Your kids are begging to see Kung Fu Panda 4: Here’s why you should take the whole family

Po is back, and this time, he's teaming up with a fox to save the world. Make Kung Fu Panda 4 your family movie to see in theaters this weekend.

(from left) Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and Po (Jack Black) in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4, directed by Mike Mitchell.
(from left) Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and Po (Jack Black) in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 4, directed by Mike Mitchell. /

Kung Fu Panda 4 is out in theaters on Friday, March 8. You know your kids are already trying to get you to "skadoosh" to the theater. But the fact of the matter is you should probably kick and punch your way in (not literally) as well: the Kung Fu Panda series is the perfect watch for the whole family.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is officially rated PG, so that makes it clear up front that this movie is designed with the whole family in mind. But we’ve all been burned by animated movies in the past. They can have some scary scenes at times, or they bring on traumatic moments that haunt our -- sorry, our kids' -- dreams. I think we can all say that we’re still not over Bambi calling for his mom or Simba begging for Mufasa to wake up.

So, before you go into a movie, you need to know that it’s perfect for the kids. That’s especially the case when it comes to the movies the kids are begging you to see. Anyone else have an eight-year-old constantly talking about Po (Jack Black) being back? Same.

So with that in mind, though we haven't seen Kung Fu Panda 4, here's why we feel confident saying the fourquel will be the perfect family watch this weekend, based on the previous entries in the series.

Kung Fu Panda is all about embracing change

You’ve seen the three previous movies in the franchise, right? And you’ve seen the animated series on Netflix. All of these will give you an idea of what to expect in the fourth movie.

The Furious Five, a group of kung fu warrior animals, are going to be mentioned and spotted in this movie. Don’t expect to see them all helping Po, though. He needs to team up with someone new for this adventure, and that’s going to be both fun and disappointing for the kids. You might want to get them ready for a new and hilarious fox character instead... Awkwafina is voicing the fox, so think Raya and the Last Dragon for an idea of that voice style and comedy.

One thing the changes bring is a lesson for the kids. Change happens, and it’s best to embrace it rather than fight it. That’s the lesson directors Mike Mitchell and Stephanie Ma Stine wanted to bring with these changes.

Why kids will love the fourth Kung Fu Panda movie

DreamWorks does an excellent job of bringing in other lessons, too. We’ll continue to see Po focus on doing unselfish acts to protect the world. There are always times we think “Me again?” when it comes to doing a repetitive task or helping people. Po takes it all in his stride, but this time, he’s going to have to embrace change like the rest of us.

In the previous three movies, there were plenty of action scenes. There wasn't too much gore, but there was the level of violence that you would expect with a movie series that’s all about a panda using martial arts to save the world. Usually with Kung Fu Panda, there’s nothing too scary for younger children, and they tend to enjoy the storyline that’s mixed with the fighting.

Now for the humor. There are some jokes in the series that are going to go over the heads of children. It’s what I love about DreamWorks and Pixar, in particular. They know the line to draw to make something funny for the kids but even funnier for the adults. Then as the kids get older they think “Oh, that’s what mom and dad were laughing at!” There are also plenty of hilarious moments for the younger members of the family. Kung Fu Panda isn't one of those franchises that only focuses on slap-stick comedy. There are lessons in the humor, adding to the entertainment.

So, if you’re on the fence about taking the kids to see this one, jump off that fence. Listen to them. This is going to be Po-sized fun for the whole family.

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Kung Fu Panda 4 is out in theaters on Friday, March 8.