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.