We wrote off Kung Fu Panda completely after watching our nine-millionth trailer for it—it was the one where Angelina Jolie’s tiger shows Jack Black’s panda such disdain that it all but guarantees a clichéed narrative in which she eventually admits grudging and then genuine respect. So what’s the deal with the positive reviews?
“It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s visually sumptuous—I’d even go so far as to call it the first non-Pixar effort to approach that studio’s standard for fully imagined characters and environments,” says NOW‘s Norm Wilner. Proof, we guess, of how marketing departments are now so skilled at pandering to the lowest common denominator that we automatically assume films are brain dead rather than give them a fair chance.
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan is probably the only film that actually had us worried it would be brain dead before it came out, though. After all, Mossad vs. Hezbollah plus wacky Adam Sandler sounds like a recipe for offending absolutely everyone—or even worse, we feared it would try and deliver some kind of wrong-headed message (probably with Sandler doing it in a “funny” voice). Eye‘s Adam Nayman sets our mind at rest by stating that Zohan “unites the various diasporas against a common enemy—a white real estate developer.” As there is no truer message to impart to the current and future generations than “don’t trust whitey,” we have no complaints.
Also released this week: Mongol, which stars Tadanobu Asano as Genghis Khan. Though known for all that raping and pillaging, if Ghenghis Khan really was as attractive as Asano, surely he wouldn’t have had to do the…actually, that joke is just in poor taste; we can’t go through with it. Anyway, there’s also The Children of Huang Shi and Finn’s Girl. My Brother is an Only Child plays the Royal.
In festivals, we’ve got the Cuban Film Festival starting tonight, and the Toronto Italian Film Festival begins next Wednesday. Plus the Worldwide Short Film Festival is coming up and we’ll be previewing it shortly.