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April 10th, 2013


Does your child love movies and love to talk about them? Do you love free stuff? KIDS FIRST! wants to hear from you!

In our KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local, your child can be a film critic too. We now have five titles to choose from to review – and every kid who does a video review gets a prize!

Just send us your child’s video review of Chasing Mavericks, Life of Pi, Return to Nim’s Island, Parental Guidance or Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon and you will receive a free movie ticket or a free skin for your favorite mobile device from ZINGrevolution.com!

All of these films are now out on DVD/Blu-ray, so get your copy today and become a KIDS FIRST! Local Film Critic!

Click here to visit our KIDS FIRST! Critics Go Local website and see the details and instructions for participating. We can’t wait to hear from you!

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Not For Young Audiences

March 25th, 2013

IncredibleBurt.jpgThis new release tells the story of a Las Vegas magician named Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and his sidekick Anton (Steve Buscemi). Be forewarned that this film is rated PG-13 for a good reason. There are sexual situations, rude humor and some disturbing acts that I would not to expose younger kids to. 15-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven Devanney was a bit disappointed, saying the film is “entertaining and has a few hilarious moments, but it isn’t what I expected from a film with so much hype.”

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”

Reviewed by Raven Devanney

Click here to see Raven’s full video review!

I’m actually not that impressed with this movie. When you think of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey (stars of this film) you think of all-out humor, but this movie is lacking in laughs. I feel like they put most of the funny parts of the film into the trailer and left nothing for the movie. I had such high expectations for this film and they were let down. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is entertaining and has a few hilarious moments, but it isn’t what I expected from a film with so much hype.

There is nothing special about the cinematography, it is a quality picture, just like any other 2D film you would see in a theater today. However, I do like the use of colors when it comes to costume and set design by Dayna Pink and Andrea Fenton because they show the more cheesy side of Las Vegas entertainment.

My favorite scene is the very end of the film when Burt and Anton pull their biggest stunt. It’s so funny when you see the “behind the scenes” work that goes into their trick because it seems so ridiculous and over-the-top-funny.

My favorite character is Rance Holloway played by Alan Arkin because he is such a witty character. Rance is the old magician who inspired Burt to become a magician and when Burt meets Rance later in life, it is very comical. Not only are their interactions funny, but also touching. Burt had lost touch with the wonder and amazement that magic brings and Rance is able to re-teach Burt a few old tricks that help him rediscover why he first became a magician.

Overall I give The Incredible Burt Wonderstone 3.5 out of 5 stars because it isn’t as incredible as I expected, but it does have an entertaining quality to it. I recommend this film for ages 13 and up.”

Beautiful, Original Take on Oz But Not for Your Youngest

March 11th, 2013

Oz.Great.jpgThe evergreen classic, Wizard of Oz gets a fresh new look in Disney’s new version, Oz The Great and Powerful starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Here, we have the tall tale about a circus magician, Oscar Diggs (James Franco), who dreams of becoming a great wizard. He sets off in a hot air balloon only to encounter a tornado that sweeps him away to the brilliantly enchanting 3D world of Oz. Seeing this as an opportunity to make something of himself, Oscar (aka Oz) convinces the good people that he is the great wizard they have been waiting for. Once he realizes that being the king of this great land is more work and less play, he has to decide whether or not to stay and protect the people that look up to him most, or continue in his ways of being a scammer.

Our KIDS FIRST! Film critic, 15-year-old Raven Devanney recently attended an advance screening and shares her review below.

Oz the Great and Powerful

by Raven Devanney (age 15)

Click here to see Raven’s full video review!

This movie is beautiful! The CGI is breathtakingly clear and crisp and the 3D pops. I especially love the opening credits which are done in black and white and look like vintage pop-up books. I also love that when it shows dusty Kansas it is in black and white and the screen is small, but as soon as you reach Oz, the images morphs into vivid colors and the screen widens to reveal Oz in all its splendor.

The musical score in this film is wonderful. The composer, Danny Elfman, keeps it lively and whimsical, while diming the mood of the music when the moment is right.

My favorite characters are Oz, played by James Franco and Finley, voiced by Zach Braff. I like Oz because he is so cheesy and such a con man. He always plays girls and lies his way through every possible opportunity. But, Franco does it in a tasteful way that brings cleverness and humor to the film.

I also like Finley who is Oz’s assistant, an adorable little flying monkey. He is always making the funniest comments and is so honest. There is one scene when he is trying to distract someone, and he does the funniest things.

I like how original this plot is because there have been countless numbers of films, plays and stories based on the Wizard of Oz, but I haven’t seen one like this. It is a predictable story line which is usually a thumbs down for me, but this film is so good that it works. The land of Oz is so beautiful and uniquely designed, it is very visually pleasing.  There are definitely some jump scares in this film because of the wicked witches, baboons and the evil forest. So, parents taking children, be advised that they may get frightened.

