The Family category has 2683 KIDS FIRST! endorsed titles
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ULTRAMAN RISING
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ULTRAMAN RISING
NETFLIX Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - With Tokyo under siege from rising monster attacks, baseball star Ken Sato reluctantly returns home to take on the mantle of Ultraman. But the titanic superhero meets his match when he reluctantly adopts a 35-foot-tall, fire-breathing baby kaiju. Sato must rise above his ego to balance work and parenthood while protecting the baby from forces bent on exploiting her for their own dark plans. In partnership with Netflix, Tsuburaya Productions, and Industrial Light & Magic, Ultraman: Rising is written by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes, directed by Shannon Tindle, and co-directed by John Aoshima.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - As an Ultraman fan and someone who likes science fiction animation movies, I loved Ultraman Rising.

The storyline follows a baseball player named Ken Sato (Christopher Sean) who left Japan for the United States with his mother when he was young and became a famous baseball player. Now he needs to return to Tokyo to take over the role of Ultraman because his dad (Gedde Watanabe) asks him to come and take a bigger role in his life. He lives with a robot named Mina (Tamlyn Tomita) who helps him in his tasks. One day, while fighting Ken finds a Kaiju egg and knows that he needs to learn to care for the baby Kaiju and learn the importance of family. A man named Dr. Onda (Keone Young) wants to destroy all the kaijus, he wants to take revenge because his family died in a kaiju attack.

The animation by the Sunrise team is really great - sometimes I forgot I was watching an animation. The actors' voices match the characters quite well. Director and writer, Shannon Tindle and co-director, John Aoshima, even including something from the original series - at the beginning it shows the kaiju from the first episode of Ultraman. They also incorporated some very funny scenes and lines, like the baby kaiju going wild! I really love the baby's incidents - they are so funny. Don't leave your seat too soon at the end or you will miss an important part of the story. I want to mention that I noticed that there are some flashing lights in some scenes, so people sensitive to stroboscopic flashes may be affected.

The film's message is that family is the most important thing in your life. Also, you can't deny anything you don't like. Ken tried to find solutions, but they all weren't good enough.

I give Ultraman Rising 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults and Ultraman fans. This film begins streaming on Netflix June 14, 2024.

By Ryan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


INSIDE OUT 2
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
INSIDE OUT 2
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-18
Description - The little voices inside Riley's head know her inside and out--but everything changes when Disney and Pixar's "Inside Out 2" introduces a new Emotion: Anxiety. Inside Out 2 returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley just as headquarters is undergoing a sudden demolition to make room for something entirely unexpected: new Emotions! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who have long been running a successful operation by all accounts, aren't sure how to feel when Anxiety shows up. And it looks like she's not alone. Maya Hawke lends her voice to Anxiety, alongside Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Lewis Black as Anger, Tony Hale as Fear, and Liza Lapira as Disgust.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The teenage mind has a lot of emotion, which we explore in Inside Out 2! From taking rides down your river of consciousness to discovering your deep dark secrets, Inside Out 2 makes you think and discover a bit of yourself.

Inside Out 2 is a time skip to the first establishment. It continues to follow Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Liza Lapria), who are Riley's (Kensington Tallman) original emotions. As Riley enters her "teenage years" new emotions are introduced such as Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Ennui (Ad�le Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser). When Riley gets accepted to Hockey Camp, Anxiety and new emotions try to take over her core beliefs. It's up to Joy and her group to find a way to get Riley back to the way she was.

This film is much deeper compared to the first film. This explores the concept of growing up and the more complex emotions that can "take over" other feelings. Anxiety, as the villain, is genius in the sense that most people see it that way. Anxiety tends to overpower joy as metaphorically shown in this film. My favorite aspect of Inside Out 2 is the little hints of the mind they added. I love that they now have beliefs that create the "self," the river of consciousness which changes floating items based on your thoughts and, even the vault of secrets. This film runs 1 hour and 36 minutes and is worth the watch for new and prior fans!

The film's message is to be true to yourself and, while you should prepare for the future, don't let that stop you from experiencing the present. In the film, Anxiety works on always preparing Riley for the future which means her destroying who Riley is and should be. Riley begins to "suffer the consequences" of that action which takes a toll on her. While there is nothing to look out for in Inside Out 2, it is a much deeper-minded film so it can get viewers thinking deeper or experiencing certain emotions.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it in theaters June 14, 2024.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I absolutely love the film Inside Out 2 with its vibrant, imaginative worlds, hilarious and unique characters, and engaging storyline. I felt a deep connection to each character. Every scene captivated me with its colorful animation and the hilarious chaos carries throughout the film.

The main character, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), is now officially a teenager and the film begins with a brief recap of Riley's life over the past couple of years. We are introduced to four new emotions: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Embarrassment (Paul Walter), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), and Ennui (Adele E). It seems like an ordinary day at headquarters until everyone realizes that demolition is happening - quite symbolic - and a new emotion, Anxiety, has arrived with the intention to dominate and conquer. Anxiety introduces the other new emotions and takes over with the ultimate goal to eliminate Riley's sense of self and create a new one. Then chaos erupts!

One of my favorite parts in the film is when Joy and Sadness go down to the belief system. The visuals are so clear and beautiful. I really like the visual imagery throughout the film, with characters navigating worlds like the back of the mind, or the stream of consciousness. I also love the idea of the good memories being "planted" when released into the water, creating a stem to Riley's sense of self. This film also had me uncontrollably laughing. For example, the moment when a button labeled "PUBERTY" starts beeping, waking up the emotions in the middle of the night. It is hilarious to see how the emotions react to Riley's changes. This film is very relatable, especially for my age group, because it makes tons of jokes about going through the teenage years. My absolute favorite moments are related to the character development that emotions like Joy and her counterpart, Sadness, go through. Seeing all the emotions come together and realize that they each play a part in Riley's sense of self also strikes home.

The film's message is that all emotions shape us into who we are. For example, we need to experience sadness in our lives in order to feel joy. The film expresses the positive message that all emotions are necessary and are part of connecting to who we are.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Inside Out 2 in theaters, June 14, 2024.

I really enjoyed Inside Out 2. It is a thrilling film about a young girl becoming a teenager and I could relate to the many new emotions she is experiencing. This movie is perfect to watch with someone the age of the protagonist.

The story follows a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) who is just entering puberty and needs to make room for new emotions as she becomes an adolescent. Riley's headquarters (which is where all her emotions stay) gets demolished so that it can make room for her new "sophisticated" emotions, including: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), Boredom (Adele Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and Nostalgia (June Squibb). In one of the scenes Anxiety tells Joy that Riley needs more sophisticated emotions and pushes aside our classic five being: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale) and my personal favorite Disgust (Liza Lapira).

The animation in this film is fantastic and the characters look stupendous. In one scene when Joy's emotion changes and she gets frustrated, by the help of animation, she looks as if she is about to explode and cry at the same time. There are no special effects, but there are many visual effects that match the storyline perfectly. When Joy, Fear, Anger and Disgust get trapped inside of a safe a small character named Pouchie (James Austin Johnson) appears and that animation looks different than the other characters, he sort of looks like a cartoon from the 80s. My favorite scene is when the five emotions first meet - Anxiety, Boredom, Envy, Nostalgia and Embarrassment. The interaction between Anxiety and Joy is a bit strange since Joy thinks these are intruders to headquarters and Anxiety is crazy when it comes to meeting new people. I mean, "Emotions!" Another one of my favorite scenes in this hilarious film is when Riley meets the popular girls. This is one of my favorite scenes because of how funny and awkward it is when Riley goes to meet these girls. To see what happens next, you must watch the movie! I know that you will love it just as much as I did!

The film's message is that it is okay to experience a variety of emotions and not just feel happy or sad. Another message is about how starting to become adolescents brings about different feelings than we had in our childhood, so, we need to understand why we feel this way and accept these feelings.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters June 14, 2024.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

I love Inside Out 2! This masterfully made movie is a sequel to the 2015 film Inside Out that dives deeper into the emotional and mental changes children have as they become teenagers. It has amazing storytelling, numerous powerful messages and so much emotional depth.

This movie follows Riley (Kensington Tallman) as she enters her teenage years in the summer before she starts high school. As she hits puberty, her mind headquarters undergoes an unexpected change to make room for new emotions, like Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), Boredom (Adele Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and Anxiety (Maya Hawke). These new emotions challenge not only Riley's emotions but also her friendships and sense of self.

I believe people of all ages will enjoy Inside Out 2. This film was made nearly a decade after the original movie, and with a purpose, it seems. I feel that the creators of this movie waited this long to make this sequel so that all of the original viewers would be older. I was only six or seven when I saw the original Inside Out. And now, I'm sixteen and my mind is so much more complex than the five core emotions featured in the original movie, which Inside Out 2 addresses and is why the timing of this release is so perfect. This movie really masters the more complex emotions that come as we age. Anyone in their teenage years or adulthood will be able to relate to this movie because of these new emotions. Younger children will definitely like this movie, but they may not understand it as deeply as an older person will. I love the new characters. As in the original movie, these performances blew my mind. The strongest performances come from Amy Poehler as Joy, Maya Hawke as Anxiety, and Kensington Tallman as Riley. Kensington, Grace Lu (as Grace) and Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green (as Bree) have so much chemistry and truly seem like they are best friends. My favorite performance is from Adele Exarchopoulos, who plays Ennui (boredom) and, even though she doesn't have that many lines, she's hilarious.

Inside Out 2 has many deep messages, like embracing every part of yourself and remembering that it's okay to feel all sorts of different emotions. Its goal is to de-stigmatize anxiety and other emotions because they are normal and really common.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. People who enjoyed the original Inside Out movie will definitely enjoy this one. It comes out in theaters on June 14, 2024.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS 2
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS 2
BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATUREFILM, AGES 5-12
Description - The students of the school of magical animals want to perform a musical for the school's anniversary. Will the rehearsals end in chaos or will the class pull together? And what's up with the strange holes on the school grounds? With the help of their magical animals, the children learn what really matters: teamwork. From Germany, base on bestselling children's book series by Margit Auert. Dubbed in English.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I absolutely love the movie School of Magical Animals 2! The sets are very detailed and are beautifully designed to fit the lighthearted style of the movie. The animals' hilarious antics kept me laughing throughout the film! Best of all, you don't need to have seen the first film, School of Magical Animals. You can enjoy and completely understand the film for what it is!

School of Magical Animals 2 follows a group of students and their talking pets preparing to celebrate their school's anniversary with a musical performance. They want to honor their school by recreating the story of its foundation. The only problem is, they cannot agree on how to do it! Ida (Emilia Maier) is appointed director, but when the school's most popular girl, Helene (Emilia Pieske), attempts to take control, the class is torn. Additionally, the school director, Mr. Siegmann (Justus von Dohn�nyi) has his own vision for the musical and insists that it is followed. With the advice and assistance of the magical animals, the students eventually realize they must join forces, each learning a valuable lesson along the way.

The sets immediately stood out to me, especially the individual characters' bedrooms. The room decorations reflect each of their personalities. My favorite room belongs to Anna-Lena (Lilith Johna). She is a shy but happy, welcoming girl with a wonderful singing voice and a talent for textiles. Her room is covered with beautiful fairy lights, warm pastel-colored cushions, and sewing equipment, because she is sewing the main character's dress for the musical. There is a wooden bunk bed with a ladder and there are plants and vines around the room, in adorable white or neutral pots. Her room looks like it belongs to a garden fairy, which describes Anna-Lena perfectly! Aside from the characters' rooms, the rest of the sets are also beautifully designed, such as the stage for the performance and the set for Ida's rooftop birthday party. Both maintain a light, happy color scheme to support the movie's cheerful tone. They are very detailed as well, with star-shaped cutouts and strobe lights for the stage and a whole snack booth with cafe-style tables set up by the trampolines for Ida's birthday party. The animals are essential to the plot and the character development. Each main character's animal represents either their internal thoughts or a lesson they need to learn. For example, Anna-Lena receives a chameleon named Caspar (Rick Kavanian), who pushes her to overcome her shyness and step out of her comfort zone, even encouraging her to take on the lead role in the musical. And Juri (Axel Stein), Jo's penguin, represents his conscience when he makes a mistake and guides him to the right decision by sharing advice, as well as his own hilarious stories from when he was in Antarctica.

The message of School of Magical Animals 2 is that teamwork makes the dream work! At the end of the film, the students realize that they are more powerful together than apart, and to make their musical the best it can be, they need to work together, share their ideas and listen to others' opinions. Be aware that this film was originally recorded in German and is dubbed in English, with subtitles provided.

School of Magical Animals 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. School of Magical Animals 2 releases in theaters on June 7, 2024.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I like the film School of Magical Animals 2. It is entertaining with all the magical animals talking and having fun personalities. I also really like how the animals match their owners' personalities. The movie has a castle in a village for the school which makes the setting very interesting. The only drawback is that, at times, it is a little repetitive.

The storyline follows Ida and Benni who attend the Winterstein School where the students are practicing a musical to show their parents and they sometimes disagree and make each feel upset or left out - but they work it out. At the end when they put on the play something strange happens and they are shocked to find out.

Based on the successful German children's book series by Margit Auer, this film is a blend of CGI animation and live action. What makes it particularly fun is the talking animals, which include a talking fox, tortoise and magpie. Director Sven Unterwaldt beautifully brings this story to life. Ida, a kind and nice girl, is played by Emilia Maier, who portrays her perfectly. Her pet, Rabbat, is wonderfully voiced by Max Von der Groeben. I love watching the magical animals sing, rap, talk, and dance, and at times they advise their human friends. The animals help teach lessons in friendship, perseverance, and the importance of sharing feelings. Another fun fact about the animals is that they can transform into stuffed animals when needed, so they can hide from strangers. Throughout the movie, you see beautiful landscapes and European villages and castles.

The film's message is about teamwork. In the beginning, the children struggle to come together as a team, but when they start to work together they start to accomplish more.

I give School Of Magical Animals 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It is available in theaters June 7, 2024.

By Clara T., KIDS FIRST! Film critic, age 11

School of Magical Animals 2 is an enchanting sequel that absolutely captivated me! This film continues the magical journey with even more excitement, heart, and humor. The combination of great acting, a fantastic soundtrack, and impressive CGI makes it a must-watch for fans of the first movie and newcomers alike.

In this sequel, the students of the School of Magical Animals are preparing a musical for the school's anniversary. However, things don't go as smoothly as planned. With strange holes appearing on the school grounds and the pressure of rehearsals mounting, the students must rely on their magical animal friends to navigate the chaos. Together, they discover the importance of teamwork and friendship in overcoming obstacles.

The lead characters in this film are brought to life by a talented cast. The dynamic between the students and their magical animal companions is both heartwarming and entertaining. The CGI used to create the animals is top-notch, making each magical creature feel real and full of personality. The sets and scenery are vibrant and perfectly complement the magical atmosphere of the story. The costumes are wonderfully designed, adding to the visual appeal of the film. One of my favorite parts of the movie is the cute and enjoyable love story between the two main characters. It's a delightful extension from the first movie and adds an extra layer of charm to the story. The musical numbers are catchy and well-executed, thanks to the great soundtrack. Every element of this film, from the direction to the special effects, contributes to its overall magical feel.

The message of School of Magical Animals 2 is that teamwork and friendship are essential in overcoming challenges. The film successfully conveys this message through its engaging storyline and relatable characters.

School of Magical Animals 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, and adults will enjoy it as well. You can catch this magical film in theaters on June 7, 2024.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 20

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


TOMORROW'S GAME
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TOMORROW'S GAME
STREETS AHEAD PRODUCTION
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-12
Description - Daniel de la Rosa travels back in time to 1957. To get home, he must find a way to restore his family's legacy and rewrite baseball history. A fun adventure for the whole family ensues, full of baseball and time travel, featuring Paul Rodriguez.

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $ 9.99
Media: FeatureFilm

JOHNNY PUFF: SECRET MISSION
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
JOHNNY PUFF: SECRET MISSION
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA NETWORK Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-8
Description - Four Puffins, under the guidance of Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp), develop their superpowers and use them for good. When their home, Taigasville, comes under threat from the evil Otto von Walrus, Johnny Puff and co. embark on a secret mission. Releasing in theaters, VOD, AVOD, streaming and online retailers July 12, 2024.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is fantastic! The animation is top-notch, and it vividly chronicles the tale of four heroic Puffins using their extraordinary powers to defeat the villainous walrus, Otto von.

The story takes place in Tuss V., a tiny coastal town in the Arctic where four inseparable friends live among the Puffins. They're naughty and playful and always looking for new adventures. They find something even more valuable than any treasure - meteorite that gives them incredible powers.

This film is very imaginative and very organized, plus I'm impressed by the story development. It has a well-structured plot that beautifully showcases how the four Puffins use their superpowers for good and ultimately triumph over Otto the walrus. The quality of the animation is great - the film constantly switches scenes along with the storyline, and the production is smooth. The background music changes with the development of the plot. For example, when the Puffins are stripped of their food source by Otto, they go to Otto to get back their food, fall into Otto's trick, and are captured and taken to Otto's base camp. Throughout this scene the background music is tense and creates a tense atmosphere. The four Puffins include Tick, the littlest of the team, who is clumsy, naive and has a good heart. He is able to control nature. Pi is the giant of the group; he is moody and impulsive and never gets tired. He is unstoppably strong. Dak is the brains of the bunch; he examines everything very closely. Didi is the most self-absorbed of them all; her powers are being able to break the sound barrier and make time go slower. Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) is a retired rock star who lives a peaceful life in harmony with nature and can transform into a sneaky ninja warrior. Otto von Walrus is famous for his craftiness and intelligence and his dirty tricks. At the end of the story, Otto's mother visits Otto and instructs him to go on the right track. Under the influence of his mother, Otto gradually gives up his prank plan and reunites with the animals in the town. My favorite scene is the opening scene where Tick, Pi, Dak and Didi are introduced; it beautifully portrays the distinct personality traits of each little auk. It's a captivating and engaging start that draws you into the story from the get go.

The film's message is about the four little Puffins that accidentally discover meteorites with superpowers during their expedition, and they each acquire superpowers and use them for good things, and their secret mission to save the arctic Johnny Pop mission.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8.

By Changyang L., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The animated adventure, Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is a colorful journey with Johnny Puff. I love how the characters' unique personalities and superpowers come together in a classic, yet thrilling plot. The narration adds a comedic touch that keeps you entertained throughout the movie.

In Johnny Puff: Secret Mission, the peaceful town of Taigasville is threatened by the evil Otto von Walrus. Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) and his team of four super-powered Puffins--Tic, Tac, Didi, and Pie--embark on a secret mission to save their home. The storyline is straightforward and predictable but executed in a charming and engaging way.

The characters are one of the highlights of the film. Johnny Puff is the wise and brave leader, while each Puffin has distinct traits that match their superpowers. The animation style might remind viewers of the Ice Age franchise, giving it a nostalgic feel. Although the movie lacks dialogue other than the narrator, it compensates with vibrant visuals and expressive characters. The narrator's humor is a standout, adding a light-hearted and fun element to the film. One of my favorite parts is the dynamic between the Puffins and how their abilities complement each other during their mission. The special effects and animation bring their powers to life in a visually appealing way. The sets and locations are beautifully designed, creating an immersive environment that enhances the storytelling.

The movie's message is about teamwork, bravery, and using your unique talents for good. It's a positive theme that encourages viewers to value their individuality and work together to overcome challenges. The film promotes positive social behavior.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 3 out of 5 stars. It's perfect for ages 5 to 12. You can find this movie in theaters and on major streaming platforms and DVD beginning July 12, 2024. Get ready for a fun-filled journey with Johnny Puff and his heroic Puffins!

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 20

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission is an innovative and hilarious movie. It incorporates a lot of different theatrical elements to add to viewer enjoyment.

This film is about the super puffins, specifically Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp) who has to save Taigasville from all the evil shenanigans that Otto von Walrus keeps pulling. Every ten to 15 minutes he tries something new and the super puffins must stop him from destroying the arctic. It is based on the TV series, Puffins.

This film has many unique components -- most noticeable is that none of the characters speak. The only voice heard in the whole film is that of the narrator, Johnny Depp. The rest of the characters simply grunt and make other vocal noises, which allows the disagreements and plot to be up to the interpretation of the viewer. Another aspect of this film is its ever changing plot. Rather than just one big evil scheme throughout the film, Otto von Walrus constantly tries different things and continually gets defeated. It feels like a full TV season of ten to 15 minute episodes put into a fun, entertaining movie. The animation is very impressive; it uses an animation style that is not often used in movies which therefore makes the whole film much more interesting. The villain, Otto von Walrus, is more of a bully than a true evil villain, which makes the character relations even more unique.

The message of this film is to never give up and keep having fun because the world doesn't stop for you.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It releases in theaters and streaming on July 12, 2024.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I thoroughly enjoyed Johnny Puff: Secret Mission for its imaginative storyline and dynamic characters. The film masterfully combines adventure and fantasy, and it is a captivating watch for audiences of all ages.

Johnny Puff: Secret Mission follows four Puffin friends, Tic, Pi, Dak and DD, who stumble upon a mysterious glowing meteor that grants them incredible powers. Alongside their retired rockstar friend, Johnny Puff (Johnny Depp), who can transform into a ninja through his music, they embark on an epic quest filled with challenges and discoveries.

The movie excels in character development and creativity, which are two aspects that particularly stand out to me. Tick's ability to control nature adds a beautiful, almost poetic element to their journey. Pi's super-strength provides both humor and heroism, while Dak's technological prowess offers clever solutions to the group's obstacles. DD's ability to break the sound barrier and manipulate time introduces thrilling, high speed sequences that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Johnny Puff's transformation into a ninja through his music is a unique and entertaining twist that highlights the importance of following one's passion. The film's animation is vibrant and detailed, making the Puffin's world come alive in a way that is visually stunning and deeply engaging.

The film's message is about the power of friendship and teamwork.

I give Johnny Puff: Secret Mission 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 through 12. This film releases July 12, on VOD, AVOD, Streaming, Online Retailers, and in theatres. Be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-8
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


KEEPERS OF THE FIVE KINGDOMS, THE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
KEEPERS OF THE FIVE KINGDOMS, THE
VISION FILMS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Join Chuck, Patsy, Squirrel, & Hopper on an epic quest to defeat the evil sorceress Kuang as you dive into a world of myth, magic, & 80's nostalgia in this thrilling, action-packed adventure! Directed by former child actor Zack Ward - Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I found The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms appealing due to its rich incorporation of Chinese culture, which brings authenticity and educational value as seen with the traditional elements like the Chinese leopard water, traditional attire, and the artifacts in the grandfather's store. The fantasy and adventure aspects, such as the magical land with a Chinese dragon and creative escapes like the car transformation, create an engaging, imaginative world. The film also delves into complex family dynamics, particularly the reconciliation between Patsy and her grandfather. The moral lessons, like the queen's redemption through Patsy's love spell, provide meaningful themes about forgiveness and transformation. However, the complex plot, numerous characters and rapid scene changes can be overwhelming, and the fast-paced narrative leads to a lack of depth at times. While the reliance on familiar fantasy tropes can feel predictable, the cultural richness and emotional arcs make it a compelling watch. Children will enjoy its exciting fantasy elements, like the magical portals, the Chinese dragon, mythical creatures and spells, and young characters like Patsy, which offer a sense of thrill and connection.

The film begins with a slave informing his master of finding a key to her freedom. Two men from the mythical world are sent to hunt for a treasure box with the key; they evade police using magic and communicate with the master through Chinese characters on a scroll. Patsy accidentally picks up a mystical box, which leads to a series of events where her friend, Harper, is taken hostage and will only be released on the condition that she gives the box back, thus leading them to travel to a magical land. There they encounter mythical creatures, solve ancient puzzles, and ultimately confront an evil queen, who is redeemed by Patsy's love spell, helping them return home.

The Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms offers a captivating blend of fantasy escapades and cultural exploration that are delightful. From mesmerizing magical portals to mythical creatures, the visuals are breathtaking. What sets this film apart is its rich cultural tapestry, with traditional Chinese music, clothing, artifacts, and beliefs seamlessly woven into the narrative. Viewers are not only entertained but also enlightened as they embark on a journey of cultural appreciation and understanding. The themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness resonate deeply, as characters like Patsy and her friends, with her grandfather's guidance, navigate challenges and ultimately find redemption through love and empathy. Through its intricate plot and dynamic characters, it encourages viewers to question, probe, and problem-solve, fostering critical thinking skills and igniting curiosity. The program strikes a perfect balance between educational value and entertainment, leaving audiences both enchanted and inspired.

The film bursts with cultural richness, although pacing issues, awkward scene transitions, and a complex plot affect its impact. It takes you on a wild ride and what really brings the story to life is the intelligent use of traditional Chinese music, artifacts and beliefs, magical portals and dragons. You feel as if you're stepping into another world! The film keeps things exciting with thrilling adventures and relatable young characters like Patsy. The reconciliation between Patsy and her grandfather adds emotional depth. The writer's mix of magic, adventure, and family drama is excellent. The storyline strikes a balance between fantasy, adventure and cultural education, providing an enriching experience for young people. Stunning visuals bring this film to life. The attention to details such as the majority of the cast being of Chinese descent, Joe's traditional clothing, and the grandfather's shop contribute to cultural authenticity. The mystical world set is well portrayed with its creatures, the queen's soldiers, the talking tortoise, invisible bridges, and the architecture of the castle. The skilled direction captures all of this - in both animated and live-action scenes there are clear, detailed visuals and high production values.

The film supports inquiry and investigation, and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, the incorporation of cultural elements encourages viewers to explore and learn about an unfamiliar culture, which fosters curiosity and understanding. Additionally, the fantastical elements, such as magical portals and mythical creatures, invite viewers to question and probe the boundaries of reality, stimulating their imaginations and creativity. The complex plot and character dynamics provide opportunities to analyze motivations and consequences, promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The film offers a blend of educational value and entertainment that encourages viewers to engage with the content on multiple levels.

The film's message revolves around themes of family, friendship, cultural appreciation, and the power of love and forgiveness. The film emphasizes the importance of reconciliation and understanding within families, as seen in Patsy's reconciliation with her grandfather. The cultural elements of the film promote appreciation and respect for different cultures. The redemption of the evil queen highlights the transformative power of love and forgiveness, suggesting that understanding and empathy can lead to positive change.

I give The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on VOD and streaming June 18, 2024. By Gloria J., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The film The Keeper of the Five Kingdoms has a ton of magic and mythical characters such as sorcerers, talking lizards, and trolls. The film takes place in a forest and that setting definitely fits the characters and scenes. The costumes also stand out as they fit the story so well.

The storyline follows a girl named Patsy Lee (Michelle Mao), her friend squirrel (Anna Harr), her brother Hopper (Matthew Sato) and her grandfather Chuck Lee (James Hong). One day they all get sucked into a portal in a stone and are transported to a magical kingdom where they face a lot of obstacles - in order for them to go back home they have to defeat the evil sorcerer.

