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What to know:
JACK AND THE TREEHOUSE is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 10-18
77 minutes
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Jack and the Treehouse is appealing, because the story focuses on a kid who stands for what he believes. The kid has perseverance and never gives up. Plus, the plot is interesting and holds your attention.

The storyline focuses on a young boy named Jack (Eamonn McElfresh) whose grandfather (Cotter Smith) whom he shares a special bond with, passes away. After the grandfather's death, his father (Dave Mansueto) continues his plan to cut down the woods, but Jack may put a stop to it.

I like that the story focuses on the power of a child. Many kids believe their voices aren't heard, but this film is the exact opposite. I didn't like that the plot starts to become less believable towards the end, when the father admits defeat and apologizes. The production values are quite good although some of the camera work is a bit shaky and, at times, the lighting is inadequate. The background music fits the tone of the various scenes. The rural setting is perfect. The young boy that plays Jack is excellent. He shows his determination, a bit of shyness and how he is just an average young boy. Cotter Smith plays Pap well, with a fun and happy demeanor. My favorite scene is when Gwen helps Jack with his wound. It's very sweet and heartwarming.

The message of the film is to never give up. Jack works hard enough and finally achieves his goal. Throughout the movie he dedicated, which sets a good example of reminding kids to follow their dreams and commit to achieving them. There is a small bit of profanity and drinking of alcohol. Also, there is some risky behavior such as when Jack stays at the top of the tree house, putting himself in danger.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This is a good family film that would stimulate some good conversation afterwards. Reviewed by Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

I enjoyed this movie very much! It replicates what might have happened in real life when a family is hit by hard times and they have something valuable to sell. This is true when the family has a vast amount of land that was once owned by Jack's grandfather. I also like that it is Jack, a 10-year-old who has the will stay true to his own beliefs, without getting swayed by grown-ups. This is like David vs. Goliath as his dad has the power to make the decision of selling the land but David, who is Jack, is willing to defend it. The other thing that strikes me is how greed affects people. Dan, the father, wants the money so badly, because it can transform their life, which is what a lot of people want. The idea of transforming their lives by selling heirlooms that are very valuable are something not uncommon.

The story follows Jack and his family when they are hit with hard times and Jack's father decides to sell their inherited land, but Jack his plans to stop it.

I like the fact that the story line is built around an idea that has been around for as long as people have been around - greediness. The camera work is quite good, making use of various camera angles. Once instance shows metaphorically how Jack has superiority over the adults. The set with Jack's grandfather's shed is very pertinent and realistic looking. The background music is a mix of lighthearted and heavyhearted music. The most standout music are the heavyhearted ones, where Jack's father keeps saying that he will win the battle. The music is a perfect compliment to show Jack's hopelessness. The acting is very believable, especially Dan, Jack's dad (Dave Mansueto), who drinks alcohol to cope with the stress and frustration of being out of work and unable to support his family. Dan later shows another side as he tries to persuade Jack to come down from his tree house and give up his hope of preserving the forest. Pap (Cotter Smith) is also well portrayed as he shows his frustration with his son who feels the only solution their money problems are to sell the land. Jack (Eamonn McElfresh) is well played as he displayes his frustration with his father and the love of his grandfather. The key influencers are the director and the visual designer. My hats off to them both as this is well directed and the visual components are all outstanding. My favorite part of the film is when Jack's father finally decides to apologize to Jack and decides to not sell the woods but to preserve it for Jack's sons and daughters to enjoy. This scene displays the idea that no matter how strong the opposing forces are, if you work hard enough, you will be able to defeat it and accomplish your goal.

The message of the film is that stay true to yourself and if you keep on trying for what you wanted to achieve, you will achieve that goal.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Tom W., KIDS FIRST!

A 10 year-old tries to stop his Dad from selling the family land.
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