KIDS FIRST! has endorsed 1066 total FeatureFilm titles

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This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
NAMMA ARANYA PRADESHA
NAMMA ARANYA PRADESHA - PUJA GOYAL
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - This story is set in 2015, when a group of children join a Summer Theatre Workshop. Shocked by learning about man-made disasters and the impact of our actions on the environment; the children want to do more than just stage a play on the environment. They decide to start a Seed Club and create a forest in the middle of the city. With bare minimum resources available; they start a business selling lemonade to fund their work. In due course, they encounter various challenges which they need to overcome. They decide to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to join their Seed Club and give a speech for them in his radio show so more children can join them. Growing up can be challenging; finding real friends who can support your dreams and become part of the adventure can be even harder. Will the children overcome their difficulties and start a forest in the middle of the city? Will the Prime Minister read their letters in his radio show and support them? "Namma Aranya Pradesha" (Our Forest World) is a story about children's relation with the environment. It is a documentation of courage, resilience and race against time to save Planet Earth, one plant at a time.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - With lucid cinematography, a crisp script, and a strong cast, Namma Aranya Pradesha is a sweet, heartfelt film that fills you with hope for our world and the younger generation. It has great production quality and a terrific message!

A group of children in a theater workshop in Bangalore decided to do more than just stage a play about the environment. They decide to start a Seed Club and create a forest in the middle of the city, encountering and overcoming various challenges. They wrote a letter to India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, asking him to join their Seed Club and give a speech about it on his radio show so more children could join them. The story of Namma Aranya Pradesha is the first thing that fascinated me about this film; it's a truly unique story and one I hope inspires kids across the world. Seeing kids so excited about conservation should be motivating and uplifting! The camerawork is dynamic and clear; it focuses on the emotions of each character and spotlights, especially in some special moments, their relationships with one another. Bonding between the children is quite special, and it's wonderfully captured, thanks to a mix of close- and medium-shots, all of which are well-lit and well-composed. The costumes suit the storyline; I love how the students and the teacher have matching camp t-shirts. The sets, which are in Bangalore, work well - the urban jungle is as dense as the kids' small garden is verdant. I initially found the room where the students practice for their workshop to be a bit sparse (it's a big room with, well, nothing in it), but thinking back to my own days in theater, the open space in the room fits the setting of a drama workshop. The music is wonderful; but the real magic is the actors' performances, as is generally the case with theater. In one memorable scene, the music does indeed drive the action; it's a popular Kannada song which plays when Chotu is first introduced and sets the scene for the crowded area where he works. In other parts, the music accentuates the dramatic events the students learn about. But the score isn't particularly memorable. Tushar Patil, as Mr. Bean, the theater camp teacher, shows his mastery on screen. His chemistry with the students and quick comic timing make him the teacher many kids will wish they could have; at the same time, he delivers powerful monologues about the environment with appropriate levels of seriousness and sincerity. It's hard for films with large ensemble casts to establish a clear persona for each member of the cast; this both is and isn't the case with Namma Aranya Pradesha. The group of students will charm and delight viewers; Dhatri Jagadeesh Shetty's portrayal of the serious yet lovable Dhatri is one of my favorites, as is the young flower-seller, Chotu, who gets roped into the camp by Mr. Bean. Chotu is the most enigmatic, and he blossoms (pun intended) throughout the film. These two kids have the most defined roles and certainly, at times, I felt like the other kids were unessential to the storyline - but, only sometimes. Thanks to Mr. Bean's inclusive nature as a teacher, it feels, for the most part, like a legitimate class, just one with two especially sparkling standouts. Director, writer and producer Puja Goyal dons three hats with dexterity and ease. Though the editing of the film feels odd at times (we hear people talking, but no one is actually speaking on screen), the overall package is wonderful, thanks to her leadership. Additionally, Kiren Jhadav's cinematography is a high point of the film; the lovely lighting and clear shots enhance the story further. My favorite part of the film is the honesty and authenticity with which the child actors play their roles -- from "Dhatri ma'am" (Dhatri Jagadeesh Shetty) to the charming Chotu (Raghunandan Prasad), they all managed to steal a bit of my heart.

The film's message is about doing our part to help save our environment; in an overpopulated country like India, that means being mindful of waste and advocating for appropriate national legislation.

I give Namma Aranya Pradesha 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With lucid cinematography, a crisp script, and a strong cast, Namma Aranya Pradesha is a sweet, heartfelt film that fills you with hope for our world and the younger generation. It has great production quality and a terrific message!