This film is very cultural. I love its focus on Chinese culture. The costumes are outstanding, especially Allura's outfit before she turns into a troll - it's very detailed and beautiful. I like this film although it isn't really my style. The acting seems too unnatural; sometimes it's very overly dramatic and, in some scenes, you can tell there is a green screen behind them. Other than that the production is great! My favorite part is when Patsy gives the lizard the box with the bad magic stone. Then, the lizard puts the entire family in a gigantic hole in the ground, and starts dancing wildly above them. The way he dances is really funny. I love the relationship between the grandfather, Patsy, and Hopper. They always have each other's back. You can tell that they love each other.

The film's message is about friendship and a reminder that our family always has our back, no matter what. Hopper always has Patsy's back like when the bad guys try to force Hopper to give them the box and threaten his sister. Hopper protects his sister first and foremost.

I give Keeper of the Five Kingdoms 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 8 to 12. This film releases on VOD and streaming June 18, 2024.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

If you like a youth-aimed action movie coupled with some ancient Chinese magic and funny situations, you will definitely like The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms. It is light, has no violence and is funny.

The story follows a queen named Lord Kuang (Bai Ling) who wants a box that contains magic. She sends two servants, Mr. Rat (Dante Basco) and Mr. Chicken (Dave Sheridan), some kids Patsy (Michelle Mao), Squirrel (Anna Harr) and Hopper (Matt Sato), plus a Chinese uncle named Chuck (James Hong) to find the box which leads them to an amazing adventure.

I commend the director, Zack Ward, for his work here. There are a lot of comical situations, like when Pasty's mom is trying to make Grandpa Chuck say that something was leopard pee. However, the animatronic and green screen work sometimes lack synchronization with the puppets' mouths, and some hair fades onto the green screen, like when they get out of the deep hole. Some actors could have been a bit more convincing, like when they are falling, the only person that looks convincing is Hopper.

The film's message is that love is a very strong power.

I give The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. This movie releases on VOD and streaming on June 18, 2024.

By Ryan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


STAR WARS: THE ACOLYTE
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
STAR WARS: THE ACOLYTE
DISNEY+ Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-15
Description - Star Wars: The Acolyte is set at the end of the Star Wars franchise's High Republic era, approximately 100 years before Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). It sees a respected Jedi Master investigating a series of crimes that bring him into contact with a former Padawan learner and reveal sinister forces. This Star Wars series takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love the TV series Star Wars: The Acolyte because it is an action-packed series with unique and captivating plots that are very different from any of the other Star Wars films or series. Best of all, although it is helpful to have watched the prior Star Wars films, you don't have to have seen any of them in order to enjoy this series.

This series takes place 100 years before episode 1 of the Star Wars films. It is a story about a girl named Osha (Amandla Stenberg) who is accused of murdering a Jedi Master named Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss). However, Osha firmly states her innocence because she is apparently loyal to the Jedis.

The plot is pretty complex. Early in the series, Osha suffers a tragedy as a young girl when her hometown is burned down by her twin sister, Mae (also played by Amandla Stenberg) and everyone, including Mae, is presumed dead, except for Osha, which is suspicious. Afterwards, Osha trains to be a Jedi but ultimately drops out after a few years. Sol (Lee Jung-jae), a Jedi master and Osha's former teacher, believes that Osha is innocent and attempts to find her and confirm her innocence. Another Jedi master is murdered while Osha is with Sol so there may be another killer! The show follows Osha and Mae and the audience tries to discover who the killers of the Jedi masters are. What I really like about the series are the beautiful settings, the costumes, and the musical composition. The settings include areas with beautiful lush landscapes and other areas in a frozen ice land. The costumes are very unique as they are in most Star Wars films and series. For example, when the witch's ceremony is held in the third episode, the gold costumes of the women are stunning. The background music is both beautiful and eerie, and always fits the various scenes perfectly. One of my favorite parts of the show is when the group travels to a remote planet to find one of the Wookie Jedi masters and all of the surprising creatures they see along the way including a massive flying beetle. My favorite character in the series is Mae because we learn why she set her hometown on fire and begin to understand that not everything is as it initially seems.

The series' message is, "We are not defined by what we lose, we are defined by what we survive," which is a direct quote from one of the supporting characters. This highlights the point that Osha is not defined by having lost her family, but by having the strength and courage to survive it allows her to persevere in spite of it. Be forewarned that this series contains a lot of violent behavior.

I give Star Wars: The Acolyte 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first two episodes of Star Wars: The Acolyte release on Disney + June 4, 2024. The remaining episodes of the eight-episode series release weekly after that.

By Arya B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


SUMMER CAMP
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
SUMMER CAMP
ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Summer Camp tells the story of Nora (Keaton), Ginny (Bates), and Mary (Woodard), who have been best friends since being inseparable at summer camp. As the years have passed, they've seen each other less and less, so when the chance to reunite for a summer camp reunion arises, they all take it, some begrudgingly and others excitedly. Each of their lives might not be where they'd imagined, but one thing is for sure -- Nora, Ginny, and Mary need each other, and summer camp reminds them why.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Summer Camp is an adventurous film targeted at an older audience. My favorite parts are the wardrobe, characters, and location - all of which make this super enjoyable.

Summer Camp is a comedic movie that follows a trio of best friends - Nora (Diane Keaton), Ginny (Kathy Bates) and Mary (Alfre Woodard) who met years ago while attending a summer camp together in their youth. Over the years, they've drifted apart due to lifestyle changes. So when the opportunity for a summer camp reunion arises, they all decide to go and relive the fond moments they used to share. Though a few bumps in their camp stay emerge, Nora, Ginny, and Mary all remember the importance of having strong friendships.

The wardrobe styling in this film is stellar. Costume designer, Maria Lorenzana, designed all of the characters' outfits so that they were not only tailored to each person but also represented specific characteristics of their personalities. For example, Nora's studious and reserved side is showcased by her wearing corporate colors, business suits, collared shirts and turtlenecks. Ginny's spunky and creative side is enhanced by her wearing vibrant colors, playful patterns, and big accessories. Mary's quiet and soft side is represented by her wearing simple outfits, solid color tops and soft fabrics.

I adore all of the characters in this film, however my personal favorite is Nora. I relate to her because she's very cautious before taking risks; she's the logical thinker in the group, and she has a passion for science. Diane Keaton plays this role so well and I love her performance throughout the film. Lastly this movie was primarily filmed at Camp Pinnacle located in North Carolina and the location is gorgeous. The sky-high shots of the vast mountains and rolling hills captured by cinematographer Karsten Gopinath are truly breathtaking.

This film's message is about the importance of having strong friendships and taking risks together. Be aware that the film does contain some cursing, inappropriate jokes, sexual themes, and some minor gore.

I give Summer Camp 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Look out for Summer Camp which releases in theaters May 31, 2024.

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


GARFIELD MOVIE, THE (2024)
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GARFIELD MOVIE, THE (2024)
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Garfield (voiced by Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father - scruffy street cat Vic (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) - Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Garfield Movie is a heartwarming story with a great pace and humor. It's cleverly put together with beautiful animation which makes it an engaging film.

The story follows the cat, Garfield (Chris Pratt), who has the dream life - a dog best friend, a nice house, and most importantly, access to an endless amount of food. Everything's going perfectly until he reunites with his long-lost father. The animals have a perilous journey ahead of them, having to deal with the conflict between the father-son duo.

I really like this movie because it's super funny but also has deep messages about relationships with important people in your life. Its main characters are Garfield, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), Jon (Nicholas Hoult), Otto (Ving Rhames) and Jinx (Hannah Waddingham). The characters are unique and represent different emotions - Garfield represents anger, Jon represents anxiety, Vic represents regret, and Otto represents sadness and longing. It illustrates a positive message for the younger generation at the end of the movie. I really like the animation; it's unique and a cool mix of 2D and 3-D awareness of space. There isn't a dull moment in this film. It's constantly engaging, like when they're running from a nasty security guard or dodging ridiculously big cutting knives. I like the pacing; it's not too fast nor too slow. Plus, there are flashbacks to when Garfield was a young kitten, which gives the film a strong backstory. The background music helps set the mood. When it's raining and young Garfield is abandoned, the music is slow and depressing. However, when Odie and Garfield are playing, the music lightens up. My favorite part of the movie is when Vic gets Garfield on the train by launching him off of a tree branch. Garfield bounces off trees, animals, rocks, and more, and it's hilarious to watch.

The film's message is about forgiveness and family. Garfield's dad has a reason he left Garfield, which was actually to help him, rather than hurt him. Vic goes out searching for food and when he comes back, Garfield seems to be happy under Jon's care. Garfield and Vic forgive each other, and become close again.

I give The Garfield Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. The Garfield Movie releases in theaters May 24, 2024.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I love The Garfield Movie. It is fun, heartwarming and has a great villain. The animation is stunning and it has some heartfelt moments with an exceptional cast. The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end and I was laughing out loud.

Garfield (Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father, scruffy street cat Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist. There is nothing not to love about Garfield. He hates Mondays, loves lasagna, and is loyal to his best pals Jon and Odie.

I really love the animation in this film. It is extremely well done -- the way the fur moves and how it looks on all the animals throughout the entire film is stunning. When the fur moves during action sequences and when the heist plans are being made, they even switched the animation style which I thought was particularly cool. I really do not think they could have picked a better cast for this film. Chris Pratt is perfect in the role of Garfield. I love hearing Harvey Guillen as Odie, especially his different barks with different emotions expressed throughout the movie. Hannah Waddingham voices Jinx, a cat who is the villain. She plays a fantastic villain -- she is a little intense, but never too scary even for younger audiences. I like that the plot is made simple so kids can easily understand it and the storyline is so funny. This movie is rated PG; it is 1 hour and 41 minutes and it never drags. I was completely entertained by the entire movie. I left the theater wanting Italian food and a pet.

The film's message is about teamwork, family, and friendship. It shows how family will always be there for you, no matter what. The film shares the importance of doing what is right and being loyal to the people around you.

I give The Garfield Movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Garfield Movie opens in theaters May 24, 2024. Be sure to check it out!

Carter P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Garfield Movie is an entertaining animated film about a lovable tabby cat and his adventures. I like funny movies and this one definitely falls into that category. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt! This film isn't all jokes though; there are many heartwarming moments as well.

This film starts out by making sure the audience knows just how much Garfield (Chris Pratt) loves Italian food. While eating his morning snack, he begins to tell the story of how he met his owner Jon (Nicholas Hoult) after his own father Vic (Samuel L Jackson) seemingly abandons him. Jon takes Garfield in, and from there he has quite the luxurious life; he gets to sit around all day eating and watching cat videos on TV with his buddies. Unsuspectingly, Garfield is taken from his normal routine and forced to adjust to a world he is not prepared for. On this new journey, Garfield meets lots of new people and learns many new life lessons. With the help of his new friends and his dad, Garfield learns to be independent. Garfield eventually makes his way home to a new normal that he helps create.

The Garfield Movie is an animated film that personifies everything from ordinary house pets to farm animals. The animation is very well done and the colors used are an iconic part of what makes Garfield, Garfield. The music used throughout this film really helps set the vibe at crucial moments, such as when Italian music plays at the local Italian restaurant and familiar "danger" music plays during action scenes. My favorite character is Garfield because he is hilarious, loves Italian food, and hates Mondays! The selection of voice actors for each character is also spot on. When Roland the dog (Brett Goldstein) fakes a British accent to make Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) more comfortable, then switches back to his New York accent at the end, the talent of this voice actor really shines through.

The film's message is that you should never judge others without knowing their full story. You may think that you know how something happened, but it's important to get all the information. This message is successfully delivered through the development of Garfield's relationship with his father. Note that this film does contain some violence; although delivered in a funny way, some parents may be uncomfortable with their kids watching such aggressive behavior.

I give The Garfield Movie 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available exclusively in movie theaters beginning May 24, 2024. Be sure to check it out.

By Audrey L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

I have always loved all things Garfield, so I was expecting to love The Garfield Movie--and I do! The film remarkably captures the essence of Garfield, and I couldn't think of a better movie to bring Garfield back to the big screen where he belongs -- and with a talented star-studded cast.

The story follows Garfield (Chris Pratt) who has an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson) when Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) -- the movie's crazy vengeful antagonist -- kidnaps both Garfield and his fellow pet Odie (Harvey Guill�n). Jinx forces the two of them from their perfect (marred only by Mondays), pampered, luxurious lives into joining Vic in a high-stakes heist as revenge against Garfield's father. The plot is tied in with so much humor and so many plot twists overall making it a fun family comedy.

Chris Pratt's voice suits Garfield perfectly, and he brings the right attitude and edge to the character. Samuel L. Jackson wonderfully conveys emotion into his character, Vic (Garfield's father) so as a viewer, you really end up feeling for his character. And Hannah Waddingham is outstanding as Jinx, Garfield's antagonist. She voices Jinx as maniacal and flamboyant but she also brings heart and soul to Jinx, making viewers sympathize with Jinx's motivations. Hannah Waddingham also has two songs in this movie: An original called "I'm Back" which rolls over the end credits and a rendition of the French nursery rhyme "Alouette, Gentille Alouette", the latter of the two occurring in my favorite Jinx scene. The Garfield Movie is really funny. I especially like the parts with Jon (Nicholas Hoult) in them. I do feel like there is a huge effort to make Garfield more modern in this movie... there are lots of pop culture references. In some cases it's done very well, but the movie overdoes this. Garfield calls himself "G-money" and makes shark tank references. And The Garfield Movie has a huge fixation on mobile devices. The film loses out on a very important nostalgic aspect of the film by attempting to adjust Garfield to better match the present-day audience. Garfield is relatable to modern kids and loved by the modern audience not because he has a phone. As Garfield's creator, Jim Davis says, "Garfield is a human being in a cat suit". The film does flesh out his character and I really enjoy seeing it. Yes, his adventures are significantly wilder but that just makes them more fun to watch.

The message of The Garfield Movie revolves around the importance of family and connection. It explores themes of sacrifice, the unseen presence of love, how misunderstandings can change your whole worldview, and the deep (sometimes hidden) bonds that define family.

I give The Garfield Movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2-18, plus families as well as all fans of the lovable cat. Look out for The Garfield Movie, which opens in theaters May 24, 2024.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


FOR LOVE & LIFE: NO ORDINARY CAMPAIGN
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FOR LOVE & LIFE: NO ORDINARY CAMPAIGN
AMAZON PRIME Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign is an emotionally gripping documentary illustrating the power of love and determination in the face of adversity. The film follows the life of Brian Wallach and his wife Sandra in the aftermath of his ALS diagnosis at age 37. Exemplifying bravery, inspiration and hope, Brian and Sandra, continue to fight against a broken system for their own future, while seeking to build a brighter one for countless others.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I had a pleasant time viewing For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign. The mood, editing, and celebrity cameos make this an excellent film to watch.

This documentary follows Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya, a couple from Chicago, who meet and fall in love while working during Obama's 2008 campaign. Shortly after starting their family; news of Brian's ALS diagnosis turned this family's world upside down. However, Brian and Sandra were not going to let ALS stand in their way. This film follows the mass ALS movement sparked by Brian and Sandra, and how this couple's journey gave a voice to the millions of people suffering with the disease and how they also brought attention to the US's broken healthcare system.

I love the uplifting mood this documentary takes - the music and editing perfectly captivate the success and struggles that both Brain and Sandra faced while fighting for ALS. One scene that really stuck with me is when Brian and Sandra were preparing a speech that they were going to give to the government urging them to make the drugs that could help the symptoms associated with ALS accessible for all. The music by Emily Rice really adds in creating a suspenseful, yet captivating moment. As for the editing, supervising editor Miranda Yousef makes us feel immersed in this film with its very smooth transitions, transitions between interviews, personal video recordings, and animated info graphics. Lastly, I was very pleased to see celebrities such as Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, and countless others share their positive encounters with Brain and Sandra and the different ways in which they all support their campaign.

The film's message is that when you encounter a problem, no matter how hopeless you may feel, there is always a solution that can often end up helping others along the way. This message is explored throughout the film and, even when discussing their trials and tribulations, this messaging remains true. The only thing to note is that there are some cuss words that are used.

I give For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on Prime Video on May 28, 2024. If you're looking for a new documentary to watch I definitely recommend you check this one out!

By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


GREAT AMERICAN BAKING SHOW, SEASON TWO, THE
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
GREAT AMERICAN BAKING SHOW, SEASON TWO, THE
THE ROKU CHANNEL
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Roku Original The Great American Baking Show is the American version of the most beloved baking show on the planet, bringing together passionate, talented bakers from around the country to see who will be named America's Best Amateur Baker.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Watching nine contestants bake in a tent in the British countryside became an international pastime with the release of the Great British Baking Show. Season 2 of The Great American Baking Show is soon to arrive, in an attempt to capture the magic of its counterpart across the pond...and it succeeds beautifully. The Great American Baking Show is as fluffy and sweet as its bakers' treats, and it replicates the British show's format without feeling like a knock-off - though it is a bit corny at times.

The premise of the Great American Baking Show is simple: nine bakers from across the US, who each have expertise in different areas of baking, are assembled and brought to a white tent in the British countryside where they're tasked with making increasingly difficult items. Each episode deals with one type of baked goods -- week one is cake week, for example -- and the bakers face three challenges to test their creativity and their mastery of baking in a time crunch and without a formal recipe. Their baked goods are judged by renowned chefs Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, who winnow down the pool of bakers by eliminating one each episode and, in the end, crown one baker as the winner.

The Great American Baking Show Season 2 is, by leaps and bounds, superior to the most recent seasons of its British counterpart (and its first season, which had a tough run). That doesn't mean it doesn't have issues, but it's almost at the level of the first few seasons of the Great British Baking Show. The bakers are judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, both of whom lean into the characters they've carved out for themselves in the British version. Paul is the exacting master baker whose handshakes seem to be worth more than the lottery (and whose striking good looks are a source of near-constant discussion among the ladies). And Prue is the endearing British dame, providing periodic, measured compliments and pearl-clutching comments about calories. The show's hosts, comedian Zach Cherry and actress Ellie Kemper, have, essentially, one job: pull silly, cheesy stunts, motivate the bakers and mug for the camera while mournfully calling out time checks. In the first few episodes, they seem a bit awkward together, with some of their jokes working and others falling flat, but they soon find their beat. I did miss seeing Noel Fielding in the tent, but I will say that Cherry and Kemper's chats with the bakers are fun and help the show move along. The contestants are a sweet, supremely talented, but somewhat unremarkable batch, likely due to the editing which, as in last season, doesn't allow viewers to understand the bakers' back-stories very well. There are other rough moments in the editing of this show, like some jerky cutaways, shaky footage of bakers running from place to place and clearly artificial, over-the-top reactions to the technical bake judging. Also to be noted, the items on this list were present in the first season of the American show too, so perhaps it's an artistic choice. The actual content of the show is pleasant , though. The British version of the show has seen its challenges grow more and more wild over time, and the Great American Baking Show follows suit. I also think it was a smart move to make the show more "American" so that both viewers and bakers would have an easier time relating to the show. And, my final note -- I love how wholesome the energy in the tent is throughout the show. Even in the midst of heated competition, the bakers smile and encourage each other. It appears that the most kind cross-section of America got its own TV show, which is nice to see in this age of discord and infighting.

The Great American Baking Show promotes healthy competition, exploration, creativity and the enjoyment of simple joys in life like food.

Great American Baking Show: Season 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It will be available on The Roku Channel beginning May 24, 2024.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


HOME SWEET ROME!
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
HOME SWEET ROME!
HBO MAX Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Home Sweet Rome! is a coming-of-age comedy series about Lucy, a 13-year-old girl who moves from California to Rome with her father, an archaeologist, and stepmother, an Italian pop star. Lucy must adjust to her new city, school, and life with her famous stepmother, while also dealing with the challenges of being a 13-year-old girl and her best friend, Kyla, who is 6,000 miles away. The series features original music, relatable mishaps, heartwarming connections, and stunning Italian vistas.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Home Sweet Rome! is an incredible TV series with some very important messages. It ties together a lot of different components that make the series unique.

The plot of this series is that of 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) moves from the US to Rome because her father (Darrin Rose) marries an Italian pop star, Francesca (Eleonora Facchini). The series follows her life as she learns to live and go to school in Rome without knowing any Italian. Along the way she meets many good people and learns to appreciate the life she's been given.

There are many incredible parts of this series. One of the main ones is how very relatable it is to teens and tweens alike. Lucy is forced to move away from her home and her best friend, Kyla (Ava Ro). Her dad marries new woman and she doesn't want to forget her mom. A lot of teens and tweens have experienced similar events in their lives and this show can help them feel less alone. Another fantastic thing about this show is the location. It is set in Rome! And, it was filmed entirely on location in Rome rather than in a studio with green screens, which makes it very authentic. The cast and crew flew to Rome about four months to film the show and shot all of it in and in front of actual buildings all around the city. Another interesting thing to note is that, other than a few background actors, most of the tourists in the background of outdoor shots are real tourists just enjoying their vacations.

The message of this series is to always be true and genuine to yourself because that's ultimately the most important thing.

I give Home Sweet Rome! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch this series on Max starting May 16, 2024.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Welcome to Rome! Home Sweet Rome! is an incredible coming-of-age comedy series set in Italy's capital, with breathtaking views, funny scenes, and heartwarming moments.

This show takes place in Rome, where 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) moves to after her dad Will (Darrin Rose) marries Italian popstar Francesa Fortuna (Eleonora Facchini). As Lucy tries to find her place in her new school, she embarrasses herself a lot, which leads to her struggling to make new friends, other than a boy named Nico (Christian Monaldi), and her long-distance best friend Kyla (Ava Ro). And while Lucy goes through this tough change, Francesca and Will try to help her through it, as they both know what it's like to face life-changing events.

The scenery in this show is absolutely incredible -- all of it, from the fountains, to the bridges, to even the interior of Lucy's apartment. One example is when Lucy and her dad are talking by the hotdog stand, and in the background, there is an amazing view of the city. Another part I adore is the choice in fashion. The clothes are stunning, especially with their unique patterns, color combinations, and style. I love how the fashion choices for Francesca's character match her so well, since they show that she is a popstar, but also has an incredible taste in clothing, in general. My favorite characters are Kyla and Francesca. I love Kyla, because of how supportive she is of Lucy and how she always knows what to say when Lucy is upset. For example, when Lucy is upset and crying, Kyla sings a song they created together and tells her to talk to her dad. I also love Francesca because although she is a famous singer in Italy, she shows that she cares about Lucy and wants her to live the best life she can. An example of this is when Lucy wants to make her late mom's famous mac-and-cheese for Thanksgiving, and Francesca decides to take Lucy to the market to try and find the necessary ingredients.

The message of this show is it is always important to be close with your family and friends. When Lucy goes through the normal ups and downs of moving to a new place, she learns that she has people around her that love and care for her, and will always help her when she needs it the most.

I give Home Sweet Rome! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. This series will be released on Max and other streaming platforms on May 16, 2024.

By Ari P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


IF
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
IF
PARAMOUNT PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-12
Description - From writer and director John Krasinski, IF is about a girl who discovers that she can see everyone's imaginary friends -- and what she does with that superpower -- as she embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten IFs with their kids. IF stars Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Fiona Shaw, and the voices of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr. and Steve Carell alongside many more as the wonderfully unique characters that reflect the incredible power of a child's imagination.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the film IF. It delivers a lot of heart and teaches everyone to keep the magic alive. It is fun, silly and had me shedding a tear in the theater and thinking about my childhood and imaginary friend.

In the film Bea (Cailey Fleming) discovers she can see everyone's imaginary friends and embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten Ifs with their kids. Bea has gone through a lot and is forcing herself to grow up and then, she meets Cal (Ryan Reynolds) and re-discovers her belief in the unbelievable. Bea needed a distraction as life was getting tougher for her and helping these imaginary friends is just what she needed.

IF is a fantastic film that is perfect for the entire family. The cast is outstanding and the CGI work is so impressive. This movie will bring you right back to your childhood in all the most magical ways. Cailey Fleming is remarkable. Her relationship onscreen with Ryan Reynolds is magical -- they get along perfectly and you can feel their natural connection. John Krasinski's role as Bea's father is amazing -- he is silly, loving and fun, and does not want Bea to give up on being a child. He jokes around with her a lot throughout the movie, even when she tells him to stop. His response is "never." John Krasinski not only stars in the film, but he wrote and directed it as well. The IF's are designed so well and there is something special about each one of them. They look so real on the screen and I fell in love with them immediately. Cailey's performance is terrific when she interacts with the IF's that obviously were not really there during filming.

The film's message deals with healing yourself and creating distractions when life gets difficult. It reminds us to never lose the joy in life -- keep the magic alive and believe in the unbelievable. It is about family, friendship and always having someone who is there for you, even if you have to make believe. The movie is the perfect length and never drags.

I give IF 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can watch IF in theaters on May 17, 2024.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


LET IT BE
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LET IT BE
DISNEY+ Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 TO 18
Description - Available for the first time in over 50 years, Let It Be, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg's original 1970 film about The Beatles, is now available on Disney+. First released in May 1970 amidst the swirl of The Beatles' breakup, Let It Be now takes its rightful place in the band's history. Once viewed through a darker lens, the film is now brought to light through its restoration and in the context of revelations brought forth in Peter Jackson's multiple Emmy Award�-winning docuseries, The Beatles: Get Back. Let It Be, , brings viewers into the studio and onto Apple Corps' London rooftop in January 1969 as The Beatles, joined by Billy Preston, write, and record their GRAMMY Award�-winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award�-winning title song, and perform live for the final time as a group. With Lindsay-Hogg's full support, Apple Corps asked Peter Jackson's Park Road Post Production to dive into a meticulous restoration of the film from the original 16mm negative.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The beauty and creative process of one of the greatest bands ever is captured in Let it Be, a documentary filmed 50 years ago that gives the audience an intimate look at the interactions of the band members. It also includes the rehearsals behind what was the very last live performance ever from the four geniuses of Liverpool: The Beatles. This is an essential testimony for music lovers that I enjoyed in every aspect. Not only is it a piece of history, but it is also a delightful music video in a longer format.

Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney stopped touring in 1966. They focused on solo careers, but after a three-year hiatus, they got back together to record some new songs and a final album. Let it Be was produced by filmmaker Peter Jackson, who produced The Beatles: Get Back, the docuseries of almost eight hours that previously aired on Disney+ in 2022. The Beatles: Get Back: The Rooftop Concert is a film that had a theatrical release in January 2022 and then on BluRay and DVD in July of the same year.

Let it Be is a condensed experience that combines rare footage of the musicians recording studio with the famous rooftop concert in around 80 minutes, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg who also directed music videos for The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It premiered in 1970 and won an Oscar for Best Music and Original Song Score, and a Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special. This is the first time in years that the documentary is available for audiences after Jackson recovered and restored damaged 16mm footage. The documentary portrays the creative process and shows how, despite the disagreements the band members had, they speak in a common language when they play their instruments. We see the tension, the laughs, the joy, and the balance they kept as a band. It is interesting to watch the musicians in their mid-to-late 20s, coming together and working in the studio together, sometimes accompanied by their wives and children. My favorite part is when The Beatles sing "Besame Mucho," an iconic bolero written in 1932 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velasquez which is the song the band recorded as an audition at EMI in 1962.

