Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Wonder Park – Whimsical Animated Fantasy With Great Messages

June 17th, 2019

June, an optimistic, imaginative girl, discovers an incredible amusement park called Wonderland hidden in the woods. The park is full of fantastical rides and talking, funny animals – only the park is in disarray. June soon discovers the park came from her imagination and she’s the only one who can fix it, so she bands together with the animals to save this magical place and bring back the wonder in Wonderland. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ivey H. comments, “This animated fantasy film is awesome! It has a good message for younger viewers, is whimsical, bright and colorful.” Nathalia J. adds, “This refreshing film will have you on the silliest adventure ever. Make sure to buckle up for this wild ride through the imagination of the “Wonders in Wonderland.” Hennesi V. wraps it up with, ” This movie is really appealing, from beginning too end. There is not a moment when I got bored watching, nor wanted to stop. Not only that, but the movie has a really different and amazing plot.” See their full reviews below.

Wonder Park
By Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This animated fantasy film is awesome! It has a good message for younger viewers, is whimsical, bright and colorful. The music is very inspiring.

The storyline is about a little girl’s extraordinary imagination. She and her mom have a special bond, sharing a passion for creating a magical place called Wonderland. Then, an unexpected life-changing event occurs, causing June’s world to change forever. She becomes very depressed and decides to put Wonderland away. She quits doing the things she loves most. Will the wonder ever come back to Wonderland?

The lead character June is played by Sofia Mali. Her voice-over work is outstanding. You’re really able to connect with her adventurous heart, emotions and struggles as she experiences them. Steve, the porcupine is played by Jhon Oliver. He secretly admires Greta the hog. He had me laughing throughout the film. Whenever he gets nervous, he loses his sharp quills and you had better run!

The jokes in this film are very practical, as June is somewhat of math genius. Some of my favorite scenes are the homemade roller coaster that June and the neighborhood kids attempt to make. One particularly funny scene is when they are on the bus and June wants to escape. This is when she discovers there is really a Wonderland. The park is full of unexpected rides, zero gravity fun and chimpanzee zombies.  June remembers how she created Wonder Park by whispering into her stuffed animal Peanut’s ear and remembers that anything is possible. Her stuffed animals are her inspiration and caretakers of the park. The music and singing really carries you through the scenes. They are very relaxing and beautiful. The theme song “Wonder” was written by Ali Dee, Doug Davis and Anthony Mirabella and performed by Rachel Platten. The screenplay is written by award-nominee Josh Appelbaum.

I like that this film, which is a fun animation, has a much deeper meaning. It is very emotional and I cried a few times.  Junes has a loving father and mother that encourage her to create and dream. However they face difficult times, as many families do. Many children may face times in their life that are not easy to understand. Losing someone close to you and having your life turned upside down breaks your spirit. So you stop being a kid and stop enjoying life and doing the things you love to do. Here, June stops imagining a land where everything is different.

There are some scenes where June and her friend make risky decisions like going off on her own. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 12. Teens may enjoy it also. It comes out on DVD June 18, 2019. Look for it.

Wonder Park
By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Are you ready for a wonderfully fun and imaginative family adventure family movie? This exhilarating, thrilling, interesting and adventurous film was created by Josh Applebaum and André  Nemec. This refreshing film will have you on the silliest adventure ever. Make sure to buckle up for this wild ride through the imagination of the “Wonders in Wonderland.”

This film follows a wildly creative girl named June who, with her mother spend countless hours imagining, designing and building models of an amazing park, all from their imagination. The heart of Wonder Park exists in the relationship between June and her mom, which is extremely beautiful to me. It reminds me of my mom and me.

As the film progresses, you get to see June enter this world in real life and from a different perspective. You also get to see June go on a wildly and festive ride through her imagination. She gets to encounter her own fantasy characters, which she created when she was little.

