Friday, May 27, 2011

Who's seen Kung Fu Panda 2?

It doesn't look like we're going to be seeing it any time soon.  I was so excited to offer the girls the chance to see it after school today, and they turned me down!  Maya thinks it will be too scary, and though Zoe wants to see it, she doesn't like 3D movies and wants to wait until I can find a non-3D showing or maybe when it comes out on DVD.  So my only chance to see it is I go alone, and that's why I have kids, so I won't look silly going alone to kids' movies!  Sigh.

I'm curious about how they handle the adoption themes.  This review makes me feel a little hopeful that they're not shying away from some of the hard issues:
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a story about adoption. Po's reaction to Mr. Ping not being his real father is akin to what many adopted children must feel when they learn the truth about their birth. Was I not wanted? Why am I here? Who am I really? Doubt creeps into Po's psyche and endangers everything he has learned about himself. The ugly spector of failure rears its ugly head. But Po is not alone, or unwanted. He has powerful allies - his friends, his father, and most importantly, the teachings of Kung Fu. The search for inner peace leads Po to the discovery of an awesome power, inside him, that even the weaponry of Lord Shen cannot defeat.
But my bet is that it'll turn out that he just doesn't need his birth family after all, instead of talking about needing/integrating both families.  I hope I'm wrong, but  am I? Just put "SPOILER ALERT" at the top of your comments for the benefit of others, but I'm too curious not to read any spoiler offered!


chicagomama said...

*Spoiler Alert*

Yup, you got it. The adoption storyline was not handled in a way that made me particularly happy. A lot of "It doesn't matter what happened in the past - it is what comes after that that matters". Meaning, of course, Po's adoptive dad and his kung fu master and the furious 5. Horse manure, I say. And intellectually stupid since I guess we could just say none of that matters either - it too being in the past. Tomorrow is always another day and all that.

It burned my bottom at the end when Po comes home and says, "I know who I am - I'm *your son*, Dad"

Why couldn't it be, "I know who I am and where I came from. I know what happened to my parents, I'm Po. You are my dad."

It was so presented as an adoptive parent's insecure wet dream. Disappointing, very disappointing. Especially since the movie makers conveniently also have it end without having to actually deal with or meet any first parent, relative, etc. Even though *SPOILER ALERT* - the movie ends with Po's biological dad coming out of some sort of vision and saying, "My son is alive!" and then panning out to show a Panda village that he (first dad) is living in. Whatever, dude.

Wendy said...


Sarah said...

I'm going to chime in for the first time. I've been learning much this blog for quite a while now.
I haven't yet seen the movie, but look forward to doing so. I read the "spoiler", because I was curious, too.
Here is why I disagree with the posted comments about the movie.
Why not let "Po" come to whatever conclusion he comes to? For now, he's happy being his father's son. Why is this bad? Why MUST he want some connection with or affection for his birth family?
Maybe the 3rd movie will address Po's continuing journey as he meets his birth father. Maybe it won't.

I do understand that adoption is often wrongly or mistakenly fantasized, but so are birth parent reunions. Sometimes it's not pretty.
I highly regard hearing from adults who were adopted. With my own boys, I want to honor their hurt, allow them to grieve, allow them to daydream about their birth-family, search for them, have as much information about their past as we can find, etc. But there are plenty of adopted people out there who are fine without all the answers.
I'm thinking of one male adult I know who was adopted at birth. He's in his 40s now and has never had a desire to find his birthmom. He *could*, but chooses not to. He says he is extremely grateful to her. He loves her. He's thrilled that she, as a teen, made the choice to carry him to term and place him in a family. But just like Po, he says he's his parents' son and has never had a desire to "find" anything more. Why is that wrong?
I think we as parents can swing too far to either side here. There is a balance and I think being "disappointed" that Po is comfortable being his "dad's son" is heading to the other extreme.

