Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda ★★½

I've got the flu and I'm so sick I can barely remember my own name. So I needed something light and easy to digest tonight. This was on Netflix and seemed just right.

Po is a fat jolly panda with dreams of becoming a kung fu master, but his father wants him to remain in the noodle business. One day he becomes chosen as the Dragon warrior, but now he has to prove that he truly is.

There is one real stroke of genius here. Casting Jack Black as Po. If ever a person was perfect for an animated movie, it's him. He has the whimsical, clumsy, joyful delight of a bumbling child, but he's also passionate, and he makes not just every line, but every little noise his own. Some people can't stand him, I think he's wonderful. He is joined by Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Ian MacShane and even Jackie Chan in a small role (who knew?).

I think anyone can predict this one from the very start, and it's mostly bumbling comedy, silly slow motion and of course a lot of kung fu fighting. It never surprises in the least, but while it lasts it's always decently animated and Black is having the time of his life in the lead role. I'm always happy to see (or just hear) Angelina Jolie in anything, and while she's not quite phoning it in, her role of Tigress is probably the most stern and serious in the entire movie, so it's too bad she doesn't get to cut loose and have fun.

I've heard the sequel is possibly better, and with a third one just opening in theaters I may yet give it a chance. While this was never groundbreaking or magnificent I could (panda) bare it without too many complaints. It was almost exactly what I thought though, and nothing beyond that.