The lead characters are young June (Sophia Mali), Cooper (Ken Jeong), older June (Brianna Denski), Greta (Mila Kunis), Boomer (Ken Hudson Campbell) and many more.  My favorite character is clearly the favorable and cheerful Boomer. I adore Boomer because he is the friendliest and most outgoing character of them all. I also love that he is always positive and gives second chances to all his boon companions. An example is when June explains how she generated the darkness in Wonder Park. When June apologizes to Boomer she feels as if she disappointed him. Though he is always friendly, he felt unhappy when June let him down.

The animation by Peter Chan and Nathan Fowler is simply marvelous. It is colorful, unique and imaginative – from the beautiful sky to the detailed roller coasters, to the crazy popping popcorn machine. This animation should be acknowledged because it is amazing to see the Wonder Park as such a bright and innovative Wonder Land.

The bonus features on the DVD include a heart-warming set of scenes which go along with the original film. You’ll understand the meaning behind June, the main characters backstory and the reason of her sadness. I enjoyed the bonus features because they gave me more information to go with the original movie and helped me understand the characters better. In the beginning of the bonus features, there are many scenes showing how June’s mother became sick and how Wonderland was created when June was a little girl. My favorite scene is when June and her Mom began to build their own Wonderland.

This film has no bad language or dangerous actions that children might attempt to imitate. It does teach children to always carry an imagination throughout their life because it can be healthful and healthy throughout good and bad times.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. This film comes out on DVD and Digital June 18, 2019 so look for it.

Wonder Park
By Hennesi Valle, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

This movie is really appealing, from beginning too end. There is not a moment when I got bored watching, nor wanted to stop. Not only that, but the movie has a really different and amazing plot.

Wonder Park is about a girl named June that, with her mother, creates a park named Wonderland. They would stay up late to create new rides and attractions for the park, but as time passes June’s mother gets sick and has to leave to get treatment. That causes June to loose inspiration to continue creating Wonderland, until one day she comes across something that leads her back to Wonderland.

I like the originality of the story line. I have never before seen a movie with such an idea and it makes the movie catch the attention of the viewer. The animation of the film is very detailed and cute. I like that the characters of June and her mother aren’t ones commonly used in movies. The way Wonderland is brought to life is also great. It makes one want to go visit the park in real life. The songs are all quite beautiful and enjoyable. The protagonist, June definitely stands out the most in her very energetic way of being, which makes her unique. My favorite scene is when June and her mother sit in her room and create new rides for Wonderland. Greta the pig’s voice is played by the amazing actress Mila Kunis and Mila’s Mom’s voice is played by Jennier Garner, who is also quite brilliant.

Its message is to not let fear consume you, as it will only things worse and makes you become different that you really are. It affects not only you, but everyone surrounding you gets affected as well. I learned to always keep the light shining within me, no matter how bad thing can get, to always keep going and make the worst things and moments become better.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12, as well as adults. It really is a family friendly movie that parents will easily enjoy with their young children. This comes out on DVD June 18, 2019 so look for it.

Photos © 2018 Paramount Animation, a division of Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

Men in Black: International – Hilarious Sci-Fi Adventure Filled with Laughs and Great Visuals

June 17th, 2019

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson star as Agent H and Agent M, who employ high-tech weaponry to battle mischievous aliens on Earth. However, the pair also discover a major threat within their own ranks. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will C. comments, “Men in Black: International is a hilarious sci-fi adventure that had me both laughing and on the edge of my seat! … My favorite thing about this movie is the character of Steve the pawn. He’s a little computer animated alien who gets all the best jokes in the film.” Arjun N. adds, “Men in Black is bolstered by its talented two leads and visuals, but ultimately it remains an occasionally underwhelming installment in the franchise. Still, there are enough entertaining action sequences and humor to satisfy general moviegoers. Fans of the MIB franchise must check this out, but preferably on a matinee.” See their full reviews below.

Men in Black: International
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Men in Black: International is a hilarious sci-fi adventure that had me both laughing and on the edge of my seat! You can enjoy Men in Black: International without having seen any of the previous movies, because there are all-new characters and adventures. The story goes from Paris to Morocco to London and New York, as the heroes chase aliens around the globe.