*As a side note: it's a movie. A cartoon movie. We see girls with 15-inch waists always get the guy, princesses live happily ever after, and characters fall from steep cliffs, land splat, and then stand right back up with a "boing". Are we taking ourselves too seriously with this movie? My husband is deaf. Deaf people are often portrayed horribly stereotypically in films. *shrug* What do we expect? MacGuyver quickly sewed his own hot air balloon and flew away perfectly in minutes. Film/TV are fantasy, even when attempting to be "realistic". I'd be more upset with a news documentary portraying adoption in an unreal light. Just my two cents.

(Just so you'll know my perspective and where were are on this journey: We go pick up our boys next month, so I may have a different perspective on this in a few more years. I pray that I won't be a parent with "insecure wet dreams" about how they will attach to us. I'm doing everything I can now to prepare and to be realistic, supportive and loving. )

Linda said...

Gee, Sarah- your insecurity is already showing and you don't even have a finalized adoption.

If you are REALLY trying to prepare and to be realistic, supportive and loving, you need to lose this line of thinking:

"But there are plenty of adopted people out there who are fine without all the answers.
I'm THINKING of one male adult I know who was adopted at birth. He's in his 40s now and has never had a desire to find his birthmom. He *could*, but chooses not to. He says he is extremely grateful to her. He loves her. He's thrilled that she, as a teen, made the choice to carry him to term and place him in a family. But just like Po, he says he's his parents' son and has never had a desire to "find" anything more."

You don't know that. Many adoptees spew this standard line because they don't want the hassles from "civilians" who THINK they know how an adoptee thinks.

"Why not let "Po" come to whatever conclusion he comes to? For now, he's happy being his father's son. Why is this bad? Why MUST he want some connection with or affection for his birth family?"

"Po" is a cartoon character, and a cartoon character with co-star who is a well known adoptress. Coinky-dink? Doubtful.

Being "happy he is his father's son" isn't the issue for most adoptees who watch this or other "adoption" themed movies. Most of us ARE happy we are our father's son/daughter. BUT- we also have ANOTHER Father. And, another Mother, who were there first. And wanting to know and love them & claim to be THEIR son or daughter as well/again, has nothing to do with our adoptive parents.

"Why MUST he want some connection with or affection for his birth family?" No one says he "MUST". But adoptees ARE connected to their first parents. Most of us DO feel affection to them. Why WOULDN'T we? We have a connection to our adopters. We feel affection to them as well....even though our adopters were complete and total strangers to us.

I completely agree with chicagomama. Any adoption themed movie should have that message-"I know who I am and where I came from. I know what happened to my parents, I'm Po. You are my dad."

We (the Po's of the world) had a life BEFORE we were adopted. We had other family members, countries, cultures, heritage, etc., first. They don't magically disappear in some editing studio like some adopters hope. They are very real to us, and contrary to popular fairy tales and society in general, we have the capacity to love BOTH of our families. It's not a competition.

Sarah said...

I'm sorry you felt like you needed to insult me personally for sharing my opinion, but I stand by it.

Isn't this about a "safe" place to discuss difficult issues? I DO have a lot to learn. That's why I'm here! But beginning with an attack isn't a way to influence or lead.

I understand that the majority of adoptees do struggle greatly with identity throughout life and have the desire to connect with their past and birth families. I've sat with adopted adult friends while they were in tears talking about it from wondering to reunions. It's why I AM doing all I can to get adoptees perspectives.

As for my friend, I take him at his word. I understand he is in the minority, but why is his attitude such a problem? I think it reflects on the emotions/attitudes of those who have a problem with him being satisfied with what he knows and doesn't know. He's not the type to hide what he's thinking. At all.

I just happen to have a differing opinion about this movie. I don't think that makes me "insecure" about my upcoming relationship with my sons.

Cathy said...