A group of children in a theater workshop in Bangalore decided to do more than just stage a play about the environment. They decide to start a Seed Club and create a forest in the middle of the city, encountering and overcoming various challenges. They wrote a letter to India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, asking him to join their Seed Club and give a speech about it on his radio show so more children could join them. The story of Namma Aranya Pradesha is the first thing that fascinated me about this film; it's a truly unique story and one I hope inspires kids across the world. Seeing kids so excited about conservation should be motivating and uplifting! The camerawork is dynamic and clear; it focuses on the emotions of each character and spotlights, especially in some special moments, their relationships with one another. Bonding between the children is quite special, and it's wonderfully captured, thanks to a mix of close- and medium-shots, all of which are well-lit and well-composed. The costumes suit the storyline; I love how the students and the teacher have matching camp t-shirts. The sets, which are in Bangalore, work well - the urban jungle is as dense as the kids' small garden is verdant. I initially found the room where the students practice for their workshop to be a bit sparse (it's a big room with, well, nothing in it), but thinking back to my own days in theater, the open space in the room fits the setting of a drama workshop. The music is wonderful; but the real magic is the actors' performances, as is generally the case with theater. In one memorable scene, the music does indeed drive the action; it's a popular Kannada song which plays when Chotu is first introduced and sets the scene for the crowded area where he works. In other parts, the music accentuates the dramatic events the students learn about. But the score isn't particularly memorable. Tushar Patil, as Mr. Bean, the theater camp teacher, shows his mastery on screen. His chemistry with the students and quick comic timing make him the teacher many kids will wish they could have; at the same time, he delivers powerful monologues about the environment with appropriate levels of seriousness and sincerity. It's hard for films with large ensemble casts to establish a clear persona for each member of the cast; this both is and isn't the case with Namma Aranya Pradesha. The group of students will charm and delight viewers; Dhatri Jagadeesh Shetty's portrayal of the serious yet lovable Dhatri is one of my favorites, as is the young flower-seller, Chotu, who gets roped into the camp by Mr. Bean. Chotu is the most enigmatic, and he blossoms (pun intended) throughout the film. These two kids have the most defined roles and certainly, at times, I felt like the other kids were unessential to the storyline - but, only sometimes. Thanks to Mr. Bean's inclusive nature as a teacher, it feels, for the most part, like a legitimate class, just one with two especially sparkling standouts. Director, writer and producer Puja Goyal dons three hats with dexterity and ease. Though the editing of the film feels odd at times (we hear people talking, but no one is actually speaking on screen), the overall package is wonderful, thanks to her leadership. Additionally, Kiren Jhadav's cinematography is a high point of the film; the lovely lighting and clear shots enhance the story further. My favorite part of the film is the honesty and authenticity with which the child actors play their roles -- from "Dhatri ma'am" (Dhatri Jagadeesh Shetty) to the charming Chotu (Raghunandan Prasad), they all managed to steal a bit of my heart.

The film's message is about doing our part to help save our environment; in an overpopulated country like India, that means being mindful of waste and advocating for appropriate national legislation.

I give Namma Aranya Pradesha 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
MY SECRET COUNTRY
MY SECRET COUNTRY - MARLO MCKENZIE
Series: FEATURE DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18
Description - MY SECRET COUNTRY is a sweet ode to the power of play, imagination and creativity that journeys into the imagination of three children. The charms of their creativity are revealed when we meet their imaginary friends, brought to life in 2D animation, who soon discover desserts around the world have gone missing. A nefarious creature named Kritik is suspected, and the pretend companions realize -- as in all good fairy tales --they must find three magical ingredients to save delectable desserts from imminent extinction. This allegorical tale and feature-length hybrid documentary, co-written with the young protagonists, will spark wonder in children and adults alike.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I like My Secret Country. This is the first documentary I have seen that takes a more professional look at children's imaginary friends, focusing not only on three children but also on a professor's view of children having imaginary friends. I was touched by how the interviews with the three children as they grew up were also included, which gives it more depth.

This documentary focuses on the trajectory of three young children and their relationship with their fantasy friends. It includes college professors and other adults giving their academic opinions on the subject. The same production team animated the children's ideas.

A lot of adults look at their child's fantasy friends with contempt because they may have forgotten about them as children and may wonder if the child is being too much of a misfit that's causing this. Instead of looking at imaginary friends from the perspective of an adult who can control the minds of children, this documentary is more respectful of the existence of imaginary friends. The most important part of this film is its focus on the animation, not the cinematography. I really like the representation of the desert in the anime. I really like Dora. I can actually understand all three main characters very well, but I really relate to Dori, because she has a calmness beyond her age; she thinks that people need to live independently and that hanging out with fantasy friends doesn't mean that there's something weird about her personality. She thinks that everyone can live a real life that includes fantasy, and, of course, hanging out with fantasy friends is indispensable. Her thoughts are very interesting and can be a source of reflection for many people. I am surprised by how much she knows about the world and how to communicate with others, including some friends that do not exist in the real world.

The film's message is that it's very important for kids to fantasize.

I give My Secret Country 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. I think this documentary may be more important for adults because it teaches them to respect their kids' fantasy life. By Xiangxi K., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like My Secret Country. This is the first documentary I have seen that takes a more professional look at children's imaginary friends, focusing not only on three children but also on a professor's view of children having imaginary friends. I was touched by how the interviews with the three children as they grew up were also included, which gives it more depth.

This documentary focuses on the trajectory of three young children and their relationship with their fantasy friends. It includes college professors and other adults giving their academic opinions on the subject. The same production team animated the children's ideas.

A lot of adults look at their child's fantasy friends with contempt because they may have forgotten about them as children and may wonder if the child is being too much of a misfit that's causing this. Instead of looking at imaginary friends from the perspective of an adult who can control the minds of children, this documentary is more respectful of the existence of imaginary friends. The most important part of this film is its focus on the animation, not the cinematography. I really like the representation of the desert in the anime. I really like Dora. I can actually understand all three main characters very well, but I really relate to Dori, because she has a calmness beyond her age; she thinks that people need to live independently and that hanging out with fantasy friends doesn't mean that there's something weird about her personality. She thinks that everyone can live a real life that includes fantasy, and, of course, hanging out with fantasy friends is indispensable. Her thoughts are very interesting and can be a source of reflection for many people. I am surprised by how much she knows about the world and how to communicate with others, including some friends that do not exist in the real world.