The movie starts by introducing two different sets of aliens that both want the same weapon. One set of aliens is very creepy, because it can shape shift into people, and an even creepier kind of alien called the Hive has tentacles and can eat your face off! Both want to take over the world, of course! The Men in Black organization steps in to save the world with their superior firepower.

My favorite thing about this movie is the character of Steve the pawn. He’s a little computer animated alien who gets all the best jokes in the film. I love the scene when he pushes the red button to take everyone into hyper-speed. The main characters are played by Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, both from Thor: Ragnarok. The filmmakers sneak a really funny Thor joke into the movie that got a lot of laughs!

Parents should know that there is some profanity and action violence, although not really any blood. There’s not a big message to this film. It’s mostly just a big fun summer blockbuster, but I guess you could say that you should never give up when you’re protecting the world! I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults who like sci-fi comedies should enjoy it too. Men in Black: International opens in theaters everywhere Friday June 14, 2019.

Men in Black: International
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Men in Black is bolstered by its talented two leads and visuals, but ultimately it remains an occasionally underwhelming installment in the franchise. Still, there are enough entertaining action sequences and humor to satisfy general moviegoers. Fans of the MIB franchise must check this out, but preferably on a matinee.

The film follows Men in Black 3 as London has a branch of Men in Black. After investigating and finding the MIB base, Molly (Tessa Thompson) joins them. The head of the branch, High T (Liam Neeson), pairs her up with the dashing hot-shot Agent H (Chris Hemsworth). Molly, now Agent M, and Agent H become involved in a series of alien attacks that send them traveling around the globe, while a mole lurks among the MIB.

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, as Agents M and H, are the main highlights here as their chemistry still impresses ever since their collaborations in Thor: Ragnarok. This really is just a big excuse to watch another Thor and Valkyrie buddy cop, and it’s honestly a great one. I quite enjoyed Agent M’s deadpan reactions to anything Agent H does. They really do fill the void that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones left behind from the previous three films. Liam Neeson, as High T, has some interesting contributions to the plot and, as always, brings out the veteran actor in himself. Kumail Nanjiani, as Pawny, is another highlight, being the new alien sidekick here. He has some of the funniest lines, and even serves as a good replacement for Frank the Pug. As always, it is nice to see Emma Thompson reprise her role as Agent O.

Director F. Gary Gray brings new life to the franchise taking over for Barry Sonnenfeld who directed the previous three. This marks the first director departure, and Gray’s hipster influences reach out to a broader audience. He really has a grasp on style and elegance. My favorite scene is when Agent M and H first discover Pawny, because it’s just one gag after another with all sticking the landing. Pawny’s dry humor adds to the overall vibe, and at this point, I wouldn’t mind getting a MIB spinoff about Pawny. While the comedy delivers, the overall story does not. It runs around in circles, and the only redeeming quality to this is the density of the characters and settings. It is rather directionless at times and, after a while, it becomes like every other globe-trotting movie. Also, the mole subplot goes nowhere, and resolves itself quickly. This a huge disappointment, as someone who really admires insider plots.

The message of this film is that teamwork is essential. This is shown in the partnership of Agent M and H as they fight and try to peacefully resolve with the aliens. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, due to some intense action, suggestive references and language. The movie releases in theaters June 14,  2019, so check it out.

Toy Story 4 – Funny, Colorful, Joyful and Impeccably Made

June 14th, 2019

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re two worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “I absolutely love this film! It is funny, colorful, joyful and impeccably made. This sequel to Toy Story is not like the other ones.” Nathalia J. adds, “Do you ever look back at your first day of kindergarten? Well, that’s how Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the whole gang set off on their extremely enjoyable and wowing adventure.” Katherine S. adds, “It is so amazing that the Toy Story saga has been going on for 24 years and that so many of the main characters are voiced by the same actors as the previous movies including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Annie Potts.  The voices behind some of the new characters include Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Tony Hale.  We all thought that Toy Story 3 had the perfect ending, but this movie is even better.” Jada P. wraps it up with, “My favorite part of Toy Story 4 is definitely when Woody and Forky find their friendship through many changes of plans and difficulties… The plot, characters, and voice acting are all groundbreaking.” See their full reviews below.

