Fresh Angeles: He's Bringing Awesome Back

He's Bringing Awesome Back

Recently some local LA Mom Bloggers and myself were invited by Dreamworks Animation to watch Kung Fu Panda 2, and experience the Year of Awesomeness. We sat in one of the fancy screening rooms, with comfy reclining chairs, which was very awesome. Then we were introduced to the editor, Clare Knight (a lot of women werewho talked about her wonderful experience working on this film. Also a fun fact, was that her child voice is that of baby Po. Absolutely Adorable!
Let me say the movie is really good. A great sequel to the first one, which can be a hard task to pull off. I was really bummed that my husband and teenagers were unable to make it, because they all would've liked it. My 3 year old sat through the whole thing without even taking a potty break. I thought the storyline was excellent, the way they explained how Po (the Panda) came to be raised by his Dad, Mr. Ping. (the Goose) There are a lot of flashbacks of baby Po. (Which was one of my daughter's favorite parts - She kept talking about Po as a baby.) The Furious Five relationship with Po have gotten closer since we last left them. They are a true team now. Jack Black (Po) is as funny as ever. Tigress (Angelina Jolie) has a bigger role.
Image Courtesy of Dreamworks Animation
We also are introduced to a new villian, Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) and boy is he mean. He wants to take over China, and defeat the Furious Five (6, including Po) and he's got the weapon to do it. Lord Shen also has a hand in Po's past and knows what really happened to our main characters biological parents. The downside of this movie, is that it is darker than the first. Which was fine for my 3 year old, but I did hear another little girl cry in the theater. (I think out of fear) So be thoughtful of how your own child reacts to things. (It's rated PG for mild violence) And know that some scenes and characters may be scary to the younger viewers. The overall theme of the movie was a very positive message. It dealt with losing your parents (a typical theme with animated movies - for some strange reason) adoption, looking beyond differences and acceptance. The basic theme that I took away from the film was It doesn't matter what happened in your past, who you are now is what's important and you can create your own destiny. The last exciting part of the movie is the end leaves you with a sense that a sequel may be coming. Actually I'm 99% sure that a Kung Fu Panda 3 is in the works. Yay!
Next we were treated to a delicious lunch, and our children were treated to a Toy Demo. Mattel was nice enough to bring out all of their newest line of toys, all inspired from the film. And they had it all! Kung Fu Wrestler Po, Baby Po, Posable Po, Smack Talking Po, Little Po, Big Po. (Not to be confused with Big Poo) No matter who your child's favorite character is or what age, Mattel has got you covered. From Tigress to Monkey to the evil Lord Shen. (BwaHaHa) 
They even had collectible Trading Cards, which were one of my favorites. But the overall favorite toy, the one that the kids were literally fighting over (I know, because my daughter was one of them) was the "Golden Cannon." (As pictures above - Looks like a Gold Chinese Dragon) Yes, leave it to the weapon of mass destruction to get the kids all in a frenzy. The coolest part about it was that it launches these little torpedo pieces. (Sound effects provided by your own child) The other winning toy was the Kung Fu Po Wrestler. It's a large plush animal Po. He talks, says his little funny phrases that only Jack Black would. It's the perfect partner to teach your little one Kung Fu, and then soft enough to cuddle with them in bed at night. (Available now at your toy stores everywhere)
Finally before the event came to an end, we were taken on a tour of the palace, I mean place. I must admit I was giddy about this part of the day. I mean c'mon, Dreamworks is the studio who created animated films like How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar and Shrek. I kept hoping I'd run into Marty, Melman, Gloria or Alex... but no luck! They were probably hiding out in the lush gardens.
I also figured out the secret to DreamWorks Animation's success. It's because the artists work at heaven on earth. Well actually they work in Glendale, but the campus that the animators work on is pretty perfect. (Now I know why they were voted one of Fortune's 2011 Top Ten companies to work for.) They even call it a campus, which is exactly what it reminded me of. An ultra chic college, but with a hotel resort in the middle of it all. Yes, it was that nice. The architecture is old style mediterranean full of arches and towers, all surrounded by lush trees. The flowers seemed just a little bit brighter and more colorful there. They had a commissary where the employees eat breakfast and lunch for FREE everyday. And it had it's own dessert station. They have ponds with coy fish, a lagoon, and a large water fountain. They play ping pong at lunch. Some even work out with a personal trainer during breaks. They were doing all of these activities while we were there. I also found out that they offer their employees classes like drawing, painting and voiceover technique. Isn't that FABULOUS? And is anyone else as terribly jealous as I am?
Well in case you couldn't tell it was a wonderful day. I am so thankful that my daughter and I got the opportunity to experience Dreamworks in such a candid way. (Special Thanks to Kelley and Kim)
Here are some Printable activities and fun things to download that you can do with your children, to get into the Crafty Kung Fu Panda spirit. Full of 3D Characters to make, BookMarks, Games, Pencil Toppers, Etc.
Make sure to look for Dreamworks Animation's next movie coming out this fall, Puss in Boots.
If you'd like follow Dreamworks on TWITTER and check out KFP2's FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

*Full Disclosure: I was not paid or compensated for this post. I was invited to the screening of Kung Fu Panda 2, and given some toys to help facilitate my review. The opinions here are my own, and not influenced in any way by my crush on a giant panda bear named Po.*