The main big impression from the night was how much pride everybody had for their film, Kung Fu Panda 2. I don't think I'd given it too much thought in the past, but perhaps assumed that companies churn out films with the main goal of making money, and lots of it, but not so much heart and soul - at least with the larger film companies.
I think I've been proven wrong. Sure, there's a huge financial element to the film industry but listening to the speeches made before the preview screening, the people involved were quite emotional and so incredibly happy with the end result of their hard work. It was touching to see.
A bonus was an appearance by Jack Black, thanking and acknowledging the crew for their hard work. Oh, and seeing J's name in the end credits. Exciting! And lovely to know that he's working for a company that not only treats their employees very well, but appreciates what they do and lets them know it. (He's had some pretty unscrupulous employers over the years who have a whole shite load of bad karma coming their way. One in particular - ironically - just released a major game, L.A. Noire, last week... one that J put a lot of blood and sweat into over the first few years we were back in Sydney, yet he's been given zero credit... arseholes). But enough about that, I'm just so relieved he's happy here, and our Big Move is starting to pay off.
As for the movie itself? Go see it. If you have kids, take them along. If they don't like 3D (it freaks out the Faery and she refuses to wear the glasses) then take them to a 2D session instead because the effects are pretty intense. Not only is the animation the best I've sen yet, but the storyline is simple enough for small kids to follow, without boring the grown ups. Of course I'm biased, but I really do believe it's worth a trip to the cinema for.
After the screening, the crew wrap party was just a short walk away in a beautifully decked out section of Universal Studios - all kinds of Oriental-style lanterns and parasols. Two things about me: 1) I'm a cheap drunk these days and 2) I'm easily impressed when it comes to parties. The first point was not an issue because I was designated driver and had to avoid the free cocktails but with the second point, I think even the most well-seasoned party-goer would have been impressed here.
I won't bore with details about the food - let's just say I was a little Miss Piggy because I wasn't drinking. If you'd seen the food, you understand. Hell, I needed something in my hand! Too many years, pre-kids, of partying with a drink in one hand and cigarette in the other.
Even better were the conversations I had that weren't with little people under the age of five. I met some seriously lovely people and look forward to more of that.
The other fun part was the dance floor. It's been far too long since the last time I was somewhere that had a dance floor, and despite not being lubricated by alcohol, I managed to find the boogie in me. Even my sore toes obliged - for a while. As long as no one stepped on them, I was fine.
When we finally fell into bed the following morning (when was the last time I could say that, huh?) all J and I could say was that we needed to go out like that more often. Not just the odd date night eating out, just us two, but get social. Talk to people, and lots of them. Dance. It's good for the soul.
My final lesson from the night: getting up at 6.30am, after a huge night and only four hours sleep, to sort out the little ones? Hard. In hindsight, not drinking was a smart move... it's now been confirmed that I'm no spring chicken.