Toy Story 4
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

My biggest shock of all was getting photo bombed by Tom Hanks while shooting my stand-up. I have to say that he is truly a very nice man.

This movie is the best Toy Story film yet! It has our favorite old characters, very funny new characters, a fun and emotional story line and a fantastic new director.

Toy Story 4 begins with Bonnie making a new friend in her kindergarten orientation and bringing it home. His name is Forky and, when he comes alive, all he knows is how to be trash.  Forky spends most of his time trying to escape and eventually does so from a moving RV when his family is on vacation. Our hero Woody is forced to go after Forky to make sure Bonnie is happy and to convince Forky that he is Bonnie’s toy.  During their travels they encounter several new toys and a few old ones as well.

Featuring Ally Maki as the voice of Giggle, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

It is so amazing that the Toy Story saga has been going on for 24 years and that so many of the main characters are voiced by the same actors from the previous movies including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Annie Potts.  The voices behind some of the new characters include Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Tony Hale.  We all thought that Toy Story 3 had the perfect ending, but this movie is even better. The director, Josh Cooley, is brilliant as he is able to pull out the best performance from all of the actors, to the point that you think that the toys are real people, not just animated characters. My favorite part is when Buzz finds his inner voice.

Featuring the voice of Annie Potts as Bo Peep, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The message of Toy Story 4 is about transitioning from one situation to another through bravery, perseverance and friendship. You should know that there are a few risky things that kids might try to imitate such as jumping out of a RV, messing with a car and going under a carousel.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 15. Adults will love this movie as well.  This movie opens nationwide in theaters on June 20, 2019.

Toy Story 4
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I absolutely love this film! It is funny, colorful, joyful and impeccably made. The animation is a lot better too! This sequel to Toy Story is not like the other ones, which I like; so it does not repeat the first three. Toy Story 4 goes one step forward and closes the circle, sort of.  There will be always room for more toy adventures.

PICK ME! — Funny men Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele provide the voices of Ducky and Bunny, respectively. Directed by Josh Cooley and produced by Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen (associate producer)  ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2018 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

In this new film there are some awesome new and unique characters. And there is a transformation of an old character, but you need to see the movie to find out which one I mean!

The story is basically about a little girl, Bonnie, who gets all of Andy’s toys because he goes to university. Bonnie loves all her new (at least new for her) toys, but she doesn’t play with Woody often. He feels sad but doesn’t want to show it. Then one day comes, and it’s Bonnie’s first day of kindergarten. In class she feels lonely but Woody, breaking all laws (toys don’t go to school because they can get lost) comes in her backpack. Woody gets some material and Bonnie makes, literally, a new best friend: Forky. But there’s one problem: Forky thinks he’s made out of trash and consequently he has issues. When Bonnie’s family goes on a road trip, Forky feels he doesn’t belong—he gets lost, and from there the toys have to face multiple obstacles to rescue Forky.

The story is mainly focused on Forky and Woody and some new characters that you meet. What is interesting is that you don’t really see the the other group of old toys that much. Like every Toy Story film, the toys work together to help fix a conflict. But this film focuses on a completely different character, Bonnie, and not on Andy. Woody will go to infinity and beyond to rescue Forky. His sense of loyalty is contagious, and Forky is so funny with his issues. Completely different characters, brand new conflict and new frontiers make this film unique. 

Featuring Annie Potts, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as the voices of Bo Peep, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bunny and Ducky, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I also love the colors which are beautiful. Something I find very interesting is that the animation is so well done that you sometimes forget that you’re watching an animated movie. I loved the new characters like Duke Caboom, and I think Keanu Reeves is the only person who could bring life to Caboom with a distinctive voice. I also like the character of Gabby Gabby; she was very interesting, intriguing and the more you find out about her the more you want to know.