The film's message is that it's very important for kids to fantasize.

I give My Secret Country 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. I think this documentary may be more important for adults because it teaches them to respect their kids' fantasy life. By Xiangxi K., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
WHISPER OF A BUTTERFLY, THE
WHISPER OF A BUTTERFLY, THE - ALEN PAVSAR
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Jan, an 17-year-old mechatronics enthusiast and autistic teenager. He joins a class competing for a scholarship in an international company in the development of software for a modern ventilation system powered by artificial intelligence. There is also an attractive musician in the class and the only girl, Tara, who also wants to win. The class is led by the implacable teacher Frenk, who does not approve of the special needs of the students and walks around the edges with different methods of practical teaching. Despite all the obstacles from the teacher and classmates, Jan proves that he can do it.

The story of the film is based on real-life events and interesting fact is that main actor Ali Ogrizek is indeed autistic. From Slovenia, dialogue in Slovenian, English subtitles
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - With lucid and dynamic cinematography, a touching story and superb performances, The Whisper of a Butterfly is a sensitive and engaging testament to the fact that nothing can stop those who dream, and that compassion is key in our world.

The storyline follows Jan, a 17-year-old teen with autism who loves technology. He joins a class competing for a scholarship in an international company to develop an AI software for a ventilation company. He must navigate his interpersonal relationships, including with a beautiful but opportunistic classmate and his harsh teacher, Frank.

The story is beautiful and profound; there are many moments that tug at your heartstrings and others that make you smile. The storyline is written and executed with immense attention to detail about how students with autism react to situations and people. The cinematography is incredibly professional, with a mix of closeup and medium shots, and some artful wide shots thrown in. The use of color and light by cinematographer Igor Pecoler truly stands out, as does his attention to detail; Pecoler isn't afraid to let some shots hang for just a while longer to drive home a point. The costumes are used in an interesting way - Jan's jacket is often used as a prop - you can tell his emotional state by its placement and how he toys with it. In keeping with other elements of the film, the sets are impeccably put-together, with Frank's classroom being especially futuristic due to its use of AI and other technology. The music is dramatic and accentuates the goings-on in the film; when some classmates or Frank conspire against Jan,, the music grows dark and insidious. The music also serves as a tool to explain to the audience Jan's emotions when he can't put them into words.

Jan is played by Alja� Ali Ogrizek, who steals the show. His diction and dialogue delivery, powerful emoting, and skillful management of a difficult role make him truly shine. The ambitious Zarja is played by Ana Praznik, whose chemistry with Jan -- both positive and negative -- is undeniable. Mitja Ritlop plays the unforgiving, insensitive, yet incredibly deep Mr. Frank. His performance is one of my favorites, as he truly makes the viewer hate his character within the first five minutes of his screen time. At the same time, viewers can, in some places, resonate with him, which drums up the conflicting emotional response such a character is designed to produce. Overall, an incredible cast further lifts this incredible story. Allen Pavsar is the mastermind directing, writing and producing The Whisper of a Butterfly. His emphasis on clear, clean realism is evident in everything - from the dialogue to his direction of the actors to emote in specific scenes. The production design team excels as well; not a hair is out of place in any scene, and everything looks perfectly realistic. Jan is a character who won my heart within the first few frames of the movie -- he's a genuinely good person who refrains from judging anyone because he "can't see inside their head" to know what they are thinking. And he's passionate and hard-working, which makes anyone likable.

The film's message is about respecting people of all backgrounds. It promotes the lesson that having autism or another developmental disorder does not make one less than others. And it pushes everyone to achieve their dreams and defy the odds.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With lucid and dynamic cinematography, a touching story and superb performances, The Whisper of a Butterfly is a sensitive and engaging testament to the fact that nothing can stop those who dream, and that compassion is key in our world.

The storyline follows Jan, a 17-year-old teen with autism who loves technology. He joins a class competing for a scholarship in an international company to develop an AI software for a ventilation company. He must navigate his interpersonal relationships, including with a beautiful but opportunistic classmate and his harsh teacher, Frank.

The story is beautiful and profound; there are many moments that tug at your heartstrings and others that make you smile. The storyline is written and executed with immense attention to detail about how students with autism react to situations and people. The cinematography is incredibly professional, with a mix of closeup and medium shots, and some artful wide shots thrown in. The use of color and light by cinematographer Igor Pecoler truly stands out, as does his attention to detail; Pecoler isn't afraid to let some shots hang for just a while longer to drive home a point. The costumes are used in an interesting way - Jan's jacket is often used as a prop - you can tell his emotional state by its placement and how he toys with it. In keeping with other elements of the film, the sets are impeccably put-together, with Frank's classroom being especially futuristic due to its use of AI and other technology. The music is dramatic and accentuates the goings-on in the film; when some classmates or Frank conspire against Jan,, the music grows dark and insidious. The music also serves as a tool to explain to the audience Jan's emotions when he can't put them into words.