I watched it last night with my kids. My five year old was cool about it but I had explained the basis of what the movie was going to be about. I didn't expect I'd be in tears when they show the scene of her having to leave Po. It just makes me feel more that our kids and their families in China deserve to have each other in their lives.
For any insecure AP who has not openly addressed the hard topics, you better be prepared to be slapped with tough stuff in this movie but as other posters commented, APs can still leave the theater at ease (sarcasm) "because the past doesn't matter".
Seeing Po's father and the rural Chinese village full of pandas, I think the next Kung Fu panda will be about the reunion... why else would they end with that?
I also think young kids pick up the scary or upsetting aspects but easily the end wrap-up could go over their heads. There is one part where the peacock taunts Po saying his parents abandoned him because they didn't love him. I think these are the parts that kids brains absorb more than the end mush.
Oh well, it was good to watch because it shows that parents can surrender children because of love too and even though the end tied things up all neatly it still shows scenes that were tough and will provoke questions if a child has never had these issues addressed.

chicagomama said...


As someone who took my adoptive daughter to the movie yesterday, who has been in the adoption trenches for the better part of a decade at this point, and who does actually want to allow my daughter to reach her own conclusions about this movie - I will say this.

1. My biggest problem with the movie is that when Po goes on his journey to find out where he comes from - his dad stages a huge emotional scene about how he knows who Po is, Po is his son and he loves him and he hopes Po doesn't forget this. It is such a manipulative thing to say to someone dealing with the trauma of finding out something terrible happened and no one knows exactly what, and no one around him ever tried to find out. Po's adoptive dad doesn't even seem to wonder what happened to Po's parents - he is more concerned to make sure that Po acknowledges *him* as the "real" parent - not encouraging Po to go on this journey.

2. Po's dad has NEVER talked to Po about Po being adopted until Po asks him. What the FLIPITY FLOP?!!?!?!?!?!

3. When Po returns, having found out (through traumatic memory return) that his parents were attacked and his mother sacrificed her life to hide him in a basket full of radishes at a river (no, for those having not seen the movie - I am not joking though I am sure a lot of evangelical Christians were super happy to see the Moses references) - his words to his father are all about comforting his adoptive father. I'm your son. Not, You are my dad. Word placement matters. It was all about reassurance - which, quite frankly adoptive parents shouldn't be requiring of their children.

As you said - you are not yet an adoptive parent. I don't know if you have biological children. Having both, and having parented for over a decade at this point - let me assure you that I highly disagree with your viewpoint and your reference points.

It also doesn't matter whether your friend wants to find his birthfamily or not. Your friend's attitude has no connection with your children. At All. And if you think that you can give your children "the right attitude" regarding this issue - while, you would just be proving my point that it is really all about the adoptive parent. My daughter has asked about her birth family since she was 2 1/2. She desperately wants to know where they are, if they are ok, if they think about her. All the time. I have never for a second thought that meant she didn't love us. I know she loves us, I know she knows I am her mother. I also know she has another mother, another father - a whole other family and history that she wants to know more about. I have always told her we would do what we could to find out more about her family and her history.

I stand by my review. I thought the movie handled adoption issues to comfort adoptive parents and to tell adoptees how to make sure they take care of *who really matters* - the adoptive family and friends that they met AFTER THEIR ADOPTION - not to actually help adoptees process what could be part of their story. In that sense, it was pretty terrible.

Linda said...

Sarah, I was not trying to insult you. Nor is it my responsibility to "lead" someone anywhere. I was giving an opinion, and it just so happens to be one the is not the same as yours. My opinion is that of an adult adoptee, not a pap who happens to "know" a few adoptees.

Your friend's opinion is not wrong. Read my previous comment, I never said it was wrong. I said that your rendition of what he has said is typical of MANY adoptees....because it is easier to give the status quo line to civilians. And unless you are an adoptee, you are a civilian.

EVERY adoptee has a different story, and a different reason as to how they became an adoptee. But every reason began with a loss....even if their adoptions were necessary because of an abuse situation. How they react to their adoption and the trauma/loss associated from that trauma differs as well.

