Director: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne
Stars: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross
When the trailers for Kung-Fu Panda started to roll out in 2008, there was little to suggest that it would rise above the plethora of other CGI animated flicks that pollute your local multiplex on a monthly basis. However, thanks to a unique plot, sharply-written characters, and terrific voice acting by the likes of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, and David Cross, Kung-Fu Panda turned out to be the sleeper hit of the summer.
Like the most successful animated films from the likes of Disney and Warner Brothers, Panda is anchored by the memorable star of the film, the giant Panda named Po, voiced by Black. This rotund combination of neurosis and naïveté is tailor-made for animation. As the movie progresses, Po goes from caricature to fleshed-out warrior as he embarks upon a hero's journey.
Even if you don't want to dig into the themes and plot of the movie, King Fu Panda also delivers more than enough laughs throughout. In a cinematic frontier that is growing increasingly darker and less kid friendly, this movie stands out as a slice of much-needed innocence and fun. —Jason Serafino