As far as movie franchises go, you can do much worse than Kung Fu Panda
, which stars Jack Black as a panda destined to be a great martial artist. The voice cast is big-time and wonderful: Dustin Hoffman as the tiny sensei Shifu, Angelina Jolie as the stoic Tigress, Seth Rogen as Mantis, Lucy Liu as Viper and David Cross as Crane. In the third instalment, they’ve added a new villain, Kai, voiced with playful gravitas by J.K. Simmons as a guy hellbent on revenge and made more enraged by the lack of anyone taking him seriously. But he is serious, stealing the spirit of every warrior to grow stronger, and he’s got Po in his sights. Po, meanwhile, has just learned that his duck father (James Hong) is not his bio-dad, that’s Li (Bryan Cranston), who reveals Po’s life-long laziness, appetite and giant belly are all inherited traits. Po’s panda family is then roped into the fight against Kai. It’s hard to be cynical about Kung Fu Panda 3
—it’s part of a series that is so good-hearted and fun and it clocks in at a loose 90. Black, who is playing a G version of himself here, clearly has much care and reverence for Po—Jolie, by comparison, sounds like she literally phoned in her dozenish lines—and if you dig that vibe, you’ll have as much fun as him.