New Releases: Jack Black is 'Kung Fu Panda' Daniel Holloway joins us to review When Did You Last See Your Father, Kung Fu Panda, and Mongol.
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New Releases: Jack Black is 'Kung Fu Panda'

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New Releases: Jack Black is 'Kung Fu Panda'

New Releases: Jack Black is 'Kung Fu Panda'

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MIKE PESCA, host:

It's movie time and we're going to be straight with you. Adam Sandler told us not to "Mess with the Zohan." And we will not "Mess with the Zohan." We did not see "The Zohan." We will not talk about "The Zohan." What we like to do here at the BPP is whatever Adam Sandler tells us to do. It was tough during those "50 First Dates," but eventually it "Click"-ed. Adam Sandler has told us not to mess with Daniel Holloway, so we invited him here. We're giving him a forum. We're being very nice to him. We've served him coffee, or at least not knocked the coffee he brought in from outside out of his hand.

DANIEL HOLLOWAY: I appreciate that.

PESCA: Yeah. Is that how it worked?

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, yeah.

PESCA: We didn't give you coffee. No, it doesn't work like that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Daniel is a writer for Us Weekly. He writes movie reviews for Metro. And let's talk about not "The Zohan" but another movie.

HOLLOWAY: (As Adam Sandler) Scoobedeedoo (ph)!

PESCA: Is that...

HOLLOWAY: No, that's my Sandler impression. I don't know. It's terrible.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: No! It's pretty good.

HOLLOWAY: No.

PESCA: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: Moving on.

PESCA: I think you can do sad clown.

HOLLOWAY: (As Adam Sandler) What! What!

PESCA: Yeah, you can do that guy. So, OK, "The Zohan" will probably make a lot of money. But the other big kind of blockbuster-y, kid-friendly movie that's coming out is "Kung Fu Panda." It's CGI, but it's not Pixar. Everything that comes out of Pixar gets good reviews. What are we to make of "Kung Fu Panda"?

HOLLOWAY: Not bad.

PESCA: Really?

HOLLOWAY: Surprisingly not bad.

PESCA: Really? Let me give you my "Kung Fu Panda" story. They played the trailer before "Iron Man."

HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

PESCA: And the "Iron Man" crowd was poised to laugh at anything when the trailer started.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: By the time the trailer had ended, they had rung all the comedy possibilities out of an animated panda. How do they rebound from that?

HOLLOWAY: Maybe - I don't know. Trailers are sometimes not made by the people who make movies, surprisingly. And I, you know, I saw the same trailer, I think. I had no desire to see this film. I honestly thought it was going to be a slog. I went in with pretty low expectations. I walked out thinking it was the best 3D-animated movie I've seen that has not been made by Pixar, and probably on par with some of those Pixar movies.

PESCA: What are some of the other ones? Because I forget the 3D-animated ones.

HOLLOWAY: Well, there's "Shrek." There's - we were talking during the break about the Aardman picture I just remembered. It was called "Flushed Away."

PESCA: "Flushed Away."

HOLLOWAY: The "Ice Age" films.

PESCA: Oh, yeah.

HOLLOWAY: The "Horton Hears a Who!" It came out recently.

PESCA: So this is better than the "Ice Ages"?

HOLLOWAY: I would say, oh, definitely better than the "Ice Age" films.

PESCA: Better than the "Shrek" sequels?

HOLLOWAY: Better than any of the "Shrek" movies.

PESCA: Oh, you didn't like the "Shrek" movies.

HOLLOWAY: I feel that the "Shrek" movies are overrated and overexposed.

PESCA: Well, maybe one reason is that Jack Black voices, I guess, the main panda. Here he is meeting with the Kung Fu master raccoon voiced by Dustin Hoffman.

(Soundbite of movie "Kung Fu Panda")

Mr. DUSTIN HOFFMAN: (As Shifu) You think it's that easy? That I'm just going to hand you the secret to limitless power?

Mr. JACK BLACK: (As Po) No, I...

Mr. HOFFMAN: One must first master the highest level of kung fu and that is clearly impossible if that one is someone like you.

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Someone like me?

Mr. HOFFMAN: (As Shifu) Yes. Look at you. This fat butt.

(Soundbite of whack)

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Ah!

(Soundbite of whack)

Mr. HOFFMAN: (As Shifu) Fat flabby arms.

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Those are sensitive in the flabby parts.

(Soundbite of whack)

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Oooh!

Mr. HOFFMAN: (As Shifu) And this ridiculous belly.

(Soundbite of whack)

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Hey!

Mr. HOFFMAN: (As Shifu) And utter disregard for personal hygiene.

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Now, wait a minute. That's a little uncalled for.

Mr. HOFFMAN: (As Shifu) Don't stand that close. I can smell your breath.

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) Listen, Oogway said that I was...

(Soundbite of whack)

Mr. BLACK: (As Po) The whooshy (ph) finger hold. Not the whooshy finger hold!

PESCA: All right. I think I'd see a movie with these real guys. Does their voice work bring a little extra oomph to the film?

HOLLOWAY: I will tell you this, I think their voice work here, especially for Hoffman, Jack Black, with the exception of "Margot at the Wedding," is better than any real movie either of them has been in in years.

PESCA: Wow!

HOLLOWAY: I mean, it's voice work. You know, you go in for a couple of days. You talk into a microphone. You wear your sweatpants. But they do a better job in this film. One of the things...

