This one doesnt have an interesting first-time-I-saw-this story. I just ran the two blocks down to the Fenway. But there was a very significant viewing of it later, that earns its spot. Allow me to put on my serious face for a moment.
Last March, I get the worst phone call of my life. Its my mom telling me that my Daddy is in the hospital and that I need to come home immediately. I fucking freaked out. My roomie was home and she took care of booking my flight out. The problem was, the next flight was around 5 PM. It was currently 10. Lotsa time to kill with the worst uncertainty I'd ever dealt with. We ran a few errands to distract me, and then came home to order lunch and watch a movie as we waited until it was time for me to go to the airport. Normally Aladdin is my go-to bad mood movie, but for some reason I didnt want to watch that. I needed something light and fun that would give me an escape. Earlier that week Jaret from Bowling For Soup tweeted that he and his bandmates had just watched this film. That came to mind and it seemed like it fit the criteria for what I needed. And y'know what, it turned out to be a great choice. Okay, Im close to tears now thinking about the events that followed so lets move on to happier topics, about the movie itself.
The opening sequence is one of the most engaging openings I've ever seen. The movie coulda ended right there and I'd have been a giddy little kid. I actually remember the pastor from my church showing that clip to illustrate something in his sermon one week. I dont recall the message anymore (something about destiny perhaps) but it definitely stuck with me for a while.
I love the dialogue. Such classic lines like "We do not wash our pits in the pool of sacred tears" "There is now a level zero" "There is no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness". The animation is cute and imaginitive. Right now Im watching the scene were Shifu is training Po with food. The characters and cast are adorable. I got a Shifu toy in my Happy Meal waaaaay back after I started my old job. I'd play with it constantly. You wind him up and he shuffles around. He's one of two (the other being Lego Batman) that made the move to my desk at the new job instead of being retired to my closet. Dustin Hoffman's deadpan delivery of Shifu's lines is brilliant. Points for Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross as well. Even for Jack Black. This role suits him rather well.
This movie also wins because it does have a good message for the munchkins. That used to be a common trend with kiddie flicks, but now it seems you've either got thoughtless entertainment or boring education (maybe not quite the right word), or it just hits you over the head with what its trying to teach. But Kung Fu Panda is great with the whole "believe in yourself, you can do anything, blah blah blah" thing. Im not articulating well, but you get the idea.