Jan is played by Alja� Ali Ogrizek, who steals the show. His diction and dialogue delivery, powerful emoting, and skillful management of a difficult role make him truly shine. The ambitious Zarja is played by Ana Praznik, whose chemistry with Jan -- both positive and negative -- is undeniable. Mitja Ritlop plays the unforgiving, insensitive, yet incredibly deep Mr. Frank. His performance is one of my favorites, as he truly makes the viewer hate his character within the first five minutes of his screen time. At the same time, viewers can, in some places, resonate with him, which drums up the conflicting emotional response such a character is designed to produce. Overall, an incredible cast further lifts this incredible story. Allen Pavsar is the mastermind directing, writing and producing The Whisper of a Butterfly. His emphasis on clear, clean realism is evident in everything - from the dialogue to his direction of the actors to emote in specific scenes. The production design team excels as well; not a hair is out of place in any scene, and everything looks perfectly realistic. Jan is a character who won my heart within the first few frames of the movie -- he's a genuinely good person who refrains from judging anyone because he "can't see inside their head" to know what they are thinking. And he's passionate and hard-working, which makes anyone likable.

The film's message is about respecting people of all backgrounds. It promotes the lesson that having autism or another developmental disorder does not make one less than others. And it pushes everyone to achieve their dreams and defy the odds.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
CONCIERGE, THE
CONCIERGE, THE - JOANNE SCHIOPPI
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Akino is a trainee concierge at the Hokkyoku Department Store, an unusual department store that caters exclusively to animals. Under the watchful eyes of the floor manager and senior concierges, Akino runs around to fulfill the wishes of customers with a myriad of needs and problems in her pursuit to become a full-fledged concierge.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Very unusual, quirky and enjoyable. I give The Concierge 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Julia S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - see adult comments
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
SAILING MOVIE, THE
SAILING MOVIE, THE - RYAN LUSKIN
Series: DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - The powerful tale of a boys "Right of Passage," a family sails six thousand miles through sixteen countries, in search of six essential life skills we'll all need to thrive in this quickly changing world. Share their adventures and personal challenges as they survive on the sea, and interview elders from remote indigenous peoples, academics, gangsters, and diplomats. Much of the music for the original soundtrack was recorded at sea with people they met along the way.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - The Sailing Movie gives important lessons to the younger generation and shows how everyone can improve their life.

The Sailing Movie follows a family of four on a journey at sea. They travel through sixteen countries to learn six essential life skills to teach other people. Over their six thousand mile journey, they go through challenges that test them in many ways, making them stronger in the end.

This documentary covers a journey that many people dream of and few ever undertake - taking off on a sailboat with your children to explore the world and experience real life lessons. You can feel the closeness of the family members while watching the dad and son dive into the ocean together, the boy firmly gripping the dad's back as they dive deep. The film's narrator is the 17 year old son, who doesn't hold back about his observations of their journey - revealing the sometimes life threatening circumstances they endure as their 2 and a half year journey unfolds.. The dad, director and writer, Ryan Luskin, brings this family's story to life beautifully. He is involved in environmental education and it's inspiring that he wants to share messages with the world. I like that the family members learn valuable lessons over the course of the movie. I appreciate how their hardships are shown, so people can relate. Everything is not always easy. The majority of the film is shot on a boat and some of the camerawork is marginal, but the variety of shots and locations is absolutely extraordinary. The location we see most often is that of the boat, but we also see shots of the various locations they visit during their journey. The background music shifts dramatically throughout the film, some of it recorded spontaneously by local people they meet. It runs the gambit from joyful tunes to more suspenseful modalities. Zeb's mom sings at times which makes the audience feel like this family's living in paradise. They are a family that, by the end of the movie, have recognized the need to learn six essential life skills: respect, gratitude, self-control, adaptability, problem solving, and communication. They go through many challenges to find these lessons. My favorite part of the film are the beach scenes because it reminds me of summertime. Those really set the mood for the movie.

The film's message is about the uncertainty of life and how to face fears. The film says we can't predict the fire but we can adapt to it. It advises people to temper their attitude because life can be difficult sometimes. It encourages us to face our fears.

I give The Sailing Movie 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Sydney S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Sailing Movie gives important lessons to the younger generation and shows how everyone can improve their life.

The Sailing Movie follows a family of four on a journey at sea. They travel through sixteen countries to learn six essential life skills to teach other people. Over their six thousand mile journey, they go through challenges that test them in many ways, making them stronger in the end.

This documentary covers a journey that many people dream of and few ever undertake - taking off on a sailboat with your children to explore the world and experience real life lessons. You can feel the closeness of the family members while watching the dad and son dive into the ocean together, the boy firmly gripping the dad's back as they dive deep. The film's narrator is the 17 year old son, who doesn't hold back about his observations of their journey - revealing the sometimes life threatening circumstances they endure as their 2 and a half year journey unfolds.. The dad, director and writer, Ryan Luskin, brings this family's story to life beautifully. He is involved in environmental education and it's inspiring that he wants to share messages with the world. I like that the family members learn valuable lessons over the course of the movie. I appreciate how their hardships are shown, so people can relate. Everything is not always easy. The majority of the film is shot on a boat and some of the camerawork is marginal, but the variety of shots and locations is absolutely extraordinary. The location we see most often is that of the boat, but we also see shots of the various locations they visit during their journey. The background music shifts dramatically throughout the film, some of it recorded spontaneously by local people they meet. It runs the gambit from joyful tunes to more suspenseful modalities. Zeb's mom sings at times which makes the audience feel like this family's living in paradise. They are a family that, by the end of the movie, have recognized the need to learn six essential life skills: respect, gratitude, self-control, adaptability, problem solving, and communication. They go through many challenges to find these lessons. My favorite part of the film are the beach scenes because it reminds me of summertime. Those really set the mood for the movie.

