Tag Archive: kung fu panda


Resolution towards Redemption

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

In this week before the end of the year and after Christmas, some people take a look at their life and decide how to change it.

 

I feel it especially strong as my birthday is on this week. I think about the past year and wonder what can I do to make things better in my life, make my life what one could call ‘worthy.’ Being the best at making sure the couch does not run away is not my life’s goal.

 

Perhaps that is why it is interesting to me that two of the most beloved Christmas stories –  It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol are really about redemption, appreciation and making a change in one’s life.

 

These stories feature men who learn through visitations from other-worldly beings that there are things in life that matter, that how they interact with people matters. Scrooge sees how his bitterness will cause his afterlife to be one of harder work than his life while George Bailey sees how his community would look without his presence.  

 

Because of these experiences, Scrooge and George see the sweeter side of life. They find a renewed appreciation for those who love and work for them. These are the stories that make our hearts swell.

 

Usually at this time of year I recommend Down in the Delta starring Alfre Woodard as a woman who kicks her drug habit and becomes a better person after her mother forces her to move in with family in a Southern state. I love the multi-generational story, I love how the characters grow. I especially love the significance of the silver candelabra. It is a feel-good story on so many levels that features good acting from all of its players.

 

Another movie I have been thinking about in regards to redemption is 50 First Dates. I know what you are thinking, how can an Adam Sandler movie be about redemption? I think Adam Sandler could be one of the greats of our time if his fans did not always expect stupid comedies from him but that is another discussion for another day.

 

This movie is about a man who falls in love with a beautiful girl – Drew Barrymore. The problem is she has no short term memory because of a car accident. She remembers the day of the accident before the crash occurred and relives that day – everyday. Sandler figures out a way to get her up to speed every morning. In doing so, Sandler shows that while his character is a jerk most of the time, for the right person he is willing to change and be better.

 

None of these movies are suited for the smaller members of the house because, contextually, they deal with grown-up themes. However, a movie about redemption that is great for the younger children is Kung Fu Panda starring Jack Black.

 

No one believes that a panda can be the ‘Dragon Warrior,’ the ultimate Kung Fu warrior. Only one person sees his potential beyond being a great noodle maker. And yet when the time comes to fight a great enemy, the panda finds it within himself to do it. He finds the secret ingredient. Our family loves this movie and laugh with it every time we watch it.

 

Happy New Year and good luck on your new year’s resolutions.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

His Name is Black

The other day I was watchin iCarly with my kids. It was a longer than usual episode that took place at a webicon.

Spencer was wearing the costume of one video game hero that he had made himself. He looked proud and dashing. That is until he met the hero of a different realm. Suddenly, it was a face-off between the two. What made the scene especially GREAT was that the opponent was Jack Black.

Poster image from IMDb.com

I will admit that Jack Black had to grow on me. His form of acting is really annoying at times. I may have initially rated The School of Rock much lower than I should have because I disliked him that much. The guy in his early days struck me as nothing more than a big ego who  over-acted every chance he got.

You might remember him from High Fidelity or Shallow Hal. Perhaps you are a Tenacious D fan. Maybe you discovered him in Orange County or Saving Silverman. No matter when it was, you cannot deny that Black has a tone of energy and his projects tend to work off of the quirky aspects of his soul.

Take for example his role in King Kong. As movie promoter, Carl Denham, Black takes his overacting and uses it to create this man who wants to be larger than life. Director Peter Jackson reigns in Black’s excesses and works it so that the final scene of his pronouncement is perfect for Black’s delivery of the lines about what really killed the beast when it was his bigger-than-life ambition.

Poster image from IMDb.com

Another director who got a softer performance from him was Nancy Myers in The Holiday. His character is still fun-loving, still music obsessive but he is a more contemplative man, kinder and less of an asshole. I found him much more likable in this movie as a composer who falls in love easily.

My turning point came during the publicity tour for Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. I saw Black and Kyle Gass on one of the late nite talk shows with Gass obviously drunk. Jack had to do most of the talking.  That is when I saw the drive behind the goof, the realistic expectation of getting a personal project to the big screen. I felt a connection and since then have grown to appreciate his work.

That might explain why I loved his performances in Be Kind Rewind and Kung Fu Panda and Gulliver’s Travels. I am seeing a man who is allowing the gentler side of his soul to be seen more often and I like it.

Black and Will Ferrell at the 79th Annual Oscars, Image from IMDb.com

However, my favorite Jack Black moment does not occur in any movie. It was during  79th Annual Oscar Awards in which Black and Will Ferrell sing about their love of Helen Mirren.  And that they were going to take the future Oscar winner home with them that night.

She ended up taking home Oscar along with her husband. But I wonder if she was tempted in the least?