Book Based Films Offer Evergreen Entertainment in The Snowman and Its Sequel, The Snowman and Snowdog

November 23rd, 2015

THeSnowman.jpgThe Snowman is one of my all-time favorite pieces of animation. Directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by Jonathan Coates, this non-narrative film truly is filled with wonder. The haunting music by Howard Blake, “Walking in the Air,” stays with me for days every time I watch this film. Based on the best-selling book by Raymond Briggs, this animation is true to the original story and one to share with your family during the holiday season. N Circle Entertainment has done a brilliant thing in creating a DVD containing both The Snowman and the its sequel, The Snowman and Snowdog which was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the original. Also a non-narrative film, the sequel introduces a  new character and is as charming as the original. Dedicated to John Coates and featuring the new song, “Light the Night” by former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, it is an extremely thoughtful sequel and was made using traditional hand-drawn animation, not CGI. This collection is really a treasure!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing… Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!” Kamren W. adds, “I was amazed how, even with no voices, they are easy to follow and very enjoyable.” See their full reviews below.

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snow Dog Double Feature - Collector’s Edition

By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16 

These extravagant films have a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog is a double feature masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The two short films are based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.  This double feature collector’s edition is a true keepsake that includes the original film, and its sequel. It also includes three bonus features: The story of The Snowman, an alternate introduction from David Bowie and a behind-the-scenes documentary and interview with the writer, Raymond Briggs. The total length of the two films is 60 minutes, plus the bonus content. 

These extravagant films have a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog is a double feature masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The two short films are based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.  This double feature collector’s edition is a true keepsake that includes the original film, and its sequel. It also includes three bonus features: The story of The Snowman, an alternate introduction from David Bowie and a behind-the-scenes documentary and interview with the writer, Raymond Briggs. The total length of the two films is 60 minutes, plus the bonus content.

In The Snowman, a young boy James wakes up one morning and finds snow on the ground. He quickly gets dressed and runs outside. He then builds a huge snowman. He gives it eyes, a nose, a scarf and a hat. He even gives it a big smiley face. After building the entire snowman by himself, it is time for James to go to bed. When he wakes up he notices that the Snowman has moved a little, so he runs downstairs and out the door. He then notices that the Snowman is glowing, moves some more and then, totally comes to life. James is flabbergasted to see a live Snowman. The Snowman and James introduce themselves and become great friends. The rest the film shows the two flying around having so much fun and adventure throughout the day.


In The Snowman and the Snow Dog, a young boy and his mother move to a new house. The boy finds a box with a snowman-making kit under the flooring. He then runs outside and starts to build a snowman.  After he is done, he uses all the leftover snow to make a little, adorable snow dog. When he is finished, it is time to go to bed. When he wakes up he sees the dog move a little, he then jumps with joy and races down the stairs to see what is happening. To his surprise, the snowman and the snow dog start to glow and move. Even more to his surprise, they come alive. He then becomes friends with them and they travel and have adventures all around the North Pole and meet a special someone.

The book, The Snowman was adapted for the screen in 1982. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated short film. The animation of the drawings is just amazing, bringing to life so many memories from the days of movie shorts. The silence in the film, meaning that there is no dialogue, makes it even more beautiful and old fashioned.  The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing. It fits perfectly with everything the boy and the snowman are doing at given times. Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. The songs in the movie are also catchy and addicting to sing along with.  I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!


The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snow Dog are appropriate for ages 1 to 12.  I rate this whimsical double-feature 5 out of 5 stars. It is available on DVD now. 

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snow Dog Double Feature - Collector’s Edition

By Kamren W., KIDS FIRST! Film Review Critic, age 9

These two enjoyable silent films are made with great hand-drawn animation and easy-to-follow storylines about a little boy who builds a snowman that comes to life. The theme is very simple and fun to watch, plus, who doesn’t love snowmen? Both films remind me of the picture books by Raymond Briggs that they are based on. I was amazed how, even with no voices, they are easy to follow and very enjoyable. 

The two films have been released as a double feature, the 1982 film The Snowman along with the 2012 sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog. In The Snowman, the little boy brings the snowman inside! The snowman becomes curious and starts to mess with things around the house, he even starts messing with hot water and melts a little. The snowman and little boy go on a flying adventure to a party where they meet Father Christmas. The sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog, although very similar to the first, introduces a new boy who finds a snowman making kit. In this film, there is also a dog made from snow who accompanies the little boy and the snowman on an adventure

The animation team does not use 3D or a lot of colors. There are funny scenes in both films. In the first film, the snowman starts to dress up in the boy’s parent’s clothes. This made me think of how kids like dressing up in their parent’s clothes. One interesting thing in both films was the different cultures of snowmen. In the first film, the Hawaiian snowman stood out to me. In the second film, there are many Asian snowmen at the parties.

The musical score is played by an orchestra in both films. The music is very calming. Through the songs you experience different emotions, especially in The Snowman and the Snowdog. The boy, dog and snowman are in a race and the music is very happy and, in one scene, very fast which adds a new emotional element.

I recommend these films to children ages 2 to 6. Parents will enjoy not having to worry if it is appropriate or not. I give both films 4 out of 5 stars. There are a few bonus features which talks about how popular the classic picture book was and why author Raymond Briggs decided to make the film. This Collector’s Edition Double Feature DVD is available in stores now.

KIDS FIRST! 2015 Holiday Gift Guide - DVDs, Audio Recordings, Theatrical Releases, E-Books

November 23rd, 2015

As the holidays approach, you are looking for the perfect gift for that niece, nephew, sister-in-law and of course, your own kids and family members. You know what the people closest to you want and need, but those relatives who you don’t see as often are a bit of a challenge. Check out our compilation of DVDs, Feature Films, Audio Recordings and E-Books to help you find the perfect gift for your loved ones. Many have been reviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critics and we’ve provided a link to their video reviews which gives you the kids’ point of view. More film reviews are available on our homepage. Happy Holidays from KIDS FIRST!



Armed with the amazing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang joins forces with his new mentor Dr. Hank Pym to protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from ruthless villains! With humanity’s fate in the balance, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a daring heist against insurmountable odds. Filled with humor, awesome special effects and exclusive bonus features, this action-packed adventure takes you to new levels of pulse-pounding excitement! MSRP: $39.99 Video review:

214189.Avengers.jpgAvengers: Age of Ultron 

When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure. MSRP: $39.99. Video review:



For the first time ever, a whole new world of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Aladdin will be revealed in aA whole new way on Blu-ray with never-before-seen bonus. Rediscover how three wishes can change everything in Disney’s timeless adventure for the whole family. MSRP: $29.99. Video review:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. Though he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother, and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner and Ed Oxenbould as Alexander. MSRP: $36.99. Video review:


Walt Disney Animation Studios is releasing the live action version of Cinderella on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere. The movie stars Cate Blanchett as Stepmother (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Lily James as Cinderella (TV’s “Downton Abbey”), Richard Madden (TV’s “Game of Thrones”) as Prince, Stellan Skarsgård (Marvel’s: “The Avengers,” “Thor”) as Grand Duke, Holliday Grainger (“Jane Eyre”) as Anastasia, Derek Jacobi (“The King’s Speech” ) as King, and Helena Bonham Carter as Fairy Godmother (“Alice in Wonderland”). MSRP: $36.89. Video review:


