The uni­ver­sal theme of de­ter­min­ing your own des­tiny re­gard­less of your roots rings true with mother- of- six An­gelina Jolie, writes Neala John­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

My kids will choose their own des­tiny.

IF ANY­ONE is go­ing to read deeper mean­ing into the new an­i­mated se­quel Kung Fu Panda 2, it’s the bumper brood of Brad Pitt and An­gelina Jolie.

The Jolie-Pitt chil­dren have come to­gether from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and dif­fer­ent corners of the globe to form a fam­ily.

And that, says mother Jolie ( pic­tured), re­minds her a lot of her Kung Fu Panda char­ac­ter Ti­gress and her ‘‘ adopted’’ fam­ily of kung-fu fight­ers: Mas­ter Shifu ( Dustin Hoff­man), panda Po ( Jack Black) and the rest of the Fu­ri­ous Five – Mon­key ( Jackie Chan), Crane ( David Cross), Viper ( Lucy Liu) and Man­tis ( Seth Ro­gen).

‘‘ My chil­dren have seen it and they loved it and they laughed out loud. But I was very cu­ri­ous about how they’d re­act to the fam­ily themes of it,’’ Jolie says of the se­quel.

‘‘ My char­ac­ter, we saw in the first film that she was raised in an or­phan­age and then she was adopted by Shifu. And in this one, Po – who’s her friend, kind of, she’s got a bit of an attitude with him – dis­cov­ers that he’s adopted.’’

So what did the kids – Mad­dox, Pax, Za­hara, Shiloh, Knox and Vivi­enne – take away from Kung Fu Panda 2?

Jolie reck­ons it was the knowl­edge that, no mat­ter their be­gin­nings or their pa­parazzi-doc­u­mented present, only they can de­cide who they will be­come.

‘‘ It’s about a search for self and that’s some­thing, no mat­ter how you were born, no mat­ter who we are or where we’re from, that is such a big theme,’’ she says.

‘‘ Who we are and who we de­cide to be in life, not be­ing de­fined by our par­ents, our past, the way we look, where we’re from, any­thing about that. We make the choice. I love the themes of it.’’

Though bet­ter known for acting tough ( Salt, Mr & Mrs Smith and Wanted) and tough acting ( Girl, In­ter­rupted and A Mighty Heart ), Kung Fu Panda al­lows Jolie to play with what she calls her ‘‘ goofy’’ side.

The first film in 2008 fol­lowed the jour­ney of Po from bum­bling dreamer to mar­tial-arts hero and took $ 600 mil­lion world­wide. Af­ter that, a se­quel was a given. In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po must face up to his past and con­front a new vil­lain, a peacock voiced to nasty per­fec­tion by Gary Old­man.

Jolie calls Ti­gress ‘‘ hard­core and re­pressed’’ and this time the fe­line is kick­ing butt in 3D.

‘‘ I am get­ting goofier as I get older. And kids cer­tainly help you stay con­nected to that silly side of your­self and all the fun,’’ Jolie says.

But she adds she would have done a film like this whether she had chil­dren or not. ‘‘ I do love these movies. And I think these movies are ac­tu­ally bet­ter than a lot of the movies out there – the an­i­mated movies have ac­tu­ally be­come equal to if not bet­ter than tra­di­tional dra­matic films be­cause they have so much in them and there’s so much time taken and they han­dle such big themes.

‘‘ Kung Fu Panda 2 is ac­tu­ally one of the more com­plex sto­ries I’ve ever been in­volved in. But it’s also great that all my kids can see them.’’ She stops and laughs. ‘‘ My fam­ily’s the test au­di­ence! I brought my kids from two to nine to see it, so I felt I got a good gauge. I could call ( DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion boss) Jef­frey Katzen­berg and say, ‘ We’re good, from age ranges two to nine, it’s work­ing!’ ’’

How­ever, one dark cloud hangs over the kids’ re­ac­tion to the film.

‘‘ They love Ti­gress and they love Po,’’ says Jolie, ‘‘ but I’m a lit­tle afraid that Gary Old­man’s taken some of my cool away. They now think the peacock’s cooler than Mummy, but I’ll get it back!’’

There should be plenty of op­por­tu­nity for that.

Though Jolie has talked about di­alling back the num­ber of films she makes in fu­ture, Katzen­berg has been mak­ing fre­quent men­tion of the orig­i­nal story-arc be­ing a six-parter. If that comes to pass, Jolie may be a grand­mother by the time she says farewell to Ti­gress for good.

‘‘ Jack and I, we didn’t know go­ing into it and we’re blind in the for­est again now, we have no idea what’s com­ing up.

‘‘ As far as I know, Po and Ti­gress could end up mar­ried. I have no idea what they’re go­ing to do to us. We’ll have lit­tle tiger-panda ba­bies,’’ she laughs. ‘‘ I’m up for wher­ever it goes.’’

KUNG FU PANDA 2 Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

‘‘ Kung Fu Panda 2 is ac­tu­ally one of the more com­plex sto­ries I’ve ever been in­volved in. But it’s also great that all my kids can see them’’

An­gelina Jolie

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