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Tell Us Your Favorite Family Films
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No doubt your kids are poised, fists cocked and legs akimbo, for the martial arts action in Kung Fu Panda. With stunning animation that explores the splendors of the Chinese culture and landscape, and a colorful cast of animal warriors, this film is a great choice to launch a summer that will culminate in the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics. Jack Black voices a lumbering, overweight Panda named Po who is obsessed with martial arts. One day, Po strays from his humble job in his family's noodle-making business, and through a series of blunders, ends up being a candidate for Dragon Warrior, the most revered position in the Valley of Peace. Matched up against the Furious Five -- wonderfully drawn animals who are martial arts masters -- our kids were treated to amazing and action-packed marital arts sequences (Angelina Jolie voices a tigress who believes she is the rightful Dragon Master). When an evil snow leopard with lethal skills threatens to destroy Happy Valley, lowly Po must prove his prowess. Ultimately, Po learns to believe in himself, and that turns out to be the most important skill of all for a Dragon Master.
Channeling our inner Po, we visited a local Chinese Garden. As we walked in, giant Foo Dogs guarding the path to the exhibit helped our kids feel like they were entering a different world. Gardens deliver delight for the senses, and a chance to slow down -- in China, they serve as a spot to think, to seek balance. And these gardens get that vibe just right, with grace and visual poetry of Chinese culture. The garden frames nature from a new point of view: rocks, graceful pavilions and delicate trees are set against a wall, decorated with scrollwork cut-outs and wave-like tile. Although our kids did not quite care about the composed vistas, or the symbolic meanings of the plants, they easily surrendered to the calm, spending what felt like hours peering into a koi-filled lake, the giant colored carp prized in Japan and China. We wound up our garden tour at the tea house, where we honored Po by sipping a cup of Silver Jasmine Dragon tea, and sharing a moment of serenity in a day of East-West fusion -- a perfect balance.
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:
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Visit a Chinese Garden
Time Allotment: Three Hours
Age Recommendation: Three and Up
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom About this Adventure;
Our City Editors' tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure around the USA: