Kung Fu Panda


How did all these kids fit into two cars?

I don’t know why, but I really loved Kung Fu Panda! And I got to see it at the movie theaters three times! It got a lot of pre-release publicity because Jack Black starred in it. The early previews at the theaters didn’t exactly make the movie look all that good. Then, I saw Jack Black plugging the movie on the Jay Leno show. I laughed when Jack Black, with a serious face, announced that the movie was based on a true story. When the movie was released, my sons wanted to see it, so I took them. I really wasn’t expecting much. But I loved it! I laughed throughout the movie because it was genuinely funny. And it was about kung fu. I still love martial arts movies–dating back to my high school days when I went to the movie theaters downtown to see four martial arts movies for a dollar. Even though Kung Fu Panda was merely a cartoon, it was historically and culturally acurate in many respects. However, since it was a comedy and a cartoon, you had to suspend belief about many events or you wouldn’t enjoy it.

Well, we saw the movie in the U.S. when it opened. Then we went to Mexico. In Celaya, my cousins Carmen and Ignacio took us to the mall, which was newer and much nicer than the malls by my house. I was surprised to see that they had a multi-screen movie theater there. My sons wanted to see a movie there. I had warned them earlier that the movie might be in Spanish only, and perhaps they might have English subtitles. I had not been to a movie theater in Mexico for about thirty years. Well, some movies were dubbed in Spanish and some were in English with Spanish subtitles. Most of the showings sold out. We ended up seeing Kung Fu Panda. It was dubbed in Spanish with no subtitles. My sons didn’t really like watching the movie in Spanish because they didn’t understand much of it and they didn’t remember all of the details from when we saw it in English.

I enjoyed watching it in Spanish because it had been a long time since I had seen a movie in Mexico. And the translation was done very well. Of course, Jack Black was no longer play Po, the kung fu panda. It was a famous Mexican comedian whose name I no longer remember. He was very funny as Po. The audience really loved the movie and laughed at the same parts as American audiences. I guess that’s the test of universal humor. It translates well. My favorite translation was in the scene where Po enters the training room with the sparring equipment and we see the five kung fu masters training and avoiding getting injured or killed by the machinery. Then Po ends up on this machinery, and by sheer luck and naivete, he survives. At one point, his legs are split wide open and is about to take a shot to the groin (in a PG movie!). Po says, “My tenders!” and the audienced laughed uproariously. So in Mexico, when this scene was coming up, I wondered how they would translate it. Well, instead of saying, “My tenders!”, he says, “¡Los panditas!” Well, in Spanish this was actually much funnier than the English version. Los panditas translates to something like “the little pandas.” Po is actually referring to his future progeny: My babies! Even the children laughed at this joke.

Well, while in Celaya, I met three of my uncles from the U.S. My Uncle Manuel decided to take all the children to see a movie. There were fourteen children and twelve adults who went to the mall to see the movie. And we all piled into four compact cars! We all waited while Uncle Manuel bought the movie tickets. Guess what movie we saw. Kung Fu Panda! This time my sons wanted me to sit between them so I could translate for them. My sons enjoyed the movie a little more when I translated for them. The movie was still funny the third time around.

I love kung fu!

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.