The film's message is that music is a universal language and makes people come together, from the joy of a group of musicians playing to the profound effect in audiences that gather together and form an instant bond.

I give Let it Be 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages12 to 18, plus adults. Let it Be is now streaming on Disney+.

By Zo� C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


STAR WARS: TALES OF THE EMPIRE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
STAR WARS: TALES OF THE EMPIRE
DISNEY+ Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO 12
Description - Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is a six-episode journey into the fearsome Galactic Empire through the eyes of two warriors on divergent paths, set during different eras. After losing everything, young Morgan Elsbeth navigates the expanding Imperial world toward a path of vengeance, while former Jedi Barriss Offee does what she must to survive a rapidly changing galaxy. The choices they make will define their destinies.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is an enjoyable series that I loved with its great animation and captivating characters.

The animated series consists of six short episodes and is split into two parallel stories - the first three episodes follow Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) who we were introduced to in 2023's Ashoka, and these episodes act as a sort of prequel for the Ashoka character. We witness Morgan's rise to power through vengeance, following the destruction of her home as a child. The last three episodes follow Barriss Offee (Meredith Salenger), a recurring character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These episodes show Barriss navigating an ever changing galaxy, and include stories from throughout her life.

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is perfect for lifelong fans, but also an entertaining watch for new viewers. Its stunning animation and characters make it an amazing entry into the Star Wars franchise. The animation style is in the vein of Star Wars' beloved animated series The Clone Wars, and is absolutely stunning. We are introduced to many characters, some familiar to fans, and some brand new; every character design is unique and lifelike. The episodes travel to many different planets in the Star Wars galaxy and the landscapes are distinct and beautiful. Absolutely everything in this series, snow, wind, or fire, is all so detailed and stylistic. Some of the most stunning animation in this series comes in the form of action. Tales of the Empire perfectly depicts the essence of the lightsaber in animation, and they have captured the same thrill of lightsaber combat that is so prominent in the live action films. The two characters at the forefront of Tales of the Empire, Morgan and Barriss, are both wonderfully nuanced and fascinating. The series juggles complex themes, which make the characters and their stories very rich and grounded. Morgan Elsbeth is a character forged through tragedy and is on a path of vengeance. She needs to choose whether she will rise above, or be corrupted by the very evil that took everything from her. Barriss Offee is a former Jedi, who is forced to traverse a world of conflicting good and evil, and ultimately choose her side. The characters are surprisingly multilayered and interesting.

The biggest constraint in Tales of the Empire's short format is its limited runtime, which means that the pacing is way too fast. Each episode spans just over ten minutes and the story moves along so quickly that we are unable to get a clear picture of the characters. The episodes have to hurry to their resolution so some scenes feel rushed, which lessens the emotional impact of the stories. Additionally, each episode features a different point in the character's life, so we feel like we are missing so much in the gaps between stories. Granted, the stories are very entertaining, but the lightning fast pace doesn't allow enough time to fully grasp them.

I give Star Wars: Tales of the Empire 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 18, plus adults. It releases on Disney Plus on May 4th, 2024.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


PRINCESS HALLE AND THE JESTER
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
PRINCESS HALLE AND THE JESTER
VISION FILMS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - When goblins attack and capture the king, a young princess and a poor jester must avenge her father and battler the evil stepmother who has taken over the throne. This film uses cutting edge technology can make a new IP with real humans and in a sustainable way. The feature-length film is the first in a planned trilogy and uses breakthrough technologies to meld action, romance, and fairytales into a completely new and unique world that is both modern and timeless. The extensive, photorealistic digital world immerses the viewer in a hyper real experience with cutting-edge virtual sets, procedural AI, CGI creatures, and digital doubles.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wow, but wow! Princess Halle and the Jester is such an interesting film - with all the CGI. It is so interesting and funny with lots of dramatic action. It has everything you can think of in a film and it is not a "once upon a time" movie. It's action royal - a kind of movie I just love. This movie tells you all about fairy tales. It doesn't have to end with a royal wedding. This movie ends unlike any royal fairy tale movie.

The storyline follows a kingdom that is attacked by an army of goblins and their king (Byron Herlong) is kidnapped and turned into stone. The young princess Halle (Emma Duchesneau) runs away with the jester Henri (Duncan Novak) and he brings her to his hometown. Afterwards she wants to return but the guards take her away and then kill Henri's grandpa (Geoffrey Lyons). Together they fight the evil goblin queen, Priscilla (Rachel Stacy).

The film's CGI is so good, especially how the dragon looks. It begins as cute, small and harmless, and then they make it big and ready to fly across the world. The animator deserves a lot of credit for his work which is very good. The costume makes Henri look like a villager and the dress for the princess makes her look royal - the necklace looks like an actual gem. The hair and makeup artist (Justine Sylvie) outdid herself, making the princess's hair look very regal. The lead animator (Kieth Lee) gives the dragon very bright colors, but it still looks realistic. I just love this film. It has a royal fairy tale movie genre and its executed so well. There is one thing that bugged me - when they are fighting the goblin queen, the princess Halle hits a wall and falls in pain, but there was no sound. That is weird.

The message is that not all fairy tales end with a happy royal marriage like in this film.

I give Princess Halle and the Jester 4.4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Princess Halle and the Jester releases on VOD and streaming on May 21, 2024.

By Ryan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Perfect for fans of fantasy, Princess Halle and The Jester tells an elaborate and exquisite tale replete with action, drama and unconventional twists. It's a good watch despite stilted scriptwriting and performances, and some rough CGI.

The film follows Princess Halle (Emma Duchesneau), a teen royal reeling from the loss of her mother. At the coronation of her stepmother Queen Priscilla (Rachel Stacy), the new queen, goblins attack the castle and capture Halle's father King Victor (Byron Herlong), taking him to a faraway land. She must save her father and restore balance to the kingdom while also fighting her stepmother's allegations that she conspired with the goblins to steal her father's throne.

The plot of Princess Halle and the Jester really makes it stand out from any other action/fantasy film. It's somewhere between Lord of the Rings and a kids' show like Sophia the First. Halle's character is well built out, and we see her evolve and mature mentally and emotionally throughout the film. I also love the jester, Henri (Duncan Novak), who acts as Halle's sidekick; he was given such a positive and supportive role, and he plays it with conviction. There are some instances where Princess Halle and the Jester is let down by its budget. The CGI looks antiquated and basic. In many scenes - one where a dragon takes King Victor away and another where the characters pass through otherworldly groves and forests - the heavy usage of green screens and artificial graphics is evident. The backgrounds and characters are roughly rendered, and you can see the individual frames of some of the motion animations. Other technical elements could have been refined, too. The camerawork is awkward at times, with diagonal panning and some untimely cuts. But the film is lifted by performances by the supporting cast, who give it their all, and a well-written script. The dialogue writing is nicely done; it's crafted more like a work of theater than a film in some parts, which makes sense, since the action can be broken up into three acts, like a stage play. Justine Sylvie aces the costumes and hair and makeup, one element of the film I really love.

Princess Halle and the Jester promotes fighting for justice and preserving your internal sense of goodness and kindness.

I give Princess Halle and the Jester 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. The film releases on May 21, 2024 on demand and on Apple and Amazon streaming.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


FALL GUY, THE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FALL GUY, THE
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - After leaving the business one year earlier, battle-scarred stuntman Colt Seavers springs back into action when the star of a big studio movie suddenly disappears. As the mystery surrounding the missing actor deepens, Colt soon finds himself ensnared in a sinister plot that pushes him to the edge of a fall more dangerous than any stunt.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth review
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Fall Guy contains all the elements necessary in a wonderful movie such as comedy, romance, mystery, and most of all: action. With something for lovers of every movie genre, The Fall Guy is a great film to go watch.

The story follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a retired stuntman who has come out of hiding to work on a movie in hopes of rekindling a year-old love story with the director Jody (Emily Blunt). After discovering Jody has left their relationship in the past, Colt is told that the lead actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has been involved with bad people and is sent on a mission by Tom's producer, Gail (Hannah Waddingham), to find him and, although it won't be easy, he can hopefully save Jody's movie, while getting her to fall back in love with him.

All aspects of this movie are fantastic - something that really stands out to me is the music. Part of the reason it's noticeable is because of the iconic tracks on this film. Viewers of all ages will recognize some of their favorite tunes while watching The Fall Guy. Not only is the music popular, but the use of these songs is unexpected while being perfect at the same time. An example of this is Kiss' "I Was Made For Lovin' You," which can be heard throughout the movie. It's used in many different situations and you can tell the people behind the film knew what they were doing, choosing this as the main track for the film, because it goes so smoothly with the love story behind the mystery and comedy parts of The Fall Guy. The multi-genre part of this movie is also fantastic. Every type of movie lover can find something to enjoy while watching. Ryan Gosling's laidback comedic personality really shines in his performance of Colt Seavers. Throughout the movie the audience will watch moments that are especially hysterical due to Gosling's acting. Gosling and Blunt's quirky, but loving chemistry is so entertaining. Every scene they are in together left me viewers laughing, crying, and swooning. My favorite scene includes a cameo with some Taylor Swift music when Colt replays his relationship with Jody in his head in a little highlight reel to "All Too Well." Jody sees him crying in his car and goes to check on him. Obviously, Colt denies the accusations.

The message of this film is that there's always more than meets the eye. This message can be applied to many different situations, both in life and in the film. Colt talks about how stunt people are the ones who take the falls for the actors and the actors are the ones who win awards and get to be in advertisements. Somebody watching the film would never notice a stuntman because that's his job, to go unnoticed. One reason that Gosling made this film is to appeal to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish an award for stunt people.

I give The Fall Guy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters May 3, 2024.

The Fall Guy is an absolute blast of film-- incredible on the technical side, with great stunt work and action set pieces.

A big-screen remake of the 1980's television series of the same name, The Fall Guy follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a stuntman who retires after a near-fatal accident. After being encouraged to return to the job for his ex-girlfriend's new film by big time producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), he accepts. Little does he know, he is tasked with solving the disappearance of the lead actor he doubles for, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). If he wants any chance of rekindling his love with director Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), Colt must unravel Tom's sudden vanishing so that production can continue.

The Fall Guy's story unfortunately falls a bit flat, due to its overused story beats, and predictable twists. The story itself is completely distinct, but it consists of so much that is all too familiar. Some of the situations and surprises--down to even some lines of dialogue--feel unoriginal and foreseeable. The love story between Colt and Jody is especially stereotypical. The movie is mostly style over substance, but does it work? Answer: it does! The Fall Guy was made as a love letter to the dedication, hard work, and talent of all the regularly overlooked stunt workers in Hollywood. The film highlights stunt doubles, stunt coordinators, and more, in a self-aware commentary about audiences'--and even Hollywood's--neglect of stunt people. It's only fitting that The Fall Guy itself contains exceptionally impressive stunt work. Every fight scene is brilliantly choreographed, and the car stunts are astonishing. We get a peek behind the curtain at the true care that goes into this art. Speaking of car stunts, much of the action in this film involves characters in, or on, racing cars. These action scenes are so well executed--they feel grand in scope and adrenaline-inducing, and just so much fun. They are explosive, and encapsulate the true entertainment value of the action genre.

Although The Fall Guy's story is somewhat of a letdown, it is an enjoyable blast due to its stunts and action. With a great love story, action, cast, and message of respect for stunt teams. The Fall Guy has something for everyone. Parents should be aware that the film contains violence and profanity.

I give The Fall Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch The Fall Guy in theaters on May 3, 2024.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Fall Guy is an action packed blockbuster, filled with intensity and suspense. I really like this film because, despite the thrill, it is comedic and romantic all at the same time. There is a little bit of each genre, which makes it extremely enjoyable and helped keep my attention the entire time.

The Fall Guy is a film that highlights Stunt doubles, and brings them their much deserved attention. In this movie, Colt (Ryan Gosling) is known as one of the top stuntmen in the industry, but unfortunately he suffers a severe accident. After a year off, he is asked to join the set of a big studio movie, when the leading actor goes missing. Colt is thrown with numerous obstacles, and is put on a crazy journey, but in the end would do anything for its director and his ex-love Jody (Emily Blunt).

Major standouts in this film are the stunts. Ryan Gosling and his stunt doubles perform extremely high demanding stunts that completely elevate this film. The risk of each one had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The car flip stunt, specifically, is extremely entertaining. It really helps show what the character, Colt, is capable of, and just how impressive his skills really are. I also enjoyed the locations. The big studio movie takes place in Australia so viewers get to experience the beautiful architecture of Sydney, as well as the desert and mountain sides. The major scenes take place in the sand dunes, and it's really cool to see the behind the scenes aspect of a film with that large of a production. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline. It is creative and one of its kind. Stuntmen are rarely discussed in films, and definitely don't get the appreciation they deserve. This movie brings the spotlight onto them, and does this in such a unique way. Witnessing their work up close, and just how demanding it is, has brought me a new found respect for this talent.

The message of The Fall Guy is to always put yourself first, and that you can't always trust the people you think that you can. You should be aware that one reason Gosling made this film is to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to add a category for stunt people.

I give The Fall Guy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Fall Guy opens in theaters on May 3, 2024.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 17

The Fall Guy is a love letter to the overlooked art of stunt work. While it may not be anything groundbreaking, the explosive mix of practical effects, comedy, and romance makes this an old-school summer blockbuster that I loved. This is a crowd-pleasing film that never takes itself too seriously.

This storyline follows down-and-out stuntman Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) after he's enlisted by his ex-girlfriend Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) to find the missing star of her directorial debut. On one side, lies his quest to win back his ex after abandoning her following a traumatic stunt mishap, but on the other lies a more urgent quest to find his colleague and lead actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) amidst a criminal conspiracy. Equipped with only brains and brawn, Colt must rise to the occasion for a new chance in life. Can he win back his ex and find the star of the movie? There's only one jump to find out. The cast is full of mainstream talents that carry the screen with their comedic and physical prowess. Ryan Gosling, as Colt Seavers, cements that he's more than just a stoic and silent figure. Just like he did as Ken in Barbie, Gosling showcases a natural sense of humor that he's truly grown into. All the while, he impresses with his stunts with each fall - his success is a big part of the film's charm. Still, it's his love story with Emily Blunt, as Jody Moreno, that is the heart of the film. This helps cover for some of the film's opening jokes that don't stick their landing so well. It starts out a bit slow, but thankfully kicks into high gear quickly with an effective blend of action and comedy. The criminal conspiracy overtakes the second half of the film presenting real and raw stakes; however, the mystery surrounding Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as Tom Ryder, is met with his bizarrely comedic presence. He might just be the highlight here as he hams the role up without ever seeming artificial. I didn't know whether to be concerned by his mysterious notes on his fridge or laugh. These characters are nicely rounded out by a terrific supporting cast. Winston Duke, as Dan, provides a true friend for Colt as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of iconic film references. Stephanie Hsu, as Alma, helps Colt on his quest with her adorable dog. Hannah Waddingham, as Gail, weaves her real-life experience as a television presenter with her character's larger-than-life screen presence. Lastly, a surprise cameo makes the cast come full circle in an unexpectedly hilarious manner. David Leitch helms the direction with fluid stunts that flow like water. They embody the feeling of being on a rollercoaster on a nice summer day. In particular, one sequence stands out where Colt is attacked by gun-toting henchmen. It's a man versus a system as he employs creative use of his mobility and surroundings to evade bullets and manipulate their guns against each other.

The film's message is that true love prevails. Although Colt estranged himself from Jody, it's their communication that binds his mistakes and his regrets push forward his asking for another chance. It shows that anyone can make mistakes in love, but mistakes can be forgiven with a genuine attempt to change. After all, love is not a game; instead, it's a poetic act that can face and overcome any obstacles. Despite the film's playfulness, be aware that there is lots of violence, strong language, and infrequent drug content.

I give The Fall Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on May 3, 2024 in theaters. Be sure to check it out in theaters.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


HARD MILES
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HARD MILES
BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Hard Miles tells the uplifting true story of the bicycling team at Rite of Passage's RidgeView Academy, a medium-security correctional school in Colorado. The film follows beleaguered coach Greg Townsend (Matthew Modine) as he rounds up an unlikely crew of incarcerated students for a seemingly impossible bike ride from Denver to the Grand Canyon.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love the film Hard Miles because it is very inspiring, touching, and has a funny twist to it.

The story follows four teenage convicts who have lost hope for a "normal future" and are trying to get their "second chance" by showing their motivation to be better. The prison social worker (Matthew Modine) takes them on a 1,000 mile bike riding journey to the Grand Canyon. This journey is not easy, but it makes them discover who they are, what they are made of, and the importance of friendship and teamwork.

All in all, this film is great for family movie night. Hard Miles is very inspiring - it features violent teenagers that have had a tough life and they learn how to work together as a team and to cross hundreds of miles on a self-made bike. While I was watching, all I wanted to do was to get out into the sweet, cool, fresh air and ride my bike. There is also a side story regarding a father-son relationship that adds to the complexity of their story and contributes to a very heartfelt scene at the end of the film. I found this movie to be very funny. For example, a scene that made me laugh out loud, was when the teenagers, who were willing to do practically anything not to return back home and move to another school, pop the wheels of the van that was supposed to take them back. After a staff member finally fixes it, she finds another "nice surprise" waiting for her in the van. Scenes like this happen throughout the film. In addition, knowing this movie is based on a true story really made me excited and appreciate bicycles. The scenery really stands out and makes it feel like you're riding with them. The costumes go great with the storyline and even contribute to the movie's antagonists' turning point.

The film's message is "never stop something until you finish it." There are many more life lessons and messages all to be learned by watching this film. Be forewarned that this film has a little violence and some profanity.

I give Hard Miles 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It will be released in theaters April 19, 2024.

By Ariel K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


CHRISTMAS TALE, A
This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
CHRISTMAS TALE, A
NATALIE A. EVANS
Series: FOREIGN SHORT, AGES 5-12
Description - A young child wishes for all the toys in the world, but soon realizes what's truly important in life. From United Kingdom.
Runtime: 7 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO

LUCKY DOG
This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
LUCKY DOG
DONNA GUTHRIE
Series: INDIE SHORT, AGES 8-12
Description - A dog lives a lucky life in a retirement home with friends who know and remember him in different ways.
Runtime: 3 minutes
KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: VIDEO

GREATEST HITS, THE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GREATEST HITS, THE
SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Harriet (Lucy Boynton) finds art imitating life when she discovers certain songs can transport her back in time -- literally. While she relives the past through romantic memories of her former boyfriend (David Corenswet), her time traveling collides with a burgeoning new love interest in the present (Justin H. Min). As she takes her journey through the hypnotic connection between music and memory, she wonders -- even if she could change the past, should she?
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Greatest Hits is an emotional comedy, drama, and fantasy film that highlights the impact of music. The cute yet sentimental storyline is unique, and I especially love how this film uses music as a metaphor to depict grief, and the stages people go through processing it.

The film introduces Harriet (Lucy Boynton) who loses her boyfriend in a car accident. The tragedy leaves Harriet with trauma and also the ability to go back in time. When she hears a song that's connected with a memory, the ability to time travel is triggered, and Harriet goes back to that time. Harriet tries to bring Max back, and faces many life-challenge obstacles that don't allow her to recover from his death. Two years later, Harriet remembers the accident like it happened yesterday--she visits a support group where she meets David (Justin H. Min). And so Harriet must "face the music" and make some very tough decisions.

This film is authentic, heartbreaking, and very relatable. I love the soundtrack and connected with it so much as I constantly listen to music, and I love how music symbolizes different stages of life. Throughout the film, Harriet is desperately looking for ways to bring Max back. While this makes Harriet relatable, I also found this to be the film's biggest flaw. That being said I did find the plot to be very cute and romantic. The story is about overcoming grief, and I like how the film represents what that means to Harriet. However, the acting and script aren't as strong as I wished. Lucy Boynton does deliver a very good performance as she shows how grief can harshly impact one's life. And I liked Austin Crute's performance as Harriet's best friend--their chemistry is refreshing as he supports Harriet through her grieving process. Finally, I enjoy the aesthetic of this film--the warm cinematography is pleasing to the eye.

The message of this film is that sometimes we need to let go of the past to move forward with the present.

I give The Greatest Hits 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Greatest Hits debuts in limited release in theaters on April 5, 2024 and on Hulu April 23, 2024.

By Zoe C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


FOOD, INC 2
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FOOD, INC 2
MAGNOLIA PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18
Description - Food, Inc. 2 is a timely and urgent follow-up to the Oscar�-nominated documentary from directors Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo. In the sequel, Kenner and Robledo reunite with investigative authors Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) to take a fresh look at our vulnerable food system. The groundbreaking Food, Inc. ignited a cultural conversation about the multinational corporations that control our food system at enormous cost to our planet, workforce, and health. FOOD, INC. 2 comes "back for seconds" to reveal how corporate consolidation has gone unchecked by our government, leaving us with a highly efficient yet shockingly vulnerable food system dedicated only towards increasing profits. Seeking solutions, the film introduces innovative farmers, food producers, workers' rights activists, and prominent legislators such as U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Jon Tester, who are facing these companies head-on and fighting to create a more sustainable future.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Our lives depend on healthy food. I believe it's imperative to watch the new documentary Food, Inc. 2 to learn about our food supply system one bite at a time by watching this informative and thought provoking film. You and your family can move forward by making choices to work toward a healthier future which is certainly my goal.

Food, Inc. 2 is an update to 2008's Food, Inc. which was a groundbreaking Oscar�-nominated expose on the multinational corporations that control our food supply. There has been more consolidation in the food industry since 2008 and Food, Inc. 2 explores how our values should impact our food choices. This documentary emphasizes the anti-trust and monopoly issues encountered in our agricultural system. It highlights the profits of capitalism versus the sustainability of nature and how this directly affects the quality and nutrition of our food. In addition, the movie makes the point that the agricultural labor force is essential, but is often treated as disposable.

Corporate profits have risen at the expense of both consumers and rural America's farming communities. There are definitely concerns for future soil and water quality which impact our food's nutritional value as well as the effect they have on individuals and our communities. I value the information shared by Senators Cory Booker and Jon Tester as they work to improve access to healthy food and to support our farmers. The documentary is also interesting when it chronicles the food additives which affect our taste and metabolism. Most other countries don't have so many highly processed foods and the multinational corporations are looking to change that in their zeal to increase corporate profits. Perhaps there will be added cooperation with international partners on finding ways to improve nutrition and agriculture globally in the future. I really enjoyed learning about the innovative farmers working to improve our food supply from the ground up or, in the case of a kelp farmer, by charting a new course in food supply. I learned a great deal from all of the interviews and contributors to this project and hope that, in the future, there will be more information available to us concerning the impact on health and our healthcare system tied to nutritional and environmental concerns.

Food, Inc. was released the year I was born and this new documentary, Food, Inc. 2 will hopefully provide further food for thought for a new generation or for those who missed the original film. There may be some viewers who feel that there is not enough differentiation between the original documentary and the new update but this makes it palatable for those of us who haven't watched the original to understand the overview of the food industry and to inspire us so that hopefully our food supply can improve by replicating better standards and not from further consolidation.

Food, Inc. 2 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This documentary releases in theaters for special screenings on April 9, 2024 and will then be available on digital April 12, 2024.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Food, Inc. 2 expands on the original Food, Inc. ideas of encouraging consumers to change the food system. Its interesting facts opened my eyes to the corrupt system that exists currently. I like that the film inspires people to solve these problems. It doesn't scare the viewer but provides hope for alternative solutions. It's a topic that I resonate with.

The film follows Michael Pollan, who is known for his books that explore the socio-cultural impact of food such as The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma, This documentary investigates the food industry and shows the not-so-pretty parts. Pollan interviews experts as well as people who are involved with food production and distribution personally including farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.

Michael Pollan narrates the film. As an author and an investigative journalist he shows people and places that demonstrate how corporate food companies are hurting small businesses and the environment. Another claim he makes is that animals are not being treated humanely in food production. He brings in various people to speak about their personal experiences in the food business including Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, US Senators Cory Booker and Jon Tester and Pat Brown, a former Stanford professor who is the founder of Impossible Foods. He states that, if we replaced cows, it could give us 30 more years before greenhouse gases rise further. At times, there is some creative animation that demonstrates what he is discussing, but most of the film is shot in typical documentary style with lots of voice-overs and interviews. The film's directors, Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo, are wonderful at displaying various aspects of the food industry, including beautiful shots of sustainable farms and labs. On the other hand, farm workers are shown with less pleasing shots. My favorite part of the film is a new invention that allows goats and pigs to eat plants in a small space. I was truly shocked by the alarming facts about the food industry that are presented here. For example, a third of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world come from the food industry. That's a lot! This is just one of many startling facts in this film.

The film's message is that we can work together to transform the food system. The film encourages viewers to abolish factory farms, prioritize healthy foods and sustainable farms, and end cruelty to the environment.

Food, Inc. 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Food, Inc. 2 releases in select cities April 9, 2024, and will be available on digital platforms beginning April 12, 2024.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


EVIL FAIRY QUEEN, THE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
EVIL FAIRY QUEEN, THE
VISION FILMS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Elemental spirits have held power over the human world since its inception. The relationship, however, is symbiotic. Elfame is a fairy kingdom ruled by Melisandria and it is dying, the required ritual sacrifice is late. Elspeth Moore's family is bound to Elfame, every generation a child has been offered for sacrifice to renew Elfame's magical energy. When Kate Richards receives a letter from her estranged great-aunt Elspeth offering a place to stay when they need it most, they gratefully accept not realizing they are being lured towards their demise.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Evil Fairy Queen is a tale of mischief and deception. It combines important lessons with an engaging storyline.

The story revolves around a family of four who move into the mother's great aunt's old farmhouse. However the house is not quite what it seems to be when they discover that a group of fairies live in the area - a group of evil fairies who need to complete an oath. Throughout the film, the mother has to protect her family from getting sacrificed by this evil clan of fairies.

This film has so many distinct fun features. One of my favorite parts is how the beginning of the film has a short animated intro that quickly transitions into the live-action film. The film is based on old European folklore rather than American fairy tales which allows the fairies to be evil and adds an interesting new element to the film. One of the coolest parts of this film is the young lead, Violet (Kitty Sudbery), who has many different scenes and she performs in all of them very beautifully and powerfully. The final thing I noticed is that the group of evil fairies is really just one big family that is looking for a way to survive - they're just doing what's necessary for their survival. The film was produced in the United Kingdom and therefore they use many words such as bloke, mate and mummy, which may be unfamiliar to American audiences.

The film's messages are that not everything is always as it seems and be careful who you trust.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it on VOD on April 16, 2024.

By Avalon N, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I thoroughly enjoyed The Evil Fairy Queen for its gripping storyline and immersive atmosphere.

The film's portrayal of the evil fairies and their sinister motives kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story unfolds as a family is lured to a remote farmhouse by a deceitful relative, only to fall victim to malevolent fairies that require sacrifices to renew their magical life force. As tensions escalate and the family's plight becomes increasingly dire, they must confront the dark forces that threaten their very existence.