I give Oz: The Great and Powerful 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 and up.

Check out other great video reviews from our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Anthony Aranda and Cheyenne Nguyen!

Superheroes Unite! Bullying Is Everyone’s Problem.

February 25th, 2013

BystandersBullying films come and go, but some stay with you longer than others. They stay in your mind, your heart, they open you to new ways of looking at things.

How To Unmake A Bully: Bystanders, affected me in this way. It isn’t just a film about standing up to bullies, or about how to change everyone around you. It is a call to action. Reminding us as friends to notice and to care.

This recently endorsed title from MOVIEQUEST Productions is a must-see for all elementary school kids, administrators, teachers and recess staff. It tells the story of three friends who enlist classmates in a heroic journey toward providing super-powered backup to targets of bullying. One student battles his inner doubts as to whether or not he can ever be a hero. It is a sequel to the short film How To Unmake A Bully.

Both our Adult and Child KIDS FIRST! Jurors benefited from this film. “Kids use their “super powers” and huge imagination to fight against real life issues of bullying. They show us how being a bystander is just an opportunity to make a choice: to help or to ignore. By bonding together they effectively take the power out of the hands of kids making bad choices and face their fears as a team. This is a powerful message, empowering kids to help each other and know when it is right to ask for help from adults. Having an elementary-school aged kid myself, I know this would make a huge impression on him, but it’s clear that having other kids to back you up can make all the difference. I hope every school in America will show this to their students and staff, even parents. It makes me feel as if every child can be a hero - and now I know the perfect after-school program: superhero workshop!”

“This may not be the kids’ all-time favorite movie, but it does get them talking! It made them think and discuss ways to deal with bullying at school. One child admitted, “I never really thought that it was bad to just stand by and do nothing, but now I know it’s almost as bad as being the bully.” It seemed to change their outlook, and that’s a great thing! “My favorite part is how they work together and show examples of what can be done” said another Child Juror, while another confessed, “I was bullied last year and some friends stood up for me, so I know what it is like.”

Princesses Like To Rock Too!

February 5th, 2013

moeys.jpgCalling all Princesses! Do you like to rock? Are you ready for a Princess Revolution? If you are, you have to get yourself a copy of Moey’s Music Party: Princess Revolution. KIDS FIRST! recommends this rockin’ CD for kids (especially princesses) ages 1-5.

Moey’s Music Party, the award-winning children’s band, encourages tiara-rific girls everywhere to revel in their brainpower, independence, joy and style. Contains 15 rocking original songs that promote confidence and self-expression while tackling subjects like sharing, body image, keeping promises, and standing up to bullies. Princess Revolution! includes modern musical retellings of classic fairy tales such as “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Princess and the Pea” and “Snow White.”

Here’s what KIDS FIRST! Jurors had to say: Cute rock n’ roll take on music for your favorite princess. Princess theme, but music isn’t too girly, appealing to a wide range of pre-school aged girls. Fun, upbeat songs for your favorite princess. Familiar songs done in an unfamiliar way. Will have kids jumping and singing along. The perfect gift for your music-loving princess!

Kids loved the music too! “These are fun songs.” “I like princesses a lot.” “I know some of the songs, but not like on the CD.” “I like to dance to the songs and I took my princess dolls and let them jump on the bed too!” “I’d like to listen to the Jumping On The Bed song right now.”

Princess Revolution is available for sale from Lemonade Productions LLC at moeysmusicparty.com

Worlds Together, Another Award-Winning Series From Master Communications

January 28th, 2013

worldstogether.jpgThis summer I had the pleasure of reviewing the newest series from Master Communications, Worlds Together. Well known for their Families of The World series, Master Communication’s Worlds Together DVDs take a fresh approach toward cultural understanding.

KIDS FIRST! reviewed three titles in this series, Ethiopia, East Africa and West Africa. All three garnished our highest ranking of All-Star. These films are documentaries, but not in a traditional sense. Intertwining basic facts like geography, they also give you a rare glimpse into the culture of the people, people from different areas and different lifestyles within each region.

Here’s what some of our KIDS FIRST! Adult Jurors had to say: “This DVD teaches history, culture, geography and the diversity of the people living there. Shows the poverty, but also shows the beauty. Children can learn about other children that live in this far away place. Educational from beginning to end. I like how you see the characters at work and at play, they are working together and look happy. A child can see how their culture is different, but also the similarities, to their own.” “Educational and positive. It shows how people live in the different cities in West Africa, East Africa and Ethiopia, and teaches many facts from what languages are spoken to what foods they eat, to how they work and play. In addition to telling facts, it shows them so a child can visually see and understand. A great teaching tool for young children! The scenes near the river are breath-taking and the production quality is very good. A valuable educational film, not overwhelming and easy to follow.”

