Kung fu Panda

March 22– 28

7 pm nightly
1:30 Sunday and Thursday Matinees 3/24 and 3/28

2024 — Martial Arts Comedy
PG — 1 hr 34 min

Among the uncommonly good franchise hits of DreamWorks Animation, the Kung Fu Panda movies remain vastly underrated. But as the series’ fourth entry arrives in theaters, we should know better than to underestimate Kung Fu Panda, both the movies and the character they’re named for. Like the combination of heart, determination, and fluffy bulk that make roly poly Po (Jack Black) an unlikely martial arts master, these movies continue to show it’s possible to combine genuine emotion and meticulously animated action scenes with goofy humor and stylized animation to make a string of kids’ movies that keeps improving with each installment.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is a fun trip down memory lane, hearkening back on the glory that propelled the treasured panda Po, voiced charmingly as ever by Jack Black, into our hearts. Even as our hungry hero has gotten comfortable as the Dragon Warrior—fighting off a devious, pig-eating stingray in the first sequence—he retains his playful side. And his obsession with dumplings. This time, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) tasks Po with his most daunting challenge: selecting a successor so that he can ascend to a spiritual leader in place of Grand Master Oogway. It’s nice to see Po’s full arc— with James Hong and Bryan Cranston adding to the overall charm of the movie.

Coming 16 years after the original movie and eight since the most recent sequel, Kung Fu Panda 4 benefits from what feels like pent-up demand, coupled with The Simpsons effect that animated characters don’t grow older. Slick and briskly paced, the film incorporates its origins while conjuring enough laughs and fun to effectively deliver for parents and their cubs. It combines muscular action with a healthy dollop of comedy, much of it having to do with Po’s posse and his seemingly unquenchable appetite. The A-list voice cast really boosts the way the characters play off each other.

Directed by:
Mike Mitchell

Jack Black, Awkwafina, Bryan Cranston, James Hong, Ian McShane, Ke Huy Quan, Dustin Hoffman, Viola Davis