When Oh, a lovable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human, and together they discover the true meaning of the word HOME. MRSP: $19.04. Video review:

INsideout.jpgInside Out

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Jay, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school. Directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen. Starring Diane Lane, Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler. MSRP: $39.99. Video review:

The Legend of Longwood

Crumbling castles, frightening spirits, beautiful horses and a plucky, fearless heroine all come together in this magical quest film, set in the starkly beautiful landscapes of rural Ireland. When 12-year-old Mickey Miller moves from New York to Ireland, she soon discovers a link between herself and the 300-year-old legend of the mysterious Black Knight, who regularly haunts the sleepy Irish village. MSRP: $16.97. Video review:

Little House on the Prairie – The Complete Collection

Fall in love again with the classic TV series that celebrates family, faith and the human spirit, and enjoy the nine-season saga with vividly restored picture and sound. Completely uncut and remastered, this 48-disc set features all nine seasons and is packed with eight hours of bonus material, including the 96-minute original pilot movie, a cast screen test with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, the six-part  “The ‘Little House’ Phenomenon” documentary that takes a historical look back at the acclaimed series and three movie specials. MSRP:$149.98

MLP.EquestiaGirls.Friendship.jpgMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Friendship Games

Every four years, Canterlot High has ‘The Friendship Games’ where they must rival with different schools with a series of different sporting events and every year, the cup has gone to Crystal Prep. So Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, and Sunset Shimmer must work together to win the cup. But they find out that the other Twilight Sparkle is on the opposing team. MSRP: $17.98. Video review:

Once Upon a Sign: The Magic Mirror

In this DVD, young Alice Cogswell wants to enter the talent show but she’s unsure of herself. After an audition that doesn’t go her way, she gets some magic help. But will this magic help get her to the talent show and help her ASL poetry sparkle? MSRP: $15.95. Video review:

SOUP_wrap_dimensional_1.jpgOnce Upon a Sign: The New Stone Soup

This new DVD tells the story of three traveling magicians who hope to enjoy a delicious meal after entertaining the folks in a local village. The people are happy to revel in the show but are not willing to share their food with the performers, so the trio comes up with a plan to get the community to contribute food and learn that sharing can be a joyous and happy thing. MSRP: $15.95.

Once Upon a Sign: The New Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and his family are struggling to make ends meet. After Jack returns from a chance encounter, it seems his family will continue to struggle. But overnight, a dramatic change happens in their front yard. How will this change impact the family? And how will it impact Los Angeles? MSRP: $15.95.

THeSeventhDwarf.jpgThe Seventh Dwarf

Venture into the wondrous world of Fantabularasa Castle and be spellbound by the exciting adventures of your favorite storybook characters in The Seventh Dwarf. With an exceptional voice cast of Peyton List,, Norm Macdonald, Nina Hagen and Joshua Graham, this new CG-animated motion picture is a hilarious mash-up of the best classic fairytales, packed with beloved storybook characters,  non-stop laughs and toe-tapping songs!  MSRP $14.99. Video review:


Bound by a shared destiny, a teen (Britt Robertson) bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor (George Clooney) embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory. MSRP: $39.99. Video review:

The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series   

This 15 disc set contains all 91 episodes of the popular Nickelodeon series. The hit series follows the Thornberry family as they travel the world in their Communications Vehicle (or CommVee) looking for rare animals to film. After an encounter with a mysterious shaman, their youngest child Eliza was given the power to speak to animals! Traveling to every corner of the world with her family of daffy documentarians, Eliza uses her fantastic skill to learn about the lifestyles and habitats of the world’s most exotic creatures. MSRP $29.99.

The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki (Amazon Exclusive)

Includes a 1972 TV Pilot directed by Miyazaki, three episodes from the hit anime series “Little Samurai” and a commemorative booklet. For the first time, all 11 of Miyazaki’s feature-length masterpieces are packaged in collection, complete with bonus features. Included films are: Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979); Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984); Castle in the Sky (1986); My Neighbor Totoro (1988); Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989); Porco Rosso (1992); Princess Mononoke (1997); Spirited Away (2001) ; Howl’s Moving Castle (2004); Ponyo (2008/2009); The Wind Rises (2013) MSRP: $224.99

Gumby.jpgGumby: The Gumby Show, The Complete 50s Series

For the first time ever, the complete Gumby Show has been re-mastered from its original camera rolls and soundtracks with the brilliant colors and full-length formats as first aired in the 1950s. These imaginative, surrealistic, stop motion animated masterpieces will mesmerize children and adults of all ages. MSRP: $24.99. Video review:

Shaun the Sheep

From Aardman, the producers of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit comes Shaun the Sheep Movie, a farm-tastic adventure for the whole family. MEET SHAUN! He’s a little sheep with big dreams, and lately, life on Mossy Bottom Farm has become a bit dull. When Shaun takes the day off for some fun in the Big City, he gets a lot more action than he bargained for. Now Shaun and his flock must use their wits to hatch a baaaa-rilliant plan to get back home in an adventure the whole family will love. MSRP: $34.99 (BR)/$29.95 (DVD) Video. Review:


ABCMeetMonsters.2D.jpgABC Monsters: Starring ABCD

The ABC Monsters are on the loose and only Alice, Brian and Cherry Berry can catch them. 26 cuddly ABC Monsters live within the walls of Capital Castle. Each monster represents a letter of the alphabet, but should any of the monsters go missing for longer than a day, all the letters will be wiped clean from every book in Capital Town, so it’s very important to make sure that all the ABC Monsters are safely back in Alphabet Gardens before the sun goes down. MSRP: $9.99.  Video review:

Chuggington: The Big Freeze

The chuggers perform one heroic rescue after another in this cool new seasonal collection of “Chuggington” adventures! When icy temperatures cause the town to run out of fuel and all diesel engines are grounded, it’s wheels-to-the-rails as Chief Jackman and his team of brave Chug Patrollers work together to find a way to the frozen docks to retrieve fuel and get the town of Chuggington moving once again. MSRP: $14.98.

Doozers: Giant Gingerbread House

The Pod Squad want to build a Doozer-sized Gingerbread House. However, in order to achieve such a large size Gingerbread House it’s going to take some clever construction to create. Can the Pod Squad do it? Then, Daisy Wheel wants to ice skate with the others, but she doesn’t know how. Together, the Pod Squad build her a custom Doo-Step Skating Dress that lets her glide across the ice in no time. Weee! Enjoy these adventures and six more focusing on science, technology, engineering and math! MSRP: $9.99.