The message of this film is be loyal, be the best you can be and listen to your inner voice, so that you can decide your own destiny.

I recommend watching other Toy Story movies before this one if you haven’t already. I love this film so I would give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5-10 and adults as well.  Toy Story 4 opens in theatres June 21, 2019

Toy Story 4
By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The toys are back on the big screen with an all-new adventure in Toy Story 4. Do you ever look back at your first day of kindergarten? Well, that’s how Woody(Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the whole gang set off on their extremely enjoyable and wowing adventure. That’s right, the whole gang is back with some new friendly faces. This animated, adventurous, fresh and amusing film is directed by Josh Cooley. Get ready for a treat, as it is nothing short of magical.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack return as the voices of Woody, Buzz and Jessie, and comedian Tony Hale lends his voice to Forky. Directed by Josh Cooley and produced by Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen, “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Toy Story 4 is a computer-animated comedy produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. The story follows Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang as they embark on a road trip with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) and a new toy named Forky (Tony Hale). The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts). As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy. Get ready as the old and new friends reveal how big the world can be for a toy.

The lead characters in the film welcome both veteran and new voices, including Woody, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), Forky, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), Bo Peep, Buzz Lightyear, Rex (Wallace Shawn) and many more talented actors.  The animation is groundbreaking, bright and beautiful. I was taken back by all the colors and little details which make it so believable. For example, in one scene the gang is at an actual carnival. The rides and games seem to so real, I definitely felt as if I was part of the joy ride. 

My favorite character is undeniably Forky, because he brings excitement and laughter to the film. I love how Forky creates a plan and fails in a hilarious way, because Woody saves the day for Bonnie. If I could give Forky two character traits, it would be outrageous and funny.

My favorite scene from Toy Story 4 is when Woody encounters Bo Peep after ten years and he introduces himself to her new friends. When he tries to give her a hug, a motorized car skunk comes through with Bo Peep’s sheep controlling the car. Woody’s reaction is priceless. His eyebrows are up and his eyes are wide open.

(L-R) Trixie, Buttercup, Mr. Pricklepants, Dolly, Buzz Lightyear, Hamm, Rex, Aliens, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Bullseye and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

There is some risky actions in this film that younger children might try to imitate, such as jumping out of a moving vehicle, popping the tires, going into a store when it’s closed and jumping across shelves. This film shares many important messages about friendship, helping others, love and most importantly, never leave a friend stranded.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 16, as well adults. Toy Story 4 opens in  theaters nationwide June 21, 2019. Make sure to check it out!

Toy Story 4
By Jada Pace, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Featuring Keanu Reeves as the voice of Duke, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I absolutely LOVE this film! Not only does Toy Story 4 contain hilarious humor, but also emotional scenes, which make the film well balanced with seriousness and laughter throughout and make an interesting storyline. I love the way the characters use their feelings and gut to help lead themselves throughout the story.

In the film, Bonnie makes a new toy out of recycled materials in kindergarten and instantly falls in love with it. But her new toy, Forky, feels like he is not meant to be a toy.  Instead, his heart’s desire is to belong to the trash. This results in Forky trying to escape to the trash at every chance he is given. Fortunately, Bonnie’s other toy, Woody, stops Forky from running away, but then the toys find themselves lost on the search for their beloved Bonnie. Will they fine Bonnie or stay lost in the woods for good? You will have to see the film to find out!

Christina Hendricks lends her voice to Gabby Gabby. “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019…©2019 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

My favorite part of Toy Story 4 is definitely when Woody and Forky find their friendship through many changes of plans and difficulties. Their journey shows how things can change over time. I also really enjoyed the animation and how clear the voice actors voices are during the movie. The plot, characters, and voice acting are all groundbreaking.

The message of this film is to always follow your heart and do what your heart desires. It is always important to do what you feel is better for you.  I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12.  Toy Story 4 releases in theaters, June 21, 2019. Be sure to look for it!

