Kyle J. Steenblik

Kung Fu Panda 3, Great for Kids, Dull for Parents

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kung-fu-panda-3-poster-fullKung Fu Panda 3
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni
Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, David Cross, James Hong, Kate Hudson, J. K. Simmons
Running time 95 minutes
Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humor

3 1/2 stars out of 5When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas. – Courtesy 20th Century Fox

If you loved Kung Fu Panda 1, and you adored Kung Fu Panda 2, it is likely you will be nuts for Kung Fu Panda 3, because they are all essentially the same movie.  By that I don’t mean that they are identical, they are all three distinct, but many themes repeat themselves, and in many ways it does not feel the characters have grown or developed over the three films which I would assume span at least as many years.  It is a little distracting if you keep wondering if you haven’t already seen this movie, at least twice.  Po is still a very hungry panda who is periodically a graceful Kung Fu master who learns a surprisingly lesson about himself from an unexpected source, it is a formula that works, but that theme is not unique this film series so they can get away with it.

Kung Fu Panda 3 is not a bad children’s movie, it is not a bad movie at all, at least on the first viewing, I suspect that if you have children that enjoyed the first two films, and watched them on repeat, the same will happen here.  Multiple viewings will get old for parents, but that is mostly because there is not much to differentiate these three films from each other.  That said, I enjoyed this film for what it is, substantially benign children’s entertainment with positive messaging.  As much as I could rail against unoriginality, and repetitive themes, with tired jokes, I cannot bring myself to reach for that pitchfork because under all that mediocrity is something that will show kids that unorthodox family units are a good thing, and confidence and ego are not only different, but also often counterproductive.  For those reasons I have no problem recommending this film to anyone with kids, for the kids, not so much the parents, you parents may want to bring a flask.


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