Maya.jpgMaya The Bee Movie

Based on the well-known children’s novel and popular animated series, this animated feature brings to life an enchanting story of a little bee named Maya and her exciting adventure of self-discovery and fantastical fun. This is an instant classic that delivers wholesome family entertainment— emphasizing the importance of friendship, freedom and courage. Originally a German children’s novel by Waldemar Bonsels, The Adventures of Maya the Bee was published over a hundred years ago in 1912. MSRP $15.80. Video review:

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (3 Movie Gift Set)

Join Twilight Sparkle and her Canterlot High friends in three animated adventures! With a special lenticular cover featuring a transforming Twilight Sparkle, the box set houses all three films released from the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls canon, Equestria Girls, Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games. Bonus features include audio commentaries, animated shorts and deleted scenes. MSRP $29.93. Video review:

Strawberry Shortcake Berry Tales
Join Plum in “Snowberry and the Seven Berrykins” as she learns to believe in herself when putting on a small and simple play.  In “Berryella and Prince Berry Charming,” Huck agrees to be in a production, but then quickly realizes that he’d be happier behind the scenes.  Strawberry, Lemon and Raspberry star as three princesses on a quest to rule a kingdom in “The Littlest Berrykin,” and realize that they can never succeed without kindness and generosity. MSRP: $14.98.

Tinkerbell.Never.jpgTinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

An ancient myth of a massive creature sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell and her good friend Fawn, an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to help an animal in need. But this creature is not welcome in Pixie Hollow — and the scout fairies are determined to capture the mysterious beast, who they fear will destroy their home. Fawn must convince her fairy friends to risk everything to rescue the NeverBeast. This thrilling action-adventure roars to life with never-before-seen bonus extras on Blu-ray and DVD. MSRP: $36.99. Video review:


SM.CHRISTMAS.D.JPGA Christmas Detour

Two NYC bound travelers find themselves inextricably linked when a freak snowstorm waylays their Christmas plans to an overcrowded airport hotel in Buffalo. Eternal optimist and hopeless romantic, Paige Summers, desperately needs to find a way to the city so that she can meet her fiancé’s parents before her storybook wedding — and it’s up to a guy she can’t stand, fellow passenger and total stranger Dylan Mackenzie, a guy permanently soured on romance after his girlfriend broke his heart to rise to the occasion and become Paige’s off-white Knight in shining armor. Exclusive to Walmart and Sam’s Club. MSRP: $14.93.

A Crown for Christmas

Allie has taken care of her brothers and sisters ever since their parents died when they were just kids, and now, she and her sister Lisa work as maids in a first-class Manhattan hotel. By a twist of fate, Allie meets Ryland, a King in disguise staying at the hotel, and on the very same day loses her job due to unruly hotel guests. In an effort to apologize for Allie losing her job, one of Ryland’s closest servants offers her the role of Governess (a glorified Nanny) for Ryland’s 10-year-old daughter Teddy. Walmart/Sam’s Club Exclusive. MSRP: $14.93

Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas

The story of Buddy the elf, and his quest to reunite with the human father he never knew existed. While Buddy’s sincerity and idealism are commonplace at the North Pole, these attributes are rejected in cynical New York City. But through song, dance, and relentless good cheer, Buddy rekindles the spirit of Christmas for the entire city. Voice talent of Jim Parsons, Mark Hamill, Kate Micucci and Ed Asner. MSRP: $14.98 (DVD)/$19.98 (BR)

HomeAloneCollection.jpgHome Alone 25th Anniversary Edition

This gift set features all five films packaged together for the first time in a collectible paint can. Includes all 5 films together for first time! Includes: Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Home Alone 3, Home Alone: Taking Back the House, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist. MSRP: $39.99.

Ice Sculpture Christmas

As a little girl, Callie Shaw always knew she wanted to be an amazing chef.  Now, after spending years trying to get her foot in the door, she’s losing faith that she has what it takes to succeed.  Is it time to give up?  Working as the entry-level new hire in her hometown’s country club kitchen, Callie finally gets the opportunity to make a name for herself through a culinary Christmas ice-sculpture contest!  Walmart/Sam’s Club Exclusive. MSRP: $14.93.

The Nutcracker Sweet

Features the voices of an all-star cast including Alicia Silverstone, Ed Asner and Drake Bell. It  is Christmas Eve and the Silberhaus children are excited for the festivities to begin. Marie and Fritz are playing in the children’s room when their godfather Drosselmayer arrives and presents them with an early Christmas gift, a Nutcracker. Marie witnesses a great battle between a vast army of toy soldiers led by the Nutcracker against a terrible platoon of mice commanded by the Mouse King.  MSRP: $14.93.

Tis_The_Season_For_Love_DVD_f.jpgPee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special

As you’ve never seen it before, beautifully restored, re-mastered and in HD. Join the whole Playhouse gang for one of the wackiest specials ever! With laughs for the whole family, this unique, triple Emmy®-nominated special offers all the imagination and charm of Saturday morning’s most outrageous TV series, which became a cultural milestone when it aired from 1986-1991. MSRP $6.95 (DVD) / $19.97 (BR)

‘Tis The Season For Love

Hanna Baker, left her small town of Kern to seek the stardom that everyone knew was her destiny.  Now, ten years later, with none of her dreams coming to fruition and feeling like a failure, Hanna heads back to Kern for a real hometown, family Christmas, to cheer her up. Once back, Hanna sees that life in Kern has moved on quite nicely without her and she soon finds herself longing for her past.  MSRP: $14.93.


AndyZ.ClassicSongs.jpgAndy Z: Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes

Beloved American folk songs blended with classic children’s songs that the younger set just can’t get enough of. Andy brings together two genres that complement one another beautifully and captures the heart and intention of the songs as they were originally written.  For this 15-song album, he used true-to-genre instrumentation, thoughtful arrangements and restored lyrics. MSRP: $14.98.

Big Block Singsong Volume 1

Who knew that being so square could be so cool! Big Block Singsong is a terrific musical, visual DVD romp. Creators Warren Brown and Adam Goddard have hit the creative mother load here - what seems so simple is so deceiving in its well-designed construction - the ’simple’ individual block characters sing a two-minute nicely produced song that covers subjects from noses and hair to emotions of sadness and happiness, so you see the sky’s the limit, or not.

Calling All the Elephants

CallingAllTheElephantsCover5x5_72dpi.jpgRandy & Dave, two hit songwriters from different genres, started writing some silly songs for kids. “Silly” soon morphed into over-the-top, laugh-out-loud funny. Randy’s country roots and Dave’s children’s pop roots come together to create a wacky, seesaw feel, moving from a country stroll where the wit of the lyrics sneaks up on you to a rock ‘n’ roll sprint where an outrageous lyric slams into you. MSRP: $14.98

Dancin in the Kitchen: Songs for ALL Families by Cathy and Marcy

This CD knocked my socks off so I immediately decided to dance barefoot in the kitchen - great decision. This album is a breath of fresh air that climbs the mountain of rarefied musical integrity and promotes acceptance and tolerance on so many levels. You will not be disappointed or dismayed, this album is special and grabs you from the first downbeat to the last fade-away. MSRP: $15;

DOYOUBELIEVE_1.JPGDo You Believe in Magic

Original fantasy musical/rock opera for tweens, teens, combining colorful characters, compelling story, infectious songs, danceable duets, narration, full musical score. Percy Jackson meets Into The Woods. Enchanted books, witches break into song! MSRP: $15.