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet – Fun Songs and Parodies for Each Letter of the Alphabet

June 13th, 2019

It’s time for A to Z with Sesame! Little ones will love to learn their ABCs with classics such as “The Beetles Perform Letter B” and “C is for Cookie” plus animation, parodies, and the best from recent seasons covering all 26 letters. Celebrating the alphabet alongside their furry friends are Norah Jones duetting with the letter Y, Tori Kelly trying a little kindness, and Pharrell Williams belting it out for the letter B. Maya Angelou stops by to talk hugs, Sheryl Crow helps “I” soak up some sun, and Ricky Gervais attempts a lullaby. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Every single scene of Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet is lovable. This DVD has the funniest songs and parodies for each letter of the alphabet.” Ethan P. adds, “This DVD is about learning the alphabet. Mostly all of the characters from Sesame Street sing the alphabet and encourage the kids to sing along. There are about three scenes or songs for each letter so that you can understand how to use each one.” Ivey H. chimes in with, “All of my favorite characters make an appearance such as Big Bird, Bert, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Grouch and many more. The music, songs and lyrics are fun to sing along with and are education as well.” Will C. wraps it up with, “There’s even a bonus feature, Elmo’s Amazing Alphabet Race and ABC-themed printable activities. Since it’s a compilation of segments from over the years, there’s a wide range of styles representing older and newer segments.” See their full reviews below.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Every single scene of Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet is lovable. This DVD has the funniest songs and parodies for each letter of the alphabet. Each part has so many cute characters and great lessons for the whole family. Your children will love to learn their ABC’s with all of their favorite characters.

The DVD includes many of our favorite Sesame Street characters including Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster as well as some of our favorite people in real life including Maya Angelou and Pharrell Williams. I love the songs because it makes you want to sing along. Also, some of the songs are parodies, which I very much enjoy. My favorite part is when Elmo can’t sleep so Ricky Gervais comes in and sings a “celebrity lullaby”.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet has two hours of fun for everyone!  It spends approximately five minutes on each letter. We see a wide range of themes from Tori Kelly singing about kindness to Chance the Rapper in a play with Cookie Monster. In all cases, we are learning about the alphabet with so many talented artists. It’s a mix of old and new Sesame Street episodes such as Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus singing a song together to Sia singing about how she loves songs.

Throughout this DVD, there are a lot of positive messages. My favorites are learning is fun and using your voice in a fun way.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 7. Adults will also like all of the parodies of the songs. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend buying this for your young kids.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 10

I enjoyed the Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection on DVD because it is funny, even for me, and I’m 10. It is made for small children, but I still could not stop laughing and enjoying the music.

This DVD is about learning the alphabet. Mostly all of the characters from Sesame Street sing the alphabet and encourage the kids to sing along. There are about three scenes or songs for each letter so that you can understand how to use each one. There are also very different types of scenes and songs, each of them really cool and fun, so it keeps you entertained.

The songs are very catchy, and the scenes are really funny and cute. I like how they use celebrities like Chance the Rapper. I think kids will enjoy seeing these celebrities because they know them. My favorite part is when Sia sings for the letter “S”, and it shows her face, because she has not shown her face before on TV. One funny scene is when two detectives confuse the “W” for an “M” when trying to find the criminal W.

The message or point of this DVD is to teach kids how to use the letters of the alphabet and how they sound — the scenes are put together from all of Sesame Street‘s “Letter of the Day” specials. This DVD makes it fun for kids to learn the alphabet. I believe these songs can make the process of learning the alphabet simple and fun, and that students will like the characters. I can see it might be particularly helpful for kids with special needs or learning disabilities.

I give Sesame Street Awesome: Alphabet Collection 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5. This DVD is available now so look for it.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection
By Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 1

The Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection DVD is just that – awesome! It really brought back amazing childhood memories of watching the show.

