Side note before the review: I would highly recommend never going to see a movie in a theater full of children. Not only were there four or five kids that would not shut up during the movie, but one of the annoying twerps had a mom who also wouldn’t shut up, as if the movie needed useless commentary. If I wasn’t at the movie theater with my wife, this probably would have been the worst theatrical experience I’ve ever had.
Anyway, as for the film, I have seen the first two Kung Fu Panda’s already, but for the life of me, I cannot remember the general plot to either one. However, I do remember enjoying both movies enough to be okay with seeing the third installment. After seeing Kung Fu Panda 3 all the way through, I wanted to go back to the other two movies to see if I remembered correctly, because this movie was relatively insufferable.
If there’s two words I would use to describe this movie, it would be obnoxious and unfocused. It was like having one of those friends back in middle school that felt the need to be funny every waking second. The film was trying so desperately to be funny at all times that it sacrificed its sense of flow and rhythm to where everything became either a jumbled mess or insignificant. Even when there were scenes where it was trying to evoke some sort of emotion or warmness it was sabotaged by a stupid, slap-sticky joke that was not even funny.
From what I remember from the first two movies, what made them funny was that every kung fu animal took life so extremely seriously that they really had no idea what to do with Po, the Panda who was lovably stupid and inept. A lot of the humor seemed to be derived from the contrast between Po, who unknowingly had greatness thrusted upon him, and everyone else, who can’t understand Po’s simplicity. Now imagine there are a thousand Po’s and they all get more screen time than everyone else, and the stupid humor takes over the humor of contrast.
I figured this ADD fest was made because it was intended for children, and I’m assuming some readers might think I’m being too hard on Kung Fu Panda 3 because it is a kid’s movie. But not only do I not feel obliged to give this film extra credit because it’s a kid’s movie, but I’ve seen movies intended for children that have enough heart and intelligence to be enjoyable for adults.
As another side note, I also felt like the implications drawn out from the major theme in this movie were pretty appalling; the general theme behind all of the Kung Fu Panda movies has always been that “you need to be true to yourself, first and foremost”. This theme is all well and good, cliche and overused as it may be, but this movie seemed to be implying that self-discovery trumps any other type of virtue whatsoever, be it hard work, self-discipline, or self-sacrifice. I feel like this message is not only extremely false, but harmful to people. I’m not saying that having a theme that I disagree with in a movie majorly affects my overall grade, but I felt that it was worth noting. I’m all ears if you want to tell me you disagree.
That being said, even though the vast majority of the jokes were unfunny, they do end up throwing in more than a few lines and jokes that made me laugh. The animation in this movie is pretty good, and I thought the soundtrack was pleasant enough to listen to.
If you have a kid and you want to bring them to a movie where the humor is clean and mostly inconsequential, I would recommend this movie. However, considering I found very little of anything else, I really can not recommend it to anyone else, and I’m giving this movie a 4 out of 10.