Happy Kids Songs

These full-production songs are both highly entertaining and age appropriate–adult quality music with words and themes that tap into the most common issues confronting 4- to 8-year-olds. The variety of adult and child soloists, children’s chorus and wide range of instruments and musical styles easily hold children’s attention and parents’ too. These songs were written and produced by award-winning child psychologist, Dr. Mac, who has also been the music director and songwriter for the PBS hit, Jay Jay the Jet Plane. MSRP: $19.80; http://www.happykidssongs.comHappyKidsSongs_1.jpg

Hot Air by Recess Monkey

‘Hot Air’ rises to the occasion and delivers a potent punch of fun, danceable and delightfully listenable tunes that will lift your spirits and take you on flights of fancy that are frown resistant. Recess Monkey is a tried and true band of experienced and educated musicians who have inhaled the wonderful songwriting and production values of top groups from the late 60’s and 70’s and have exhaled a new, original and pleasing paradigm of songs that are kid-friendly but more importantly, kid-conscious. MSRP: $13.

Let’s Boogie

The debut album from Toronto children’s’ rock band, Rock’n'Rainbow, this CD is a family dance party of high energy tunes with catchy hooks & funk-rock rhythms, exploring favorite forms of exercise: biking, heading out on scooters & boogying-on-down. Rainbow Songs Inc. MSRP: $14.97.

Nursery Rhyme Parade!

This new album presents 35 familiar nursery rhymes and songs. These fresh and sparely produced tracks provide the perfect opportunity for parents to remember their own childhoods, and to connect with their kids through melody, rhythm and rhyme.  Acclaimed children’s book and magazine illustrator Ekaterina Truhan created the sprightly animal parade art for the album and noted singer Renee Stahl guests. Exclusive to Amazon, MSRP: $9.99 CD; $8.99 Digital

The Pop Ups - Bird and Rhino 

Stomp those fires out with The Pop Ups. This is an animated music video, featuring a song from their brand new album, Great Pretenders Club, exclusively at Amazon. Animator: Garrett Davis, Artists: Jacob Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein. MSRP: $7.99;


LEGO Dimensions
The all-new collection merges physical LEGO brick building and interactive console gameplay. Includes the videogame, bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three LEGO Minifigures, Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle, plus the LEGO Batmobile, and the LEGO Toy Pad, which allows players to transport special LEGO minifigures and models into the game, as well as direct in-game action all with the movement of the physical toys.  MSRP: $99.99


Brings together 20 years of history and inspiration from some of the most beloved games in the venerable franchise, to create the definitive racing game experience. Introduces compelling and innovative gameplay through Five Ways to Play - Speed, Style, Build, Crew, and Outlaw. Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC. ESRB: T. MSRP: $69.99

NHL 16

Built with more fan feedback and insights than ever before, NHL 16 delivers your most requested features and modes along with new experiences that make NHL bigger and better. ESRB: E, MSRP: $59.99

Star Wars Battlefront

Feeling the ominous thud of an AT-AT stomping down on the frozen tundra of Hoth. Rebel forces firing blasters as Imperial speeder bikes zip through the lush forests of Endor. Intense dogfights between squadrons of X-wings and TIE fighters filling the skies. Immerse yourself in the epic Star Wars battles you’ve always dreamed of and create new heroic moments of your own in Star Wars Battlefront. ESRB: T, MSRP: $69.99

Project CARS

Represents the next-generation of racing simulation as the ultimate combination of fan desire and developer expertise. With a Franchise Mode that allows you to carve out a personalized career starting in the Karting world and then progressing on to whichever motorsport specialization you prefer. ESRB: E, MSRP: $39.99


Alvin.jpgAlvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, PG, Comedy. In theaters: December 18, 2015
Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them.  They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother. Starring Bella Thorne, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Anna Faris.

Bridge of Spies, PG-13, Biography, Drama, History. In Theaters Now
An American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda and Amy Ryan.

Video review:

Brooklyn, PG-13, Drama, Romance. In theaters: November 6, 2015
In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Brid Brennan, Maeve McGrath and Emma Lowe.

Video review:

Everest.jpgEverest, Biography. In Theaters Now
A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm. Starring Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Video review:

Goosebumps, PG, Comedy, Adventure. In Theaters Now teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

Video review:

Jem and the Holograms, PG, Adventure. In Theaters Now
As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden. Starring Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott and Aurora Perrineau

Video review:

Joy, NR, Comedy-drama. In theaters: December 25, 2015
Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

spectre.jpgSpectre, Action, PG-13, Adventure. In theaters November 6, 2015
A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE. Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux.

Video review:

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, PG, Action, Adventure. In theaters December 28, 2015
A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Directed by J.J. Abrams, Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Adam Driver.

The 33, PG-13, Drama. In theaters November 6, 2015
Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days. Starring Naomi Scott, Cote de Pablo, Kate del Castillo, James Brolin.
Video review:

The Good Dinosaur, PG, Adventure, Comedy. In theaters: November 27, 2015
An epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn and A.J. Buckley.

Interview with Michael O’Brien:

HungerGames.MJ.2_1.jpgThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, PG-13, Adventure, Sci-Fi. November 20, 2015
After being symbolized as the “Mockingjay”, Katniss Everdeen and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

Video review:

The Intern. PG-13,  Comedy. In Theaters now
70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin. Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo and Anders Holm.

Video review:

The Martian, Adventure, PG-13, Drama. In Theaters now

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

Video review: href=”

ThePeanuts.jpgThe Peanuts Movie, G, 3D Animation, In theaters: November 6, 2015
Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home. Starring Trombone Shorty, Rebecca Bloom amd Anastasia Bredikhina.

Video review:


A Blanket Quite Rare

There once was a boy with a blanket quite rare that his mother had told him was made with great care.  It came on his birthday with colors so bright It made him feel happy all day and all night. Neptune Press. MSRP: $12

The Loneliest Tree -

Not very far from the big city is a very special farm. It’s special because it grows special trees…Christmas trees! The trees are able to stretch their graceful branches covered with needles and pine cones toward the sun as they grow taller and taller–all but one. Neptune Press. MSRP: $9.95

ShipShape.jpgShip Shape (Upton Charles – Dog Detective)

When the Chief of Police calls the Charles family to report that a brand new boat and trailer are missing  from the boat show, Upton is immediately recruited to apply his detective skills to the disappearance. Our super sleuth is a Bichon Frise (that’s “BEE-shon free-ZEY”), a little white dog, who  wastes no time in sniffing out clues that lead to a surprising discovery.  During the course of the investigation, Upton is joined by a new assistant. Neptune Press. MSRP: $7.99

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - Nothing Can Prepare You For The End

November 21st, 2015

HungerGames.MJ.2_1.jpgThis closing film to The Hunger Games trilogy shows Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion leading an army against President Snow. Her tragic journey finally comes to an end with this emotional finish. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is surprisingly more creative and suspenseful than all the prior films in the franchise.” See his full review below.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Clayton P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is surprisingly more creative and suspenseful than all the prior films in the franchise. However, there are a couple of things about the film that are not fantastic. I don’t think that Jennifer Lawrence does a great job in this film. It seems as if she was asleep throughout the movie. This film again stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hucherson as Peeta Mellark. They are supported by Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed all the Hunger Games films except the first.

