Po (Black) may be an animated panda bear, but make no mistake: Deep down, he’s really just a nerd with a pop-culture obsession. In Kung Fu Panda
’s opening scene (animated in a gorgeous, throwback, two-dimensional style), Po imagines himself as a great martial-arts master and warrior. Of course, in reality (disappointingly three-dimensional, Pixar-like reality) Po is a master of nothing; he’s just the rotund son of a noodle-shop owner living in a small Chinese village who gets his kicks playing with action figures in his bedroom. Of course, that all changes when destiny drops him at the feet of kung-fu master Shifu (Hoffman). Kung Fu Panda
’s message is timeworn and clichéd (believe in yourself, even if – especially if – you’re flabby and uncoordinated and no one else believes in you). But with a lovable, lumpy loser as its hero, the movie is just the kind of antic David vs. Goliath tale children can’t get enough of. Read a full review of Kung Fu Panda.