Kung Fu Panda 

Not long ago, I moaned that DreamWorks Animation may have been slipping as several of its newer releases were far inferior to its earlier work with Shrek movies and Madagascar, but Kung Fu Panda has restored my faith in the studio.

Pudgy panda bear Po (Jack Black) is wasting his young life as a noodle chef in his father's restaurant when the town's elder announces a ceremony to select the next kung fu master. Latecomer Po gets locked out of the shindig and, busting his way in, is accidentally anointed the chosen one. Of course, that's not without objection from a ranking martial artist (Dustin Hoffman) and his team of superstar students (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross). Now, ready or not, Po is on a collision course with the escaped evil cat Tai Lung (Ian McShane).

This film was tailor-made for Black. Even if the cartoony action were replaced by live action, Black would've easily won the role of Po, such is his deftness at playing the lovable oaf. The rest of the film, true to DreamWorks form, is chock-full of famous voices, all who seem a good fit.

The action is fast-paced, the plot is fun and exciting, and the dialog is witty but not too high-ranging to disenfranchise the younger set. This is the kind of movie kids should enjoy over and over and adults can watch and chuckle at as well.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117. Stop in to meet the new Hollywood Video manager and get amnesty from half of all prior late fees through Wednesday, Nov. 26.

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