Brooklyn – Two Countries, Two Loves, One Heart

November 12th, 2015


This romantic drama follows an Irish immigrant who lands in 1950s Brooklyn where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist in each. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mia A. comments, “Brooklyn is a romantic drama that I would watch again and again because of its heartfelt moments and the relationship between the characters. “ See her full review below.

By Mia A, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, is a romantic drama that I would watch again and again because of its heartfelt moments and the relationship between the characters.

Brooklyn is about a girl named Eilis who lives in Ireland with her sister and mother and is going to America to find a better opportunity for work.  It is hard for her when she first moves to America because she grieves over leaving her family and is terribly homesick.  She falls madly in love in New York. Eilis returns to Ireland for a family crisis and she puts herself in a very complicated situation, making her wonder if she ever wants to leave Ireland again.

The acting in Brooklyn makes it realistic and a pleasure to watch.  The cast members are chosen very well and they play their parts with a lot of character and emotion.  My favorite character is Eilis, played by Irish American actress Saoirse Ronan.  She is a perfect Eilis because she is so believable which helps build the audience’s love for the story.  

I really felt the love between Tony and Eilis.  Tony, played by Emory Cohen, is sweet, funny, and sweeps Eilis off her feet when she is vulnerable and needing comfort the most.  Tony’s Italian heritage both attracts her and stretches her as a character.

The settings, scenery and costumes are appropriate for the time period of the 1950s and really captures the essence of wMia3.jpghat it life would have been like in Ireland and Brooklyn at that time.  The costumes are very realistic and transport the viewer to a different time and place.

My favorite scene is when two of her boarding school friends teach Eilis how to eat spaghetti properly in preparation for dinner with Tony’s Italian family.  This scene got many people in the audience laughing.

The moral to this story is that “home is home.”  We also see that home is where the heart is. Eilis loves both Ireland and America, and a gentleman in both places.  Which man and which home will she ultimately choose?

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars for the beautiful romance and the amazing settings.  I recommend this for ages 13 to 18.  Parents should be aware that there is some bad language and there is a sex scene that they might not want their younger kids to watch.

If you are a romance lover or looking for a cinema vacation, aka “cinecation”, then Brooklyn is just right for you!  Check out this movie on November 4th in theaters near you.

The 33 – A Tragic Accident and a Heroic Rescue

November 11th, 2015


Five years ago, the world followed this tragic accident in an unknown small mining town in Chile where 33 miners were trapped 2000 feet below the surface. We have heard about this type of mining accident before but, what stood out here were the family members who never lost hope and set up camp near the mine to force the powers that be to pay attention and rescue their loved ones trapped below. We know how the story ends, how against all odds, after two months these miners emerged from their death trap. The miners were in the news again recently when they visited the Pope who celebrated the 5th anniversary of their rescue. This film brings their story into perspective and makes you feel their pain. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Harmony M. comments, “Watching this film made me feel the pain of the miners, the anxiety of the families and the stress of the rescue team. I could personally feel the struggle from every side of the story.” Lainey A. adds, “This movie is so suspenseful because it connects the audience to the characters and I did not want to see any of them die.” See their full review below.
The 33

By Harmony M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

With its empowering story, visuals and acting, this film brings another true survival story to life. A group of thirty three gold miners go to work in the underlying mountains of Chile when their lives quickly turn upside down. Stranded by the collapse of the rocks, the men are forced to work together, struggle for food, stay optimistic despite their life threatening condition. With every second so crucial, the intensity of the film leaves the audience on the edge of their seats.

Watching this film made me feel the pain of the miners, the anxiety of the families and the stress of the rescue team. I could personally feel the struggle from every side of the story. This is an amazing aspect of the film, especially because it is based on a true story. What better way to gain awareness than to make individuals feel the experience for themselves. I felt like throwing up throughout the whole movie and that just shows how amazingly the filmmakers depicted this horrifyingly true story of the innocent men who were stranded and their struggle to survive.

The filmmakers have created a film that makes the audience feel as though they are experiencing the struggle rather than just watching it. I felt as if I was starving and becoming dehydrated just by watching. It’s what makes the movie feel so real.

The persuasive acting contributes to the empowering movie, especially Antonio Banderas whose performance as the leader, Mario was so believable. It’s a role completely different from what he usually plays and he made me believe he was a Chilean miner.

Usually films based on tragic events feel depressing but this film feels empowering and comedic in certain scenes. I enjoyed that.  

The film didn’t make the best impression at first but, it became very engaging and strong towards the end. I give a lot of credit to its great ending because, in my opinion, an ending can really make or break a movie.

I give the movie four out of five stars and recommend it for people between the ages of 13 and 18. Adults will enjoy it as well. Check this film out in theaters today.

The 33
By Lainey A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This live-action feature film directed by the Patricia Riggen is truly inspirational and I love it!  The 33 is based on the true story of the 2010 Chilean San Jose mine collapse and the 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet below ground.  This movie is so suspenseful because it connects the audience to the characters and I did not want to see any of them die. 

This movie taught me that you should be hopeful and not think the worst even when it seems hopeless.  The miners kept up hope that they are going to be rescued even though they only have 14 cans of tuna to split between them for an unknown period of time.  This film also shows the importance of team-work because, without it, they would  all perish.

Antonio Banderas really steps out of his typical roles and his rendition of Mario Sepulveda is truly outstanding!  He really transforms into a Chilean miner and he is a true leader among the miners.  Another stand out actor is Rodrigo Santoro who plays Laurence Golborne, Minister of Mining for the Chilean President. He is caring, loving and compassionate and does an outstanding job making me believe that he really cares about these men trapped in the mine.  He does everything in his power to make sure that the miners stay alive and pulls together mining teams from across the world to drill into the ground in hopes of saving the miners.  Josh Brolin plays the role of Jeff Hart, one of the miners sent from the U.S.A. who eventually succeeds in drilling a hole large enough to send in a body cage for the miners.

The target audience for this film is anyone who enjoys adventure and suspenseful movies.  I recommend this movie for ages 10 to 18 because this isn’t gory or a violent movie, but it is suspenseful.  This movie is good for kids because it makes you learn what the lifestyle of a miner in Chile is like. Everyday, they face life or death situations such as this one.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because it made me feel like I was there every step of the way.  As the miners said, “All we have is family.”  The love of family, teamwork and hope brought these 33 men back from the depths of despair.  You will be cheering from your seat! Come see this outstanding film when it opens nationwide on November 14! 

The message of this film is DO NOT let anything come in the way of you completing your mission. In the movie, there are a few who know they are not going to live to complete their mission. However, they did not let death stop them from completing it. They are able to set up a plan to have the mission completed by someone else so the job still gets done which also proves no one is an island and we all need help to accomplish our goals. 

My favorite scene is when James is protecting Madeline while she is sleeping and he is half awake. A rat appears in the dark. He takes out his gun and says to the rat, “Who are you and who sent you?” He does not realize that he is talking to a rat the whole time.