The film's message is about the uncertainty of life and how to face fears. The film says we can't predict the fire but we can adapt to it. It advises people to temper their attitude because life can be difficult sometimes. It encourages us to face our fears.

I give The Sailing Movie 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. By Sydney S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
PRAVAS
PRAVAS - BRIJESH GURNANI
Series: INDIE FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Pravas depicts the story of a little child named Tino (Shivam), who comes from an underprivileged family and lives in a small, remote village in Gujarat, India. His mother works as a maid, and his father works at building sites. The family is happy in their small world with whatever they have. One day a city guy comes to this village and tells Tino about how beautiful Ahmedabad is! Tino gets immediately drawn to this, because until today, Tino had never been to Ahmedabad City. Furthermore, while this was happening, the school organizes a tour of Ahmedabad; the cost is Rs. 800. Tino is ecstatic to visit Ahmedabad because it appears like his wishes have come true. A few unfortunate events lead Tino to decide against taking the tour because of his family issues and doesn't go to Pravas. His friends and the class teacher all want him to join the school tour simultaneously. However, Tino is unshakeable about his choice. He gives out all the reasons for not attending Pravas. The agony of not going on the school trip becomes his inner journey (Pravas). Pravas is a captivating journey of a poor child.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - A beautifully told story of a boy caught up in the cycle of poverty and yet is brimming with integrity.

The story follows a young child named Tino (Shivam), who comes from an underprivileged family and lives in a small, remote village in India. The family is happy in their small world with what they have. One day a guy comes to his village and tells Tino and his schoolmates how beautiful Ahmedabad is! Tino is enchanted and the school organizes a tour of Ahmedabad at a cost of Rs. 800. Issues prevent Tina from going ad, he gives out all the reasons for not attending Pravas. The agony of not going on the school trip becomes his inner journey (Pravas) -- the captivating journey of a poor child.

Beautiful camera work, excellent audio, very believable acting. This film depicts the lives of a poor family in rural India - and not in a demeaning way - but a practical way.

I give Pravas 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for age 8 to 18, plus adults. By Julia S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A beautifully told story of a boy caught up in the cycle of poverty and yet is brimming with integrity.

The story follows a young child named Tino (Shivam), who comes from an underprivileged family and lives in a small, remote village in India. The family is happy in their small world with what they have. One day a guy comes to his village and tells Tino and his schoolmates how beautiful Ahmedabad is! Tino is enchanted and the school organizes a tour of Ahmedabad at a cost of Rs. 800. Issues prevent Tina from going ad, he gives out all the reasons for not attending Pravas. The agony of not going on the school trip becomes his inner journey (Pravas) -- the captivating journey of a poor child.

Beautiful camera work, excellent audio, very believable acting. This film depicts the lives of a poor family in rural India - and not in a demeaning way - but a practical way.

I give Pravas 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for age 8 to 18, plus adults. By Julia S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
EMPIRION: AN ADVENTURE WITH EINSTEIN
EMPIRION: AN ADVENTURE WITH EINSTEIN - LIA NUNES
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - In a near future, Felix, a teenager who wants to be a scientist, must leave school because he lost his scholarship and needs to work to help his family, which is going through financial difficulties due his sister's illness. The solution is to take part in an scientific contest because if he wins, besides the money, he will have the dreamed passport to the science's world. Time is short and the little genius, stuck in quantum equations, urgently needs help. His friends, Z� Coelho and Sara, embark with him on a mission to meet the famous scientist Albert Einstein, brought back to life by the controversial project called Empirion, and get the help he needs to finish his invention. But that's not easy because Fausto, the owner of the hotel where Einstein is staying at, and his daughter Maria, Felix's classmate, will do anything to steal his invention.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - What a clever sci-fi comedy. I love the kids in this and the bewildering storyline.

I give Empirion: An adventure with Einstein 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - What a clever sci-fi comedy. I love the kids in this and the bewildering storyline.

I give Empirion: An adventure with Einstein 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE
OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE - IVY VALE
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Josh and Rachel's close friendship is tested when a high school cyber bully with a hidden past threatens to expose secrets in this feature film musical comedy about finding the courage to be who you are.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Wow! What a production! Out of My Comfort Zone is a relatable and very musical film. It will be quite entertaining for teenagers, especially those who like musical films. It is well put together and gives a 2000s teenage or high school musical vibe.

The story follows two friends named Josh and Rachel. Rachel has a crush on Josh and is trying to find a way to tell him about it after their years of friendship. The film focuses a lot on comfort zones and being safe inside of them. When Rachel finally decides to tell him, he ends up telling her he is gay. Another student witnesses and records the interaction and decides they want to reveal his secret. The film goes through the musical journey of Josh and Rachel's friendship and what's going to happen with them escaping their comfort zone when their secrets are being revealed.