This particular collection teaches kids the alphabet. Not only is it educational, but provides a source of entertainment which will keep kids interested while learning. All of my favorite characters make an appearance such as Big Bird, Bert, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Grouch and many more. The music, songs and lyrics are fun to sing along with and are education as well. I love how everything in the video relates to the topic of learning your ABC’s. There is lot of repetition, which is a great technique for learning. Something else that caught my eye is how they use different types of animation, such as clay and paper. I really enjoy the mix of puppetry, real people, animals and insects. Some episodes even have celebrities singing along. Look out for Norah Jones, Tori Kelly, Cheryl Crow and many others.  

All the Muppet characters are so cute and adorable. My favorite is Cookie Monster (Frank Oz, David Rudman), because he brings laughter to this collection. My favorite skit is when Cookie Monster sings about the letter “C” and how cookies are good enough for me. Ryan Dillon plays the role of everyone’s favorite loveable character – red, fluffy Elmo. Carol Spinney plays another fan favorite – Big Bird. They use many real life animals to help you associate with the words that are being taught. This video is very bright, colorful and cheery. You will enjoy every minute.

I recommend this for ages 2 to 7, depending on the maturity level of the child. It’s always a good refresher for anyone who is having trouble with their letters or spelling to review the basics. The star rating I give this is 4 out of 5 stars.

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection
By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection is a fun introduction to the alphabet for preschoolers. This is a two-hour compilation of animation, pop-culture parodies and favorite segments for each letter of the alphabet. The all-star lineup of celebrity guests is enough to hold the interest of parents too.

Sia, Pharrell Williams, Maya Angelou, Tori Kelly, Chance the Rapper and others introduce Elmo and his friends to each letter of the alphabet. There’s even a bonus feature, Elmo’s Amazing Alphabet Race and ABC-themed printable activities. Since it’s a compilation of segments from over the years, there’s a wide range of styles representing older and newer segments.

Even though I’m not in this film’s target audience, I still found it entertaining to see various celebrities on the same screen, with puppets, helping kids learn the alphabet. My favorite segment is Ricky Gervais singing Elmo a lullaby for the letter “N”, that’s anything but relaxing!

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 2 to 5. Sesame Street: Awesome Alphabet Collection is available now on DVD and digital download from Shout! Kids and Sesame Workshop. Look for it.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 – Love, love love this movie! Everything about it is Dog-tastic!

June 9th, 2019

Max the terrier must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. When the family takes a trip to the countryside, nervous Max has numerous run-ins with canine-intolerant cows, hostile foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon catches a break when he meets Rooster, a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “Love, love, love this movie!  Can’t wait to see it again this Friday.  This film is absolutely hysterical. Both the audience and I laughed throughout the screening.  Everything about this film is dog-tastic, from the screenwriting to the art, animation, sound, special effects and characters.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. adds, “I absolutely love this family-friendly animated sequel. It has so many superstar voice actors and the animation is dramatic and ingenious. The creators introduce new zany and lovable characters.” Kendall M. wraps it up with, “The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a phenomenal, all-around fantastic movie. The film is enjoyable and puts a smile on your face. It’s a movie for everyone to enjoy with their friends and families. The movie has different aspects to it. It is also cool to see how the pets interact with each other and seeing how they work together as a team.” See their full reviews below.

The Secret Life of Pets 2
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Love, love, love this movie!  Can’t wait to see it again this Friday.  This film is absolutely hysterical. Both the audience and I laughed throughout the screening.  Everything about this film is dog-tastic, from the screenwriting to the art, animation, sound, special effects and characters.

(from left) Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Liam and Max (Patton Oswalt) in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

Secret Life of Pets 2 continues with the story of Max and Duke, but this time Katie gets married and has a son named Liam. At first, Max doesn’t really like having Liam around, because he never leaves him alone. Then they start to bond. Max starts to really care about Liam and vows to protect him. Katie decides to take a family trip to a farm and this introduces a whole new cast of characters and funny situations on the farm.  Max meets Rooster, a brave dog who rules the farm and teaches Max how to handle a lot of his issues.  Meanwhile, back in New York City, all of Max and Duke’s pet friends continue with their crazy antics, including rescuing a white tiger from the circus and Chloe helps transforming Gidget into a cat, to get out of a messy situation.  My favorite character is Snowball, the white rabbit. His superhero scenes rescuing the tiger with his new pal Daisy are hysterical. 