What impresses me the most about this film is its masterful blending of horror and fantasy elements. The film's eerie setting and chilling portrayal of the fairy creatures creates a palpable sense of dread that lingers long after the credits roll. Additionally, the strong performances from the cast, especially Julia Czartoryski, who plays Kate Richards, add depth and emotional resonance to the story. The special effects used to bring the evil fairies to life are impressive, adding a layer of visual richness to the film. However, there are a few moments where the CGI looks slightly unpolished and detracts from the overall immersion of the viewing experience. Nonetheless, the film's strong narrative and compelling performances overshadow any shortcomings in the visual effects department.

The film's message is that everything is not always as it seems.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 through 18. This film releases April 16, 2024. Be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Evil Fairy Queen is an exciting movie with a very unexpected take on fairies. This film, directed by Simon Wells, is a fantasy with elements of a horror movie and plenty of surprises!

When the Richards family receives a call from great aunt Elspeth inviting them to move to her farmhouse, Kate Richards (Julia Czartoryski) believes it could be a new beginning. But a world of danger is lurking in the woodlands surrounding the farm with sinister ties to Kate's past. The youngest daughter, Violet (Kitty Sudbery), innocently befriends Melisandria (Hannah Harris), the Evil Fairy Queen, who wants to sacrifice Violet and Kate to preserve her reign. With help from Dillon (Luke Hunter), Kate tries to save Violet and herself from the evil clutches of Melisandria and her evil fairy sidekicks.

I like how the story is presented throughout this film! There is a good mix of mystery, horror and suspense to keep the plot moving forward. The Evil Fairy Queen delivers a combination of horror mixed with fantasy. The woodland fairies are very different from those in most childhood stories as they prefer the taste of human flesh. Fortunately, the well-lit scenes and cinematography keep the dark subject matter from feeling too scary. Kitty Sudbery is double-cast as both Violet and a younger Kate, which I found mildly distracting, yet this movie still is enjoyable to watch. The relationships between the Richards' family members are interesting and the subplot is that they overcome a family tragedy.

The message of The Evil Fairy Queen is to be careful who you trust as things are not always what they seem.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters on April 16, 2024.

By Kira O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Evil Fairy Queen is an engaging fantasy film that combines real and fantasy elements, as it transports us into a world of fairies!

The Evil Fairy Queen follows a family that moved from a suburban town to a large, seemingly normal house in a rural area. However, this house and the family's experiences there are anything but normal. Something seems off from the day they arrive, when a neighbor creepily warns them of the house's dangers. The younger daughter, Violet (Kitty Sudbery), discovers the fairy queen but doesn't realize the dangers of keeping it a secret. Eventually, the rest of the family figures out what's going on, but not until it's too late and the entire family is in grave danger.

This film has strong, relatable characters that pulled me in and allowed me to connect with the storyline. The older daughter, Adelaide (Aniela Leyland), is a typical teenager while the younger daughter is still an innocent, sweet, explorative little girl. This contrast is typical for siblings, no matter what the age difference or similarity in interests. The dynamics between the family members make the film relevant and also demonstrates the character motives in the more suspenseful parts. Because this film includes many fantastical aspects, it's important that viewers can relate to the characters, even if their situation is a bit unrealistic. With all that said, the story has some issues - there are some unclear parts of the fantasy world and various things are never explained. That makes some parts of the film slightly confusing and diminishes its overall suspense. However, the concept of the fantasy world is interesting and it's a wonderful idea.

The film's message is to trust your loved ones and support them if they're struggling. Violet, the youngest daughter, feels that her family is uninterested in her passion for fairies and is aware that no one believes what she's experiencing. The family's refusal to believe her ends up wasting time that could have been spent trying to get out before the real danger occurs.

I give The Evil Fairy Queen 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. You can watch The Evil Fairy Queen on video on demand beginning April 16, 2024.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


SOCCER FOOTBALL MOVIE, THE
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
SOCCER FOOTBALL MOVIE, THE
SPLASH STUDIOS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - An "evil doctor" ("Weird Al" Yankovic) wants to steal the world's best soccer players' talents, skills, and abilities. He targets Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Megan Rapinoe (both playing themselves) and turns them into horrifying "mutant" monster versions of themselves. But with the help of some children soccer players, "Weird Al" will have to overcome their team of heroes that relies on hard work and practice instead of a magic serum.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Soccer Football Movie is a delightful blend of humor, heart, and thrilling action sequences. From start to finish, the film captivated me with its engaging storyline and charming characters. It's a joyride that kept me hooked throughout.

In this animated adventure, a group of plucky kids, known as the Creature Catchers, embarks on an exciting journey to witness their soccer heroes, Zlatan and Megan Rapinoe (voiced by themselves) in action. However, their plans take an unexpected turn when they discover that the players have been mutated by a strange slimy slug concocted by the eccentric Weird Al (voiced by Weird Al Yankovic). Now the creature catchers must team up with superstars to thwart a monstrous creature created by the nefarious slime.

This movie is a true gem! The clever humor, stellar voice acting, and stunning animation make it a joyride from start to finish. The jokes had me laughing out loud, and the voice acting by the remarkable cast brings the characters to life in a way that is both entertaining and endearing. The animation is top notch, with vibrant visuals that capture the excitement of the soccer matches, and the chaos of the creature's rampage. Moreover, the underlying message of unity and camaraderie adds depth to the storyline, making it a film that resonates long after the credits roll. Watching the creature catchers and the soccer stars come together to overcome obstacles and defeat the common enemy is not only thrilling, but also uplifting. The Soccer Football Movie is a winner for both soccer fans and animation lovers.

The film's message is that teamwork makes the dreamwork, and that with support anything can get done.

I give The Soccer Football Movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 through 12; this film is available on most streaming platforms now, be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


FRIGHT KREWE SEASON 2
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
FRIGHT KREWE SEASON 2
HULU, LLC Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Soleil Le Claire, a girl who lives for horror, accidentally breaks a spell on the Tree of Life and unleashes an ancient evil. The spirit of Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of New Orleans, puts her and four other kids in charge of saving the city from Belial, an ancient demon who feeds on fear. Luckily, they're not alone, as each kid gets a special gift from the voodoo spirits called Loa. Eventually they learn their town's biggest secret: Vampires, rougarous, ghosts, monsters and demons are real and have secretly lived among humans for decades. The Krewe will have to hone their powers, figure out what Belial's up to and keep the peace between creatures as they go head-to-head with local legends from the underworld.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The suspenseful 10 episode series Fright Krewe Season 2 depicts the beautifully animated journey of a group of teens fighting monsters and just being teenagers. Their passionate acting combined with the evocative animation brings the characters to life. The crafting of the monsters and the music work together in harmony to frighten not only the characters but the viewers as well.

The story follows a group of misfit teenage friends, named the Krewe, who secretly fight the evil that threatens their world. Soleil (Sydney Mikayla), the protagonist and leader of the Krewe, is at the center of the nightmare that threatens the city of New Orleans. Belial (Jacques Colimon), the antagonist, summons monster after monster to combat the Krewe. Each Krewe member has special power that they must hone in order to save themselves, their city, and all those who are possessed by the evil spirits that threaten them. Will Soleil and her friends successfully ward off the demons, or will they fall into the possession of wickedness?

Sydney Mikayla's portrayal of Soleil's courage is beautifully balanced with her portrayal of Soleil's love of all things horror. Another key member of the Krewe, Missy, is played by Grace Lu whose vocal style conveys power and empathy at the same time. Terrance Little Gardenheigh, who plays Pat, and his co-stars create a wonderful ensemble to bring life to the rest of the Krewe. They speak just as teenagers would, making the Krewe easy to root for. The film mixes a modern realistic character animation style with a more classical animated background style, resulting in a unique look that viewers are drawn to. The monsters are otherworldly and inhuman, making them creepy enough for the audience to feel the fear behind the screen. The classical music and sound effects add an element of suspense during the climax of each episode when the Krewe fights the evil monsters.

This film's message centers around community and friendship, emphasizing the need to maintain our relationships through the hardships of life. There are consequences to our actions, and we must put friendship and love before all else that may tempt us. Note there is some graphic violence in the film and scary creatures.

Fright Krewe Season 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Hulu and Peacock March 29, 2024.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started - the iconic New York City firehouse - to team up with the original Ghostbusters, who've developed a top-secret research lab to take busting ghosts to the next level. But when the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an army of ghosts that casts a death chill upon the city, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second Ice Age.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is the second movie in the franchise and it is so much fun! This time, new and old Ghostbusters team up to battle an ancient demon that wants to freeze Manhattan. The special effects are mind-blowing, especially when they're chasing the icy ghosts. Also, this movie is really funny and features cool new ghostbusting gadgets and special appearances by some of the original cast members.

The film is set in New York City where Phoebe Spenglar (Mckenna Grace) and her family have moved, and they are busting ghosts in the original firehouse. Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) runs an occult book and antique shop. When Ray buys a strange, ancient orb that contains a dangerous and ancient spirit, the two stories collide and the old and new Ghostbusters team up to save the city.

There are a ton of great things in this movie. The CGI ghosts and scenes of frozen New York City are amazing and very creative. The story is really fun because of many unexpected twists, new ghostly friends and lots of comedy. One of my favorite things about this film is that many of the original characters make appearances like when Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) tests out some new ghost-catching gadgets from his secret lab.

The film's message is that it's important to work together to overcome challenges and that family can give us strength and the ability to be brave. Viewers should know it has scary moments, and that there is some light swearing.

I give Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can see it in theaters on Friday, March 22, 2024.

By Connor S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire works as an extension of the adventures of the Ghostbusters. It has a developing plot that surprised me since it's pretty creative. However, it's not something to call "out of this world."

This film follows the Spenglers who reunite with beloved former Ghostbusters to fight an ancient icy evil that threatens all of humanity. Will their skills match up to this cold villain, or will they all freeze to death?

The main characters are Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Mr. Grooerson (Paul Rudd), Callie (Carrie Coon), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), Winston (Ernie Hudson, Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), Podcast (Logan Kim), Janine (Annie Potts), and Venkman (Bill Murray). It's interesting to see the new and old Ghostbusters collaborate to fight Garraka, the ancient ice god. This film offers a reunion the fans have wanted, and the filmmakers responded to that. I recommend watching the previous Ghostbusters movies. However, keep in mind that the original Ghostbusters do not have much involvement in this film -- they are merely there to watch, which is extremely disappointing. During the ending fight scene, they just stand there. On the other hand, the plot is engaging and I never found myself bored during the film. It starts off with the Spengler family on a mission to capture a ghost. Therefore, it has a quick start as it kicks into the storyline. I do not care for the direction of this movie. It feels off. For example, when the ghost betrays Phoebe it happens all of a sudden, without much context, especially since the two of them don't have that much of a bond. Also, the characters don't really stand out from each other, besides barely knowing their backstories. I also did not like the special effects. They could be playing homage to the original movies, but the special effects of the ghosts are not realistic in any way. On a higher note, my favorite parts of the film are the mini Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men. They are adorable and hilarious. If you remember, in the original film the marshmallow man is huge. Also, the character Nadeem is extremely amusing. He is supposed to be the Fireman that saves them all from Garraka, which is a great addition to the storyline. That's something new I like about the movie because they don't stick with just ghosts, which gets boring after a few movies. In the end, the film makes a good addition to the adventures of the Ghostbusters, but it isn't something to rave about or call extraordinary.

The film's message is that family matters most. Phoebe is banned from Ghostbusting and she gets into more trouble later on. However, in the end, her and her parents forgive each other because they realize the importance of family. You should be aware there are mature conversations and violence in the film, with a hint of profanity.

I give Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire releases in theaters March 22, 2024.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


RENEGADE NELL
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
RENEGADE NELL
DISNEY+ Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - A quick-witted and courageous young woman framed for murder unexpectedly becomes the most notorious outlaw in 18th-century England. When a magical spirit called Billy appears, Nell realizes her destiny is bigger than she ever imagined.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Renegade Nell is an impressive and captivating show that takes you back in time with a new twist to it.

Nell Jackson (Louisa Harland) has just come back from the dead when she suddenly finds herself being framed for murder and accidentally becomes the most dangerous criminal in all of the 18th century. As she tries to prove herself innocent she meets a magical spirit called Billy Blind (Nick Mohammed) and realizes just how important she is.

The female lead is one of the coolest parts of the show which is set in the 1800s. Nell Jackson is a unique and innovative role that pulls the attention of viewers. It is quite hard to create a female character that has a truly interesting and large role due to the restriction on gender roles during that time period. Another amazing part of this show is the plot, which isn't particularly unique except that the way it plays out allows the show to rise above others with similar plots. That keeps everything fresh and interesting. For example, Nell is an incredibly strong woman and is able to beat up many men without being caught. The cinematography is also outstanding, using visual and lighting effects that keep it looking like everything takes place in the 1800s. The show uses lots of dim lighting settings to portray the lack of proper lighting and keeps the screen from looking too modern.

The show's message is be careful with your actions and don't give up when things get rough.

I give Renegade Nell 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. You can watch this TV series on Disney+ starting March 29 2024.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Renegade Nell is a thrilling action series with a twist of magic! It is full of fast-paced fight scenes, mysterious rituals, and bizarre fantastical creatures. I especially love the character design and physical combat!

Set in 18th century England, Renegade Nell follows Nell Jackson (Louisa Harland), a quick-witted and adventurous woman with a special talent for battle. Nell returns to her home after a year of being presumed dead, and she expects nothing short of a warm welcome, but she quickly finds herself as England's most famous outlaw, framed for the murder of Lord Blancheford (Pip Torrens). All of a sudden, Nell and her sisters (Bo Bragason, Florence Keen) are runaways and must go into hiding and remain incognito while fending for themselves.

The thing I love about Renegade Nell is how the scenes move very fast, disguising the fact that the show's storyline moves relatively slowly. In the blink of an eye, a peaceful tea party can crumble into utter disaster and a fight can break out, which keeps the audience engaged. However, important plot points take longer to unfold, such as the truth about the Earl of Poynton (Adrian Lester) and the real reason Sofia (Alice Kremelberg) protected Thomas (Jake Dunn) from the police. I also like the fact that every character has a backstory, no matter how minor, and they contribute to the main events of the show. For example, Rasselas (Enyi Okworonko), the servant, has a secret relationship with a main character, and Sofia, originally portrayed as a compliant bystander, eventually emerges as an essential character with her own fiery personality - and she leads the investigation against Nell. The show even displays the backstory of the antagonist, which is a rarity. Renegade Nell is the first show that has made me want to root for the bad guys. The show takes its time to develop, but it gradually reveals a detailed network of connections between all the characters' separate stories. I love the character of Billy Blind (Nick Mohammed), a goofy fairy who brings necessary comic relief to heavier scenes. This combination of humor, action and solemnity makes the show well-rounded.

Renegade Nell reminds us that if you want something, you shouldn't wait for it to come to you. Reach for it and don't take no for an answer. Nell's inspiring self-defense skills also reminded me to stand up for myself and fight for what I believe in.

I give Renegade Nell 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first season releases exclusively to Disney Plus on March 29, 2024.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


WHERE IS ANNE FRANK?
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WHERE IS ANNE FRANK?
ALTITUDE FILM ENTERTAINMENT Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Kitty, the imaginary girl to whom Anne Frank wrote her famous diary, comes to life in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Her memories reawakened by reading the diary, believing that if she's alive, Anne must be alive as well, she sets out on a quest to find Anne. We follow Kitty as she travels across Europe and back to Anne Frank's time, armed with the precious book, in search of her beloved friend.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Where is Anne Frank? offers a poignant and innovative take on the story of Anne Frank through the lens of animation and the adventures of her imaginary friend, Kitty. I thoroughly enjoyed this film for its unique approach to storytelling and its ability to blend historical narratives with elements of fantasy.

Directed by Ari Folman, the story unfolds as Anne Frank's diary comes to life years after Anne's death. Anne's imaginary friend, Kitty, embarks on a journey to find Anne, spending a lot of time trying to uncover the truth about Anne's fate. Kitty learns about the harrowing experience that Anne and her family experienced during the holocaust, and the heartbreaking reality of their demise.

The film captivates audiences from the outset with its imaginative premise, as her imaginary friend Kitty, embarks on a quest to find Anne years after her death. This narrative device not only provides a fresh perspective on Anne's life but also allows for a deeper exploration of her experiences and legacy. The animation is beautifully crafted, bringing both the historical setting and the fantasy elements of life with vibrant visuals and rich detail. The adventure that Kitty undertakes to uncover the truth about Anne's fate is both suspenseful and emotionally resonant, keeping viewers engaged throughout.

The film's message is that anyone has the right to live in freedom, no matter their race, religion, or culture. Be forewarned this film does contain moderate profanity.

I give Where Is Anne Frank? 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 12, plus adults. It was featured on March 10 at the New York International Children's Film Festival. You can watch it on Prime Video, Vudu or Apple TV. Be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


KUNG FU PANDA 4
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
KUNG FU PANDA 4
DREAMWORKS - LA Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-18
Description - After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior, while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Don't get your noodles in a twist because Kung Fu Panda 4 is available now. For the first time in almost a decade, comedy icon Jack Black returns to his role as Po, the world's acknowledged most unlikely kung fu master. Some familiar characters are here to support him on his journey along with some new relationships which refresh this beloved franchise.

Po, the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black) is about to experience a transition in his kung fu role in the Valley of Peace. Kung Fu Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) informs Po that he is needed to become a spiritual leader and to choose and train the next Dragon Warrior. This new role is a challenge for Po as he enjoys butt-kicking moves to counter villains and questions his fitness for a new cerebral role. While searching for inner peace we are reminded that for Po everything comes back to dumplings. Resisting his new role, Po determines it is necessary to first thwart a powerful new sorceress, Chameleon (Viola Davis), who can shapeshift and seeks total kung fu domination. He finds an unlikely partner in a tricky thief, Zhen (Awkwafina) who ends up teaching him that heroes can be found even in a den of thieves.

The computer animation of this film is so beautiful that, in the beginning, it almost appears to be 3D. The backgrounds are stunning and you'll love the various scenes in this wonton wonderland from DreamWorks Animation. I really enjoyed the interaction between the unlikely duo of Po and Zhen and the comedy created between their two characters. I absolutely love the new villain Chameleon and Viola Davis really illustrates how small and stylish stature doesn't impact the extent of evil evident in a character.

This film's message is that true change comes from within and that support from family and friends makes a great impact while helping to enable that change. After all, every step someone takes, no matter how large or small creates a footprint for others to follow.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters March 8, 2024 so go enjoy this hilarious new chapter in a favorite action-comedy franchise!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Kung Fu Panda 4 is just the feel-good movie I needed this year. It's an incredibly entertaining family-friendly movie that seamlessly weaves humor and heartwarming messages.

When our favorite Dragon Warrior and Kung Fu fighting panda, Po (Jack Black), is chosen to become the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace, he must step down and train a new Dragon Warrior. However, he isn't quite ready for that change and has no idea who to choose as his successor. To top it off, the Chameleon (Viola Davis), a powerful sorceress, has set her eyes on Po's Staff of Wisdom, so he must go on one last Dragon Warrior adventure to save the Valley of Peace with the help of the clever bandit corsac fox, Zhen (Awkwafina).

Even though the target audience for this movie, based on its humor, is pretty young, this film is enjoyable for the whole family. Plus, it embeds some deep messages about change and redemption. The animation style and quality is top notch - reflecting exactly what we expect and more from DreamWorks. The animation style of the bunnies and pigs is so iconic and adorable, and I love seeing the new types of animals the movie introduces. I also love how they portray the energy coming from the Staff of Wisdom and the Chameleon's magic. One of my favorite duos in this movie is Mr. Ping (James Hong), who is Po's adoptive dad, and Li (Bryan Cranston), Po's biological dad. You can really tell how much they both care for Po and they make a great team. Awkwafina's distinct and unique voice really fits the personality of Zhen. It's so endearing to see her character grow and develop, and the contrast between her sneakiness and Po's genuineness makes them complementary partners. Of course, Jack Black never fails to make the audience laugh - he makes Po so lovable and relatable. There's a lot more star power in this film with voice actors like Viola Davis, Ian McShane, Dustin Hoffman, Mr. Beast, Seth Rogen and more. I only wish we got to see more of the Furious Five.

The film's messages include recognizing that even though change is hard, it isn't always bad, and it's never too late to do the right thing. Also, as with the previous Kung Fu Panda movies, we are reminded to never judge a book by its cover.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters on March 8, 2024.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Exciting. Dynamic. Captivating. Our favorite panda, Po is BACK in the fourth installment of Kung Fu Panda. With a daring adventure and character development that gives the movie an appropriate pace, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a new lighthearted film that I definitely enjoyed.

Kung Fu Panda 4 focuses on Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black), who has been promoted to the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace. This means that he now has to select and train a new warrior. In his process, he discovers that the evil shapeshifter Cameleonul (Viola Davis) is trying to steal his Staff of Wisdom. Joining forces with a witty and sly fox named Zhen (Awkwafina), Po has to try to stop Cameleonul's plan.

This animated film is geared toward a younger audience and with that in mind, the plot is a bit predictable. The viewers can sense the plot twists and changes throughout the movie. Despite this, the fast paced scenes like the chase in the town, keep you engaged the whole time. The animation pays great attention to detail, which helps move the story forward while keeping the audience interested. One of the biggest examples of captivating animation is when Cameleonul is shape shifting. Audiences anticipate what she will turn into next, big or small, and what vibrant colors are coming. One of the characters that stands out is Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina. Her delivery and comedic timing is on point, and she fits the character perfectly. Her banter with Po creates a friendly relationship that audiences can invest in. Kung Fu Panda 4 is perfect for a family movie night, and has an important message that all audiences can relate to.

The film's message is that, while it may not be easy, change is what builds character and makes you the best version of yourself. Po doesn't know who he is, if not the Dragon Warrior, but he eventually realizes that passing wisdom down and helping others succeed is one of the greatest accomplishments he can achieve.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 out 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can find Kung Fu Panda 4 in theaters on March 8, 2024. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 16

Kung Fu Panda 4 may not pack the punch of earlier Kung Fun Panda movies, but the breathtaking animation, frenetic fights and well-placed humor more than deliver. Families must check this out for fun pandemonium that both adults and kids can enjoy.

This film starts a new journey for Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) once he is commanded by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to find a replacement Dragon Warrior and complete his transformation as the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. Unfortunately, Po knows little of spiritual learning, preferring a good fight and dumplings; worse yet, he runs into a mysterious thief Zhen (Awkwafina), who really gets under his fur. Worst of all, a sinister, shapeshifting sorceress Chameleon (Viola Davis) seeks to usurp Po's Staff of Wisdom to lead and re-summon the spirit realm that is littered with Po's finest foes. Desperate times call for desperate measures from Po as he trains and relies on Zhen. Can Po once again save the day and make a Dragon Warrior out of Zhen?

The cast is full of hilarious talent that works well off each other. Jack Black, as Po, picks up his character compellingly since he last picked up the mantle. Black's liveliness is always present, but here, he also gets to show off his emotional chops while coming to terms with change. Po might be at a career crossroads, but thankfully Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is here to help with his elderly wisdom. The Furious Five might leave a void in their absence but thankfully Awkwafina, as Zhen, naturally fills that void with Po as their hunt for the Chameleon turns into a buddy-cop spectacle. I can't think of a better complement for Po as the duo bond over their similarities and weaknesses; furthermore, it's Zhen's inner struggle with her inherent shadiness that remains most compelling. For that reason, Zhen's inclination to improve and do the right thing is a memorable and honorable character arc. Viola Davis, as Chameleon, absolutely carries the foe's presence with her commanding, sinister voice. Sadly, the Chameleon is the weakest antagonist in the franchise. Her underdeveloped, generically villainous endgame does not bring the nuances and complexities of Po's previous rogue gallery. Last but not least, Po's parents Mr. Ping (James Ping) and Li (Bryan Cranston) undergo a wholesome quest to find Po; Cranston, in particular, comedically shines in a recurring subplot where he must fool enemies into thinking he's Po. Mike Newell aptly directs the animation with stylistic choices that allow for breathtaking world building and fluid, stadium-like fights.

The film's message is that violence never solves conflicts. Although the film is full of fisticuffs, Po goes to great lengths to first reach an understanding with his foes. Po's reluctant transformation from Dragon Warrior to Spiritual Leader is at the heart of this nonviolence; furthermore, it develops Po's brazenness into a source of peace. Despite the film's child-friendliness, parents should be aware of mild violence. A few characters unfortunately die, but thankfully the deaths are comically unfocused and mostly implied.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 out of 5 stars and from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on March 8, 2024 in theaters. Be sure to check it out in theaters.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22

Set in the fun and humble town of the Valley Of Peace, Kung Fu Panda 4 had me laughing from the amusing story, amazing acting and great animation.

Po (Jack Black), the great Dragon Warrior, now has to become a spiritual leader who has to identify a successor and guide the next Dragon Warrior. He does not believe he can be a mentor and a leader, and while meditating to find a solution, he encounters a fox named Zhen (Awkwafina). A fight ensues and when Po puts her behind bars, he finds out that a new villain, The Chameleon (Viola Davis), has taken over Juniper City. With her shape shifting powers, she can turn into anyone and is planning to take over more land, including The Valley of Peace. Together, Zhen and Po go on a dangerous journey to bustling Juniper City to fight The Chameleon. They are met with countless challenges, and ultimately with the help of a team of bandits, take down The Chameleon.

Kung Fu Panda 4 definitely is entertaining with its funny and amusing characters, plus great morals and stories. The animation is mind blowing with amazing detail for these two different locations. The Valley of Peace is shown to be a small, colorful, village where everyone knows each other. Compared to the Valley of Peace, Juniper City is shown to be a darker, bustling city with many hardened people. The 60s style fight scenes, reminiscent of old Batman TV shows, kept me engaged and are very enjoyable. Jack Black definitely skadooshes as Kung Fu Panda! His empathetic and hilarious tones make it impossible not to love Po. Awkwafina is so great as Zhen because you can feel the hurt she carries with her in her voice. Viola Davis shows her Oscar prowess by delivering a very intimidating Chameleon. Dustin Hoffman, as Master Shifu, shows his annoyance and frustration towards Po in a very funny, yet kind way. Finally, Bryan Cranston and James Hong play Po's Panda and Goose dads, Li and Ping respectively, showing their love and support of Po throughout the movie. Kung Fu Panda 4 reminds us to always believe in ourselves and, even when we do not, at least pretend to. After Po gets hurt, he does not believe he can defeat The Chameleon, but his belief in himself grows with his parents' support. When it gets challenging, his panda dad, Li, is extremely worried, but acts brave just to save Po. We also are reminded that anyone has the ability to grow into a successful or beautiful thing. At first, Zhen does the wrong thing and then she remembers Po's kindness and how he believes in her and that changes her.