By being defensive towards chicagomama's review indeed shows your insecurities. If you think me telling you that is an attack, you need to toughen up. Adopting a stranger's child is not the same as raising your own biological child. It is not for the weary....especially if the child is older.

Anonymous said...

@ Sarah,

Stand tall and please know you are not alone in your perspective.

and like you, some of us are not taking Hollywood media as our lead & cue in discussing adoption and journeying through this complex issue from a cartoon movie. What I'm getting from this is that this movie is ridled with about every stereotype around adoption possible! What a surprise! (not really )

Your points are equally valid and deserved to be treated in kind without someone labeling you are insecure. Don't sweat that one....that gets bandied about in nearly every "dialogue" where dissention occurs. Take with a grain of salt.

There are some on this forum that will dam* you for NOT preparing and opening yourself to differing perspectives and some that will dam* when you do! Hard to win with some.....especially here. :)

Chin up and good for you for standing by your thoughts!

malinda said...

I love that everyone is posting different opinions -- this is very helpful to me in prepping my kids to see this -- they've decided they do want to see it after all, so maybe we'll go today.

All opinions are always welcome on this blog, but of course that means all opinions can be disagreed with, too. So long as comments stay respectful, I'm ok with disagreement, and hope y'all are, too.

Anonymous said...

@chicagomama & @linda: so given the concerns, any thoughts on how to best prepare my two children, ages 8 & 10, prior to seeing this movie?

I agree with both of your thoughts, especially the idea of the movie being "insecure-adoptive-parent" focused.

Linda said...

@ anon- Im not sure how you can prepare an adoptee for seeing a movie such as this.

Almost all Disney flicks have some sort of "orphan/adoptee/lost parent/evil stepmother" theme, lol, so they are used to them by now. Most have another underlying theme, which is one of gratitude/loyalty. Not bad qualities to have, of course, but for an adoptee, it is a bit much at times. Some adoptees gloss right over these themes, but some are really affected by them.

I am not an adoptive parent, but an adoptee from the "baby scoop era", and an era when adoption was not discussed. If it was discussed, I learned very early on it made my a family extremely uncomfortable. Any feelings I had for my first family, or my pain from losing them was dismissed and I was made to feel guilty.

"Most" ap's try to do the opposite now, and that is a good thing. Acknowledging an adoptee's first family & the losses associated with their adoptions makes for healthier adoptees.

I guess I would give them a little "spoiler" to let them know what it is about. Let them lead the conversation after the movie.

For instance, I recently watched "Tangled" and my sister in law said, "I imagine this made you feel like ________." No, she can't imagine how it made me feel, lol. It would have been better to ask, "How did that make you feel?"

I do think movies like these are great conversation starters for adoptees. Of course, if their ap's are uncomfortable listening to their child's feelings, the adoptee will know...we pick up on that pretty early. They will more than likely NOT discuss their feelings about it, or give the "standard" responses.

If they have been raised in an a family who allows them to grieve, be angry and confused, the child will more than likely jump right into the discussion.

It makes me happy to see ap's who truly get it. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

@Linda: thanks! My kids are well aware of my views on Disney LOL (dead mothers, unrealistic "happily ever after" story lines etc) ... I'm going to continue listening to experienced APs and those who have walked my kids' walk ... thanks! Luckily the movie wasn't yet playing when we tried to see it last weekend ... now at least I have time to process and discuss with my kids.

chicagomama said...


The best advice I ever received was to read, "How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk" by Faber and Mazlish.

It really has helped me be able to have conversations with my children that do not have me "leading" the discussion as much as parents can find themselves doing. It is also great for the "hard" discussions and helps create a safe environment to have them in.

Good luck. :)

Anonymous said...


