½* Image A+ Sound A+ Extras B-
screenplay by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger
directed by Mark Osborne & John Stevenson
by Ian Pugh The generic mediocrity known as DreamWorks' animation department is about eight steps behind the multilayered brilliance of Pixar, and with Kung Fu Panda I think they finally reveal how sore they are about it. Their latest cinematic effort seems like a particularly barbed response to Brad Bird's The Incredibles and Ratatouille: we are told that the way to make something special is simply by believing that it's special. Which, as Bird taught us, means you can apply that label to everything and everyone until nothing and no one is really special. In considering something so blatantly knee-jerk contradictory to his valid points, you have to wonder where, exactly, the belief in an egalitarian society ends and a genuinely destructive jealousy begins. The entirety of Kung Fu Panda strokes the middlebrow ego: the comedy is painfully broad and predictable, while the action sequences are edited into a wild, incomprehensible mess (although I must admit, watching a limbless viper perform complicated martial arts techniques is unexpectedly lovely), and at its core, it's outright insulted by the apparently galling insinuation that talent has an impact on results in any field of endeavour. In an insane attempt to refute that, Kung Fu Panda concludes that it's still better to be fat and lazy than talented and educated.