The film's messages are to believe in yourself and remember that kindness is important - everything we say to others affects them as it can affect how they think about themselves and ultimately, their actions.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on March 8, 2024

By Avani M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


ARTHUR THE KING
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ARTHUR THE KING
LIONSGATE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT Click to purchase directly from the producer Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18
Description - Over the course of ten days and 435 miles, an unbreakable bond is forged between pro adventure racer Michael Light (Mark Wahlberg) and a scrappy street dog companion dubbed Arthur. Based on an incredible true story, Arthur The King follows Light, desperate for one last chance to win, as he convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes (Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman) for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team is pushed to their outer limits of endurance in the race, Arthur redefines what victory, loyalty and friendship truly mean.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Arthur The King is a captivating emotional journey that tugs at your heartstrings, leaving you teary-eyed yet filled with a sense of joy. This film is a delightful blend of suspense, humor, and adventure, making it a must-watch for audiences of all ages.

Based on the true story of Mikeal Lindnord (Mark Wahlberg), the movie takes us on a thrilling ride as Mikeal and his group set out to win a race that will go down in history. However, their journey takes an unexpected turn when they encounter Arthur (Ukai), a lovable dog who becomes an integral part of their team.

What makes Arthur The King truly special is its ability to resonate with both dog lovers and non-dog lovers alike. The film's visuals are breathtakingly natural, capturing the beauty of the outdoors with stunning cinematography and seamless editing. It's evident that the crew poured their hearts into bringing this true story to life, and their dedication shines through in every frame. Mark Wahlberg's portrayal of Mikeal Lindnord is nothing short of remarkable. He exudes leadership and compassion, especially towards Arthur, which instantly endears him to the audience. Ukai's performance as Arthur adds depth and charm to the film, elevating it to new heights. One of the film's greatest strengths is its pacing. Despite its quick pace, Arthur The King never feels rushed. Instead, it effectively conveys the message of the film - that a dog truly is man's best friend - in a short amount of time, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

The message is "dog is man's best friend" and it serves as a reminder of the special connection between humans and dogs.

I give Arthur The King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults (and dog lovers.) This film is a heartwarming tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and ultimately feeling uplifted. Don't miss your chance to experience this emotional thrill ride when it hits theaters on March 15, 2024.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Arthur the King is a great family film and a good movie with a strong main character and a heartwarming story. However, even with all these great aspects, the greatest part of this film is the dog.

The story focuses on Mikael Linord (Mark Wahlberg) is a renowned adventure racer who has a lot of medals but has never won the championship. He tries to get back into the sport that he loves, but along comes a furry friend to help him overcome his fears and possibly win the championship. The team adopts the dog and the adventure begins.

Arthur the King does everything right. To start off the protagonist, Mikael goes through a simple but great character journey, starting off the film as someone who refuses to listen to other people's point of view but grows as a person learning to consider others ideas by the end. Mikael isn't the only thing that makes this film good-- it's also a heartwarming story about family. If you're looking for a good film you can see with your family this is the one--you'll be happy watching this film. You may feel a little sad but mostly you'll be rooting for the characters to succeed. And Arthur the dog will win you over. The filmmakers make sure you love Arthur and hope that it never gets hurt and that it succeeds. That leads to us getting invested in this dog, and in Mikael's story, which creates strong emotional moments.

The theme of Arthur the King is that sometimes you have one goal and yet achieving that goal isn't necessarily the most important thing in your life. The theme is portrayed by Mikael as learns that his goal isn't what's most important to him--it's what he has that he takes for granted.

I give Arthur the King 3.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters March 15, 2024.

By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm

This title is available for purchase from LIONSGATE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT


ORDINARY ANGELS
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
ORDINARY ANGELS
KINGDOM STORY COMPANY Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - Based on a remarkable true story, Ordinary Angels centers on Sharon (Hilary Swank), a fierce but struggling hairdresser in small-town Kentucky who discovers a renewed sense of purpose when she meets Ed (Alan Ritchson), a widower working hard to make ends meet for his two daughters. With his youngest daughter waiting for a liver transplant, Sharon sets her mind to helping the family and will move mountains to do it. What unfolds is the inspiring tale of faith, everyday miracles, and ordinary angels.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Tighten up your heartstrings for this new release because the film Ordinary Angels delivers a rollercoaster of scenes sure to unleash your deepest emotions. This well-crafted film offers such a mixture of highs and lows, almost in a magical way, that it definitely made its way onto my favorite films of all time. Viewers are in for a real treat with this masterpiece!

Based on an amazing true story, Ordinary Angels takes us on a journey to a small Kentucky Town where a bold, yet emotionally struggling hairdresser, Sharon Stevens (Hilary Swank), finds meaning to her life by helping a tragedy stricken family who are complete strangers. With the recent loss of his wife, Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson) faces yet another hardship when his youngest daughter must have a lifesaving liver transplant in order to survive her illness. With mounting medical bills and other expenses which the Schmitt Family cannot afford, saving his daughter's life seems out of reach until Stevens sets out to move mountains in making this happen. With renewed purpose, this "ordinary angel" brings her community together in this near impossible mission.

There is so much to love about this film! The cast, with both its lead and supporting actors, are dynamite and are an absolute perfect fit for their roles. Although some scenes are bitterly sad and required a box of tissues within reach, others I found to be comedic, which offered a great balance and some time for the tears to dry up. I was totally connected to the film from beginning to end as each scene delivers something so unique, setting off a gamut of emotions. A big two thumbs up for writers Kelly Fremon Craig and Meg Tilly, as well as for director Jon Gunn, for such a powerful timely film which is a true gift in a world so divided. Ordinary Angels reminds us that we must see beyond our flaws and appreciate one another, which I can certainly appreciate. This film is the perfect family movie one in which I will be encouraging families far and wide to watch!

Ordinary Angels delivers a message of faith within "community" and allows that faith to encourage good deeds for one another. God shows up in a big way when there is faith allowing for such a unique ripple effect. Serving within your community is a powerful tool and can result in significant positive change in people's lives. "Find a reason to be here and find meaning outside yourself."

I give Ordinary Angels 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Ordinary Angels is available in theaters now.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


MESSI'S WORLD CUP: THE RISE OF A
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
MESSI'S WORLD CUP: THE RISE OF A
APPLE TV Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18
Description - Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend is a biographical documentary series produced in a collaboration between Apple TV+, Smuggler Entertainment and Pegsa Group. The series follows Lionel Messi's triumphant career, his overall impact on football and shows his journey of highs and lows with the Argentina national football team across five World Cups, culminating with his fairytale ending of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I loved every second of the documentary Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend. Messi is an absolute legend. I remember watching these games in 2022 so it's very very interesting to know what was going on behind the scenes, what the players were thinking and feeling, and other things. In the 2006 World Cup, he was just hoping he would get to play. Now he's the most decorated player in the history of the game.

This documentary follows Lionel Messi through the World Cup of 2022. The documentary shows his journey from when he was young to current time. It touches on his time at Barcelona, his previous World Cups, the challenges he had to overcome, his hopes and dreams for the 2022 World Cup, and finally the World Cup itself from the group stages all the way through the finals and how he feels and what he's thinking in between and throughout. The documentary does this across four episodes ranging from 44 minutes to 49 minutes in length titled "The Last Cup," "We Can Dream Again," "The Weight of a Nation," and "Redemption."

This is a feel-good documentary as we observe an inspiring man getting to accomplish his biggest dream. There's a wonderful beauty to that and this documentary is a beautiful depiction of it. Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend is really very well-made. It offers an intimate view into Lionel Messi's life. He speaks of Diego Maradonna, his soccer hero. Messi tells us that when he doesn't do well, he's very self-critical and explains how he feels guilty. The documentary includes interviews with Messi's teammates, his first coach and Argentina's coach, Lionel Sebasti�n Scaloni. It delves into what happened after the Saudi Arabia loss - 36 matches undefeated ended in the opening match. The Saudi Arabia win against Argentina came as one of the World Cup's greatest shocks. Roger Bennett says, "watching Lionel Messi walk off the field... It was agony. At this moment, he looked defeated." Everybody started attacking Messi after the World Cup loss to Saudi Arabia, saying he was overhyped and similar things. The documentary excels at comparing that incident to when Messi quit Argentina in 2016. When Messi did quit, everyone suddenly freaked out. People begged him to stay, to change his mind, there were even hash tags such as #LioDon'tLeave. Enzo Fernandez was 15 at the time and wrote a letter to Messi that ended up going viral. Six years later, Messi reverted his decision and Fernandez played alongside him in the World Cup. They won it together. The documentary is full of heart touching anecdotes like this. I truly had a smile on my face the entire time I watched it. I love seeing how Messi and his teammates celebrate after a goal - all smiles and jumping on each other. It's heartwarming how happy they look and how they support one another. Watching the team hang out together makes me smile as they sing, dance, chant, play card games and celebrate! This is all Messi's story. Throughout the documentary, you can tell he truly loves his children, his wife, his sport, his country, his team and his life. What a legend! Like Messi or not, you cannot deny that he is one of the greatest players of all time. This documentary helps us understand him, his journey, and his story. You can't say you're a soccer fan and not know the story of one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. Messi's teammates say that they all grew up watching him play. Emiliano Martinez says "We feel that we have to defend our hero." Fernandez says "The team always had the sense of wanting to win it for Leo." It felt like all of Argentina was watching, saying "We need to win because it's Messi's last one." This is an absolutely amazing documentary. I wish it had included interviews with the French team in the fourth episode, which would have given us a very interesting perspective. Argentina would have lost to France, 3-4, if not for Martinez's brilliant last-minute save.

The film's message is that you can't do it alone. The World Cup final is one of the best and most interesting matches I've ever seen. It was Messi's World Cup. But it was also Martinez's world cup. And Fernandez's world cup. Alvarez, Di Maria, De Paul, Scaloni, every other person on that team. It was Argentina's World Cup. Messi could never have done it without them. The documentary ends with Messi saying "I'm just a kid from Rosario who loves to play ball." That makes the documentary all the more inspiring. Messi says "If something is meant to happen to you, it will happen." That's another one of the messages. Messi worked really hard. This documentary shows that truly anyone can do it. Work hard enough, and you can achieve all your dreams. Don't give up. That's 100% true. But by Messi saying that, he acknowledges there's an aspect of luck to it as well.

I give Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults, but this is truly a must-watch for all fans of the sport. You can watch this documentary starting February 21, 2024 on AppleTV+.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend follows pro soccer player Lionel Messi's journey through obstacles and triumphs during the 2022 World Cup. Tasked with leading his team and acting as the face of Argentina, Messi must lead his teammates and country to victory.

This documentary series tells the story of all-star Messi's background throughout the episodes, often non-chronologically. However, at times this method doesn't work, and the story feels disjointed, underdeveloped and the flashbacks feel out of place. We undoubtedly root for Messi throughout the series, but only because the series urges us to cheer him on, not because we have fully gotten to know him. Also, the documentary's formula grows repetitive. We continuously witness Lionel and Argentina's performance during the World Cup, which becomes hard to watch. Messi never remains at a high or low because the series swiftly cycles between the media disliking him, him gaining back their support, and the media disliking him again. This trend is utilized so many times throughout the episodes that it's hard to cheer for a win when we know there is another devastating loss around the corner. Fortunately, Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend thrives from its frequent use of footage from Messi's games. As an audience, we truly get a sense of why Lionel Messi is regarded as one of the all time greats of soccer. He is fueled by his peers and country, which is quite inspiring. His collaboration with teammates and talent in the game is truly entertaining to watch. Viewing the way in which the Argentinean team bonds throughout their wins and losses is something very special to see.

There is no question that Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend has aspects that soccer fans and Lionel Messi fans will enjoy, but the series fails to include many additions that it would benefit from.

I give Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch the series when it releases on February 21, 2024 on Apple TV+.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


DUNE: PART TWO
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
DUNE: PART TWO
WARNER BROS. PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Dune: Part Two will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a path of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Wow! Just saw this in IMAX, which really delivers the visuals in a breathtaking way, especially the desert scenes. I loved Part One and this is twice as good, perhaps because the storyline is more developed or so it seems.

The story revolves around Paul Atreides' mythical journey as he reunites with Chani (Zendaya) and the Freman seeking revenge for the insurgents who murdered his family. Paul has to prove himself to the Freman by undertaking several tasks, including riding a sandworm - and he calls the largest one ever seen. After a two-year conflict, Paul eventually emerges victorious and successfully deposes the Emperor. The Emperor picks Feyd Rautha (Austin Butler) as his champion to duel Paul for the universe's fate. In the end, Paul abandons the love of his life and claims Princess Irulan as his bride, while sending the Freman out into the universe to start a war against the great houses.

This second installment, based on Frank Herbert's books brings with it lots of questions about Paul and the Arrakis. It adds some key characters to the already splendid cast such as Austin Butler playing the evil Feyd Rautha and Florence Pugh playing Irulan. Emperor Shaddam IV is played by Christopher Walken. Lady Margot, the Bene Gesserit wife of Count Hasimir Fenring, is played by Lea Seydoux. Of course, returning cast members include Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Javier Gardem as Stilgar (leader of the Fremen tribe), Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen. Chani, played by Zendaya, delivers a stunning performance and shows how she is caught between the man she loves and her dedication to her people, exemplified by her fury at Paul when he breaks his promises to her and colonizes the Fremen through religious propaganda. Having Paul declare war on the great houses at the end of the film shows his drive for ultimate power and sets the scene on world-building. I can't say enough about how impressive the visuals are in this film, created by Patrice Vermette, who goes old-school Hollywood in creating the most immersive sets and environments for the film. That meant filming on location. The grand desert landscapes of Arrakis - the futuristic planet - were filmed in Jordan and Abu Dhabi and are perfectly captured by widescreen cinematography. The vast desert seas are shot from above showing how they stretch for miles in every direction. New worlds are introduced - Caladan and Giedi Prime -- each with its own unique visual characterization. The sandworms appear frequently in Part Two and are massive! Particularly inspiring is Paul's initial ride on the sandworms and, at the end, Chani prepares for her own turn. The most complicated sets were constructed on giant soundstages in Budapest, including the ornithopters. The visual aspect is further enhanced by the incredible flowing, futuristic costume designs by Jacqueline West whose work reaches far and wide as the characters move from planet to planet. Composer Hans Zimmer completes the creative team with an evocative score that absolutely is mind bending, complementing the visuals and enhancing the story's emotional impact.

The film's message is about the importance of family and culture, but it reminds us to beware of heroes. Paul Atreides unites the Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis to wage war against House Harkonnen who murdered his family. The question is, does Paul take it too far?

I give Dune: Part Two 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters on March 1, 2024. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Dune: Part Two is a jaw-dropping movie that sent thrills through my spine as it follows Paul Atredes and the Freemen. The film opens your eyes to the beauty of the desert while keeping you on your toes with stellar fight sequences and war scenes.

Dune: Part Two starts where the first movie ended, with Paul Atredes (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) having joined Chani (Zendaya) and the Freemen. Seeking revenge against those who have hurt his family, Paul learns the way of the Freemen to gain their trust and respect, falling in love along the way. When the threat resurfaces, Paul and the Freemen must work together to regain their land and prevail over the House of Harkonnen.

Director Denis Villeneuve outdoes himself with Dune: Part Two. His collaboration of brilliant storytelling with world creation and surreal cinematography makes it a movie that audiences will remember long after watching. This movie gave me a new appreciation for the desert, primarily due to how cinematographer Greig Fraser shoots the landscapes. The beginning of the film, with the shots of the sand and the visuals of the red sun setting with the dunes in the background, is breathtaking to watch on the big screen. But the visuals don't stop with the sequences of the sand, as the visual effects are absolutely incredible. Although there are some moments where I could tell that CGI plays a part in creating the setting, most of the CGI is outstanding. The fight sequences are some of the best I've ever seen and definitely kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The movie is very long, at two hours and 46 minutes, and I admit that it feels a bit long near the end. Some characters and plot lines seem to be extraneous to the overall story. For example, Feyd-Rautha Hakkunnen (Austin Butler), although visually very compelling and greatly acted, seems to be somewhat unnecessary. My favorite character is Stilgar (Javier Bardem), as he brings a much-needed amount of humor to an otherwise dark story. Every actor in this film delivers amazing performances, but Chalamet and Ferguson really blew me away. Their acting is phenomenal and makes you empathize with their characters while also fearing them. The background score, by Hans Zimmer, helps transport audiences to the world of Dune and embellishes the beauty of cinematography, making the movie more jaw-dropping.

Dune: Part Two promotes respect and trust, but most importantly, the value of staying true to yourself. A large part of the story is Paul Atredes's difficulty understanding who he is and the Freemen's perception of his role in their society, causing internal conflicts in Paul's head. Once he becomes vulnerable and accepts his destiny everything becomes more clear, not only for him but for the audience as well. Be aware that the movie is very violent at times and involves many fight scenes involving weapons and blood and other disturbing visuals.

I give Dune: Part Two 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 1, 2024.

By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Dune: Part Two is one of the best produced films I have ever seen. The cinematography, casting, direction and special effects are all phenomenal. The filmmakers have paid intricate attention to detail and it shows throughout the movie.

The film follows two strong-willed lovers who are among the many fighters on the planet Arrakis. Paul wants to destroy the people who killed his family, but foresees a dangerous future. That same force is messing with his mind and may ruin his plan to save their people.

Some of your favorite actors are in Dune: Part Two! The main characters are Paul or Uzul (Timoth�e Chalamet), Chani (Zendaya), Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler), Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista) and Emperor (Christopher Walken). The casting is fantastic; each actor compliments their characters beautifully and believably. I felt many emotions while watching it because of the great acting. When Chani is hurt by Uzul's sudden change of mind, the air feels tense and her anger is shown. Also, Uzul's mom, Jessica, is mysterious and changes her personality when she drinks the poison. This film is so well-produced. I am beyond amazed by the quality of the production. The camerawork captures the scenes so well, especially when they are in the desert. The special effects are mind-blowing, like when Uzul and Chani blow up multiple helicopters. The machine they are running from looks incredibly realistic and threatening. When Uzul has visions, the special effects are well-displayed. We learn that, by consuming Spice, the people on Arrakis can see the future. You know when they are seeing the future because their eyes turn blue. This film exceeds all my expectations and explores science fiction beautifully. The pacing is perhaps a bit off, but you might expect some slow parts since it is nearly three hours long! A lot of hard work went into creating this film. I highly recommend watching Dune: Part One to understand the concepts, the characters and their backstories. Dune: Part 2 picks up right where Dune: Part One left off. These two films really bring the Dune books to life. I applaud the director, Denis Villeneuve, for creating such admirable work. My favorite part of the film is when Paul (or Uzul) learns to ride a huge sandworm. The special effects are remarkable because you feel as if you are on the sandworm with him - the wind rushes, the sand flies everywhere, and the motion of the sandworm is smooth. It looks incredibly realistic and it shows how far CGI has come.

The film's message is to have hope and to always believe it can happen. Paul's hope carries him throughout his fights and he constantly encourages the others to believe that they can do it. He also tells his mother to not give them false hope over a prophecy. Be aware that this film has mature concepts, a lot of violence, profanity, and bloody scenes.

I give Dune: Part Two 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Dune: Part Two releases in theaters March 1, 2024.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The story of Dune is back with a sequel to the 2021 film, Dune: Part One. Dune: Part Two is action-packed, visually stunning, and matches the dynamic energy and format as the first film. It also has breathtaking scenery, amazing performances, and an engaging storyline.

Continuing the storyline of Frank Herbert's science fiction novels, Dune: Part Two follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) after the happenings in the first film where the Atreides family was defeated. In this film, Paul works hard to protect the Arrakis people. We learn more about Paul's visions and the prophecy that is said to revolve around Paul.

There are many focal points of this film so there are a few main characters besides Paul. The acting in this film is terrific. Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya make for an amazing acting duo throughout the film, and the rest of the cast's performance, including Austin Butler as Feyd-Ratha Harrakum helps move the story along. The visuals are stunning, with the desert landscape, incredible set designs, and mind-blowing special effects. The cinematography, storyline, sets, and overall design come together perfectly to create a truly well-made film. The story is very adventurous -- sci-fi film lovers will be fascinated and interested. The costumes perfectly match the setting and, in a way, tell their own story. Dune: Part Two takes you on an emotional rollercoaster which is expected based on the content in Part One. As much as I enjoyed this film, it is almost three hours long and it seems to lack a lot of context and dialogue. I definitely recommend seeing the first movie before this one.

Dune: Part Two is all about trust, bravery and hope. Paul is challenged with keeping his family's legacy, leading Arrakis, and facing the future he sees in his visions. To protect those who he cares about most, he must be brave. He must have hope for the future despite its dangers and risks. And he must trust others as well as himself to do what he has to do. Parents should be aware that there is a lot of graphic violence and suggestive scenes.

I give Dune: Part Two 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Dune: Part Two opens in theaters March 1, 2024.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The film Dune: Part Two is an action film set in the year 10191. This film is faster paced and creepier than Dune: Part One. I was a little confused during parts of it and found the story hard to follow.

The storyline follows Paul Atreides (Timoth�e Chalamet) as he attempts to learn the ways of the Fremen after the House of Atreides has fallen. Paul receives visions and knows that if he travels south a Holy War will begin. He also knows that the only way to bring people together to overpower the Emperor and the other eight houses is to allow people to believe he is "The One."

While this film is set in the future, the sword fights and battles scenes remind me of war scenes from the past. Don't worry; there is plenty of sci-fi throughout the film as well, with the costume design, eerie music and floating characters, such as Baron (Stellan Skarsgard). My favorite part of the film is the developing love story between Paul Atreides and Chani (Zendaya). I am so happy that Chani is a more prominent character in Dune: Part Two than her minimal part in Paul's visions during Part One. The way Paul Atreides asks for the emperor's daughter's hand in marriage has me thinking there is a Dune: Part Three in store for us.

The film's message is that sometimes you have to sacrifice your wants and needs for the wants and needs of the group. Paul doesn't want to abandon Chani but he knows that if he travels south toward the fundamentalists, he will have to lead and that will bring trouble between them. He knows he must do it anyway. Note that this film has violent content, gore and is a bit creepy and scary.

I give Dune: Part Two 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters March 1, 2024.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE
PARAMOUNT PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Bob Marley: One Love celebrates the life and music of an icon who inspired generations through his message of love and unity. On the big screen for the first time, discover Bob's powerful story of overcoming adversity and the journey behind his revolutionary music. Produced in partnership with the Marley family and starring Kingsley Ben-Adir as the legendary musician and Lashana Lynch as his wife Rita.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Bob Marley: One Love is a captivating biopic that celebrates iconic reggae artist Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir), as fortitude guides him through adversity and his music inspires people all around the world. We see how Bob expresses unity and love through his music as he quickly becomes a worldwide phenomenon. As a music lover, and someone who didn't know too much about Bob Marley, I really enjoyed watching this film. I like the pace and how director Reinaldo Marcus Green tells this compelling story through outstanding cinematography, an exceptional cast and sincere storytelling.

The story begins in 1976, late in Bob Marley's life, but arguably the most important time of his career. While Bob loves Jamaica he realizes he must leave to protect himself and his family. He goes to London to find the right sound for his next album. Then "Exodus,'' one of the most important albums of the 20th century, was born. The rest of the film demonstrates many of the obstacles Bob Marley had to overcome - finding purpose, struggling with confidence, and maintaining a healthy relationship with his wife.

Kingsley Ben-Adir steals the show. He's extremely believable and delivers an incredible performance. From his body language to the way he speaks, he really becomes Bob Marley on the big screen. Lashana Lynch as Rita Marlee, Bob's wife, gives another incredible performance. She plays Rita with such confidence - together, their relationship is one of this film's strongest aspects. Kudos to them and to all the actors involved; their accents are on point, although a little difficult to understand at times. Regarding the story itself, I don't think this film fully pays tribute to the icon that Bob Marley truly is. The film touches on how his music has united nations and delivers powerful messages of freedom, peace and bringing people together. However, Bob Marley didn't only change music forever; he truly did change the world. I wish the writers would have delved deeper into the impact Bob Marley made on others.

The message of this film is that people always face adversity but we can always find ways to overcome those hard times, and music is the greatest power to feel well and unite us. Be forewarned that this film is rated PG-13 for smoking throughout the movie, some violence and strong language.

I give Bob Marley: One Love 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters February 14, 2024.

By Zoe C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Bob Marley: One Love is a passionate and inspiring documentary. I really like this film because it is educational, yet thrilling at the same time, and caused me to positively change my view of the world.

Bob Marley: One Love is an honest and revealing documentary about the life of Bob Marley. He is a father, husband and a trusted friend who wants nothing more than love and world peace to be spread across the nation. The Jamaican singer was determined to bring his people together through music, despite the ongoing war and conflict.

A huge standout in this film is the directing by Reinaldo Marcus Green who created a nostalgic, sentimental, yet uncomfortable feeling to this documentary from the start, foreshadowing the outcome of the film. He focuses on different characters in different scenes and uses camera angles that help viewers to pick up on specific details. Particularly, the shots of Marley's first concert in Jamaica. There are so many highlighted parts that help the audience to unravel this difficult topic of having hope in even the most hopeless of times. Some of the shots zoom in on Marley moving in slow-motion. Similarly, this is also done with the crowd that is watching him, which helps viewers understand just how impactful his music really is. All of the cinematography and scenery in this movie is beautiful. Each location shown is exquisitely shot. France, London, and all the other European locations have a very local feel, yet there is also the excitement of discovering a new place, which is exactly what those in the film are doing. Most importantly, the lens that Jamaica is shown through fits the tone and mood of this documentary perfectly. I felt that I was able to understand what it looked like in the 1970s and, through shots of the beaches, the eye-catching colors and the abundance of culture, I was able to partially understand what it must have felt like during that time. Lastly, what piqued this film's enjoyability the most for me, is the message told throughout the movie. Bob Marley's entire purpose for creating his music was to unite his people, and bring peace to the battling leaders of Jamaica. He wanted nothing more than for everyone to come together peacefully. The message of fighting for what you believe in - no matter the risks - and living your life to the absolute fullest is delivered beautifully, and reinforced throughout the entire film. Kingsley Ben-Adir who plays Marley is outstanding; his ability to showcase these characteristics of Marley do not go unnoticed. He brings this legendary human being to life, allowing the world to understand Bob Marley for all that he was and all that he stood for.

The message of Bob Marley: One Love is that in this life, peace and love will always bring you the most happiness and win in the end. Please be aware that this film does include foul language, slightly gruesome fight scenes, and the use of drugs and smoking.

I give Bob Marley: One Love 5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Bob Marley: One Love in theaters beginning February 14, 2024.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 17

I like the film Bob Marley: One Love because of its deep references to Jamaica and its culture. I also love the settings and the song choices. The humor is great and makes the movie a lot better.

This film is about Jamaica's biggest pop star, Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and his journey to becoming a famous singer, beloved worldwide. We see Bob Marley at the beginning, living a normal life, playing soccer and making music with his friends. However, this was a time of a lot of violence in Jamaica and Barley and his wife both experienced it first hand. Bob Marley was inspired by the violence to pursue his music career and traveled to London to start to produce his music there. His song, Exodus, gave him a big rise in popularity and fame.

Kingsley Ben-Adir's performance as Bob Marley is great. His singing and his dancing are on point. I love the song choices in this film. I think that they chose Bob Marley's best songs and they fit well with the structure of the film. My favorite part of this film is when he is making his song Exodus with his band in his living room and everyone is smiling and having fun. It made me laugh and smile. Marley was a Rastafarianism which he believed unified the Jamaican people and was a big part of his music creation. The film also has a lot of humor in it, which adds to its appeal.

