, Jackie Chan, Ian McShane, Lucy Liu
, Seth Rogen | PG |
If kids this summer start diversifying their eating habits, occasionally passing up McDonald's to sample Chinese fare such as noodle soup or stuffed dumplings, then Kung Fu Panda
will have served a purpose—though probably not its intended one. Both dishes, looking mouth-wateringly delicious, are offered up here along with plentiful side orders of mild jokes and fierce martial arts battles in an only passable animated comedy.
Panda's hero is Po (voiced by Black), a roly-poly panda bear in ancient China. Despite his impressive heft and seeming lack of athletic ability, Po dreams of becoming a kung fu warrior rather than spending life working the woks at his family's cafe. Fate intervenes and he gets his wish, receiving training from a skeptical master, Shifu (Hoffman, making like Yoda), who discovers that the only effective way to teach Po is by rewarding him with edible treats. Po needs to be in fighting shape because there's a malevolent snow leopard (McShane) on the loose.
Supporting characters (including Jolie, who is wasted as a tiger) are pallid, and the fight scenes disproportionately long, as if the filmmakers figure the young boys most likely to see Panda are just as action-happy as their dads. Say it isn't so.
Christopher Bell and his brothers Mike and Mark grew up in the '80s desperate to emulate their he-man heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hulk Hogan. So all three boys took up powerlifting. And just like Schwarzenegger and Hogan—who have since owned up to using steroids when in their prime—each Bell brother began juicing. Only Christopher stopped. He's the director of this provocative and engaging film, which examines the popularity of banned steroids and other dubious, though legal, athletic supplements among pro and amateur athletes. Bell deftly underscores the contradictions inherent in a system in which the obvious rewards for using, including boundless money and fame, seemingly continue to outweigh the putative risks.
The American Pie
alum, 31, plays a grocery store assistant manager in the comedy The Promotion
YOU NEVER WORKED IN A SUPERMARKET, BUT YOU DID ONCE WORK AT HOME DEPOT. Yeah, I was there when I got American Pie
. I was 21. I wouldn't say I really "worked" there. I just walked around, made myself look busy and told everybody I'd be right with them.
SO DID YOU SPEND TIME AT GROCERY STORES TO PREPARE? No, I'm not a method actor. I wasn't like Daniel Day-Lewis! I do go to buy stuff, though.
LIKE WHAT? I can make a mean bowl of cereal. I use the right amount of milk. Fruity Pebbles and Cookie Crisp. I like sugar. I'll never grow up.
THE PROMOTION Seann William Scott (left) and John C. Reilly play assistant supermarket managers vying to move up the corporate ladder. Neither seems up to the task—much like this lackluster comedy itself. (R)
MISS CONCEPTION Heather Graham (left) stars in a misconceived comedy about a London woman's desperate efforts to get pregnant. Nothing here rings true, beginning with Graham's attempt at an English accent. (R)
Best known as Sloan on Entourage, Chriqui, 30, plays a Palestinian hairdresser in the Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess with the Zohan
YOU PLAY A STRONG AND DETERMINED HAIRSTYLIST. I'm Moroccan, and Moroccan women are emotional and temperamental. So I tapped into those qualities. We tend to yell and get straight to the point.
EVER HAVE ANY OUTRAGEOUS HAIRDOS? As a little girl I had short hair, and in the '80s I had the rattail. I was a bit of a tomboy with the crazy Corey Hart spiky hairdo. It was terrible! So when I grew up it stayed long. I learned my lesson.
HOW DID YOUR COMEDIC SKILLS COMPARE TO ADAM'S? I tell the worst jokes. If someone is funny, I'm the first one cracking up. Ironic things and dirty jokes make me laugh.
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE ON ALL THOSE LISTS OF HOLLYWOOD'S SEXIEST WOMEN? Shocking. People don't see me in the morning in my pajamas, my hair stuck on top of my head and zit cream all over my face. So to be put on a list with Angelina Jolie
, hands-down the most beautiful woman on the planet, is hilarious to me.
Voices by Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman,