Jack Black and I don’t always see eye to eye. He has his type of humor, and I have mine. As Barry Manilow might say, we’re just ships that pass in the night (me and Jack that is, not me and Barry—Barry and I are soul mates sailing on the same ship into the sunset).
What I’m getting at is, even though I’m not a Jack Black fan per se, there is no one on this earth that could pull off these Kung Fu Panda movies like him. He makes these films very entertaining for kids, adults, and anyone in-between who has no idea what Flower Drum Song is. (You’re OK not knowing.)
As the third installment of the franchise, Kung Fu Panda 3 is packed with an all-star cast that includes said Mr. Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J.K. Simmons, Bryan Cranston, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, and others who are cool, but not as cool as Jean-Claude Van Damme, who is also in this movie. Black’s kid and Jolie’s kids also get in on the action as voice extras, which must have been fun for them. Barry Manilow is NOT in this film (which is no fun for anybody because we just can’t smile without him).
Produced by DreamWorks Animation and Oriental DreamWorks, this was the first major animated film in America to be co-produced with a Chinese firm, which is nifty. (And not to beat a dead rickshaw or anything, but this movie would have been even more nifty if it cast a certain long-haired Jew who sold 80 million records worldwide and would fit right in with a 2016 cartoon about Chinese animal warriors.)
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: If you rearrange the letters in the title you get “Adam was a die-hard fan of the 3 Ninjas movie in 1992 even though that’s not really kung fu.”
I came across a clip of Angelina Jolie talking about the message of this movie, and I like how she described it:
This film has what these [Kung Fu Panda] films always have…family as the center and friendship as the center, but it always has a deeper meaning about who you are and your own personal growth. And this one is very much ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What is your chi?’ and ‘What is your own personal best?’—not to be like someone else, but to find your best—your best you.
I agree with ol’ Jol. (And yes, we are close enough to refer to each other on a last-name basis.) All of us are made up of different physical and spiritual ingredients that form a special and unique brand of potential. I love the interaction between the bad guy and Po at the climax of the film:
Kai: Who are you?
Po: I’ve been asking myself that same question. Am I the son of a panda? The son of a goose? A student? A teacher?… I’m all of those things.
Ha, I love that. Many of us pandas are conflicted about who we really are and what we should be contributing to the universe. If that sounds like you, be patient and keep developing your talents—the Lord has a way of opening the right doors when there is a need for our unique contribution.
So keep on practicing that kung fu.
“Now there are diversities of gifts…but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will… For the body is not one member, but many.” — 1 Corinthians 12:1-31