Kung Fu Panda adopts a different, less zany tone than one might expect from a movie with that title, especially considering that Jack Black has been brought on board to provide the lead voice. While it would be unfair to say that the movie doesn't present its share of comedic moments, the animated production as a whole jettisons non-stop jokiness in favor of something a little more serious. Thus, Kung Fu Panda ends up presenting a message about believing in oneself that might not have come across as successfully had it tended toward outright fatuousness...The film contains plenty of martial arts action and, without the constraints of needing live action actors, it's able to play fast and loose with the laws of physics...As Po, Jack Black brings his usual mix of puppy dog eagerness and rambunctious humor to the panda. One never forgets that Black is Po - his voice is too distinctive - but that's not a distraction. The reality is that Black plays most of his live-action roles like a cartoon character, so this is perfect for him...Although the basic storyline and moral are standard animated film building blocks, Kung Fu Panda contains enough funny material, low-key thrills, and moments of genuine pathos (a flashback detailing Shifu's past connection to Tia Lung) to prevent it from seeming too much like a re-tread. This is a solid family film material, although one suspects the children will get a little more out of it than their parents.
"Kung Fu Panda" is a story that almost tells itself in its title. It is so hard to imagine a big, fuzzy panda performing martial-arts encounters that you intuit (and you will be right) that the panda stars in an against-all-odds formula, which dooms him to succeed. For the panda's target audience, children and younger teens, that will be just fine, and the film presents his adventures in wonderfully drawn Cinemascope animation...The film stars a panda named Po (voice of Jack Black), who is so fat he can barely get out of bed. He works for his father, Mr. Ping (James Hong) in a noodle shop, which features Ping's legendary Secret Ingredient. How Ping, apparently a stork or other billed member of the avian family, fathered a panda is a mystery, not least to Po, but then the movie is filled with a wide variety of creatures who don't much seem to notice their differences...The story then becomes essentially a series of action sequences, somewhat undermined by the fact that the combatants seem unable to be hurt, even if they fall from dizzying heights and crack stones open with their heads..."Kung Fu Panda" is not one of the great recent animated films. The story is way too predictable, and truth to tell, Po himself didn't overwhelm me with his charisma. But it's elegantly drawn, the action sequences are packed with energy, and it's short enough that older viewers will be forgiving. For the kids, of course, all this stuff is much of a muchness, and here they go again.
Widescreen, No Longer Produced
John Anderson, The Washington Post
Infectious and inspiring, despite one's best efforts to resist its charms.
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
At once fuzzy-wuzzy and industrial strength, the tacky-sounding Kung Fu Panda is high concept with a heart.
Michael Phillips, At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper
One of the best movies of the year.
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Light and goofy, yet the fight scenes, which are the heart of the film, are lickety-split mad fun.
Tasha Robinson, The Onion A.V. Club
Yet another celebrity-voiced animal adventure, but it stands out from the crowd of similar films with its lightning wit and whirlwind brio.
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