My favorite character is Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) because she’s really cool. She is extremely smart, well trained and very quick.  She is the perfect wing woman!

I highly recommend this movie for boy’s ages 14 to 18 as well as girls who like action filled movies. I give this film 4.5 shinning stars. Spectre opens in theaters November 6, 2015.

By Miles T, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The new James Bond movie, Spectre, is an interesting and exciting film, but might be a bit too scary for most kids under thirteen. In fact, one of the scenes was so scary that I’m not even going to write about it! The movie begins with an amazing action scene where James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, gets a ring with a symbol on it from a bad guy. This ring and this symbol becomes the mystery that James Bond has to solve.

I have been told that the title sequel is typical of a James Bond movie, but other parts of the film may not be appropriate for kids under thirteen. The title sequence contained animation, partially naked women and octopus; it was pretty strange.

The main plot involves James Bond trying to track down a mysterious and deadly organization. He is trying to piece together what the organization is really up to. Discovering how all of the people and events are connected from his present and his past are vital in cracking the mystery. Like most James Bond movies, it takes place in many exotic locations and several languages are spoken. There are some subtitles in parts which add a special element as well.

The movie is action packed and full of fight and chase scenes. The special effects are very good but I got annoyed during the action-packed scenes. In almost every fight scene there were so many quick cuts that I couldn’t follow the action, everything was like a white blur.

I read that this is the second-most expensive movie ever made. Spectre has many special effects including lots of explosions, stunt doubles, special makeup and wires. Spectre ended up spending over 300 million dollars making this film. Unfortunately, there are many other movies that are just as good with only half as much of a budget.

Spectre is two and a half hours long and there were several times I thought the movie might end, but it kept going. The music is very suspenseful, which is one of the main reasons it is so scary. The sound effects are also very realistic, but they were almost too loud which amplifies how scary the movie is.

I rate this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars, mainly because it was so scary. I would recommend this for ages 13+ due to the amount of violence and the nudity in the title sequence. I think that adults would definitely like it more than kids.

The Peanuts Movie – Bringing the Peanuts Gang to A New Generation

November 5th, 2015

ThePeanuts.Movie.jpgWhether you grew up reading Peanuts in the Sunday comics or watched the Peanuts Specials on TV, you will know the names of these iconic characters - Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus… This film brings the entire Peanuts gang to the big screen in state of the art 3D animation. Charlie Brown, the world’s most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “The Peanuts Movie has a lot to offer. It’s funny, lighthearted and has a great message to share. In addition, the creators worked in a few surprises that will captivate new viewers and bring back childhood memories for adults..” Mia A. adds, “The moral to this film is,  “if you see yourself as a winner or a loser in life, you are probably going to act like one. If you think you are a winner, act like one and others might think so too.” Brandon wraps it up with, “Visually, the world in The Peanuts Movie is stunning. The hair detail is the one thing that really stands out to me, maybe not hair movement but the detail.” See their full reviews below.

The Peanuts Movie

By Mia A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoy The Peanuts Movie. It reminds me of the classic Charlie Brown movies, but even better!  Even though the Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schulz passed away in 2000, this movie is a tribute to his memory and the legacy that he left behind.

While the members of the Peanuts Gang look and act like their loveable selves, there are many updates to this film.  The animation is much more detailed than the previous movies and viewers are able to watch it in 3D.  There are many new upbeat songs in addition to the much loved tunes.  “Better When I’m Dancin’” by Meghan Trainor is a great addition to the original songs.

The Peanuts Movie is about Charlie Brown trying to break his losing streak so the little Red Haired Girl (voiced by Disney’s Francesca Capaldi) will view him differently than his friends do.  He tries to change his luck in a dance contest, a talent show, flying a kite and writing a book report.  Also, Snoopy tries to defeat the Red Baron in order to win the love of his life Fi Fi, voiced by Kristen Chenoweth.

My favorite character is Snoopy because he is very funny. His story is well written and filled with love, comedy and adventure.  Some of the funniest characters are Lucy, Sally, Snoopy and Woodstock.  They got great laughs from the audience including kids as young as three. All the voice talent perfectly suits their characters.  Fans of Linus, Schroeder, Pig Pen, Peppermint Patty and all the others will not be disappointed.

The moral to this film is,  “if you see yourself as a winner or a loser in life, you are probably going to act like one. If you think you are a winner, act like one and others might think so too.”

I rate The Peanuts Movie 5 out of 5 stars because of the colorful animation and it being true to the original Peanuts Gang.  I recommend this movie for ages 3 to 15 or any people who have enjoyed the other Peanuts movies.  At the end of this film there is a 3 second clip.  The credits are very long so be sure to stick around until the end.  You may love it!

The Peanuts Movie opens on November 6th in theaters nationwide.

The Peanuts Movie
By Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Many kids today have never heard about the Peanuts Gang and some don’t even know who Charlie Brown and Snoopy are. Well, that’s about to change! So many children will have the opportunity to discover characters that their parents grew up with. That’s right! The Peanuts Gang are back and they are stronger than ever!

The Peanuts Movie has a lot to offer. It’s funny, lighthearted and has a great message to share. In addition, the creators worked in a few surprises that will captivate new viewers and bring back childhood memories for adults, keeping the whole audience entertained.

The story is about a well-known Peanut named Charlie Brown and his interactions during a new school year. Although Charlie is always running into bad luck, he still remains good old Charlie Brown. Always doing the right thing and never giving up is what Charlie Brown is all about. Even when he hits a moment of good luck, Charlie remains the same endearing character everyone has grown to love.

This story is beautiful, colorful, and the animation is unique. Even though it is based on familiar characters, the story itself is original and prepared so well. Director Steve Martino manages to make use of  modern technology and CGI to makes the Peanut’s world 3D while keeping the feel of the original comics. The son and grandson of the Peanuts creator Charles Schultz are the screenwriters of this story. There’s no question of whether or not you can feel how much love and affection is put into every line and every scene. It jumps off the screen.

My favorite scene is when Charlie Brown is trying to impress his object of affection. He decides to learn how to dance for a school competition. As he starts, his friend Snoopy comes in and starts dancing to Latin tunes. This comical scene shows the bond that Charlie and his dog have like no other. Viewers can’t help but hold their breath to see if they will succeed and Charlie Brown becomes the best dancer.

This film is very child friendly! I recommend it for ages 4 to 18. Younger kids will enjoy the colors and catchy music but may not completely understand the story. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars for an engaging story line and a successful effort to bring the beloved Peanuts Gang back to us.

The Peanuts Movie
By Brandon C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Peanuts Movie is mildly entertaining…yeah! This movie follows Charlie Brown, voiced by Noah Schnapp and the gang through fun times and adventures. The story itself revolves around Charlie Brown’s obsession over the Little Red-Haired Girl, voiced by Francesca Capaldi.

Everyone’s favorite characters are on full display in this cute movie, featuring Snoopy, Linus, Patty, Lucy and many more. Everyone gets their big quote or line, which is great for older fans yet still funny to younger ones. As a fan of the Peanuts comics, I believe director Steve Martino does every character justice and stays true to every character’s funny quirks and qualities.

