Kung Fu Panda 3 isn't just one of the must-see children's movies of the year, but it also offers some pretty meaningful life lessons and learning opportunities for you child. Our friends at Common Sense Media just outlined the five conversations to have with your little one to help them understand the powerful messages in their new favorite film.
Po the panda — aka the Dragon Warrior — and his friends the Furious Five return for more action-packed adventures in Kung Fu Panda 3. This time around, Po (voiced by Jack Black) must face the scary, bull-like monster Kai (J.K. Simmons), who's bent on robbing China of all its chi. But Po doesn't have to defeat the villain alone: he's joined by both his biological dad, Li (Bryan Cranston), and his loving stepfather, Mr. Ping (James Hong), as well as a secret village full of Po's fellow pandas.
Along the way, Po learns a few things about what it means to challenge yourself and appreciate who you are, a lesson that codirector Jennifer Yuh Nelson thinks is important for kids. "You have to try things you can't do yet in order to become your best self," she says. "Everyone has something special, and if you really push yourself to develop that special quality that you have, that's where your greatness is going to be found." Yuh Nelson's directing partner, Alessandro Carloni, agrees that that takeaway — and Po's own enthusiasm — are great examples for kids. "I love Po because he just loves everything so unashamedly," Carloni says. "Po learns a lot of growing-up lessons . . . but at the same time to never let go of the wonder of childhood."
For more thoughtful conversation starters after the credits roll, try these:
- What does it mean to "find your true self?" Why is it important to find your own identity and talents rather than try to be like others? What does it mean when Shifu says to Po, "If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now?"
- What makes a family? How does Kung Fu Panda 3 address the idea of biological and adopted families? Is there one right way to blend families together?
- What role does violence play in the story? Did the characters have any other options? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
- Is Kai purely bad, or is there any part of him that's sympathetic? Is it important to be able to empathize with villains?
- How have the main characters changed over the course of the three movies? How have they stayed the same? What makes Po so appealing?