Max’s voice is portrayed by Patton Oswalt and Duke is, once again, performed by Eric Stonestreet. The introduction of Rooster, voiced by Harrison Ford, adds a lot of depth and meaning to Max’s outlook and the film.  The animation is breathtaking, from the first scenes in Central Park, to the various scenes around the farm. The cast are all very talented portraying their various vocal roles. Brian Lynch’s screenplay pulls it all together, with amazing humor for every character.

(from left) Chloe (Lake Bell) and her owner in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

The message of this film is to be brave and embrace change.  Max worries about the changes a baby will bring to his family, but learns to love Liam and become his best friend. Max continues to learn about changes at the farm and how to deal with them, as Rooster advises, “Some stuff happens and then it’s over.”  Accept and move on, because change can be positive.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18, but adults will enjoy it as well as evidenced by all of the audience laughter.  This movie opens in theaters June 7, 2019. Look for it!

The Secret Life of Pets 2
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I absolutely love this family-friendly animated sequel. It has so many superstar voice actors and the animation is dramatic and ingenious. The creators introduce new zany and lovable characters.

Max (Patton Oswalt) grapples with some pre-exam anxiety at the veterinarian in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is about a bunch of New York city pets and their daily adventures – from parks to farms and more – while their owners are away at work. The writers are very creative.  They are successful intertwining different stories throughout the entire movie. For example, when Max and Duke get a new kid named Liam, they take a trip out to a farm where they meet a new character named Rooster. Snowball meets a darling new friend named Daisy and the two of them save a white tiger named Hu.  My favorite part is when Pops is doing puppy school.

The best thing about this film is that you don’t have to see the previous movie to enjoy the sequel. I think The Secret Life of Pets 2 blows The Secret Life of Pets out of the water with its incredible music and star-studded cast. The voice actors include Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford and Eric Stonestreet.

Snowball (Kevin Hart) in Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, directed by Chris Renaud.

The messages in The Secret Life of Pets 2 are: It is okay to be afraid and 2. Teamwork is important. Note that it does have some mild violence, a couple fight scenes and some chase scenes. There are a few risky things that kids might try to imitate such as running into forests unsupervised, fighting wolfs and saving a wild animal. But, really, it’s pretty tame.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15, as well as adults. I highly recommend this to all pet lovers. This film opens in theaters June 7, 2019 so look for it.

The Secret Life of Pets 2
By Kendall M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a phenomenal, all-around fantastic movie. The film is enjoyable and puts a smile on your face. It’s a movie for everyone to enjoy with their friends and families. The movie has different aspects to it. It is also cool to see how the pets interact with each other and seeing how they work together as a team.

(from left) Max (Patton Oswalt), Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and Liam in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

The storyline is about different pets going on adventures and exploring New York City. The protagonist Max goes through changes in his life, when his owner gets married and has a child. On the other hand, a cute bunny named Snowball and a puppy Daisy go on a crazy adventure saving a tiger from an evil circus owner. The movie has crazy, funny jaw-dropping moments that you don’t want to miss.

(from left) Hu, Max (Patton Oswalt), Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) and Snowball (Kevin Hart) in Illumination’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” directed by Chris Renaud.

Some of the highlights of this are the cast and storyline. Big ups to writer Brian Lynch for a great screenplay. The message of the film is to always look out for each other, not just family and friends, but others we may not know. In this movie, these pets always have each others’ backs and really look out for one another. As human beings, we should do a better job of that, especially in our society. It would make the world a better place.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to18, as well as adults. Note that it  has some rude humor. It opens in theaters nationwide June 7, 2019.

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