Up to date information about children’s entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for April, 2010

Two Great DVDs for Pre-schoolers Coming Out Next Week

Monday, April 26th, 2010
I’m a huge Wubbzy fan. He’s cute, clever and funny. The stealth learning messages are hiddin within the context of the story and easily slide into your subconscious. This new one, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: Escape From Dino Island, brings Wubbzy together with the unusual inhabitants of Dino Island  In this collection of episodes, Wubbzy learns that his actions have consequences that become his responsibility. Wubbzy realizes his decisions have caused a Sillysaurus to follow the Wavy Wheeler 3000 to Wubbzville. He must ultimately confront the situation. The result is a sweeter understanding of his neighbors on Dino Island.
In true Wubbzy form, these episodes are adorable and colorful with danceable music to kick it up a bit. It’s kooky fun for the little ones.  The variety of humorous, unusual imagery is appealing to adults as well as kids. Stories boost personal confidence and social skills by presenting scenarios that encourage positive decision making skills that result in children finding positive solutions to problems. Our kid critics liked it because “It was fun to watch. It was funny. I liked how the Sillysaurus chased Wubbzy so he could get some sugar.” Check it out.
From our friends at Sesame Street comes, The Best of Elmo 2. Every preschooler’s favorite red monster is featured in some of the most popular Elmo segments of all time. Elmo meets a robot who is losing his power. The robot is a “Memorybot,” and he needs “memories” to power up again. Elmo gladly shares his memories of special times with friends like Jason Mraz, Adam Sandler, Destiny’s Child, David Beckham, India Arie, The Goo Goo Dolls, Feist and more. Will Memorybot get his power back? You’ll have to watch the DVD to find out.

Two Great DVDs About Animals – Runaway Ralph and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Runaway Ralph, based on the classic books, couldn’t be cuter. This version, releases by New Video hits the shelves this week and is a sure winner with your school-aged kids. I know my grandson loves this.

Runaway Ralph. Ralph and his motorcycle have entertained kids for decades, and this video delivers something your entire family can enjoy together. Ralph, a young mouse, decides that he’s going to run away from the hotel his family lives in so he sets out on his toy motorcycle and ends out in a camp where he meets Garf. Things aren’t so great when a mean cat appears in the picture. As Garf and Ralph bond and try to deal with the cat they learn about teamwork, friendship and also come to realize that home might not be such a bad place after all. Our youth viewers loved this “because the mouse thought he could do anything then he saw a car and fell on his motorcycle and was almost eaten by a cat.” They thought the mouse and cat looked fake but they still liked the story. They loved Ralph who they thought was tricky. Starring young Fred Savage, Summer Phoenix, Sara Gilbert, Kellie Martin, Mark Hamill and Nichelle Nichols, “Runaway Ralph” is a delight for all ages. DVD. 60 min.;  Ages 5-8. New Video Group.

Also coming out this week is Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. This film reaches into the deepest sentiment of your heart. The American remake of “Hachiko Monogatari” (1987) tells a story inspired by the true story Hachiko, an Akita dog who lived from 1923-1935. The tale is simple, demonstrating love in its many forms. We see the love between a long term marriage, love between a daughter and father, love between master and dog, love between dog and daughter and ultimately, the love between dog and town. Be prepared with some tissues because this is a true tear-jerker. Cate (Joan Allen) and Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) connect with viewers in their realistic portrayal of marriage. Cate isn’t happy when Parker brings a stray dog home one day, and Parker attempts to find the Akita a new home out of respect for Cate. Because of their love for each other, they find a solution for the dog dilemma, which turns into a blessing in the long run. This is not Hollywood fiction, it is based on a true story that resonates on a different level. It is an extremely well-produced story with brilliant cinematography that will touch every dog-lover’s soul. One of our student viewers commented, “It you didn’t like “Marley and Me,” you might find this too sad. My favorite part was when the person said Hachi would never learn to play catch with anyone, and the man taught him how to play catch. DVD. 93 min.; Ages 12-18. Sony Pictures.

Cartoons you loved, revamped for your kids and grandkids: Tom and Jerry Tales: The Complete First Season Comes to DVD April 13

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

A long-time favorite with kids of all ages, this compilation features 39 animated escapades with Tom and Jerry who go fishing in the Arctic and search for treasure in the deep sea. They are chased by mummies, dragons and a friendly octopus named Morizzio. The two engage in magic duels in a wizard’s lab, chase themselves into a haunted house and zap one another into a digital world. Jerry joins a musical band and Tom propels himself into skies when he dons a jetpack.

“Tom and Jerry continues to be a big hit with kids today because the essence of the show remains the same,” said Amit Desai, WHV Vice President of Family, Animation & Partner Brands Marketing. He added, “The stories and settings surrounding the characters are more contemporary, but the formula never changes, which is what draws viewers to the series. Whether one is a fan of the classic Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts or their newer, contemporary TV cartoons, Tom and Jerry Tales: The Complete First Season is sure to please and delight animation lovers of all ages.”

Tom and Jerry Tales originally aired on Kids’ WB, 2006-2008. This is the first contemporary Tom and Jerry series to have aired on television in over 13 years.

Learning About the Earth Starts Early – Two “Green” DVDs for Preschoolers –

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
You’re never too young to learn about taking care of our planet, Earth as you can see in these two terrific DVDs for preschoolers.

Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: Wubbzy Goes Green. The earth is something to celebrate as Wubbzy and his pals go green for Earth Day. We learn about re-using and recycling through the fun, animated tales. We learn about how some good ideas go bad when building a gigantic new playground results in displacing hundreds of animals whose habitat is the trees they are about to chop down. Wubbzy and his friends learn about the importance of water and then discover how plastic water bottles are creating more pollution. Song segments between the episodes re-emphasize the lessons and are catchy enough to have your kids singing along. Our young viewers loved it. Their favorite part is when Wubbzy figured out that he could make playgrounds out of trees so the animals could be saved. Then, he did it. While we get a strong save-the-earth message, the DVD doesn’t come off as too preachy. This video creates an interest in the environment and promotes pro-activity and appreciation of self and others.58 min.; $16.98; Ages 2-5. Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Sesame Street: Love the Earth. Saving the earth never gets old with Elmo and his gang. Once again Sesame Street does a brilliant job mixing education with loads of fun. We learn why it’s important not to litter and why it’s best to completely use both sides of a piece of paper before throwing it away. Lots of songs and animated segments are mixed together with live action and puppetry, keeping young viewers glued to the screen. The messages of re-using and recycling are delivered in such a way that a preschooler gets it, yet the jokes appeal to an older crowd, making this DVD perfect for family viewing. Homeschoolers can use this as part of their science curriculum because children learn that they are a key factor in saving the earth. Our youth jurors enjoyed learning about recycling and how to help nature in a fun way. They love earth and like learning ways to help protect it. Their favorite part was when Elmo was leaving with his friends and said, “Bye park, bye trees, bye blue feathered swallowing swallow.” They realized that the trees, swallow and park were their friends too. DVD. 45 min.; $12.98; Ages 2-5. Warner Home Video.

April is all about the Earth – Avatar delivers a powerful message about saving the planet

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
I love this film! And, its message resonates with what we are celebrating on Earth Day – saving our planet. This almost three-hour epic is considered by many as the most beautiful movie ever produced thanks to its groundbreaking 3-D and graphics technology. Set in the far future, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), travels to Pandora, a lush, jungle-covered extraterrestrial moon and home to a sentient humanoid race, the Na’vi. The 10-foot tall, blue-skinned Na’vi fight when a human corporation attempts to remove the indigenous people from their native lands. Human scientists create genetically-bred human-Na’vi hybrids known as Avatars to infiltrate the locals and discover their secrets. Jake participates in this program and encounters many dangers and beauties on Pandora as he scouts around. Our youth viewers commented, “One of my all-time favorite parts of the film is when Jake is walking through the forest of Pandora – everything lights up and looks amazing.” The movie has a fabulous soundtrack and somewhat of a new age feel that invites you into a new world. Somehow, the world of Pandora seems real and draws you in. You want to be part of that world. All in all, one of the best movies we have ever seen.. DVD. 162 min.;Ages 12-18.

Be a Cool Grandparent with These 3 DVDs for Rainy Spring Days

Monday, April 5th, 2010
Here are three great DVDs coming out next week that any grandparent would be considered pretty cool if they had them onhand when their school-aged grandkids come to visit.

Giggle, Giggle, Quack…and More Funny Favorites. Get ready to chuckle out loud as smart Duck takes advantage of Farmer’s vacation to stir up some trouble. This delightful collection brings classic stories to the screen with beautiful illustrations and simple narration. Background music and sound effects add to the tales without overpowering them. Learn about the lives of spiders, worms and flies through whimsical stories in the diaries of worms and flies. You probably never thought before how difficult it might be for a worm to do the Hokey Pokey. Learn about the process one has to go through to become president as Duck heads to Washington, DC before deciding his life was much better back on the farm. This compilation of short films makes great use of humor and is just right for elementary school-age kids. Our youth viewers thought the characters were funny and commented on how it was interesting to see the everyday lives of flies and worms. One child got very excited and said that the diaries were his favorite books. They really laughed when the worm thought the money was a leaf. DVD. 57 min.; $14.95; Ages 5-8. New Video Group.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. AAAAlllllvvvviiiin, Simon and Theodore are back in town, and this time they have some competition. The Chipettes! As the brothers get used to school life and try to get over the betrayal of their former agent, Ian, they discover that Ian is up to his old tricks with the Chipettes. It’s up to Alvin, Simon and Theodore to help the girls. That’s not easy to do when the girls just think they are just jealous. It also doesn’t help that the brothers aren’t getting along as well as they usually do. In the end they are reminded that there is nothing as great as true brotherly love. With catchy tunes and darling animation, the chipmunks will steal your heart and have you singing along as you are reminded about the power of love. Some viewers might not appreciate the potty humor. But, the storyline was good and holds the interest of both kids and adults. Our younger viewers laughed and commented that it was like their everyday life being on film, and parents were able to see it, too. The music is great. Kids liked hearing the songs they normally listen to re-done with chipmunk voices. DVD. 89 min.; $29.98; Ages 5-12. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

 

Free Willy: Escape From Pirate’s Cove. It’s time to save an orca again, and this time it’s in a film starring Bindi Irwin and Beau Bridges. While the concept of saving the whale is similar to the other “Free Willy” films, you don’t ever find yourself bored. This might be because anyone following Irwin’s career knows that she’s truly passionate about animals, both on and off the screen. It adds a dimension of sincerity to the film. It’s hard to believe it’s her first feature film debut since Irwin’s acting is so natural. In this engaging film, young Kirra joins her eccentric grandfather (Bridges) in South Africa at his rundown amusement park by the sea. An orca, which Kirra names “Willy,” gets stuck in their lagoon and can’t be freed until they find Willy’s pod. Things get tense when the wealthy amusement park owner down the road wants to buy Willy and their own funds get tight, making it difficult to feed the orca. It’s up to Kirra and her buddy Sifisu to find the pod and free Willy. Our youth viewers loved seeing the orcas and the penguin. Their favorite part was when the bad guy was running away and Willy came and bit him in the butt. DVD. 102 min.; $27.98; Ages 8-12. Warner Home Video.  
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