Geography loving KIDS FIRST! Child Jurors like these DVDs as well. Here are some of our kids’ comments: “Kids seem happy even though they only have things like balls and hoops to play with.” “I was surprised that kids were always smiling and happy even though they don’t have things like video games.” “It shows how they live, how they dress.” “I like to learn about different cultures.” “I like that it is a real documentary and shows how people dress and work.” “I didn’t know that Ethiopia had grass because TV never shows that part. I like seeing a better view of it.” “It wasn’t how I had pictured Ethiopia in my mind.”

You can purchase these titles directly from Master Communications at www.master-comm.com

Steps4Kids Teaches Simple Drawing Techniques

January 22nd, 2013


Does your kid love to doodle, but is frustrated that his house sometimes looks more like a boat? Being creative is one of the most important skills your child can have, but being able to express their ideas in pictures that others will recognize can give them a huge leap in self-esteem.

Steps4Kids, who brought us great DVDs to teach kids to write their ABC’s and to multiply, now offer us an easy-to-follow, colorful and fun product to teach kids basic drawing skills, called Steps4Kids To Draw.

KIDS FIRST! Jurors reviewed this product with their Junior Film Critics, and here is what they have to say:

This is an interactive drawing program. A narrator shows step-by-step how to draw different things including people, animals and objects. The narrator is very clear in how she explains her drawings and shows alternative ways of drawing the same things. She also gives options of how to enhance the drawing. It is easy to follow along and will motivate all ages to try because they make it looks so easy. Simple production, music and lighting are appropriate to the educational content.

This DVD helped kids draw people, shapes, things and animals. They like drawing the objects most. The kids enjoy trying to copy the different drawings and follow the video exactly. They also like to add their own enhancements. The kids wanted to draw along and each told stories about how they made things in their school. They were inspired to create and to discuss.To purchase this DVD, visit the Steps4Kids website by clicking on the producer link here.

New Resource Just For Young Fashionistas

January 8th, 2013

TGSCover.jpgTween Girl Style Magazine (TGSM) launched its winter publication Monday, November 26, 2012, giving girls ages 7 to 13 a one-stop magazine for the latest fashion trends, health advice and other resources for young fashionistas.

TGSM launched its online publication www.tweengirlstylemagazine.com September 2010 with modeling contests, celebrity news and fashion trends. The print publication is an extension of the online magazine.

“Our magazine is a resource center for young girls where they can find trendy new looks, celebrity news and enter fun modeling contests to win prizes,” said Ebony Stith, founder and publisher of TGSM.

Stith said TGSM was created to fill a need for more tween-centered magazines for girls that love to model and show off their talent. Stith started TGSM 2010 when her tween daughter started modeling and Stith discovered there was a lack of resources for tween models.

“My daughter had just started the modeling scene and I needed resources for her,” Stith said. “I launched this publication as not only a resource for girls ages 7 to 13 but I also wanted parents of tween girls to have a one-stop publication that they could trust to find advice for their daughters.”

The online publication has contributing writers and experts who share information on fashion trends, finances and health. There is also acting and modeling advice for both tweens and parents.

“We wanted to create a place that was family friendly and place young girls would enjoy reading,” she added.

The online publication can be found be visiting www.tweengirlstylemagazine.com 

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2013

© Carolyn Seelen | Dreamstime.comHappy New Year and thank you to everyone who participated in the 2013 Film Critic Search. The search is officially closed and voting is over.

Now we have the supreme pleasure of working with our talented judges: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theaters and Magnolia Pictures, Ben Lyons, E! film critic and frequent contributor to ‘Good Morning America,’ and Thelma Adams, whose debut novel Playdate, was an O Magazine pick, was the film critic at Us Weekly for 11 years following six years at the New York Post.

More importantly, we get our first good glimpse of the potential new KIDS FIRST! Film Critics faces.

Good luck to you all - welcome to 2013!

Photo Credit: © Carolyn Seelen | Dreamstime.com

Enter, Vote and Support KIDS FIRST!

December 11th, 2012

Please support our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics programs with a tax-deductible donation. Any amount helps! Click here to make a quick donation, or contact us for more information.
Have you entered your audition review in the 2013 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Search yet? No? What are you waiting for? It’s already time to vote (but there’s still time to enter too.)

Whether you enter or not, you can still help us choose the next KIDS FIRST! Film Critics. After all, if you get our newsletter, follow us on facebook, listen to our KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions radio show or even watch our reviews online, you have a vested interest in who will be the new faces on our reviews.

So let’s get out the vote.

  1. Visit our Film Critic Search page at 2013critic.kidsfirst.org/vote/ This will take you to the Browse & Vote Here page.
  2. Click on any or all of the videos to watch the audition.
  3. Hover your mouse over the stars beneath the video. They should turn from gray to yellow as you hover, and click on the number of stars you’d like to give that person.
  4. If you really love the video, leave a nice comment!
  5. Vote on as many videos as you like. Come back to the page (or refresh) in order to cast your vote for the same video again.
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