Fuzzy Outsider, Kicking His Way Toward His Dream

At once fuzzy-wuzzy and industrial strength, the tacky-sounding “Kung Fu Panda� is high concept with a heart. Even better, this animated feature from DreamWorks is so consistently diverting and visually arresting that it succeeds in transcending its storybook clichés. The tale has the consistency of baby pablum — it’s nutritious and easy on the gums — but there’s enough beauty and pictorial wit here from opening to end credits, enough feeling for the art and for the freedom of animation, that you may not care.

For an ostensible outsider, Po conforms very much to familiar animated-movie type. Like Nemo and the rest of his cartoon brethren, he needs to embark on the hero’s journey, which he does with help from a miscellany of pals voiced by the usual A- and B-listers. Among those nudging and guiding Po is Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), an ancient turtle with a mellifluous voice and long, liquid neck who, um, invented kung fu and now serves as the spiritual adviser (Yoda) to an elite squad, including a kung fu master, the mustachioed red panda Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), and his students, the Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross) and Mantis (Seth Rogen).


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