Who's In It: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Jean Claude Van Damme, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert, James Hong
The Basics: There is a mean Peacock in China named Lord Shen (Oldman) who wants to do away with Kung Fu (probably because he doesn't have real arms, but they never say for sure). Po (Black) and his buddies catch wind of this and set out to stop him, although the odds are stacked against them--Shen has a weapon that is the only thing that will stop kung fu dead in its tracks. As they battle Shen and his evil wolf pack, Po learns some disturbing things about his childhood that have him wondering who he really is. Will he ever find out the link between he and Shen? Will he save kung fu? And can he do it before his noodles get cold?
What's The Deal: This movie stands as one of the few sequels that is as good as the original. I really enjoyed getting to know the chubby, clueless panda bear and the tiger, snake, crane, and mantis that ended up being his new warrior family. The jokes were fun, the action was exciting, and I loved saying Skidoosh. I was cautiously optimistic about a second film, as it felt like this was a rare instance where there actually was more story to tell. They succeeded in making a completely entertaining film that even made me misty at the end. In fact, this one is so good that I place total and complete trust in this team to take the story even further. Good work you guys, you earned it. So when does the next one come out?
Go For The Artistry: This is one of the most beautiful animated franchises in recent history. Dreamworks is really giving Pixar a run for their money, because they too create a movie that captures your heart and delights your eye all at the same time. The 3D here gives the Asian-centric art a delightful dose of oomph (which is always something I wish my kung fu-fighting tiger wall hanging would do at home). I also really appreciate their creativity in showing flashbacks in 2D (that is still 3D, if you can wrap your brain around that). It's fun and visually satisfying.
No Crybabies: Parents, beware: This movie is surprisingly dark in tone. Two words: panda genocide. I don't think that most kids will really get it on that level, but there's a lot of intense fire/chasing/killing going on. If your kid has trouble with things getting dicey and dark with lots of bared fangs, think twice about taking them to this movie. Even I got uncomfortable sometimes, although it was balanced out by me giggling every time that peacock got uppity. A mean peacock? Who ever heard of that?! It was too cute. I mean, intense. (BONUS NOTE: listen for when, during battle scenes, you hear a peacock crow. It's worth the price of admission.)