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Thursday, July 21, 2011  

M. Ovie Reviews: Kung Fu Panda 2

Oh my god, I know, right? I am sooo behind on my movie reviews it's embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as some of the movies I've been putting off reviewing, but no more. I'm going to bite the bullet and get through all of the biggest movies of May.

So anyway, Kung Fu Panda 2. I didn't see the first one (I think it was the last movie Trash got to take M. Edium to and it's been all me ever since), so I can't really compare it. But that's okay right? Shouldn't all sequels be judged on their own merits?

Well, that's what I'd like to do, but I was constantly reminded that this was my first Kung Fu Panda movie. There are plenty of scenes with the Furious Five working well together as a team, which made me wonder how they got together. And Po is a Kung Fu master throughout, so I missed that whole learning curve thing. But it was quite beautifully animated and voice-acted, with nicely expressive animated characters and all that.

The only thing is that I wish I'd known more about the heavy adoption subplot. When Po's dad (a duck voiced by H!ITG James Hong) clatters into the picture without any immediate comment, I was all happy about finally seeing a kid's movie with a subtly positive message about adoption. Especially after Tangled.

But then it quickly goes off the rails, as Mr. Ping's tearful confession to his son that he adopted him sends Po spiraling into an identity crisis, and heading off to save China without acknowledging Mr. Ping as his dad. And then Tigress mocks Po (if gently) for not realizing earlier that the duck wasn't his biological father? Not cool.

It doesn't improve from there. There's a sequence in which desperate circumstances force Po's panda parent to abandon him in the forest, seen from the point of view of the helpless panda cub. It's not uncommon for adopted children to have abandonment issues, so I had to be very conscious of how this might be affecting M. Edium, which distracted me from fully enjoying the spectacular final action sequence.

He seemed fine, though, as always. Mainly, he was interested in knowing who gave such an excellent performance as the villainous peacock, Shen. My superpower had failed me in this case, so we had to stay for the credits to learn that it was Gary Oldman. Now Gary Oldman is M. Edium's favorite actor. We're halfway through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban right now, and so far the most dramatic revelation is that Gary Oldman played Sirius Black in the movie. And when he was watching a Pokémon movie a few weeks later, he speculated that one of the voices in it might be that of Gary Oldman. I thought not, but how awesome would Gary Oldman be in a Pokémon movie?

Oldman (in an intense whisper): "Gotta catch 'em all."
Henchman: What do you mean all?

But back to KFP2. In the car on the way home I wanted make sure he was okay. We went over the whole familiar narrative about how his birth parents loved him and wanted to be sure he'd be safe and have a good home, just like Po's panda parents (although the latter went about it quite differently). "I don't want to talk about this," he insisted. When we got home, Trash could tell he was upset about something, and in private he admitted to her that although the adoption themes didn't bother him, the leaving-in-the-forest scene got to him a little. Hell, it got to me.

By the end, Po has embraced his adopted dad, but the final shot of the film not only sets up a third film, but indicates that the whole can of worms will be getting opened again. Hot damn.

It's just too bad that the filmmakers couldn't have spoken to someone who's close to adoption or has an adoption story of their own, to maybe help them handle these issues a little more sensitively. If only Angelina Jolie had been available to them somehow.

posted by M. Giant 10:26 AM 2 comments


Angelina Jolie is Tigress.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 23, 2011 at 8:38 PM  

I'm fairly certain he knew that. I am also fairly certain that's why he used her name in particular, instead of, say, Mariska Hargitay.

By Anonymous T. Rhodes, at July 30, 2011 at 12:59 AM  

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