Kung Fu Panda

Rated 4.0

Dreamworks settles in to give Pixar a run for the box-office (and artistic) money with its latest, a surprisingly entertaining Valentine to the chop-socky actioners of yesteryore—a Valentine delivered in one very flashy envelope. Jack Black provides the voice of Po the Panda, a slovenly loser with big dreams. A chance to realize those dreams is dropped into his paws when he is tagged by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to be The Chosen One, destined to fight alongside his heroes, the Furious Five, animal representations of the five fighting styles of kung fu. Of course, the fat loser has to provide plenty of comic bumblings (and fat jokes) before he gets up to speed. While the narrative is slight (sharing the “believe in yourself” mantra of Pixar entries that serves as the thematic backbone), visually Kung Fu Panda is an amazing spectacle that’ll have the young’ns chopping and kicking at inanimate objects all the way to the car. Best part? No sappy Elton John ballads!