The film's message is to never give up and always follow your dreams. Be forewarned that there are incidents of gun violence and bloody gore in this film.

I give Bob Marley: One Love 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can find Bob Marley: One Love in theaters February 14, 2024.

By NaNa A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


MADAME WEB
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MADAME WEB
COLUMBIA PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing's most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who develops the power to see the future... and realizes she can use that insight to change it. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women bound for powerful destinies...if they can all survive a deadly present.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love Madame Web. It is full of action, mystery, suspense, sisterhood and girl power. There are some heartfelt moments and the chemistry between the four leading ladies is outstanding. The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end.

Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel's most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who develops the power to see the future and realizes she can use that insight to change it. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women bound for powerful destinies if they can all survive a deadly present.

I really loved learning who Madame Web is and how she became a heroine. I loved all the action scenes and watching the girls come together to fight against the villain Ezekiel. I loved seeing the girls in their costumes and the action was entertaining. The girls include Sydney Sweeney as Julia Cornwall, Celeste O'Connor as Mattie Franklin and Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon. The movie left me wanting more and hoping for a sequel so we can find out how the girls got their powers and what happens next! The chemistry between the four leading ladies is truly amazing. They work so well together and look like they are having so much fun together. Their friendship seems genuine on the screen. The battle scenes are epic, especially the last one when the girls work together and fight the villain Ezekiel.

Madame Web is about teamwork, girl power, friendship, family, heart and action. It shows how friends will always be there for you, no matter what, and reminds you to always stay true to who you are. It is perfect for date night or a family movie night. Everyone will love it. The best part is that if you are a fan of Marvel movies, you don't have to see any previous movies to understand Madame Web. This movie stands alone with a phenomenal cast and great story line. It is rated PG-13 and it is 1 hour and 54 minutes.

I give Madame Web 4 out 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Madame Web is in theaters now.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

The film Madame Web falls too off the superhero movie path which is disappointing. It includes enveloping action, suspense and violence, but it lacks a connection between the main character and their powers. It isn't extraordinary, but it is a fun adventure. Along with a barely developed superhero figure, it also fails to relate to Spider-Man in any way, which extremely disappointed me.

Madame Web follows Cassie (Dakota Johnson), a paramedic who's connected to three teenagers through the power of a valuable spider. While a greedy, powerful man is seeking to kill them all, Cassie finds out she can actually see the future. Will her power save people or lead them to their doom?

The primary characters are Madame Web or Cassie, Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Mattie (Celeste O'Connor), Anya (Isabela Merced), Ezekiel (Tahar Rahim) and Ben (Adam Scott). The teenagers are the stars of the show. They are the most believable characters; while the rest of the cast lacks conviction or emotion. It's bothersome. The characters are poorly developed as well. We barely know anything about Julia, Mattie or Anya's backstory, and Ezekiel is as villainous as an antagonist should be. On the other hand, there's a lot of interesting action that keeps the movie engaging. I was compelled to see what would transpire at the end. Cassie and the girls keep having bad things happening to them and that's amusing to watch. The suspense adds to the plot, as well, because Ezekiel just keeps on hunting down their group, using a spy. My favorite part is when time stops underwater. It's really cool because the sound drops to a low pitch and everything seems to be in slow motion. The camerawork is very unique in this film. Sometimes it's almost nauseating -- so watch out for that. There's no relevance to Spider-Man as fans expected, except that Ben Parker is Peter's uncle, but that is not mentioned at all. It's almost as if they aren't in the same fandom. Cassie deserves more of a superhero recognition, since the film doesn't focus on her heroic abilities. I can understand that the producers were trying to experiment with a new type of superhero movie as this film focuses on the main character's mental powers rather than her physical powers. I appreciate the experimentation with something new, but it doesn't really work out very well. It has potential, but the script falls short. This has the makings of an enjoyable film but is missing huge key factors.

The film's message is to protect the people you love. Cassie goes above and beyond to protect the teenage trio, and the girls, in turn, save Cassie's life. They care so much about each other that they are willing to risk their own lives to make sure the others are okay. It also discourages selfishness. You should be aware foul language is used and blood is involved.

I give Madame Web 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Madame Web comes out in theaters on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2024.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The film Madame Web is an action film that is kind of like another version of Spider Man. I love the action in the film and the background music makes it really suspenseful. I don't usually love Marvel movies but this one is really good.

The storyline follows a girl named Cassie (Dakota Johnson), a New York City paramedic who gets visions, including one showing three teenage girls getting killed by the guy that killed her mom. Cassie needs to safely get the girls away from the guy by using her clairvoyant powers and the deadly adventure takes off from there.

This is a very unique film - unlike anything I've ever seen before. When Cassie uses her powers the special effects are very cool. They look like a web. I love how Cassie is always helping people. First she helps people that get hurt, then she helps the girls from getting killed. She is amazing. I love the relationship between the three girls - Julia (Sydney Sweeney), Anya (Isabela Merced), and Mattie (Celeste O'Connor). They annoy each other when they first meet but later realize how much they need each other and they become best friends. I especially love Mattie; she is funny, does whatever she wants, and doesn't care what other people think. My favorite part of Madame Web is when they are on top of the factory's roof. It looks really cool when she uses her powers.

The film's message is to always stick together. The girls stick together and manage to survive. Plus, in the end they become best friends. This film uses adult language and has some violent content.

I give Madame Web 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters February 14, 2024.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


POPULAR THEORY
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
POPULAR THEORY
BLUE FOX ENTERTAINMENT Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - Popular Theory follows Erwin, a 12-year old genius, far smarter than any of her high school classmates. But Erwin's genius has come at a price: isolation. She doesn't have any friends and even her sister thinks she's a social leper. Determined to win the State Science Fair, she teams up with classmate Winston, a fellow outcast and chemistry guru, to create a popularity chemical which they add into sticks of chewing gum.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With compelling performances and a story emphasizing brains over social status, Popular Theory is both a heartfelt story of friendship and innovation that young viewers will love. Erwin (Sophia Reid-Gantzert), a young genius named for Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schr�dinger, is the youngest student in high school and a bona fide loner. She enjoys spending time on her own doing complex science experiments so much that her aunt and father, who raise her, grow concerned and place a science plan on her. But when she meets fellow genius Winston (Lincoln Lambert), they team up to evade the ban and invent a pheromone that threatens to upset the natural order of high school.

Lincoln Lambert and Sophia Reid-Gantzert's dynamic is my favorite part of Popular Theory. At a young age, both actors seem to have mastered the art of owning their character, whether it's the micro-gestures of disgust, awe, sadness and hypochondria that Lambert portrays as Winston or Reid-Gantzert's comfort being Erwin. It's truly a delight to see them interact on screen as they transition from rivals to "colleagues," to friends, and as forces push and pull them apart. I'm a Lincoln Lambert fan, having spoken to him about his film Language Arts and having discussed his creative process. But I have to admit that Reid-Gantzert steals the show. That's largely because the screenwriters (Ali Scher and Joe Swanson) have crafted a teen movie that, thankfully, doesn't turn into a rom-com halfway through. Too often the archetype of the wannabe teenage girl eager to change herself exploited. Yes, there's an element of that trope in the film, both in Erwin's character and in Erwin's sister, Ari (Chloe East). But Erwin always stays true to who she is and takes pride in her status as a genius without coming across as too egotistical -- a good role model for young viewers. On another note, the dynamic in Erwin's home reminds one a bit of Matilda, with her aunt and father looking at her as some freak-of-nature genius. Some comical and unexpectedly sentimental moments come from Aunt Tammy (Cheryl Hines), who's an eccentric hairstylist. Erwin's father, Arthur (Marc Evan Jackson), stricken by the grief of losing his wife, feels a little like a prop character mainly because of a lack of screen time. He isn't given much to work with in terms of dialogue or emoting. I wonder how the film would be affected if Erwin was only raised by her aunt. The direction and production quality are other highlights. The few moments dragging the film down are wooden performances by secondary characters, but those are overshadowed by the strength and integrity of the plot.

Popular Theory shows how dangerous instantaneous popularity can be and comments on the ethics of using technology for personal and social benefit. Making change through friendship and positivity can make the high school experience and life better in more ways than one.

I give Popular Theory 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Popular Theory released in theaters on February 9, 2024.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

Popular Theory highlights the idea that friendship is all about chemistry! The movie shows the negative aspects of popularity and how a positive charge or change through friendship can make the high school experience, and life, more meaningful.

Erwin Page (Sophia Reid-Ganzert) is a 12-year-old genius at Magnolia High School and suffers from social isolation. Her formative years were spent primarily alone with her scientific experiments and books were her friends. Erwin's Aunt Tammy (Cheryl Hines) is certain that science is stunting her social development and with Erwin's Dad (Marc Evan Jackson) empties her room of all science materials to force her to interact with others. The situation is made worse in opposition with her popular older sister Ari (Chloe East) which contrasts the difference in the girls' social positions. High school can be depicted as survival of the fittest where popularity is all that matters to the student body. Erwin is disturbed when new student Winston (Lincoln Lambert), who is 13, enrolls at school and the two of them engage in competition for the upcoming science fair award and scholarship. Erwin and Winston end up together as science partners in their quest to win the competition by utilizing pheromones to impact popularity in their "Friendship Formula."

The ensemble cast in Popular Theory is funny and acidic and gives us the exact chemical reaction that one would hope for. The developing friendship and competitive nature of Erwin and Winston is believable and endearing. I really enjoyed the comedic timing of Cheryl Hines in her supporting role as Aunt Tammy. Also, I have to mention the hysterical drama offered by high school test subjects Casey (Kat Conner Sterling) and Alan (Varak Baronian) as they experience the reactions to their popularity quotient during the social experiment. Great performances by many other high school student cast members really make this movie combust. Popular Theory is directed by Ali Scher, who is also a co-writer with Joe Swanson. I really enjoyed the relationships and the dialogue they created. The movie has a fun soundtrack from music supervisor Ben Sokoler and music editor Jason Soudah which adds to the cause and effect of this film.

This film's message is that false friends can't replace true friends and, as in science, "particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but are better understood through their interconnections." You don't need to be popular at school or in life to thrive or be liked by everybody, but people do need somebody to connect with. Erwin and Winston don't win the science fair, but they do discover the real friendship formula.

I give Popular Theory 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie released in theaters February 9, 2024 so go learn why popularity isn't all that matters.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Popular Theory is an adorable film that showcases true friendship. The camera work, charming script, clever cinematography and great actors make this film a delightful experience.

The story begins by introducing Erwin (Sophia Reid-Gantzert), a 12-year-old genius who's in 11th grade. She meets Winston (Lincoln Lambert), another 12 year-old-genius who's initially her biggest competition. But, they agree to be colleagues and work on an experiment for the school science fair. They face many obstacles but discover what friendship truly means.

I really love this film. So many aspects make it unique and really stand out. I love the camera movement; from scene to scene the film is packed with clever transitions that are so appealing to the eye. Cinematographer Damian Horan knew what he was doing - the colors are especially interesting. Erwin is constantly surrounded by the color blue; while Winston is represented by the color orange. When the two first meet the juxtaposition of the colors stands out, as their friendship grows they both start wearing each other's colors. The color palette is not only aesthetically pleasing, but is also very symbolic and adds to the storytelling. I've seen similar applications like in the film 500 Days Of Summer, but I love the way Damian Horan shot this film, almost making the colors a standalone character. The art direction by Gavin Mosier and set design decoration by Mily Moreno is genius; kudos to the entire art department. Sophia Reid-Gantzert as Erwin and Lincoln Lambert as Winston make the cutest duo. They're such great actors individually, but also they work so well together. One of my favorite characters is Cheryl Hines as Aunt Tammy; she's a hairdresser and utilizes her craft as an art form. I also like how every character serves a different purpose in the film. I love the storyline; not only is it adorable but this film offers a great representation of what kids go through in high school and I think people can relate to many aspects of this film.

This film deals with many different themes like bullying, friendship, doing what is best for others, and other themes. The film's message is that popularity isn't everything and anyone can find true friendship.

I give Popular Theory 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Popular Theory is available now in theaters.

By Zo� C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


ORION AND THE DARK
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ORION AND THE DARK
NETFLIX Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5 - 12
Description - A boy with an active imagination faces his fears on an unforgettable journey through the night with his new friend: a giant, smiling creature named Dark.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The film Orion and the Dark is a family friendly film that includes various types of emotions such as sad, happy, afraid and more. I love the animation and the contrast between the light and dark.

The storyline follows a boy named Orion (Jacob Temblay). Orion is terrified of the dark until one night an entity named Dark comes to his house to show him there is no reason to be afraid. He takes Orion with him to show him his job. In the process, Dark takes Orion to see the other night entities. Everytime he goes to see all the night entities' jobs he ends up messing them up. Orion explains to the other night entities how Light is amazing and Dark is bad. Dark overhears him and thinks nobody likes him. All the other night entities quit because they want to see how the Light is. Dark has to do his job all by himself now. Dark doesn't want to do his job alone so he goes into the light and disappears. Orion gets all the night entities back together to save Dark. To do that dream goes in his imagination and finds Dark there. In the end Orion likes the dark and appreciates them now because without dark it was too light.

My favorite part of this film is when Dark takes Orion to see his job. I think it is so cool to see Dark and Orion fly through the sky. I also enjoy watching the night entities doing their job. I especially love Dream's job. It is amazing how Dream goes into people's imagination and makes their dreams out of something that has happened in their life. It is very surprising when the audience realizes that Orion and the Dark is a story that future Orion is telling his daughter, explaining how he gets over his fear of the dark.

The film's message is to face your fears because if you don't you will miss out on life. At the end, Orion faces his fear! He just does it and he feels better. He feels like he can accomplish and do anything now.

I give Orion And The Dark 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. This film starts streaming on Netflix February 2, 2024.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


NASHVILLE WISH, A
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NASHVILLE WISH, A
VISION FILMS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - A country singer falls for the girl of his dreams and has to choose between love and his dreams of stardom in Nashville.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Nashville Wish is the romantic country film of a lifetime. Combining drama, country music, and romance, this film is engaging and enjoyable. It has strong acting, pleasant music and, for the most part, an excellent storyline.

This film follows Tucker (Maxfield Camp) as he navigates the ups and downs of his musical career and his relationship throughout his senior year of high school and the following summer. Tucker has a dream relationship with his longtime crush, the cheer captain, Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard). However, this relationship begins to create more obstacles and challenges for Tucker as he is forced to decide whether the greatest love of his life is worth sacrificing the possibility of his lifelong dream, to record music in Nashville. With Lisa's parents disapproving of Tucker, their long term plan for her in the family business, and her reputation in town, she also has to make a difficult decision.

The characters in A Nashville Wish are portrayed meaningfully and emotionally. Tucker and Lisa are both very dynamic characters who have deep, personal backstories. For example, we discover that some of Tucker's motives are due to a family loss a few years back. This demonstrates even further the depth of each character and how much effort went into creating these characters and bringing them to life onscreen. The acting fully mirrors the talent of the writers. Maxfield Camp and Kaileigh Bullard have amazing chemistry as a couple throughout the highs and lows of their onscreen relationship. They are so genuine; it truly seems like they're in love. Maxfield wonderfully accentuates Tucker's changes through a variety of conflicts, emotions, friendships and so much more. To match the spectacular characters and acting, the music is fantastic and fits the movie in every way. Despite not being a big country music fan myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the songs that are incorporated at every twist and turn of the plot. They help express the characters' emotions and thoughts, and also help with the setting and mood of the film. The tone of the music always matches the events occurring in the film. While the songs help move the story along, the story is a bit lacking at times. Although the plot and the concept is unique and very engaging, some of the subplots failed to engage me and ended up slowing down the movement of the story. For example, parts of the film focus on Tucker's best friend, Chewy (Fletcher Olsen). Although the character and the acting are perfect for the film, some of the storyline involving him is really unnecessary and slow.

The theme of A Nashville Wish is that when difficult decisions come around in life, it's important to think long and hard about your priorities so you don't make irrational decisions. Tucker's big decision is the main focal point of the film and this message is emphasized through his character and his decisions.

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch A Nashville Wish in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

With a foot-tapping score, A Nashville Wish is a classic family watch that delivers exactly what it promises -- a high school romance with some country music.

In a small town in West Virginia, high school senior Tucker (Maxfield Camp) has big dreams to travel to Nashville and cement his career as a country music star with his best friend Chewie (Fletcher Olson) after graduation. He falls in love with the beautiful cheerleader Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard), and she's smitten by him as well after a serendipitous event at a concert where their favorite artist Cassie Jo Campbell (Alexis Gomez) is playing. There's just one problem -- Lisa comes from a wealthy family who owns a prominent business in town, and her parents won't let her go to Nashville with Tucker. Lisa defies her parents, and all is set. But in a conveniently-timed scene, right before they leave for Nashville, Chewie tells her that she will ruin Tucker's chances of becoming a star and convinces her to dump Tucker and stay home. Now Tucker is heartbroken in Nashville, and Lisa is heartbroken in West Virginia. Viewers will see how the two get back together -- if at all -- and the role Cassie Jo Campbell plays in Tucker's life.

There's no diving deep into emotions, psyche, or similar here; A Nashville Wish is among the leagues of Hallmark-esque films releasing each year, which is perfectly fine. It works as good, clean family entertainment. The acting is passable, with Camp and Olson, ironically enough, having the best chemistry with one another. A couple scenes are interestingly staged, including a musical interlude where Tucker and Lisa are in the middle of a field alone...except for a truck full of singers behind them. The cinematography is good, though, with lots of medium shots and closeups that squeeze as much emotion out of the script as possible. The music is the most striking element, as it should be in a country music-centric film. Admittedly, I'm not a country connoisseur, but the songs are amazing, both in terms of the vocals and production quality. Lee Greenwood is the most recognizable voice as Grandpa Woods. T. Graham Brown sings a country and gospel song, and the film leads Maxfield Camp, Kaileigh Bullard, and Alexis Gomez do as well.

A Nashville Wish promotes following your passion and finding a balance between personal and professional aspirations by focusing on the professional first, and then letting the personal fall into place.

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. You can watch A Nashville Wish in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

A Nashville Wish is a moving musical with an inspiring success story. It is set in the countryside and told by interesting, dynamic characters and impressive musical performances. I love the encouraging environment the movie creates with characters who provide support for one another.

The movie follows a recent high school graduate, Tucker (Maxfield Camp), who is an aspiring country singer. Tucker and his best friend Chewy (Fletcher Olson) are ready to hit the road to Nashville to become stars when Tucker's dream girl, Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard), a popular cheerleader from a prestigious but strict family, suddenly and unexpectedly takes an interest in him. Unfortunately, Lisa's parents are disapproving of Tucker's plan, forcing Tucker to make a decision that could change the course of his future.

One thing I love about A Nashville Wish is that Tucker has a great support system - the encouragement from his family and friends is clear from the beginning. Chewy and Tucker have shared the same dream of moving to Nashville to become famous since they were in fourth grade. It is nice that Tucker has a friend who shares his interests. And for many artists, gaining family approval presents a challenge, but this is not an obstacle Tucker faces, as his parents and grandfather (Lee Greenwood) truly believe in his star potential and urge him to pursue his passions. I admire Tucker's perseverance as well. At times, his life is hard, such as when he is struggling for money in Nashville. But music is Tucker's dream for a very long time - he never considers giving up on it, and eventually he finds success and stardom! The singing in the movie is also worthy of praise - all the main actors have vocal training and a background in music, adding to the film's authenticity. A Nashville Wish takes you on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, from the move to Nashville and arguments with Chewy to Tucker's date with Lisa at a Cassie Jo Campbell (Alexis Gomez) concert. Tucker's duet with Cassie makes the film wholesome and brings it full circle.

A Nashville Wish reminds us that determination is vital to succeed. It's what drives you to go for your biggest goals, even when the world deals you a tricky hand. It's also a reminder to keep your eyes on the prize and trust that the small things will work themselves out - the universe has a plan for you. So stay focused and remember to thank the people who believe in you!

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. A Nashville Wish releases in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $ 9
Media: FeatureFilm


TASTE OF THINGS, THE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TASTE OF THINGS, THE
IFC FLMS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - The relationship between Eugenie, an esteemed cook, and Dodin, the gourmet she has been working for over the last 20 years. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world's most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie's reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A leisurely, luminous portrait of love, culture and cuisine, The Taste of Things is a feast for the eyes. It's all about partnership through a shared passion, conveying feelings through fewer words and baked Alaska. With such deep themes and beautiful visuals, no wonder it's France's selection for this year's Academy Awards.

The Taste of Things is a tough movie to summarize. It's about so much more than its plot... but here goes. The film takes place entirely in a 19th century French manor, mostly in its warmly-lit, wood-accented kitchen and centers on the bonds between the characters. Dodin Bouffant (Benoit Magimel), an esteemed gourmet partly based on real-life gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin, oversees the meal, helps with the cooking and visits with his group of friends. His partner in the kitchen, Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), beams as she whips up dozens of French culinary marvels. They have two assistants, who seem more like daughters, the teen Violette (Galatea Bellugi) and her niece Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire). This scene unfolds each day for years. The film follows Dodin's and Eugenie's romance as it evolves from unspoken partnership to marriage to separation by illness, as well as how the younger members of the kitchen grow.The Taste of Things is a film about indulgence -- in food, in love, in family. It also shows viewers that truly powerful relationships are those that transcend labels and that are bound by shared love for one another and, in this case, a shared passion. It shows viewers that food is inextricably tied to love, life and joy. Be forewarned that the film does contain scenes with partial nudity and smoking.

I give The Taste of Things 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Taste of Things releases on February 9, 2024 in theaters and is an Oscar nominee.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


MEAN GIRLS
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MEAN GIRLS
PARAMOUNT PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Cady Heron is a hit with the Plastics, an A-list girl clique at her new school. But everything changes when she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Get in losers! The iconic Mean Girls is back in its new modern day adaptation for a new generation of fans to enjoy. As a brilliant combination of the 2004 movie and the Broadway musical, this film is stunning, entertaining and the perfect movie to start the New Year!

Mean Girls borrows the same storyline as the original film, with plenty of plot twists. The film is presented as a story narrated by Janice (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damien (Jaquel Spivey). It follows Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), a new student at North Shore High School who moved to the US from Kenya. She makes friends with Janice and Damien, and eventually crosses paths with Regina George (Rene� Rapp), Gretchen Weiners (Bebe Wood) and Karen Shetty (Avantika), also known as "The Plastics." When Cady is sent to spy on The Plastics by Janice and Damien, it sets off a series of chain reactions including drama, betrayal, and getting hit by a bus.

Fans of both the original Mean Girls movie and the Mean Girls Broadway musical will not be disappointed. My favorite song was "Someone Gets Hurt" sung by Renee Rapp. From her gorgeous vocals and the beautiful scenery, this performance is so mesmerizing that it could have been a stand-alone music video. I love that they include other songs from the Broadway show like "Apex Predator" and "Revenge Party" as well as new ones. I also love the special cameo appearances and newly discovered facts about the original characters; both of which really add depth to the film. I love how the movie includes things like social media and other references to things unavailable in 2004. I watched this film in theaters and there were so many places where I just wanted to pause or rewind it because they were so mind blowing. This is a movie I would love to see again!

The film's message is to be yourself and not get caught up with the wrong people. Cady was so fed up of "living the life" with The Plastics that she betrays her true friends and loses the smart and sweet girl she originally was. Parents should be aware that there is foul language as well as suggestive topics and special effects that are so realistic they will make you gasp.

I give Mean Girls 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18, plus adults. Be sure to watch after the credits for a very short post credits scene. Be sure to check out Mean Girls in theaters now!

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I like the musical remake film Mean Girls because of its interesting plot and enjoyable characters. It's very relatable for teenagers and hilariously entertaining to watch.

The film follows Cady who moves to a new town where a notorious popular clique runs the local high school. She becomes close with them to spy on them for her other friends and get closer to a guy. In the process, her acting isn't as fake anymore.

The main characters are Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), Janis 'Imi'ike (Auli'i Cravalho), Regina George (Rene� Rapp), Damian Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey), Karen Shetty (Avantika), Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney). The casting is perfect in the film. The actors are not only wonderful, but they portray the characters in the original movie. They all have different and unique personalities. Mean Girls has many musical numbers. The characters randomly break out into song, which is a bit cheesy at some points, but it makes it stand apart from the original movie. The camerawork is magnificent because it captures the whole setting of the kids at school and their personal interactions. The lighting really stand out during the musical numbers where it enhances the contrast between the singer and the rest of the cast. When Regina is singing, she is illuminated while the rest of the cast is standing still, unlit and frozen. I applaud the producer, Tina Fey, who also plays Ms. Norbury. Speaking of a previous cast member, there is a special cameo appearance of the original Cady Heron by Lindsay Lohan. I recommend watching the original Mean Girls (2004) because there are many iconic scenes that are included in this film. The inclusion of those scenes makes me appreciate the movie even more. My favorite part of the film is its humor. There is a lot of it and it made me laugh a lot while watching it. Important to mention is that the humor is all based on things that today's teens can relate to. The term "text slang" is used as well as other new and trending concepts and words.

The film's message is to be yourself and don't pretend to be someone you're not. Cady wants to become like Regina, but she learns that her true self is what makes her special. This film has foul language and the use of many inappropriate terms.

I give Mean Girls 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Mean Girls releases in theaters January 12, 202

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Do you have what it takes to be on top of the social food chain? Join the clique, the Plastics, and get ready to watch the reimagined, iconic 2004 Mean Girls movie this winter with friends and family!

Cady (Angourie Rice) is the new kid at North Shore High, where she befriends Janice (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey). Regina George (Renee Rapp), Karen (Avantika Vandanapu) and Gretchen (Bebe Wood) take Cady in as one of the Plastics. When Cady falls for Regina's ex she finds herself in her cross hairs and, while being part of the Plastics, Cady betrays her true friends Janice and Damian. Through the film, Cady realizes that she was wrong and that should just be herself and make it up to Janice and Damian. She learns that everyone is special and should be recognized for that.

What I enjoy the most about this film are the stunning show tunes. I love the catchy rhythm and voices of the actors! My favorite song is "Someone Gets Hurt." I also really like the costume designs. The costumes have a modern Y2K style, which Gen Z teens can relate to. Another thing worth mentioning is the cast. Each actor plays their character perfectly and has their own spin on the classic characters. For example, Bebe Wood allows the audience to feel the emotions of Gretchen on a deeper level. When Regina bosses her around, Gretchen gets fed up with having to deal with Regina to the point that she doesn't let Regina sit with them at lunch when she breaks one of the Plastics rules. Kudos to the casting director. I really love how this film reimagines the original Mean Girls. I love how they keep the iconic lines and songs in this film. Lastly I love the set designs, especially those during the musical numbers that are bright and on theme.

The film's message is to focus on yourself and be nice because everyone in this world just wants to coexist. This film teaches us that we are special in our own way and we should not try to be someone we are not. We should not have to change who we are just to fit in. Please be advised that there is harsh language and other age-inappropriate content in this film.

