The Kung Fu Panda series appears to be wrapping things up with its third installment of the huggable Po and his quest for Dragon Warriorness.
Much like the first two chapters, “Kung Fu Panda 3” has a new seemingly unbeatable baddie, a challenging inner-spiritual discipline Po must master and a nervous father-like character coping with the paralyzing fear of possibly losing his baby boy. It’s been a successful formula so far, but going into this final adventure you might be wondering, “Do we really need another movie about a kung-fu-mastering panda?”
The answer to that question is probably not; however, as far as midwinter distractions go, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is a pretty fun one.
In general, I mark off the premise section, so if you want to remain totally spoiler free you can just move onto the next topic. But this is the third film in an animated sequel that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’ve seen one and two, in a lot of ways you’ve already seen three.
If you haven’t seen the first two, let’s go ahead and sum up each movie: Po is a socially awkward panda with a big love for life. He’s been given his dream job of fighting bad guys, but there’s a terrible enemy from the past who wants to take that away from him. If he can master some new discipline within himself, it will unlock the power he needs to defeat said baddie, saving kung fu and the little village his friends evacuate shortly before or after their midmovie defeat.
Compared to the series
Kung Fu Panda fans might enjoy this latest movie in the same way one enjoys their third doughnut. You can still taste all the flavors that made you love the first one, but you knew you were more than content after your second — which let’s face it, you’d already told yourself you didn’t need — and now there’s only one left in the box and what are you going to do, just let it get thrown away
The jokes are all there again, the heart is there again, the adorable action is all there. It’s all there it’s just, you know, your third one.
On its own
If this will be your first time giving Kung Fu Panda a go with the little ones, you’re really going to enjoy yourself. I mean, it’s not the film I would recommend you begin with, but huggable protagonists make any adventure more enjoyable.
Sure, everyone in the latter part of the movie finding that secret village characters spent the whole first half of the movie saying is impossible to find might cause you to lift an eyebrow, and yes that was the fourth time the movie started tugging at your heart strings just to interject yet another mildly amusing one liner, but don’t pretend you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” is not trying to be 2016’s “Inside Out.” To be honest, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is hardly trying at all.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” really is the fast-food of movie choices, but if your cinematic diet allows for a free day then why not?
Is it flawed? Yes. Is it just rehashing the first two movies? Shamefully so. Will your kids laugh? Frequently. And on a Saturday afternoon, after the chores are done and before accepting the harsh reality that Monday is just two sleeps away, there’s nothing like some popcorn and the sound of a child’s laughter.
Originally published for KSL.com