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Kung Fu Panda


Everyone at Dreamworks Animation must be fat and ugly.

It's actually kinda funny. I was driving home from work today and there was a commercial for a program on the Oprah channel on XM radio. (I was listening to O and A, not Oprah.) The program was on the child obesity problem in America. I heard that and I just kinda ignored it, then I went to see Kung Fu Panda. The message of the movie is that we shouldn't judge people based on their size. Obviously I agree... I mean, look at me... but isn't this sending a different, wrong message to children? While the main character, Po, yearns to know all there is to know about kung fu... wants to train and become a kung fu master, the panda never actually gets into shape. He actually uses his fatness and his overall ineptitude to achieve his goals. Yes, it's important for kids to know that it's OK to be themselves, but they should also know that an overweight lifestyle is unhealthy. Shrek is ugly, part of that ugliness is that he's fat. Po is cute, but fat and out of shape. These should not be characters that we put out there for kids to get a message from in a world where we're so concerned about an obesity epidemic in children...

... who put that soapbox there? Where was I? Oh yeah... yes you should see Kung Fu Panda.

It always amazes me when a movie is able to mock something and genuinely pay tribute to it at the same time. The writers' love of the kung fu genre is evident, yet they consistently destroy every kung fu movie cliche you can think of. Kung Fu Panda has a tired message and a formulaic plot, but it's a colorful, sharp, funny movie without the pop culture references that tainted Dreamworks Animation's previous efforts (Shrek, Shark Tale). While I hope the industry has the balls to leave this one alone, if they treat the sequels with the same amount of care and respect that they put into this one, they might actually have a good, worthwhile franchise on their hands.

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