When Po, the clown-eyed, roly-poly kick-ass panda bear hero of Kung Fu Panda 2, goes into his twirly, lightning-limbed fighting mode, he doesn’t leave his slightly abashed suburban sweetness behind. ”Yes!” he says, dispatching a foe, ”Taste the defeat,” and you can hear the joyous disbelief (did I really just whip that guy’s butt?) in the gee-whiz sound of Jack Black, who voices him. It’s not hard to see why children love Po, the rare animated hero who’s awesome and ridiculous at the same moment. He’s like the coolest stuffed animal in the world. But since he became a triumphant member of the Furious Five — Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Mantis (Seth Rogen), and Crane (David Cross) — in 2008’s Kung Fu Panda, what’s left for him to conquer beyond the next bowl of dumplings?
In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po must now defeat a seething white peacock, Lord Shen (voiced with silvery menace by Gary Oldman), who owns a gigantic cannon he plans to use to put the Furious Five — and, indeed, all of kung fu — out of business. More than that, Po must come to grips with his own repressed memories of the moment that left him an abandoned infant. At times, Kung Fu Panda 2 suggests Bambi redone as an episode of Oprah. Yet it’s a more-than-worthy sequel. You’ll taste, and savor, the victory through an irresistible gush of ”healing” tears. B+