Monday, June 09, 2008

Ranting & Raving: Kung Fu Panda

Took the boy the the movies for the first time in months, and we went to see Kung Fu Panda.

I can admit to liking it much more than any previous animated product from Dreamworks. The Cartoon Brew blog invited comments from those who saw it (SPOILER ALERTS!), and I posted mine. Here they are, too, because why am I filling up other people's web pages while neglecting my blog for months at a time:

Yeah, I liked it quite a lot, but the odd thing is, my 7-year-old boy was much more excited about it going in than afterward. Maybe the action sequences were way too fast-moving and chaotic for him to enjoy?

I was worried about Po keeping up the fanboy culture references throughout the picture (”authentic battle scarring”?), but that settled down pretty early. Did appreciate the references to OTHER kung fu films, just cause the whole genre keeps building on previous pictures. And for once in a Dreamworks cartoon, the characters had skeletons and for the most part their mouths stayed attached to their faces. I also liked how they led the audience to believe they were going to explain how a panda had a goose for a father, but faked out with a more important plot point.

That the Furious Five had little to do but get defeated seems like an appropriate trope of kung fu movies. It also seemed like a “natural” plot development that they get to like Po when he demonstrates that he’s at least good at making noodles. and yes, there had to be five animals to represent the five popular “animal” styles of kung fu, so they’re not a slapdash collection of animals.

Oh yeah, and only one person gets kicked in the cajones, and no fart gags anywhere. That’s better than most recent Disney features.

Now for my nits: while we may like to think Dreamworks is finally getting it right, before the film we were “treated” to the trailer for “Madagascar 2.” The old Dreamworks cliches are there: acres of butt shots, overworking of a 10-year old dance hit from the first movie, incongruous pop culture refs, homophobia-based humor, character designs all based on molded Jell-o, wacky held poses instead of character movement, the latter from the “Madagascar Penguins,” the most annoying spinoff from a feature cartoon since “Gabby.”

And in the lobby of the theatre, a monitor ran a continuous loop for the trailer from “Beverly Hills Chihuahuas,” featuring the theme that will certainly be torturing adults during its year of heavy Radio Disney airplay:

“Ay Chihuahua, Ai Chihuahua!
Ay Chihuahua, Ai Chihuahua!
Ay Chihuahua, Ai Chihuahua!…” ad infinitum.

But I was glad to have seen KFP without any sign of a “Shrek 4” trailer yet.