This is one big project - filed with music and movement! The storyline is very relatable and captivating. It reminds me of shows that I like watching now as well as ones I used to enjoy. Being a teenager myself, I feel like I can relate to the problems they speak about on a deeper level. The camera work in this film is very wide ranging. They use multiple types of shots. For example, they have closeups or ones that slightly pan a room. It's very different, especially for films like this, but I love that this gives the vibe of a movie that could play on an actual network. This film takes place in the normal life of a teenager, so there are no fancy outfits. The outfits are just typical clothes that young people wear. The settings take place mostly at a school. This fits the storyline because it focuses on teenagers and their school lives in particular. The music is written by Ivy Vale. Since this is a musical, the music plays a huge role in moving the film along and in allowing us to know what the characters are thinking, going through, and showcasing the general topic of comfort zones. As a musical, I love watching films like these that are musicals. Films like this are special because the music is used in a different way than the musicals I typically listen to. The characters are well developed; Josh and Rachel's relationship is revealed through songs, especially after he comes out to her. Right from the start we get a sense of who these characters are. Ivy Vale is the film's creator and her work clearly is behind the amazing film, from the plot to the music. It is very creative and well produced, which I absolutely love to see! My favorite part is when the three schoolgirls sing "Rachel's got a boyfriend! What about us...?" This song reminds me a lot of how teenage girls are - quick to gossip, especially about things they want or don't have. I like it in terms of relatability rather than it being funny. The production of this film is really good. The shots are clean and well edited, they also have amazing lighting, and the video quality is movie-like as well.

There are two messages here. The first is that coming out of your comfort zone is scary. It can be uncomfortable especially because you never know who's watching or what might come about, but it's a part of life and in the right moments it can be a good thing. The other message is that cyberbullying is real and it can hurt you really bad or be confusing. So don't participate in it and, if it happens to you, definitely say something about it, or find a way to stand your ground especially towards others. This film touches on a bit on sexuality but mostly cyberbullying.

I give Out of My Comfort Zone 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. I recommend this for the film festival because it's entertaining, well crafted, and would make a good watch for families! Those who do decide to watch it will love it, and it may even be inspirational to teenagers. By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wow! What a production! Out of My Comfort Zone is a relatable and very musical film. It will be quite entertaining for teenagers, especially those who like musical films. It is well put together and gives a 2000s teenage or high school musical vibe.

The story follows two friends named Josh and Rachel. Rachel has a crush on Josh and is trying to find a way to tell him about it after their years of friendship. The film focuses a lot on comfort zones and being safe inside of them. When Rachel finally decides to tell him, he ends up telling her he is gay. Another student witnesses and records the interaction and decides they want to reveal his secret. The film goes through the musical journey of Josh and Rachel's friendship and what's going to happen with them escaping their comfort zone when their secrets are being revealed.

This is one big project - filed with music and movement! The storyline is very relatable and captivating. It reminds me of shows that I like watching now as well as ones I used to enjoy. Being a teenager myself, I feel like I can relate to the problems they speak about on a deeper level. The camera work in this film is very wide ranging. They use multiple types of shots. For example, they have closeups or ones that slightly pan a room. It's very different, especially for films like this, but I love that this gives the vibe of a movie that could play on an actual network. This film takes place in the normal life of a teenager, so there are no fancy outfits. The outfits are just typical clothes that young people wear. The settings take place mostly at a school. This fits the storyline because it focuses on teenagers and their school lives in particular. The music is written by Ivy Vale. Since this is a musical, the music plays a huge role in moving the film along and in allowing us to know what the characters are thinking, going through, and showcasing the general topic of comfort zones. As a musical, I love watching films like these that are musicals. Films like this are special because the music is used in a different way than the musicals I typically listen to. The characters are well developed; Josh and Rachel's relationship is revealed through songs, especially after he comes out to her. Right from the start we get a sense of who these characters are. Ivy Vale is the film's creator and her work clearly is behind the amazing film, from the plot to the music. It is very creative and well produced, which I absolutely love to see! My favorite part is when the three schoolgirls sing "Rachel's got a boyfriend! What about us...?" This song reminds me a lot of how teenage girls are - quick to gossip, especially about things they want or don't have. I like it in terms of relatability rather than it being funny. The production of this film is really good. The shots are clean and well edited, they also have amazing lighting, and the video quality is movie-like as well.

There are two messages here. The first is that coming out of your comfort zone is scary. It can be uncomfortable especially because you never know who's watching or what might come about, but it's a part of life and in the right moments it can be a good thing. The other message is that cyberbullying is real and it can hurt you really bad or be confusing. So don't participate in it and, if it happens to you, definitely say something about it, or find a way to stand your ground especially towards others. This film touches on a bit on sexuality but mostly cyberbullying.

I give Out of My Comfort Zone 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. I recommend this for the film festival because it's entertaining, well crafted, and would make a good watch for families! Those who do decide to watch it will love it, and it may even be inspirational to teenagers. By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
BUTTERFLY TALE
BUTTERFLY TALE - PINK PARROT MEDIA
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Butterfly Tale is an animated feature film for the whole family set along the diverse, picturesque, and ever-changing backdrop of the great Monarch butterfly migration. A heartwarming tale of a gutsy and loveable yet inept, one-winged butterfly, named Patrick who stows away in a milkweed trailer in order to be part of the journey of a lifetime. With his best friend, a goofy caterpillar named Marty, and Jennifer, a butterfly who is afraid of heights, Patrick will become an unlikely hero. But first he must face his fear, embrace his uniqueness and triumph over adversity while battling changing weather patterns, humans and three evil birds bent on revenge. It is a tale of adventure, self-realization and heroism told with humor whose message is that our differences are less important than the bonds we share, and it is in adversity that our true character shines through.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Incredible animation and delightful story. Wonderful songs. This is definitely my favorite film of the week!

