What happened
Two comedies face off at the box office this weekend: Kung Fu Panda, an animated family film starring Jack Black as a slacker panda bear who dreams of becoming a kung fu master, and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, starring Adam Sandler as a middle eastern terrorist who dreams of becoming a hairstylist in New York City. Most box office analysts are predicting Kung Fu Panda as the winner, but some critics think it could be a close fight. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
“Once again, it’s a weekend battle of head-to-head stars,” said C. Robert Cargill in Film.com. But it’s pretty obvious who’s going to win the box office crown: In one corner, there’s Jack Black “starring in what appears to be a classic kung fu training film blended with Pixar-style characters and comedy.” In the other corner, “an Adam Sandler–helmed film about an Israeli soldier who wants to be a hairdresser? With Rob Schneider playing a terrorist?” I’m putting my money on the Panda.

“This weekend’s box-office derby shapes up as a closer horse race” than “Saturday’s Belmont Stakes,” said Susan King in the Los Angeles Times. “Although several romantic comedies have come out early this summer, including last weekend’s female-driven Sex and the City,” Zohan “is the season’s first pure comedy headlined by a top movie star.” Even so, Kung Fu Panda will likely edge out Zohan. But “as any of the horse trainers taking on Big Brown will attest, sometimes there's no shame in running second.”

“It’s anybody’s guess as to which film will win the weekend,” said Dave McNary and Pamela McClintock in Variety, “considering that each of the two new pics has its own distinct advantages.” There may be a “pent-up demand for a family film,” as there hasn’t been one in theaters for a while, and if so, “Panda could pull ahead.” But Zohan “has a proven box office star in its corner, as Sandler has become a permanent fixture of the summer box office” over the past several years.