Visually, the world in The Peanuts Movie is stunning. The hair detail is the one thing that really stands out to me, maybe not hair movement but the detail. The audio is very clear. However, the musical score could use some improvement.

I was going to give this film 4 out of 5 Woodstocks because it is a fun, cute movie. However, I got slightly bored towards the end. Everything carries on just a bit too much. The characters  get a bit old. So, I’ll admit it. I took a nap. Now, I did not completely doze off. But, I just was not feeling it.

The Peanuts Movie has a very wide appeal, as the film contains slapstick comedy for the kids and great, funny dialogue for parents and older fans. Because the movie got a bit boring towards the end, I give The Peanuts Movie a reluctant 3 out of 5 Woodstocks for its great dialogue and funny moments. If only the movie was a bit shorter, I would have probably given it 4 out of 5 Woodstocks.

Inside Out (DVD) – Meet the Little Voices Inside Your Head

October 28th, 2015

InsideOut.dvd.jpgThis Disney / Pixar film, Inside Out comes out on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital November 3. Our youth reporters have call it a “masterpiece” of animation and love the storyline which explores the bumpy road of pre-teens and the emotions they experience while growing up. It explores the emotions that a young girl, Riley experiences when her family moves cross country and she is torn away from everything that is familiar.  As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in a new city, turmoil ensues with her emotions. Although Riley’s main and most important emotion, Joy tries to keep things positive, her other emotions kick in as she tries to navigate a new city, new house and new school. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Willie J. comments, “We have a masterpiece on our hands. Pixar has done it again… I will gladly go on record by calling this one of the finest animated features to ever be created.” Ryan R. adds, “I love watching Inside Out because it is hilarious and enjoyable for all ages.” Samantha A. concludes with, “Something I really enjoy about this movie is that it’s a childish take on a more complex topic… One thing I learned from this movie is that you don’t always have to be happy. It’s good to express other feelings like sadness or anger.” See their full reviews below.

Inside Out (DVD/Blu-ray/Digital)
by Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a masterpiece on our hands. Pixar has done it again. They already lay claim to two of the top 100 movies of all-time with Up and Wall-E and they have now added Inside Out to their mantelpiece. I will gladly go on record by calling this one of the finest animated features to ever be created. Why? Because it’s THE most innovative, imaginative and creative film to be made since 2008s Synecdoche, New York.

The beautiful thing about this movie is that both adults and children can enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I’d say that adults may enjoy it more, because they can have a more fundamental understanding of what this film is. It is 100 minutes of analogous brilliance, that changes our idea of what goes on in our heads. Is this idea fathomable or true? No. But the analogy provides the very product film was invented to produce: a stimulation of the imagination.

Children will enjoy the beautiful colors and the basic plot. What the children can understand is what they can relate to: growing up and adjusting to life as they enter puberty. They will laugh at things that SEEM funny or the more, for lack of better word, simple pieces of humor. But the true jokes, the pieces of humor that have the most intellect are the ones children won’t understand. I appreciate those the most because they’re fathomable. It’s the moment when you laugh, not because the joke is ridiculous, but because you can actually imagine that happening.

Amidst the hilarity there is also a certain depth of emotion. There is a tear-jerking moment, yes, but I mean more along the lines of nostalgia. The way the movie portrays the effects of the emotions and the rationalization that go along with them, conjure a desire to reflect on oneself in their pre-teen days. This film may literally get into the mind of a pre-teen, but the metaphorical representation is what seals the reflection. “I was like that?”, “Is that how I thought then…I that how I think now?” may be questions you find yourself asking yourself. These are the effects of a brilliant screenplay.

On a final and personal note, I’ll tell this short story. There is a scene in the film, where two officers are questioning a cloud in Imagination Land about her dead husband. Then, in the middle of the interrogation the cloud herself is killed as she is run through by our main character. One cop goes, “Hey wait…”, but as he says that, the other cop grabs him and says, “Forget it Jake, it’s Cloud Town.” Get it? It’s a parody of the famous final words from the classic 1974 noir, Chinatown. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t very comfortable being the only person in the theater laughing at that joke. It’s just one joke amongst many. Beyond the hilarity and, mainly due to the aforementioned reasons I explained, I happily give this instant classic 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 7 to 18.

This film will be released on DVD/Blu-ray/Digital on November 3 and its bonus features are very informative and engaging. They give wonderful insights to the making of the movie. The feature,  Story of the Story really tells you how much thinking went into this story. Mixed Emotions and Mapping the Mind go hand in hand as they provide both characterizations of the emotions and scientific findings pertaining to our emotions. There are also great features about the underrated parts of making this movie, like how the score was created and what the editing was like. My favorite of all of them, is the short film Lava which has become one of my favorite short films.

Inside Out (DVD/Blu-ray/Digital)
By KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Ryan R., age 11

I love watching Inside Out because it is hilarious and enjoyable for all ages. I also like that this movie sends out a positive message on how all five emotions have a role to help Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias).

This film is about five emotions Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. In the movie, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Voiced by Phyllis Smith) need to find their way back to headquarters to save Riley from losing her personality and her emotions Joy and Sadness. Will they be able to save Riley or will Riley live a life without Joy and Sadness? If you want to know more you should go get this DVD.

I really like this Blu-ray/DVD combo because there are so many features. There are deleted scenes, trailers for upcoming movies, and many more. My favorite feature on the Blu-ray disc are two shorts. One is about Riley’s first date and it is hilarious and the other is called Lava which is about a lonely volcano. I love the song in that one. I love deleted scenes because I enjoy seeing them explain why a particular scene wasn’t in the final cut of the movie.

I enjoy this film so much because of the talented voice acting. My favorite character is Joy voiced by Amy Poehler.  I love how she portrays the voice of this character and makes the character sound so ecstatic. I like the jokes that her character makes and how she sounds so optimistic. Another reason why she is my favorite character is because she is like me - we are always happy and we both look on the positive side of things. If you need a positive role model, Joy is that!

The moral lesson of this film is that you need to feel every emotion in life. You just can’t be happy in all situations and experiencing each emotion is a good thing. Sadness shows Riley how to be empathetic. Disgust is honest because Disgust tells her whether something is good or not. Fear protects Riley from being hurt. Anger is there to make sure that Riley is not run over. This movie shows how you need to feel all these emotions in order to be a balanced person. It sounds like therapy but it’s not. It’s really fun.

I recommend this to kids ages 3 to 18 and I think adults will  like this as well. I also recommend this to people who like animated family and adventure movies. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend the DVD combo pack for all the extra features it includes. 

Inside Out
By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13 

When you think of a Disney/Pixar film, you think of a film that resembles a fairy tale story. I am extremely surprised by Inside Out. Not only did it make me laugh and almost cry, but it was intense and the ending was so unexpected.

This, of course, has great comedy that kids of all ages will enjoy and adults as well. However, it isn’t all fun and games. There is a lot of drama in this film, much more than I expected, and there is plenty of action too. But, it is all mixed together very nicely to keep audience entertained. 