I am an adoptive mom who appreciates your views and am glad you posted. Personally, I do agree with you very much. For some adoptees, thinking about birth family will be a BIG issue, perhaps for their entire life and for others, it will not be. Of course, the first group will probably be more vocal and so you may hear about them more (blogs, etc.) because they are passionate about the issue, while the second group, will probably not be so vocal, because they really don't care. They is no way to know how many adoptees will fall into one group or the other. My advice is to stay open-mended, educate yourself and be prepared for either outcome. I have a child you has never wanted to talk about adoption or birth parents, etc. She has recently told me I dwell too much on these issues. So I am now following her lead and backing off these discussions, being fully aware, that in a few years, she may feel differently. Best of luck with your adoption.


theadoptedones said...

I can remember seeing a Disney movie as an adult and being shocked at how much the "today and tomorrow is important - the past - not so much" was part of the narrative that instinctively tells the one who lost their family that they are old news now - look to your new family.

Then I found out Walt Disney was an AP and it all made so much sense - sigh...

Raina said...

I'm probably going to be put through the ringer for this, but I'll be the adult adoptee to say I LOVED IT. It was age appropriate, it touched on many important aspects of an adoptee's emotional journey, and it left some room in the end for a reunion with what appears to be a badass bio dad. I mostly appreciate that it gives our culture some context. We (adoptees) come in all shapes, sizes, and sets of emotions so we will all process differently. I disagree that the soothsayer's advice to move forward is disrespectful to adoptees' history. It is a very Buddhist/Eastern value of acceptance and inner peace. The soothsayer gives the same message the Buddha does, and I have found it is the only message that brings me any comfort (personally). Much more so than abandoment/adoption being God's will - that just makes me angry. Sorry, didn't mean to make this about me. I wrote a review here:

Braydon said...

Disclaimer: I am an adoptive parent of twin 7 year old boys and also have a biological 3 year old daughter. My boys are black and my wife and I are white. We are very open with out kids about having adopted them and work hard to be supportive of their personal and cultural histories.

In terms of Kung fu Panda 2, I would just say this: It's by no means perfect, nor does it handle adoption terribly well (validation issues, moses complex. But, for a mainstream, summer blockbuster, kid-friendly movie:

1. It talks openly about adoption
2. The main (adopted) character, goes on a personal journey and comes to understand and appreciate his history
3. He comes to accept himself while being thoughtful and kind
3. He becomes the greatest warrior in China
4. He gives back to his community by defeating the nastiest guy around by using an art form he has learned from his community
5. He misses his birth parents, but loves his adoptive father

Works for me.

While we all have issues with the nuances of how KFP2 handles adoption, I am just thankful it's put in such a positive and public light.

As proactive as we are about adoption topics, I was not too worried about dealing with the topic with my boys. After we left, I just said: "Wow, they talked about adoption a lot in that movie, what did you think and feel about it?"

They just loved Po getting the bad guy. Go figure.


Anonymous said...

I probably will not let my children see KFP2. I am very secure with my children, but, ALWAYS resent birthparents being called the "real" parents like I am made out of chocholate or something. I am as real as it gets and one of my children was a victim of attempted murder by his birthmother and barely made it. If he wants to find her as an adult, I would never hold him back, but I am their "real" mom. Sorry if I offend you all, but I would die for my children and have nursed them back to health after what they both went thrugh, doesn't that give me the right to be the "real" mom. Also, I have bio and adopted children, and I never see a difference. People who focus too much on which children are which drive me crazy. Our children know they came to us differently, but we don't talk about adoption every day in our home. If something comes up, they know they can speak freely and get their questions answered.

Mei Ling said...

I just wish for once that a movie (with an adoption theme) didn't say "The past is in the past. It's what's in the future that counts."

Anonymous said...

I think you all must have walked out in the credits. The ending of the movie has a Panda meditating in a pagota. He is startled from meditation by a realization and runs to shout to the village of Pandas, "My son is alive!" More to come folks...... more to come.

ms. marginalia said...