This animated feature film is set along the diverse, picturesque, and ever-changing backdrop of the great Monarch butterfly migration. We follow a lovable, but inept one-winged butterfly, named Patrick, who stows away in a milkweed trailer in order to be part of the journey. Joined by his best friend, a caterpillar named Marty, and Jennifer, Patrick becomes an unlikely hero but first has to overcome his own challenges.

Beautiful animation! I love the butterfly characters. They are exquisitely detailed with cleverly defined personalities. Directed by Sophie Roy, who has delivered over 70 hours of series television, three 3D feature films, websites and two VR projects as a line producer. Produced by Marie-Claude Beauchamp for CarpeDiem and Ulysses' Emely Christians. Award-winning and Grammy-nominated Canadian pop singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes' original song "Something Big" is featured on the soundtrack. The voice talent includes Tatania Maslany as Jennifer (She-Hulk, Trollhunters, Rise of the Titans, Bite Size Halloween) and Mena Massoud as Patrick (Aladdin, Aladdin 2, The Royal Treatment).

I love the costumes of the butterfly people; they integrate typical clothing details on a butterfly body. The closeups of their faces are unsurpassed and the voice talent is equally matched. At times this film reminds me of Avatar or Ferngully. It is right up there. My favorite scene is the victory dancing scene at the end with great music and joyful dancing.

The film's message is about how our differences are less important than the bonds we share.

I give Butterfly Tale 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. By Julia S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Incredible animation and delightful story. Wonderful songs. This is definitely my favorite film of the week!

This animated feature film is set along the diverse, picturesque, and ever-changing backdrop of the great Monarch butterfly migration. We follow a lovable, but inept one-winged butterfly, named Patrick, who stows away in a milkweed trailer in order to be part of the journey. Joined by his best friend, a caterpillar named Marty, and Jennifer, Patrick becomes an unlikely hero but first has to overcome his own challenges.

Beautiful animation! I love the butterfly characters. They are exquisitely detailed with cleverly defined personalities. Directed by Sophie Roy, who has delivered over 70 hours of series television, three 3D feature films, websites and two VR projects as a line producer. Produced by Marie-Claude Beauchamp for CarpeDiem and Ulysses' Emely Christians. Award-winning and Grammy-nominated Canadian pop singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes' original song "Something Big" is featured on the soundtrack. The voice talent includes Tatania Maslany as Jennifer (She-Hulk, Trollhunters, Rise of the Titans, Bite Size Halloween) and Mena Massoud as Patrick (Aladdin, Aladdin 2, The Royal Treatment).

I love the costumes of the butterfly people; they integrate typical clothing details on a butterfly body. The closeups of their faces are unsurpassed and the voice talent is equally matched. At times this film reminds me of Avatar or Ferngully. It is right up there. My favorite scene is the victory dancing scene at the end with great music and joyful dancing.

The film's message is about how our differences are less important than the bonds we share.

I give Butterfly Tale 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. By Julia S., KIDS FIRST!
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
ORION AND THE DARK

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ORION AND THE DARK - NETFLIX
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
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NASHVILLLE WISH, A

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NASHVILLLE WISH, A - VISION FILMS
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
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 9 Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
TASTE OF THINGS, THE

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TASTE OF THINGS, THE - IFC FLMS
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
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
MY LITTLE SISTER
MY LITTLE SISTER - ALLA ANDREEVA
Series: FOREIGN FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - As far back as Yamil can remember, the war was always. But Yamil is waiting for its end, because then his Father, known to the boy only through photos and letters, will be back home. One day his Mother goes to a distant city and brings a silent girl Oksana. Mother also brings his Father's order to take care of Oksana as if she were his sister...The film adaptation of the novel The Joy of Our Home by the canonical Soviet writer Mustai Karim.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I really enjoyed the film My Little Sister with marvelous young actors, terrific cinematography, detailed ethnic design of the interior settings and clothing, and showing the best of human values amidst the pain of war. However, parents need to decide if their children are familiar with, or ready for, a drama with the backdrop of World War II and in the foreground, the families who live and love through it. Also of note to parents: There are initial images zooming past two shot corpses to a child hidden in a chimney, as well as some scenes of bullying by children. What I find enjoyable about the film is the slower pacing and the focus on characters, feelings, and a part of the world that is becoming familiar through contemporary news accounts. That may not satisfy today's kids who are more used to action, quick editing, and special effects. While a deeper analysis will likely reveal biases currently imposed by the Russian Federation on historical films from the region, this film is, at its heart, a touching story about friendship, family, trust, courage, and, ultimately, hope.

For Yamil, a six-year-old Bashkir boy, the war has always been. He is waiting for his father, known only through photos and letters, to come home from the Front. One day, Yamil's mother travels far and brings home a silent Ukrainian girl, Oksana, along with Father's order to take care of her as if she were his sister. This is a filmed adaptation of the novel "The Joy of Our Home" by Soviet writer Mustai Karim.