PESCA: Jack wore his good sweatpants.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: Jack wore his - you know, he's a sweatpants pro. One of the things I don't tend to like about these movies is the way that they kind of get this A-list Hollywood actor crowd and not people who are experienced with doing voice work for cartoons. PESCA: Right, and sometimes they're terrible, like in "Charlotte's Web" where you had Oprah doing cows. She wasn't bad, but some of those actors were just like, that's not a duck, that's Meryl Streep. I can't get into duck in my head space.

HOLLOWAY: And you can just tell they're phony.

PESCA: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: And this for whatever reason, in this movie, I felt like the voice work was much better than in any of the other movies I've seen.

PESCA: That's interesting. And the jokes. There were laugh-out-loud moments? How many laugh-out-loud moments?

HOLLOWAY: There is a comic fight scene in here between Hoffman and Jack Black's character where, you know, he's being trained that is - I won't say as good - but really darn good. Like something, like, out of a Stephen Chow movie. It's really, really fantastic. They're fighting over a dumpling. You know, the panda's fat. He wants to eat the dumpling.

PESCA: Yeah, yeah.

HOLLOWAY: The raccoon's keeping it from him. But it's really good. It's good!

PESCA: So, OK. Perhaps a benefit for low expectations.

HOLLOWAY: See it, Pesca. You know you want to!

PESCA: Yeah, maybe the baby will see it with me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: All right, let's move on to "Mongol." It's kind of "Braveheart" but with Mongolians.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah. It's pretty much exactly "Braveheart" with Mongolians.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Let's hear a little bit of the trailer which makes a man some call Genghis, but we call Jenghis (ph), Khan sound really cool.

(Soundbite of movie "Mongol")

Unidentified Announcer: When he was a boy...

(Soundbite of dramatic music)

Unidentified Announcer: Everything he loved...

(Soundbite of bomb explosions)

Unidentified Announcer: Was taken from him.

(Soundbite of fighting)

Unidentified Announcer: When he became a man...

(Soundbite of tiger roar)

Unidentified Announcer: He would fulfill his destiny.

(Soundbite of sword unsheathing)

(Soundbite of dramatic music)

Unidentified Announcer: He would raise an army.

(Soundbite of sword fighting)

Unidentified Announcer: And he would take it all back. One day...

PESCA: Wow. How many Golden Hordes do you give this thing?

HOLLOWAY: Speaking of good movies with bad trailers...

PESCA: Yeah! That's so generic!

HOLLOWAY: That was rough. I liked the sound - did you hear the sound of sword going through flesh at one point? That like squished.

PESCA: I heard deep rumbling tiger. And I tried to remember if there were any in Mongolia. But the cast is made up of real-live Mongolians?

HOLLOWAY: Real-live Mongolians, and also Japanese and Chinese actors. And thousands of actors were put in this movie. This movie uses very limited CGI. A lot of these types of, you know, sword and sandal historical epics, they recreate crowds and armies now with CGI.

PESCA: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: This does very little of that. They actually - I mean, the production value on this movie, even though the movie is from Kazakhstan, of all places, incredibly high, like, as high as any American epic that I can think of recently, and in many cases better.

PESCA: Ah, taking back the movie industry from "Borat."

HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

PESCA: Is this one. It was good? Do you like it?

HOLLOWAY: Really, I mean, it depends on whether or not you enjoy these types of movies. It's not going to go over well with the "Sex and the City" crowd, but...

PESCA: Right. I'd watch a Mongol "Braveheart."

HOLLOWAY: And it's really good. It's not - it lacks the cheesiness that these movies can have sometimes.

PESCA: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: It is well acted. It is, you know, very serious, but also moves at a good clip, very well-paced. I think, actually, a really good film. But you have to be the type of guy who likes watching a dude stand in the middle of a field of 30 guys and hit them over and over again with his sword.

PESCA: And is there a scene where he addresses the crowd but there's no way the guys in the back could hear him? That's my pet peeve.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Anyway, one last movie.

HOLLOWAY: Actually, no.

PESCA: "When Did You See Your Father?" Is that the name of this? "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" I don't really understand that...

HOLLOWAY: "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" in England.

PESCA: "And When Did You Last See Your Father?"

HOLLOWAY: In the U.S. they apparently thought "And" was too much for Americans. They dropped the "And." So it's just "When Did You Last See Your Father?"

PESCA: All right. So Jim Broadbent, and they've got a father dying, and there's some flashbacks, and he remembers how much he loved his dad, I guess. Colin Firth is the son, is that right?

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, yeah.

PESCA: Does it work?

HOLLOWAY: No.

PESCA: Sounds like a chick flick for dudes.

HOLLOWAY: It's like - you remember "Big Fish"?

PESCA: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah. It's kind of like that, but you know, actually "Big Fish" is pretty bad, so I won't say it was worse but...

PESCA: Yeah, that was over-praised, in my opinion.

HOLLOWAY: This may be even not quite as bad as this, but that's not saying anything.

PESCA: It's a whole...

HOLLOWAY: This is - you know, Colin Firth looks, he looks rather constipated for most of the film. I'll just say, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: I give it two ex-lax. All right, Daniel Holloway, our movie reviewer who writes for Us Weekly, writes for Metro, thank you, sir.

HOLLOWAY: Thank you.

PESCA: And that is it for this hour of the BPP. A welcome and a goodbye today. Welcome our new interns, Molly (ph) and Mina (ph). And goodbye to Web producer Nathan Deuel. You will be missed, sir. Guess what? He's going to Saudi Arabia. It happens. We're always online at npr.org/bryantpark. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.

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