I give Mean Girls 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Mean Girls is available in theaters now.

By Valerie R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: Web Series


MASTERS OF  THE AIR
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MASTERS OF THE AIR
APPLE TV Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - An Apple Original Series from Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman - the producers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific. During World War II, airmen risk their lives with the 100th Bomb Group, a brotherhood forged by courage, loss, and triumph. Masters of the Air is based on the 2007 book Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller and follows the actions of the 100th Bomb Group, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber unit in the Eighth Air Force in eastern England during World War II. The series serves as a companion to Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010). It is the first series to be produced by Apple Studios, in cooperation with Playtone, and Amblin Television.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Masters of the Air is exactly the kind of masterpiece viewers expect from the dynamic duo of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Perfect for fans of war dramas, Masters of the Air has the rich plotline and sky-high production quality to not only entertain, but even educate its viewers; it's a shame that the pacing lets the magnificent series down slightly.

Adapted from Donald L. Miller's book of the same name, Masters of the Air presents in nine episodes the story of eleven men who, in a plane called the "Flying Fortress," battle flocks of German fighters. These men were a part of the 100th Bombardment Group of the US Army Air Forces in World War II, nicknamed the "Bloody Hundredth," due to the heavy losses they suffered over the course of their campaigns. They embark on a scintillating journey as they work to destroy Hitler's Third Reich. It's truly a momentous story.

Both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, the films that Masters of Air is linked with (it provides the Air Force narrative to supplement their stories of terrestrial and naval warfare) are well-known for their incredible visuals and CGI. Masters of Air is no different; the midair combat is almost dizzyingly realistic, the sets are stunningly crafted, and every character's look is intricately pieced together. The series warrants a theater experience, which viewers unfortunately won't get. These amazing VFX are thanks to the high production budget of the film -- between $200 million and $250 million. The series also has some incredible talent behind it, though; Austin Butler, who plays Major Gale Cleven, and Barry Keoghan, who plays Lt. Curtis Biddick, headline Masters of the Air, and their brotherhood and bond is palpable. Their storyline becomes especially strong after an unfortunate turn of events when they're taken as prisoners of war. The only knock on Masters of the Air is its pacing; every episode feels lengthy, but the first two episodes are especially rough. It was tough to sit and wait for the plot to get moving, though there are combat scenes after the first half-hour of episode 1. I suppose it took me some time to get used to Cary Joji Fukunaga's style of direction, though he ensures that every part of each scene he films has not a hair out of place, which is commendable.

Masters of the Air is a lesson in patriotism, courage and resilience. The men of the show stick together even when death is at their doorstep -- not just for their own pride or sanity, but more importantly, for their country.

I give Masters of the Air 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first two episodes of this miniseries will release on Apple TV+ on January 26, 2024. New episodes will be released the following Fridays through March 15.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: TV


ARGYLLE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ARGYLLE
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - A reclusive author who writes espionage novels about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate realizes the plot of the new book she's writing starts to mirror real-world events, in real time.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Argylle is a very exciting action film with a lot of plot twists. The high quality sound effects and background music are spectacular and terrific acting.

The storyline follows a writer Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is seen at a reading for her new book, Argylle 4. At the reading we meet the key characters including Lagrange (Dua Lipa) and Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell) who is revealed to be a spy. After it is revealed that Elly has been writing about a super secret spy mission, things begin to get heated.

Kudos to director Matthew Vaughn for delivering such an exciting film. The special effects really stand out, especially the sound effects which make it seem almost as if I was there. I also enjoyed the background music throughout the film. The music by Lorne Balfe creates suspenseful moments that kept me engaged with the movie. The best scene has to be when Aiden has to fight against the undercover spies on the train. We get to see how Elly interacts with the whole situation and, of course, there is amazing fight choreography. We notice how Argylle (Henry Cavill) is always alongside Elly and Aiden, but not in a way you might expect. Over the course of the film Elly is searching for the ending of her fifth book, but the plot completely changes throughout the movie.

The film's message is to always remember who you are and this film delivers this message in a suspenseful way. It's important to note that this film contains a lot of fighting, blood and crazy action scenes.

I give Argylle 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters February 2, 2024.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Argylle has some funny moments and some good action scenes, but for the majority of the movie the dialogue falls flat. The VFX look like they were rushed, and the star studded cast is not used to their full potential which is disappointing.

The story follows an introverted novelist who writes about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate--and she discovers that the plot of her latest work is mirroring actual events in real time.

Argylle is a movie that starts off bland in the beginning then teases you with some enjoyable moments that don't pay off. The main character Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) was not that interesting, and I became more interested in Argylle (Henry Cavil). However, the biggest disappointment of the film is its dialogue. In the theater I found myself wanting to leave after hearing one-liners over and over that for me just didn't land well. And the poor visual effects kept stopping my immersion into the film. Toward the climax it becomes distracting and the final action scene looks fake, mainly in the background. I do have to give this film credit for having a lot of twists and turns--until halfway through the film I was engaged. All of the shocking twists kept me wanting more. Argylle might secretly be a work of genius simply based on its ending credits scene, which I won't spoil.

The theme of Argylle is remembering who you are, and it is best represented by Elly Conway as she embarks on a journey through her old books to find parts of herself. I quite liked this aspect of the film because it really gives us a chance to know more about Elly Conway.

Overall, I give Argylle 2 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. This film releases in theaters February 2, 2024. By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I like the detailed spy movie Argylle because it has an involving plot that put me on the edge of my seat while watching it. It starts off slowly, but then the storyline kicks up. This movie is well-produced, with smooth camerawork and appealing characters, but does have a smattering of unnecessary bits and pieces.

Argylle follows an author named Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is famous for her secret agent novels. Just as she is about to release her next book, Elly notices that the characters and scenes in her books are coming to life. If her stories are coming to life, Elly is in grave danger.

The main characters are Elly Conway, Aiden (Sam Rockwell), Argylle (Henry Cavill), Wyatt (John Cena), Ruth (Catherine O'Hara), Director Ritter (Bryan Cranston) and Alfie (Samuel L. Jackson). All of the actors are quite wonderful at portraying their characters. For instance, Elly Conway's character dramatically shifts intentions and the actor, Bryce Dallas Howard, is quick to change from evil to the hero. Aiden is a hilarious character, especially when he fights the bad guys. He's nonchalant and chill about taking out 20 people. Additionally, the camerawork is great because it shows many different perspectives, which make the scenes more exciting and suspenseful, but also helps the audience feel like they're in the film. This is prominent during the fight scenes - and note that there are a lot of them. Some are unnecessary, especially during the long two and a half hour movie. The first half is slow and doesn't have a lot of action, but the second half is action-packed. The storyline is well-written, filled with many surprises that shocked me. It is based on the real author, Elly Conway, whose identity is unknown. There are clues that hint about Elly's true identity, and you'll just have to wait to find out. I particularly enjoyed the dancing scenes with Elly and Aiden. They are hilarious because they're ballroom dancing and shooting people at the same time. This is just one example of the many quirky things of the movie.

The film's message is to trust yourself and don't ignore your gut feelings. Elly keeps seeing Argylle in the mirror instead of her reflection, which has a deeper meaning. Elly wants to shut "him" out, but Argylle is trying to warn her of the dangers ahead. In actuality, Argylle is her voice because she created him. It's a good reminder to always listen to yourself. Be aware that there is foul language, violence, gun usage, and murder in the film.

I give Argylle 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Argylle releases in theaters February 2, 2024.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 12-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


UNDER THE INFLUENCER
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
UNDER THE INFLUENCER
VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - A 25-yr-old influencer struggles to cling on to her status but is running out of tricks. Will she have to separate her online persona from her authentic self?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Under The Influencer is one of the most optimistic films I've ever seen! You get a taste of what it's like behind the scenes in a social media influencer's life, including all the struggles and accomplishments, too. Not everything turns out as planned and life gets in the way, which makes for a great film for those on a journey to finding themself.

We follow Tori (Taylor Scorse) as her YouTube account following begins slowly plummeting but that's all she eats, sleeps, and breathes. During this time she is not only desperately trying to find ways to fix it, but is also trying to heal from a messy Internet break up . Throughout this time Tori is coming to terms with the fact that her personal life and her social media life might need to cross paths, but she is not comfortable with making that happen. She enjoys learning new things about herself but struggles to grasp the fact that her content is taking over her life, and not in a good way. Tori hits complete rock bottom, and that's when she starts to make a breakthrough. She lets go of some people and has new experiences with others that affect her for the better. As for locations, from the sunsets to the mansions the settings were great. The acting was pretty spot on as well and some of the characters make their mark when it comes to learning the life lessons. Overall this film is great and watching it unravel will definitely prompt emotions in audiences.

Under The Influencer is relatable and shows realistic challenges for not just influencers but all people, too. When you see what the true meaning behind this film is it really touches the heart. Tori starts to see how social media is crushing the real her behind the mask she puts on. And yet she is not completely alone, as her best friend and employee Sara (Chandler Young) helps her through her journey of showing who she really is. Tori never really stays low when she gets knocked down; she just keeps learning and doing what's best for her.

The film's message is to not be afraid to show the world the real you. You never know what is going to happen or change in your life. So learn from the mistakes you make to improve yourself.

I give Under the Influencer 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Under The Influencer is available now on VOD!

By SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Under The Influencer is an amazing tale of social media and self-identity. The topics are very relatable and modern to teens as well as others.

The plot of this film centers around a girl named Tori who has a large following on her YouTube channel. No matter what she does though, the channel gets a large amount of hateful comments on it for no reason. As the film progresses she begins to resent the life she's built and the tension continues as the plot develops.

One of the most exquisite parts of this film is simply how relatable it is today. The presence of social media and the hate that spirals from it is not uncommon. This sort of tension is what a lot of people face now with the influence of the internet growing as rapidly as it has. It helps the film's relatability to teens and other influencers. Another spectacular part of the film that is very interesting to see is the way they portray YouTube channels as a type of business or enterprise. Rather than just one person filming videos in their basement they showed a team of people working to plan everything out perfectly and keep the image of the influencer intact. It's one of the reasons the fans of the fictional channel in the film thought everything was so fake. It just didn't seem genuine. Going off of that another really important part of the movie is the way the fans react when the content is fake vs genuine. People like to see the real and unfiltered side of people on YouTube and other social media platforms rather than just the scripted highlights of others' lives. It makes the whole thing a lot more relatable.

The film's message is to just be yourself and never change or destroy yourself for others, because that's never going to get anyone anywhere.

I give Under The Influencer 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film is available now on DVD and VOD.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 15

Under the Influencer is an uplifting and satisfying film with a very important message. Romance is blended with working and friendship elements, which gives it a little bit of everything. The acting and writing deliver an important message, despite some slower patches in the film.

Under the Influencer follows Tori (Taylor Joree Scorse) as she starts off as a very successful influencer. Her views and popularity start to decline significantly, and she can't figure out why. She realizes that, not only has she lost the approval and support of fans, but she's also lost herself. She put all of her effort and focus into her social media persona. When she can no longer rely on fame and positivity, she takes off on a journey to determine who she really is when she's not in front of a camera. She has to figure out what she, not the girl on the camera, enjoys.

The highlight of this film is how the message is incorporated in a way that not only emphasizes it, but also keeps it entertaining and related to the storyline and the protagonist. Taylor Joree Scorse places such a strong emphasis on this message through her acting. She lets her emotions shine through; demonstrating how being lost and not knowing who she is affects her. She uses her facial expressions and body language to accentuate the theme, plus, her dialogue allows the message to shine through. There are lines and moments when her inner struggle is so clear -- she doesn't know who to be, and the things she says or doesn't say really show the impact this has on her. The ending wraps up the film so nicely, tying the new romantic element into the message, and leaving viewers with a positive feeling. While this part of the film is very enjoyable, there are definitely some weaker aspects. There are a few stretches that seem unnecessarily long and get a bit boring. There are some very important scenes and moments within these stretches, but there's a bit too much extraneous stuff that takes away from the stronger, more important parts of the film.

The film's message is that finding yourself is the most important thing in life. It's easy to get lost in pretending to be someone else, especially as a social media influencer who's constantly trying to please other people. This theme makes the film uplifting, encouraging people to find parts of themselves they either didn't know they had or wanted to hide before.

I give Under the Influencer 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. You can watch Under the Influencer on VOD beginning December 12, 2023.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


WONKA
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WONKA
WARNER BROS. PICTURES Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wonka is a magical, vibrant and fresh retelling of the classic story that the world needs right now. With a spectacular cast, eye-catching visuals, and an absorbing story, Wonka is the perfect holiday treat.

Wonka takes place prior to the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, so we follow a young Willy Wonka (Timoth�e Chalamet), who travels to London to make his name known and share his chocolate with the world. Opposed by Mrs. Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and Bleacher (Tom Davis), Willy is prevented from selling his candy, but with the help of his companion Noodle (Calah Lane), he just may have a chance.

Wonka's cast is nothing short of incredible. Every single performance adds to the overall feeling of the world with some wacky and eccentric characters. For me, Timoth�e Chalamet delivers the most surprising and fun performance. He really embodies Willy Wonka's older self, but adds younger nuances, with his innocence, enthusiasm and wit. Hugh Grant, who has a much smaller, but unforgettable role as an Oompa-Loompa, delivers by far the funniest lines in the film. He is pretty much playing Hugh Grant, but in the best way possible, and he adds so much flair to the movie which makes it so much more enjoyable. Wonka's visuals are one of the best parts of the film, and are very unique and dream-like. A distinct visual style is seen in the sky, the outfits, and setting. Director Paul King and Production Designer Nathan Crowley create a very fantastical and whimsical 1930s London. Wonka is incredibly atmospheric in its set design and feels pulled right out of the pages of a storybook. Wonka feels necessary and worthwhile because it truly embraces the elements that viewers were drawn to in the first place - a magical escape into a world of vibrant imagination. On the other hand, Wonka is surprising because while it precedes a well-known story, it introduces elements that surpass the classic. The story feels original and refreshing.

Wonka beautifully captures the importance of aspirations and dreams. Willy begins the movie without anything, but is pushed by his undying imagination. Wonka encourages viewers to embrace creativity and passion, forgetting all limitations and striving for a bright future.

I give Wonka 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch Wonka December 15, 2023 in theaters.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Wonka is an amazing movie! This film, directed by Paul King, is a feel-good musical that took me on a very emotional ride. Viewers learn the origin story of the eccentric chocolatier and magician.

Willy (Timoth�e Chalamet) dreams of opening a chocolate shop in the Gallery Gourmet but quickly runs out of money. He meets Bleacher (Tom Davis), who introduces Willy to Mrs. Scrubbitt (Olivia Colman), who tricks him into a contract and forces him to work in her laundry room to pay off his debt. There he meets other indentured workers - Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell), Lottie Bell (Rakhee Thakrar) and Larry Chucklesworth (Rich Fulcher). Noodle (Calah Lane) becomes Willy's closest ally and joins him to defeat the corrupt Chocolate Cartel and reach his goal of opening a chocolate shop.

I never expected to feel so many emotions in a Willy Wonka movie. There is the familiar magicalness of Willy who whips up the most amazing chocolate and candy confections, like Hoverchocs that can make you fly. Yet the performances, musical score and art direction really pulled me into the story. The song, "Pure Imagination," appears in different versions throughout the film and adds to the emotional experience. I really like the character development and the sibling-like friendship between Willy and Noodle. When Willy agrees to secretly leave town to free his friends, Timoth�e Chalamet's singing of "Sorry Noodle" had me crying my eyes out. The evilness of the Chocolate Cartel led by Mr. Slugworth (Paterson Joseph) had me so angry as they repeatedly try to defeat Willy and they eventually trap Willy and Noodle. My favorite part is when the Oompa Loompa Lofty (Hugh Grant) saves Willy and Noodle from being drowned in chocolate.

The message of Wonka is to let your imagination run wild and keep striving for your dreams even when the odds are stacked against you. In the end, the struggle will be worth it, especially if you have friends to share your success with.

I give Wonka 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film will be released in theaters on December 15, 2023.

By Kira O, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Let's step into a world of pure imagination! The new Wonka film is nothing short of magical! The entire cast shines and my whole family loved this movie. This movie is extra colorful, extra magical, extra sweet and deliciously decadent.

Based on the extraordinary character at the center of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl's iconic children's book, Wonka tells the wondrous story of how the world's greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today. It is a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Starring Timoth�e Chalamet in the title role, this irresistibly vivid and inventive big screen spectacle introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, chock-full of ideas and determined to change the world -- one delectable bite at a time, proving that the best things in life begin with a dream, and, if you're lucky enough to meet Willy Wonka, anything is possible.

As a fan of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I loved Wonka. I love all the songs and dance numbers. It is a scrumdiddlyumptions musical. I was laughing out loud in the theater and the entire cast had me in awe. The movie has an intoxicating mix of magic and music, mayhem and emotion, all told with fabulous heart and humor. Timothee Chalamet is extraordinary as Willy Wonka. He is brilliant as he dances, sings, makes chocolate, and follows his dreams. He had me smiling from ear to ear the entire movie. Keegan Michale Key as the chief of police is hilarious. He is just so funny throughout the entire movie as he is always trying to catch Wonka and eating way too many sweets. Calah Lane, as Noodle, is perfect for this role. She is brilliant in the movie and her story in the movie is beautiful. I loved watching her and Timothee Chalamet on screen together. The chemistry between the two of them is just perfect. I love all the vibrant colors throughout the movie. The costumes are amazing and fit the movie perfectly. I predict that audiences will be singing and dancing and loving every minute of this movie just like I was and leaving the theater with a sweet tooth for more Wonka!

The film's message is about following your dreams. The character Wonka is full of ideas and has a wonderful imagination. He is determined to change the world, open a store and he does not let anything get in his way or stop him. He follows his dreams and believes in himself.

I give Wonka 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can watch Wonka in theaters beginning December 15, 2023.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


BOY AND THE HERON, THE
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BOY AND THE HERON, THE
GKIDS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - From Academy Award winning and internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, The Boy And The Heron follows the incredible journey of young Mahito. After he experiences the tragic loss of his mother, Mahito settles into a new town that is anything but ordinary. After several strange encounters with a grey heron, Mahito goes on a search for his mother that leads him to a magical world unknown.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Boy And The Heron, directed by Hayao Miyazaki is a very unique Japanese film. The amazing high quality sound effects and suspenseful background music are spectacular. However, this film does get confusing very quickly.

This semi-autobiographical animated movie follows the story of young Mahito Maki (Soma Santoki), who tragically loses his mother in a fire and moves to the country with his dad Shoichi (Takuya Kimura) and his step-mom Natsuko (Yoshino Kimura). Action soon rises after Mahito interacts with a talking gray heron (Masaki Suda) who is revealed to be a shapeshifting avian guide. The gray heron alludes to Mahito's mother still being alive and Mahito goes on a journey to find her.

The sound effects in The Boy And The Heron enhance the film tremendously. Even though this film is animated the sound effects make it seem almost as if it is a live action film. From realistic deep footsteps to the realistic sounds of crashing ocean waves; sound director K�ji Kasamatsu absolutely brought this movie to life. I also enjoyed the background music throughout this film. The music by Joe Hisaishi creates suspenseful and surprising moments that kept me engaged throughout my viewing experience. My favorite scene in the movie is when Mahito and a fisherwomen named Kiriko (K� Shibasaki) watch the Warwara (creatures whole embody both life and death) be released into the normal world. The music is beautiful and creates a sense of awe and wonder. Who could forget the gorgeous animation by the world renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki? Every scene in this movie is animated to perfection. For example, when Mahito first enters this new world he lands on an island surrounded by a vast deep blue ocean and stormy clouds. The ocean waves crash very fluidly and the clouds are different shades of purple and move very realistically. The detail and fluidity of the animation does not go unnoticed. As much as I like this film, I did find it somewhat confusing. Over the course of two hours we primarily follow the main character searching for his mother, but this plot is somewhat drowned out by many other side plots taking place, which makes things murky and difficult to track.

The film's message is to not let grief hold you back and to find different healthy ways to move on. However, this film delivers this message in a very confusing way. It's important to note that this movie contains mentions of self-harm, minor cursing, gore and small jump scares that could be frightening to younger audiences.

I give The Boy And The Heron 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters December 8, 2023. Make sure you give it a watch!

By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

The film The Boy and The Heron is unlike any film I've ever seen before. I was in awe with the beautiful scenery and the music that goes from simple piano notes to complex orchestrations.

The storyline follows a family living during a time of war in Tokyo. Tragically, the main character, Mahito Maki's (Soma Santoki) mother dies in a fire at the hospital where she works. Years later, Mahito and his father move from Tokyo to start a new life with his new step-mother. Outside this new home, Mahito is drawn to a gray heron that seems to be taunting him and leading him to a tower on the property. His step-mother, Natsuko, (Yoshino Kimura) disappears and Mahito follows the heron into the tower in search of her. Entering the tower brings him into another world where he meets his mother from another time and together they race to find Natsuko while battling many obstacles such as pelicans, parakeets and the heron's sneaky and selfish ways.

I love the character, Kiriko (Ko Shibasaki), both in her younger and older self. She is helpful and fierce and stays by Mahito's side. The ship she lives on in the strange tower world is so beautiful and the idea of her taking care of the warawara before they float into our world and are born as human beings shows how nurturing she is. I really enjoy how this movie makes me think and make connections between parallel worlds. I knew that Lady Himi was going to be his mom and when I realized that he was meeting her during the year she vanished into the tower when she was younger, my mind was blown as the puzzle came together. I was also shocked when Natsuko said that Mahito's mom is her sister! There are many twists and turns in this film that kept me on the edge of my seat. The artistry in the animation, by Hayao Miyazaki, is really neat to watch and made me want to research and learn more about the film and about anime.

The film's message is to find acceptance after the loss of a loved one and to find peace during a time of turmoil. Mahito struggles with personal grief while his country is also struggling during a period of war.

I give The Boy and The Heron 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters December 8, 2023.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 8-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


CANDY CANE LANE
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CANDY CANE LANE
AMAZON PRIME Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Eddie Murphy stars in this holiday comedy adventure about a man on a mission to win his neighborhood's annual Christmas home decoration contest. After Chris (Eddie Murphy) inadvertently makes a deal with a mischievous elf named Pepper (Jillian Bell) to better his chances of winning, she casts a magic spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life and wreaks havoc on the whole town. At the risk of ruining the holidays for his family, Chris, his wife Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross), and their three children must race against the clock to break Pepper's spell, battle deviously magical characters and save Christmas for everyone.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Eddie Murphy nails it in this holiday film that is definitely destined to become an evergreen Christmas go to. I really didn't know too much about it before watching it and was surprised at the inclusion of the CGI generated miniature people, which adds another layer of zaniness to it.

The story follows the annual holiday seasonal competition in El Segundo, CA, known as Candy Cane Lane where neighbors fiercely compete for best decorated house. This year's competition is amped up with the promise of a $100K prize wife (Tracee Ellis Ross), daughter Joy (), son Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixon and younger daughter Holly (Madison Thomas) aren't quite on board until they learn the severity of the situation.

Madison Thomas definitely steals the show as her dad's sidekick, following him into the popup mysterious and somewhat ominous Christmas shop called Kringle's hidden away under a freeway overpass. Another show stopper is Pepper (Jillian Bell), the shop owner whose ethics are questionable from the get go. Then, there are the magical little village people - Pip (Nick Offerman), Cordelia (Robin Thede), Gary (Christ Redd) and a group of seemingly innocent carolers who burst into song with the slightest provocation. The twisted tale of how Pepper has connived capturing these little people unravels as the plot develops. My favorite part is the 12 Days of Christmas "tree" that Chris falls for and brings home only to learn that each of the elements becomes real - and real enough to be real problems. All of a sudden seven swans are swimming in the Carver's pool. Geese are laying eggs while air borne and dropping them on innocent bystanders, like Carver's wife! Pipers are piping and dancing in the street; drummers are drumming and making pests of themselves. All this madcap craziness comes to a head as Chris hustles to complete his tasks of gathering the golden rings before the magic hour, only to discover minutes before that the number of rings he thought he needed to procure, was vastly underestimated, since the song repeats them with each round and it's 40, not 5 that he needs to collect or become one of the little village people that Pepper bosses around. However the family rallies, Santa shows up, and ultimately, the good guys win and the bad guys are punished.

The film's message really comes down to the importance of family. As Chris tells his family, "everything I do I do for you." And they come to understand that is really true.

I give Candy Cane Lane 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, or those who are kids at heart. It is available now on Prime Video so, check it out. I promise you'll get some good laughs out of it.

Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Candy Cane Lane is the perfect Christmas Movie to watch with your family and friends in 2023. Candy Cane Lane is filled with adventures, magic and laughter. It definitely brings the Christmas spirits to life!

The story follows a family from El Segundo, California who live on a street called Candy Cane Lane, where every year there is a contest for the best house lit up for Christmas. During this year's contest the competition between all the neighbors is way more intense than in previous years. To win this competition families must have the best and brightest lighting, the biggest Santas, the most colorful elves, the loudest music and the most incredible angels on their front yard. The dad, Chris Carver (Eddie Murphy) finds out about this huge contest on TV and goes crazy. He tries everything to win first place, even making a deal with a lunatic elf, Pepper (Jillian Bell), without even realizing that what he is doing would create a big problem for his family and the whole town.

The film is hilarious, has a twist on classic songs, and a family we can all relate to. Mom, Carol Carver (Tracee Ellis Ross), is a super hard-working woman who is trying to get a promotion at work during the busiest time of the year. The oldest daughter, Joy Carver (Genneya Walton), has a dream to go to college and be part of the track team. The middle son, Nick Carver (Thaddeus J. Mixxon), is not a big math student, but has a passion for music and the youngest daughter, Holly Carver (Madison Thomas), loves Christmas as much as her dad. One of my favorite scenes is when Chris and Holly Carver are looking for Christmas decorations and find a store in the middle of nowhere. The special effects in that store are super fun and magical. Another great scene is when the contest starts at Candy Cane Lane and Santa shows up in his sleigh, points his finger at every house on the street, and viewers erupt with excitement as each house brings a Christmas theme to life. You must watch and see the seasonal magic happening at Carver's house. I know you will just love it as much as I did.

The film's message is that family comes first and they will always be there for you. It doesn't matter what challenges you are facing, when you have your family by your side, you will always figure out a way to find solutions.

I give Candy Cane Lane 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Prime Video beginning December 1, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Candy Cane Lane, directed by Reginald Hudlin. The witty humor and stunning set design make this one of my new favorite holiday movies.

This adventurous comedy follows Christmas lover Chris Carver (Eddie Murphy) and his family as they compete in the annual neighborhood house decorating Christmas contest. However this year the stakes are higher; the winner of the contest will receive a $100,000 cash prize. After unintentionally making a deal with mischievous elf Pepper (Jillian Bell), she casts a spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life. To prevent disaster before Christmas, Chris and his family must break Pepper's spell before it's too late.