I am a little late on this discussion, and I didn't see the movie myself. I am a 42-year-old adoptee who has been in a rocky reunion that my aparents are nominally supportive of, but I know from years of experience any relationships I have with my first family make my aparents uneasy (they insist on calling them my "bios" to underscore the DNA only aspect from their POV). I adore my aparents; I can and do demonstrate this, but we are all adults at this point and *they* need to deal with their own insecurities, IMO.

They took my two sons (bio to me) to see the movie this afternoon, and the verdict was good all around. I have to say I didn't WANT to see it with my aparents because I didn't want to feel I had to take care of their feelings afterwards. When they all came home, Dad said that he loved the bit at the end with Po and his adad, which I now understand is pretty much about swearing fealty to aparents as the only ones who matter. And as much as my aparents ARE the only family I have whom I love and trust in that way, I don't want to feel pressured (at 42!) to say that my natural family doesn't count--I am immensely sad to have been rejected by them. It's complicated!

I know my adad feels intense love and possessiveness for me, but I have no space, even as an adult, to say anything about the complexities of my relationships with my nfamily, and for that I am sad. I said nothing in response to my dad's fishing because I couldn't go there for him. I just couldn't. In the past I might have played the "grateful, dutiful" adoptee role well; I knew exactly what he wanted, but now I am too old to be false. I am not outright going to hurt him, but I am not going to be dishonest, either.

Habits are set early, and I agree with Linda that while we must take what people tell us at face value, many adoptees downplay their feelings to avoid conflict with people concerning our feelings. We get the grateful card thrown at us when we venture towards intimacy, and we smile and know it's not worth the effort to continue. I have some adoptee friends who don't even tell people they're adopted because they get sick of the patronizing talk and derision from strangers, and even well meaning friends. Too often we cannot just be or say what we feel.

Sarah, your friend's feelings are valid, but they are also considered "righteous" and "laudable" by society at large. As part of the dominant paradigm, such generic stories of the "just fine" adoptee are used against us, over and over. "Why can't you just be more like my friend/hairdresser/swim coach's cousin X, who is grateful to have been given life by these anonymous people but who is incurious about them and truly loves and is ONLY the son/daughter of the parents who raised him/her." Stating anything other than this catechism makes us "angry and bitter" in the words of some; I think that we're just critical thinkers willing to speak out. It's uncomfortable to say the least.

Adoption is really complicated, and having had that exchange between Po and his adad turned and thrown at me by my *own* adad as "the happiest moment in the film" shows me how insidious it has the potential to be. For my adad, it probably was a great moment; but that's just it: the movie is mostly about assuaging the fears of aparents, or so it would seem.

It's not that I am a horrible, ungrateful, sponging child: I am well educated, kind (by the accounts of friends and family), married, and gainfully employed in a lucrative career. I am close to my parents, and yet 42 years on, they STILL burden me with their insecurities about *my* past. It sucks.

scotched said...

You adoptive parents really have no CLUE what's really going in your child's mind.

You couldn't even empathize if you tried.

Being idealistic is just going to backfire.

PianoChick said...

Sorry I'm so late... but, I didn't know this was here... :/ I thought maybe it would help y'all understand to hear from an adopted individual, as opposed to adoptive parents...
In my opinion, this was a really terrible movie. It lead the uneducated people to believe that all adopted individuals have this burning desire to meet their biological parents. And really, only 10% of adopted individuals "seek out" their biological parents. I love my parents, and if I could change everything, I wouldn't want my life to be any other way--I'm sure that you parents feel the same way. I was adopted as a newborn (most adopted individuals are), and I have ALWAYS known. But I have not ever had a desire to meet my "biological parents." Why would I want to? There is a difference in a "biological mom" and a "momma." And for me, I would choose my momma any day. And I'm sure y'all fee the same way! I'm sure that some people want to "seek out" their biological parents, but that does not mean that we all do. And this movie did a really terrible job of showing that... So, sorry I'm late! :)