Ska-doosh! Damn you, Jack Black and/or writers for putting that word into my head! Now I’ll never get rid of it. It doesn’t even mean anything. It’s only used once in the movie yet it sticks in my brain like kids asking “Are we there yet?” over and over. I blame the TV trailer that features it. Stupid TV.
Now, it’s no secret that I like the animated movies. All kinds of ‘em. Obviously some are great, and some suck, just like any movie. It’s all about the script. Now Jack Black, well, I guess I don’t really love him or hate him. Sometimes I think he’s funny, sometimes he’s a little too much…Jack Blacky. And in “Kung Fu Panda”, sometimes he’s a panda acting all Jack Blacky.
However, despite that and a script that has some common formulaic elements, this is a pretty funny movie. I found myself laughing fairly often. The jokes are pretty amusing and the animation is wonderful. And they give us some really fun kung fu action, too. And with animation they can offer up some pretty intense slow motion and freeze frame punches to the face. And funny faces they are.
Po, the panda is a big fat oafish bear that works at his dad’s noodle restaurant. Did I mention his dad is a duck? But Po dreams of being a Kung Fu master. By a seemingly random accident, Po gets chosen to be the great Dragon Warrior. Huh? But he’s an incompetent boob! He’ll never be the Dragon Warrior in time to defend the city against the scary Leopard Kung Fu Master that just escaped from prison and is on his way here to whupp ass in a frenzy of revenge! You see where this is going, but the journey is actually rather entertaining.
There are lots of recognizable voices in this movie. A couple I had to concentrate on, but among them are Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Seth Rogen, and a grossly under used Jackie Chan. Seriously, he gets about four short lines. If it says “Kung Fu” in the title and Jackie is in it at all, he better get some decent screen time. I’m just sayin’.
The animation really supports the jokes well in this. The marriage of dialogue and animation is excellent. It gives Pixar a run for its money. The facial expressions are very vivid and often priceless. They are often essential to the effectiveness of the actions and dialogue. Not like that new Star Wars CG animated movie coming out soon. All those characters look like they’re wearing plastic masks. Shouldn’t humans have more facial expressions than Stormtroopers?
There’s one strange thing I noticed about the midnight showing of this film: the audience. It was one of the oddest groups of people I’ve seen in a theater in a while. They seemed…weird. Kinda dorky. I don’t know if they were animation nerds or Jack Black nerds, but they certainly enjoyed the movie. Pretty much everyone was laughing heartily and I suppose that worked out great for me, and the filmmakers. If we were all sobbing uncontrollably, I’m not sure who I’d feel worse for, me, the filmmakers, or the poor ushers at the theater forced to hand out tissues. Luckily, laughter can be contagious. Hey, infectious laughter is still laughter.
I really didn’t know what to expect with this movie because sometimes Jack Black is funny and sometimes you think, “Oh great, another “Jack Black” movie. You know, the same way Will Ferrell’s career seems to be going. But I ended up enjoying this. Ska-doosh! Ah! Damn it!
—Neil T. Weakley, average Ska-doosh! user