The humor in Candy Cane Lane is one of its biggest highlights. Eddie Murphy's comedic timing and quick-witted performance make for some laugh-out-loud moments. He also brings charm, joy, and relatability to his character through his distinctive comedic style, making him one of my personal favorite characters. Chris Carver is the type of dad every kid would love to spend time with during the holidays. The set design in this film is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Set designer Adam Mull absolutely captures the wonder of the Christmas Spirit in every set design. My favorite scene is when Chris and his daughter Holly (Madison Thomas) first meet Pepper at her Christmas Shop. As soon as they both walk through the door the scene explodes with Christmas magic; each Christmas tree is decorated with beautiful unique ornaments and the environment made me feel like I was right there in the scene. Adam Mull transformed this movie into an onscreen winter wonderland; in every scene you can see how much time and effort went into this film's creation.

The film's message is that, through thick and thin, families should stick together and use teamwork when tackling a problem. This message is important for families to hear year round but especially during the holidays; a time where many families come together and spend quality time with one another.

I give Candy Cane Lane 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Candy Cane Lane premieres on Amazon Prime Video December 1, 2023. Make sure to check it out!

By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-18
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


CANTERVILLE GHOST, THE
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CANTERVILLE GHOST, THE
SHOUT! STUDIOS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Join us on an Oscar Wilde adventure where... being scary is not what it used to be! As the nineteenth gives way to the twentieth century and scientific invention brings forth new ways of traversing and seeing the world, a modern American family moves into their recently purchased, country home, Canterville Chase, in England, only to find it is haunted by a ghost. Sir Simon de Canterville has been haunting the grounds of Canterville Chase successfully for over three hundred years, but he meets his match when he tries to scare out the new arrivals.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I found The Canterville Ghost incredibly appealing due to the lessons ingrained in the movie. I enjoyed that the daughter ultimately has a change of heart and falls in love with a member of the royal family in England who she initially wanted nothing to do with.

The Canterville Ghost is about an innovative American family of five moving to England into a manor which has been deemed haunted by all those who previously lived there. The oldest and only daughter of the three kids encounters the Canterville ghost first, but since she does not want to be there she hatches a plan to have the ghost (who she ultimately befriends) scare her family so they move back home. Since the family's dad is a scientist, he is not afraid of the ghost; neither is his wife; and the kids enjoy playing with the ghost and pranking him as well. Ultimately, the daughter helps the ghost achieve everlasting rest and falls in love with one of the royal members of England.

Overall, this is a great film. I enjoyed the part where the boys are not afraid of the ghost and, in an effort to have fun, play with the ghost's head and use it as a football when trying to care for him. I enjoyed how Virginia was willing to go into the locked garden to help the ghost leave the mortal world and rest with his love (who has died). I love that the film has an interesting storyline -- something to always look forward to and delightful plot twists. For example, the maid whose family had lived in Canterville castle for generations believed the ghost had murdered his wife. It is later found out he was sabotaged by a member of the royal family generations ago who wanted to take over his castle. It is funny when the maid says she is not to speak of the story about the ghost's wife and then immediately spills the story as if they had begged to hear it. I believe a child would enjoy this film because it is humorous, the animation and graphics are well put together, and it is a story about ghosts, friendship, forgiveness, and love.

The movie flows very well. The film definitely draws the viewer in and one cannot help but be empathetic of the characters feelings and emotions. In the first part, there is a scene showing the person who lived there before Virginia's family who is scared of the ghost and is driven insane. In the next scene when the family moves in, the maid explains how everyone who has previously lived there was driven insane and continuously yells. This makes the viewer want to continue watching the movie to see how the ghost will torment the American family that has moved in. The screenplay and characters develop very well. The dad starts off, and remains, a logical scientist who does not fear ghosts. The boys are playful and fun and continue to blame each other for their shenanigans. Virginia goes from being homesick to falling in love with Henry, a member of the royal family.

The visual quality is amazing. The scenes are colorful, contrasting and interesting. It is very interesting to see one of the last scenes where Virginia is in the locked garden where it is incredibly bright and colorful (replicating where Sir Simon's wife had died) and, at the same time, the camera gives a Henry's point of view on the other side of the gate. Some of the concepts are suited for older kids - tweens and teens - such as the idea that people lived using candles before electricity. Virginia's dad hosts a banquet celebrating his invention of light bulbs which may catch younger viewers by surprise. When he shows the banquet attendees that he will be bringing light bulbs to England it makes the viewer question how long we have had such technological advancements. U.S. kids are not familiar with why the higher classes in England are referred to as Sir or Duke. This film definitely invites the viewer to question and problem solve. It makes the viewer question how royal families in England live, specifically when Henry goes to see Virginia before the banquet and says he will protect her from English high society. When Sir Simon explains the story of his love's death, the viewer learns to not believe everything they hear. The two boys are goofy --the ghost ends up displaying kind qualities by saving Henry whom he initially wanted to harm. The parents are loving and kind, and Virginia and Henry meet by chance, become good friends and eventually fall in love.

The film's messages are to never be fearful, to not judge others by what you hear about them, and to learn to give opportunities to new things as one may end up loving it.

I give The Canterville 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It releases in theaters October 20, 2023 and digitally October 5 on all major channels.

By Steve A., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The new animated film, The Canterville Ghost by British director Robert Chandler honors the author's geniality with a beautiful film that is not just entertaining and fun to watch but also captivates with the characters adventures and dilemmas.

The humorous short story The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde has been adapted into different forms like films, radio, TV episodes and even an Opera since its release in 1887. True to the original book, the story follows a modern American family that moves to their recently purchased country home, Canterville Chase in England. The Otis family consists of Dad (David Harewood), Mom (Meera Syal), two twin wild sons (Jakey Schiff, Bennett Miller) and Virginia (Emily Carey), a rebellious and determined teenager. Soon they discover the old mansion is inhabited by a ghost who has been wandering its corridors and rooms for over 300 years - Sir Simon de Canterville. The subsequent encounters are unexpected as the past repeats itself.

Although the animation doesn't offer innovations, this film is absolutely charming, and is very well done. The concept of haunted houses is typically a crowd pleaser. Most audiences can't deny the pleasure they feel by being scared, especially when they are in a safe place like a movie theater. The Canterville Ghost captures this thrill in its production design and the narrative storytelling offered by co-directors Kim Burden and Robert Chandler. The vibrant colors and color palette really caught my attention. I love how the animation is filled with details in costume design. One of the aspects I most enjoyed is the camera work, from the oscillating shots that make you feel like a POV of Sir Simon, to some camera placements that feel like somebody's watching from a hidden place. The characters are funny and I love Virginia's journey from not wanting to be in the house to her intrepid relationship with Sir Simon. Stephen Fry delivers the perfect emotion voicing Sir Simon de Canterville. He not only has the perfect gravitas for the most iconic character in the film, he has previously interpreted Oscar Wilde. Emily Carey portrays her role as defiant, brave and determined - with Virginia in total command.

The film's message is to value people of all persuasion and to make the most of your lifetime. The Canterville Ghost has the perfect tone for young audiences and will delight grownups with its amusing narration.

I give The Canterville Ghost 5 out of five stars and recommended it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. The film opens in theaters nationwide on October 20, 2023 - right on time for Halloween celebrations.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I really like the animated film, The Canterville Ghost. It definitely got me into the Halloween spirit. It's an enjoyable watch, sprinkled with mysteries and comedy, plus a compelling plot and likable characters.

The Otis family just moved into a new home that's notorious for housing the ghost Sir Simon de Canterville. He has successfully haunted every resident up until now. Will the family be the exception?

The main characters are Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry), Virginia Otis (Emily Carey), the Duke of Cheshire (Freddie Highmore), Lucretia Otis (Meera Syal), Hiram Otis (David Harewood, Louis Otis (Jake Schiff), Kent Otis (Bennett Miller) and Mrs. Umney (Imelda Staunton). The characters are all so loving and respectable toward each other, which makes the story very enjoyable. Their genuine interactions show that the family cares so much for each other. Each of the characters has unique personality traits. I especially like Virginia, who is both strong-willed and kind hearted. Her anger reflects her passion, and I admire her ambitious mindset. I also appreciate that the writers adapted those personality traits into a female teen, which gives inspiration for young girls. Virginia is forced to move away from all her friends, so she needs time adjusting to her new life. It's a lot to handle, but it adds to her character development. Also, the twin brothers, Louis and Kent, are two peas in a pod, but get into a lot of trouble. It's amusing to watch their shenanigans, like when they toss around a ghost's head as if it's a football. This film is based on the novella by Oscar Wilde. The movie brings this beloved story to life and makes it entertaining for the younger generation. I applaud the producers and directors, Robert Chandler and Kim Burdon, for adapting the story into an enjoyable watch. The animation is incredible and extremely realistic. The quality is great, as well. When the house is on fire, the flames look real. Speaking of the house, this setting is magical and reminds me of a haunted house at night. My favorite part of the film is when all of the members of the Royal Society start flying around in a circle on the ceiling. The Canterville Ghost makes them fly, which made me laugh because all of them are completely afraid. The guest's costumes are elegant and royal, from puffy dresses to fancy suits.

The message of this film is that love is all you need. Sir Simon de Canterville states, "Love is the greatest adventure of them all." It's also about letting go, forgiveness, friendship, and family.

I give The Canterville Ghost 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. The Canterville Ghost releases in theaters October 20, 2023 and digitally October 5, 2023

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Canterville Ghost is a hilarious and entertaining movie. It has lots of twists and turns and definitely showcases some very funny plot points throughout the film.

The storyline follows an American family who moves into a manor called Canterville Chase in England. However it turns out their manor has been haunted for 300 years and there's a ghost named Sir Simon de Canterville attempting to scare them out. None of the family is scared by the ghost though and he must continue to find ways to try to freak them out. The ghost also tries to break his curse of being stuck haunting the manor for all eternity and this family might just be his way out.

The Canterville Ghost is animated and the style is absolutely incredible. It has the perfect amount of realism mixed with an animation style that creates the perfect combination that makes the film even more interesting. The plot and characters' relations are absolutely hilarious and stunning. All the characters have such diverse and interesting connections to each other such as Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry) who is the ghost haunting the manor. The diversity resembles the diversity in our own society and communities. It's almost like they are real people. The characters themselves are also very relatable. Such as this one character named Virginia Otis (Emily Carey) who does not want to move and does everything she can to try to get out of it. Despite ghost movies being a relatively common concept, this one takes a whole new turn that definitely spices up the story. Such as the one at the very beginning where you find that the family is a lot harder to scare than the ghost thought. It is also not such a scary movie which makes it more suitable for younger kids. The beginning is a little hard to understand as it takes off without a lot of context. It does make more sense once the story develops.

The message of this film is that you have to stop and smell the roses and not be too impulsive or you might get really hurt.

I give The Canterville Ghost 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. It will be released in theaters on October 20, 2023 and digitally October 5 on all major channele.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


TEDDY'S CHRISTMAS
KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TEDDY'S CHRISTMAS
1 SOUL PRODUCTION Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - While visiting a Christmas market in her Norwegian town, eight-year-old Mariann discovers an unbelievable secret: on the top shelf of the lottery booth, a teddy bear has just moved his head and started sniffing. Feeling an instant connection with the living toy, Mariann can't think of any better wish for Christmas and tries to win him. However, Teddy (voiced by Zachary Levi) has different plans, dreaming of a wealthy owner who can teach him everything the world has to offer. But when Teddy is taken away to a woodshed, his new best friend, the hedgehog Bolla, helps him realize what really counts in life.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like the film Teddy's Christmas because Teddy's character (Zachary Levi) makes me laugh and so does the hedgehog, Bolla (Lene Kongsvik Johansen), when they are stuck together in the basement learning to cuddle. I like how the film looks like it is from an older era. As soon as you see the snow and decor you know it is Christmas. It is very seasonal.

The storyline is about a teddy bear that can talk. Marianne goes to town for an almond and ends up playing a carnival game where she sees Teddy move so she attempts to win, and does! Teddy moves the wheel because he wants to go with someone who has more money than her. She goes home to get another coin to play again but before she comes back another man wins Teddy. She goes and tries to find the man but fails.

I love Teddy's character and I also enjoyed Marianne (Marte Klerck-Nilssen) and her brother's close knit relationship. You can tell they love each other. The storyline has unexpected events and is adventurous. Marianne definitely has a big imagination and I wish I had a big imagination like hers. My favorite part is when Teddy and the hedgehog are in the basement and then the hedgehog starts doing a song and dance. It is a great musical moment. She does multiple dances and waves her arms around senselessly while attempting to get Teddy to cuddle. I love how when she dances it sounds like she makes up her own language. I also enjoy when her grandpa comes to the room in a Santa Claus costume and pretends as though he is the real Santa Claus. He delivers presents and afterwards Marianne approaches him and asks if it was him. He says, "yes, but don't tell anyone." She must be extremely smart to have figured that out! The film was made in Norway and it is interesting to see all their different traditions and meals. At first, I was distracted because the words they speak don't match the movement of the actors' mouths, but then I realized that is because the actors are speaking in a different language. I got used to it pretty quickly.

The film's message is to appreciate who you are and what you have. Teddy wants to be someone he isn't and go places he can't and he isn't happy until he realizes he is in a great place already. He is meant to be cuddled and now he has a whole family to cuddle with.

I give Teddy's Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. This film releases in theaters December 1, 2023.

By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I like the film Teddy's Christmas. The acting is absolutely superb; the plot is adorable and filled with Christmas spirit. I loved all the different settings and was particularly interested in the smooth character development of Teddy.

The story follows 8-year-old Mariann (Marte Klerck).While visiting a Christmas market in her Norwegian town; she spots a talking teddy bear at a carnival game booth. However, when someone else wins it, she takes off on a mission to find it but ends up causing a lot of damage instead.

This is a really good film that I really enjoyed. The acting of Marte Klerk as Mariann is amazing --he really portrays the character well, which greatly influences the entirety of the film. She has such a noticeable spark throughout the film. I also really enjoy the character, Mom (Mariann Hole) in the film. She really brings this character to life, particularly in the scene where Teddy learns what a hug is. That is so adorable because his first hug was with a hedgehog who thinks she is un-huggable. The ending is filled with so much kindness and Christmas spirit it inspired me in many ways. My favorite aspect of the whole film is Teddy (John F. Brungot.) John's voice acting is a perfect match for this role, which is a somewhat sarcastic yet loving character. At the beginning of the film all Teddy wants is a rich owner who can take him places. In fact he originally doesn't like Marianne simply because she is a child and doesn't have money, but at the end you can see how much he has matured since the beginning. It touched my heart to see how far he came in his emotional journey. Additionally the settings such as the snowy Christmas market are very realistic and beautiful, especially the Christmas Market game stand. It is super colorful and an adorable little tent.

The firm's message is to always be honest and know that sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the greater good. Parents should be aware that Marianne's behavior is rather suggestive at times.

I give Teddy's Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. You can watch it in theaters beginning December 1, 2023.

By Sofia T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Teddy's Christmas, directed by Andrea Eckerbom, is a heartwarming animated gem celebrating the magic of Christmas. The enchanting story of eight-year-old Mariann and her connection with the sentient Teddy is a delightful blend of nostalgia and whimsy. Zachary Levi's captivating voice work and seamless animation make this Norwegian tale a festive treat for all ages.

In Teddy's Christmas, the enchanting story unfolds in a Norwegian town during the festive season. Eight-year-old Mariann (Marte Klerck-Nilssen) discovers a magical secret at a Christmas market - a teddy bear named Teddy comes to life! Determined to make him her own, Mariann faces unexpected challenges as Teddy dreams of a worldly adventure. Alongside his newfound friend, Bolla (Lene Kongsvik Johansen), the hedgehog, the film takes us on a heartwarming journey exploring the true meaning of friendship and the joy of the holiday season.

This heartwarming tale is a must-see for anyone who embraces the holiday spirit and shares the season's joy with loved ones. Bringing Teddy's Christmas to life is a talented cast led by Marte Klerck-Nilssen as the charming eight-year-old Mariann. The chemistry between Klerck-Nilssen and the animated character Teddy, voiced by the charismatic Zachary Levi, is a standout feature that adds a layer of enchantment to the film. The seamless animation compliments the festive and immersive sets of the Norwegian town's Christmas market. The costuming attention to detail and overall visual design create a cozy and magical atmosphere. One of my favorite aspects is Zachary Levi's voice work for Teddy, infusing the character with personality and charm. The whimsical music further enhances the enchanting experience, making it a memorable and heartwarming holiday film.

At its heart, Teddy's Christmas carries a poignant message about the true meaning of friendship, love, and the joy of giving during the holiday season. The film successfully emphasizes the importance of cherishing moments with loved ones and valuing the simple joys of life.

I give Teddy's Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. You can catch the magic of Teddy's Christmas releases in theaters starting on December 1, 2023.

by Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-8
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: Web Series


WISH (2023)
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WISH (2023)
WALT DISNEY ANIMATED STUDIOS Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Walt Disney Animation Studios' Wish is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force--a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe--the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico--to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wish is a beautiful film that contains a very valuable life lesson; not only is the movie inspiring, it is also hilarious. It's perfect to watch with friends and family!

The story follows a girl named Asha (Ariana DeBose) who longs to fulfill her wish. Then something strange happens and Asha's wishing star comes to life, Asha calls the wishing star, "Star"! King Magnifico (Chris Pine), a powerful sorcerer who looks like he is doing everything for the kingdom, but in reality, he is doing everything for himself. One of my favorite characters is Valentino (Alan Tudyk), the hilarious goat that cheers up everyone even when they're in a tough situation.

The animation is great although it is not as quite as good as many other animated films we see today. On the other hand, the special effects are incredible and match the story perfectly. My favorite scene is when Asha is talking to her friends about the wishing star coming to her and helping her with her wish. Asha puts Star and Valentino in the chicken pen and tells them to be quiet. When Asha shows Star to everyone, we are treated to chicken dance that Valentino is leading. What makes this scene so funny is the contrast between the serious topic and one that isn't serious at all! Another stunning scene takes place on top of King Magnifico's castle. Asha is in pain from the power King Magnifico has struck her and everyone in the kingdom, with. The citizens of Rosas are looking up at Asha. They too have been struck by King Magnifico's bad magic, but they still sing with their hearts content to fight for their kingdom. You need to watch and see what happens next, I believe that you will love it just as much as I did!

The film's film is to always keep dreaming about your wishes -- you will find a way to get there and someday they will come true. What matters most is that the wish is really your heart's desire. Another message is to keep fighting for your dream because, if it is really what you want, it will come true.

I give Wish 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters on November 22, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 12

Wish stands as the latest jewel in the Disney crown, a captivating addition to the beloved collection that has defined the magic of animated storytelling for generations. The film, reminiscent of prime Disney, artfully weaves a tale filled with enchanting moments, exceptional acting, and an irresistible vibrancy that pays homage to the studio's golden era.

At the heart of Wish lies the compelling story of Asha, portrayed with grace and charm by Ariana DeBose. A soon-to-be 18-year-old, Asha embarks on a journey discovering the transformative power of wishing upon a star. Her wish, far from ordinary, becomes a courageous plea to thwart the plans of the imposing King Magnifico, portrayed with regal charisma by Chris Pine. The narrative unfolds with a perfect blend of whimsy and depth, capturing the hearts of audiences from start to finish.

The palpable enthusiasm surrounding the film is undeniable. Wish not only delivers a cinematic experience that is compelling and entertaining, but manages to empower its audience at the same time. The film's brevity sets a new benchmark for Disney, departing from sprawling narratives and standing as a testament to the creative prowess of the filmmakers. In terms of technical brilliance, Wish excels in its innovative approach. The combination of 3D characters and 2D backgrounds creates an animated masterpiece, showcasing the film's commitment to pushing artistic boundaries. Chris Pine's portrayal of King Magnifico is outstanding, portraying the character as a misunderstood villain, shedding light on Pine's underrated acting skills. Ariana DeBose, with her remarkable voice and expressive acting, brings depth and authenticity to her character, adding to the film's overall allure. The pacing of the film is a noteworthy element, keeping the audience engaged throughout the film.

The film's message, "some dreams come true," resonates perfectly with the quintessential Disney spirit. It encapsulates the magic of dreams and the belief that, no matter the circumstances, some wishes do come true.

I give Wish 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on November 22, 2023.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Set in the beautiful kingdom of Rosas, I found Wish to be an enchanting and fascinating movie with amazing singing and really funny characters!

Asha (Ariana DeBose) lives in Rosas where a sorcerer king named Magnifico (Chris Pine), and a queen named Amaya (Angelique Cabral) rule. Asha also has a cute sidekick, a goat named Valentino (Alan Tudyk). Magnifico has a special power which is the ability to grant wishes. Young Asha makes a wish so powerful that it's answered by a cosmic force, a ball of boundless energy called Star. With Star's help, Asha is able to save her kingdom from the evil king and prove that magic things can happen.

Rosas is a beautifully animated town where people always have fun. However, the setting sometimes looks rather flat, uncharacteristic of the lively Disney animation I am l so used to. Sometimes the secondary characters look like they are all wearing the same clothes and they don't have much impact to the story. Ariana DeBose's singing is so spectacular; you can hear the power and the emotion in her voice. Chris Pine is a great voice actor for Magnifico because you can hear the difference between when Magnifico is the good king vs when he plays the "Evil sorcerer." Alan Tudyk is really funny and is perfect for the role of Valentino! The little Star is super cute and lively, making me laugh out loud! Wish was especially made for the 100th anniversary of Disney Studios and meets KIDSFIRST! criteria. I loved the interesting story and the many great songs. Disney is also launching a new Wish Together campaign with their decade's long partnership with Make-a-Wish Foundation with the release of this movie.

The film reminds us to never give up following our passion because when we do, we lose the light inside ourselves and we forget what we are living for. When somebody pushes us down, that is the time that we have to do our best to stand up to them because we have the light and power within each of us. We also are reminded that we are always stronger when we stand together. When Asha is defeated by Magnifico, she starts singing a powerful song which moves everyone to sing with her and they defeat Magnifico together.

give Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters now.

By Avani M., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Wish, the latest animated film from Disney, is somewhat mediocre. From an animation standpoint, this movie is visually stunning with adorable animals and striking settings. However, it is a bit lacking in its story.

Asha (Ariana DeBose) is a peppy, optimistic, and caring 17-year-old girl living in the magical kingdom of Rosas. She is interviewing for an apprenticeship with the powerful, magical, and beloved King Magnifico (Chris Pine), who grants people wishes, when she notices he isn't what he seems to be. When she relies on a star to grant the wish that King Magnifico wouldn't, the star comes down from the sky and helps her cause a revolution to save her kingdom from King Magnifico.

This movie celebrates 100 years of Disney and the idea of wishing upon a star. It has many references to the studio's previous movies--some subtle, some obvious-- and they are sometimes funny. A couple references I caught are to Peter Pan, Cinderella and Mary Poppins. And though it was nice to see an original 'princess-y' movie from Disney after some of the remakes from other studios, Wish relies a bit too much on Disney's older movies instead of creating something entirely new and unique. The animation is beautiful in this movie. It is distinctive compared to other recently-animated Disney movies and has a kind of hand-drawn feel while staying pretty true to Disney's signature style for 3D animation. The animals are so, so cute. They look like 3D versions of animal characters straight out of Bambi, and I really enjoyed it whenever they came on screen. I also love the star in this movie. I think it was the right choice to make it silent because it adds to the magic and mysteriousness of the star. Its design and face are simple and that's what makes it so endearing. In spite of my appreciation for the animation, the story and songs are unmemorable. The story is pretty simple and understandable for children, and I can see why kids might like it, though it likely may not be as entertaining for teens and adults or be as popular on social media platforms as some movie soundtrack songs were recently. The cast and characters are very diverse. Asha is the second Disney female lead character of African descent, with the first being Tiana. Asha's friend group, based on the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is very diverse, with people from many different origins and ethnicities, including Dahlia, who has a walking disability and is voiced by Jennifer Kumiyama, who is in a wheelchair herself. Be sure to stay all the way to the end for a sweet post-credit scene.

The messages of Wish are that your dreams are special and make up a big part of you, and that you should work hard to make your dreams come true.

I give Wish 3 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Wish is in theaters as of November 22, 2023.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm


LEO
KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LEO
NETFLIX Click Title to View High Bandwidth Online Video Trailer This title has online video!
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Actor and comedian Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania, The Wedding Singer) delivers signature laughs in this coming-of-age animated musical comedy about the last year of elementary school - as seen through the eyes of a class pet. Jaded 74-year-old lizard Leo (Sandler) has been stuck in the same Florida classroom for decades with his terrarium-mate turtle (Bill Burr). When he learns he only has one year left to live, he plans to escape to experience life on the outside but instead gets caught up in the problems of his anxious students -- including an impossibly mean substitute teacher. It ends up being the strangest but most rewarding bucket list ever.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the movie Leo --it is funny and relatable. Leo is a coming-of-age story, seen through the eyes of a school's class pet, as much as it is a coming-to-terms with aging story.

The story features Leonardo (Adam Sandler) and Squirtle (Bill Burr) who are quick witted, full of jokes and the best classroom pets ever. Leonardo, Leo for short, overhears a parent saying that lizards live up to 75; at age 74, Leo decides it is time to escape and live his life to the fullest. In comes strict "old school" substitute teacher Ms. Malkin (Cecily Strong) who wants to teach the 5th graders responsibility by taking turns to care for the classroom pets over the weekend. Each reluctant 5th grader who takes Leo home discovers his secret, along with wisdom about who they are and how they can better fit in the world. Every student returns Leo to the classroom and Squirtle is his biggest fan, boosting Leo's spirits and outlook on his caged life. When his secret is revealed, jealousy and distrust seeps in and Ms. Malkin, who feels the most threatened, takes Leo away.

Each 5th grader experiences positive change after their time with Leo and, in return, Leo experiences living like he never has before. The animation is colorful and realistic, from the background scenery to the small details like how a caterpillar is depicted. Each of the actors who play the 5th graders fits their character from their personality to their hair and body type. I especially liked Summer (Sunny Sandler) with her fast-talking, super sweet kindness, as well as the overly "great" and popular Jayda (Sadie Sandler). The little balls of energy that represent the kindergarteners are on point. And from the overprotected, super-safe, drone-watched home of Eli (Roey Smigel) to the over-the -top, mega-great mansion of Jayda's family, it is easy to get a sense of each character from their surroundings. The musical element of Leo propels the characters into songs that tell of their struggles, hopes and dreams while moving the story along in a beautiful way. I like the opening song that expresses how the last year of elementary school is about being on top and the melancholy song toward the end of the film each 5th grader sings about when they were younger.

While facing his mortality, Leo learns the important lesson that he has a lot of life experience to share. He is transformed from a grumpy old lizard with nothing to show for his 74 years to beloved friend and confidant who discovers he has many more years ahead of him. Another theme of Leo is in the significance of not underestimating yourself and the film delivers the message to live an authentic life by sharing your talents and being true.

I give Leo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Leo releases on Netflix November 21, 2023.

By Madeleine H.K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

KIDS FIRST! Juror Recommended Age: 5-12
Suggested Retail Price: $
Media: FeatureFilm



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