say I enjoyed myself immensely. This is the first Dreamworks film that I can remember since “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”, to avoid using pop culture reference as a means to drive gags and develop characters. I don’t say this completely negatively– “Over the Hedge” was set in a modern suburban community, used pop culture in a very amusing and appropriate story-driven way.
However, “Kung Fu Panda” has gone one step beyond “Hedge” or any other film Dreamworks animation has done to date. It is timeless, smart, beautifully stylized, GORGEOUSLY animated, and really really funny. The audience was oohing, aahing, smiling, and laughing right along with the characters through the entire film.
If you didn’t know already from “Kung Fu”‘s massive ad campaign, Jack Black plays the main character Po the Panda. Jack’s sensitive, serious moments in the role shine through just as much as his comedic delivery of his lines. Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, a red panda who teaches Po the art of kung fu, also delivered a well-rounded character filled with humor and pathos.
After the screening, there was a Q and A with the directors, Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, who discussed their intention of avoiding making “Panda” a spoof, and instead developing a real and timeless kung fu movie. They certainly did, and if you don’t want to take our word for it, check out these links of other critics and artists who are praising the film. And, most importantly, GO SEE THE FILM!!