The story is about a young girl named Riley. She is an 11-year-old hockey fan and overall happy kid. Her family moves to San Francisco and she has to leave her old life behind. In her head, where her emotions control her personality, Sadness and Joy accidently get launched out the hub, where they control her. They have to travel extremely far back to the hub. Will it be too late when they get there? Her only emotions at work are fear, disgust, and anger! 

This film is nothing but beautiful and thought provoking. The idea is so original, and the way they pull it off is right on target. The animation is exquisite. I love how they animate and illustrate each emotion to represent its character, down to the smallest detail. There is no possibility left behind. The story takes many twists and turns, making sure the viewer never anticipates the ending. The directing and producing are wonderful. The camera shots are amazing and really explore the scenes and the world around the characters.               

My favorite scene is when Riley’s emotions first come to life. She is a newborn and her first emotion is Joy, then Sadness and the rest come afterwards. The thing I like about this most is that it shows that Riley is different. Usually a baby is immediately sad, not joyful. But this shows Riley is really a happy and cheerful girl. It is a very important scene and really takes a look at Riley herself, deeper than the viewer originally thinks when they first see it.  

The only thing parents should be worried about in this movie is that it might be a bit too dramatic for little kids and it might be difficult for them to understand the concept of these emotions. So, I recommend it for ages four to eighteen and I give it five out of five stars because, over all, it is a beautifully executed original story.

The Inside Out DVD Combo includes a blu-ray disc, a blu-ray bonus feature disc and a regular DVD with bonus features. Bonus materials on DVD deserve a special mention. If you would like to see the movie with the comments from the creators, you can turn that feature on and immediately see the story from a different prospective. I most liked the fact how you are truly discovering the hidden story behind the one on the screen.

Doozers: Spookypalooza - Slightly Spooky for the Halloween Season With Great Messages

October 22nd, 2015

Doozers.Spooky.jpgThis DVD features four STEM-based adventures from the Doozers, a TV show produced by Jim Henson Productions and released by N Circle Entertainment. It’s Spookypalooza! The time of year when all Doozers get together to spook each other. The Pod Squad makes the spookiest pumpkin ever, a cool Pumpkin Doozer made by stacking three pumpkins together. But when their new invention starts rolling all around town, the Doozers have to find a way to reign in their spooky creation! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “The moral lesson of this DVD is “If you collaborate with others, you can accomplish anything.” See his full review below.

Doozers: Spookypalooza

By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST!  Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed this DVD. In this cute, animated show, we meet four characters who work for The Doozer Pod Squad. They make kids understand how to work together as a team. There are four episodes included in this DVD.

I like this show because it talks about the importance of working together. The characters are all very cute and I like that they talk about creativity and how you can make anything when you work together as a team and don’t give up.

I like this show so much that the only thing I don’t like is how short the episodes are. I wish that the episodes were a little longer.

My favorite character is Daisy Wheel Doozer (voiced by Millie Davis), because she is the nicest and youngest character. I can relate to her since we are both the youngest amongst our peers. I like that she can do most of the stuff on her own and I’m the same way.

The moral lesson of this DVD is “If you collaborate with others, you can accomplish anything.” I say that because, when The Doozers have a goal, they work together to accomplish it. This helps kids understand that it is okay to work together and it will help kids learn how to collaborate with others.

In terms of features on the DVD, you can select individual episodes to watch or you can select “play all.” You can also fast forward or rewind the movie.

I recommend this to kids who like adventure and educational shows. It’s perfect for kids ages 3 to 8. Kids above that age may find it a bit boring. For that age, I give this show 5 out of 5 stars. This is a really great show and it is available now on DVD.

Doozers Spookypalooza

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Jim Henson’s three inch green charters, the Doozers from the wonderful Fraggle Rock adventures can now be found on a new DVD.

Perfect for the fall season this DVD contains four episodes including Spookypalooza where we learn how to get three pumpkins on top of each other using imagination and creative tools. Things do not always go as planned but eventually life always works itself out.

  • Legend of Doozer Creek is another Halloween theme which we learn how the Doozers celebrate their fall holiday. There is a crazy sphinx who loves to jump out and scare Doozers. The magic wizard and the Doozers must do what they can to stop him.
  • Mystery Box is impossible to open. The Doozrers have to use their heads and come with many ideas to crack this mystery.
  • Doozers of a Dippleplant finds them gardening to try and break a record for the biggest plant. In the process they lean much and much more.
  • Be-leaf It asks the question, “What are leaves good for?”

My favorite story is Legend of Doozer Creek. It is told like a fairy tale and I love fairy tales. It has a great story line which leads the Doozers on an adventure. They learn a unique way to solve a problem. What would you do if a crazy sphinx was on the loose?

The animation is colorful and the story lines are easy to follow. The writers have a great imagination. Jim Henson and this team always seem to know what kids will enjoy and kids are sure to enjoy this new DVD. You might not have the tools that the Doozers use but it encourages you to want to build something. It made me feel like there is never a problem that with a little thought and creativity cannot be solved.

The voice-overs are great because the voices of the characters are so cute. They match the little green Doozers perfectly. They have different personalities and qualities which all work together.

My favorite character is Molly Bolt who is so cute I just want to hug her. She is smart, thoughtful and always encouraging. She exemplifies the theme of Lets do, do, do it and lend a hand.

I recommend this DVD for ages 2 to 7. This is definitely for younger kids. Since it is four short stories, it is easy to watch just one episode or all depending on the child. This is a fun family friendly movie. I give this DVD 4 Spooky pumpkins out of 5.

Houdini – Insightful with a Great Moral Message

October 22nd, 2015

Houdini.jpgThis DVD reveals the life story of Harry Houdini starting from his early childhood. It reveals some of Harry’s difficulties in pursuing his dream and how meeting the Great Tesla changed everything for him. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “I can relate to him because we both have dreams and we both find ways to pursuit them. He had a lot of motivation.” See his full review below.


By KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Ryan R., age 11

I really enjoy this film. I liked this story because the plot of the movie shows how you can do anything when you put your mind to do it. I also like that it shows that, even though Harry isn’t great, he doesn’t give up. This film is an hour long and doesn’t feel rushed. I like that this movie has a nice message along with a nice plot.

The story of Houdini takes place in 1866. It is about a boy named Harry, who dreams of becoming a magician. He gets an opportunity to go to New York to win a contest. If he wins, he will get to perform in New York. The problem is he needs help and so, another magician helps him out.

Something I don’t like is that are no bonus features on the DVD. There are only chapters. I was surprised to find that out. The movie just begins with no introduction to the features. Other than that, I really loved it.

The message of this film is “to follow your dreams and never give up when the challenge gets hard.” I say that because Harry first had problems with performing magic. But, he always wanted to be a magician and he never gave up. He went to New York to practice so he could achieve his goals. And, if you want to know more, you should need to watch see this DVD.

My favorite character is Harry because he reminds me of myself. He reminds me of myself when I took a chance to do KIDS FIRST! I can relate to him because we both have dreams and we both find ways to pursuit them. He had a lot of motivation.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this to kids ages 4 to 18. I think some adults may like this as well. I also recommend this to people who like action and adventure movies.