This film has been shown in numerous children's film festivals, though not in the US. It has also garnered some awards. The acting is top-notch, the production values beautiful. This is a professionally-made film that reveals other cultures within a historical context. I like how the story reveals both the differences between our cultures and how children conduct themselves, as well as the universality of children's behavior - through play, humor, emotions, adventure, and solving challenges. The cinematography is part of what makes this film so watchable. Sweeping vistas of mountains, forests, snow - of nature and beauty juxtaposed against close-ups of faces, marked by joys and sorrows, vivacity and resolve.

The layered costumes are authentic to the ethnic community of the Bashkirs -- with colorful or earth-toned hats for the men and boys and scarves for the women and girls. Also authentic are the uniforms and arms of the soldiers. I admire the rich, natural landscapes, the sometimes harsh conditions of snow as well as pastoral calm, and the majesty of the cinematography capturing the terrain. The interiors of the basically log cabin-type houses are fascinating - the colorful cloth patterns, the rustic kitchen and hearth, even the mattresses and bedding are authentic and of visual interest. The background music by film and television composer Ilya Dukhovnyy adds to the sweeping cinematography, tension and joy, and the emotional content of the film.

The main two child actors are brilliant and natural. Arslan Krymchurin as Yamil gives a stand-out performance -- authentic, vivacious, and we see every emotion - from love to anger to resolve - registering on his face. Marta Kessler as Oksana easily emotes without words in the beginning of the film, evolving from a tearful and traumatized orphan to a fun-loving and supportive older "sister." The other main characters of mother and grandmother, the villagers, and the other children all do their part to bring the story to life. I really enjoyed watching the performances of the children - so authentic and endearing.

The film's message is about the harsh collective effects of war on the people left behind and yet the enduring human spirit of family, community, hope, courage, and love. Be forewarned that it contains bloody, gory acts of violence and shows kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. Disturbing images of the initial fast zoom of shot corpses and child hidden in a chimney; the rocks thrown by kids at soldiers, bullying and teasing by some characters to others, two boys head out secretly to "fight in the war."

I give My Little Sister 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. By Ann B., KIDS FIRST!

By Ann B., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - See adult comments
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
UNDER THE INFLUENCER
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
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WONKA

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WONKA - WARNER BROS. PICTURES
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
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
BOY AND THE HERON, THE

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BOY AND THE HERON, THE - GKIDS
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
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CANDY CANE LANE

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CANDY CANE LANE - AMAZON PRIME
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
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CANTERVILLE GHOST, THE

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CANTERVILLE GHOST, THE - SHOUT! STUDIOS
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
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
WISH (2023)

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WISH (2023) - WALT DISNEY ANIMATED STUDIOS
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
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
LEO

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LEO
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LEO - NETFLIX
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
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MAXINE'S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY

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MAXINE'S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY - AMAZON STUDIOS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Writer, actor, filmmaker, studio head and media titan, Tyler Perry, is America's consummate multihyphenate. But underneath this entertainment behemoth is a man working humbly to heal his childhood trauma by transforming his pain into promise. Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story, a nod to his mother's love, is a tender and intimate portrait of visionary and innovator Tyler Perry: his harrowing but faithful road to the top of an industry that didn't always include him. With unfettered access, directors/filmmakers Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz lead us into the inner-world of a man, whose story has never fully been told, as he becomes a father and a media mogul with a mission to pave his own road to the top. The product is a profound lesson on remembering where you came from to know where you want to go.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story is a beautiful movie. This documentary is so inspiring with lessons on the importance of forgiveness, faith and perseverance. And I learned so much about Tyler Perry!

The movie reveals the childhood trauma that Tyler Perry went through and shows how he became the most successful African American filmmaker we all know. It's also a tribute to his late mother, Maxine, hence the title of the movie.

According to co-directors Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz, this movie took ten years to make. I had no idea what Tyler went through as a child because he had a pretty private life, so it was incredible to learn more about him and see how strong he is. We already know about his success, but in this documentary, we get to see all the challenges he faced. It highlights many aspects of his life like his faith, his abusive father, his previous studios, the start of his famous character Madea and the impact he had on the movie industry. Something else that is interesting that I learned about from this film is that Tyler Perry's newest studio is on an old confederate army base in Atlanta, which really makes this movie come full circle. The beauty of this rich documentary is that it provides so many different points of views from so many different people and perspectives. We hear from his supporters, his haters, his family, and his friends, such as Oprah Winfrey, Ozzie Areu, Gayle King and Ari Emanuel. In addition to hearing from all of these people, the movie also uncovers never-before-seen videos of Maxine Perry, Tyler's mom, which is really special since she has passed away and she's the movie's namesake.

The film's message is all about forgiveness. Even after all the abuse, Tyler was able to forgive and move on from his trauma, which really allowed him to grow. Be aware that this movie deals with abuse, has a few graphic images and also some profanity. I give Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on Prime Video on November 17, 2023.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
CARALIQUE

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CARALIQUE - VISION FILMS
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - When a young, aspiring fashion designer's first ideas are passed over, she learns to stick to her instincts and never give up, bringing more sparkle and brightening the world around her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Caralique is a relatable and inspiring movie. It's filled with incredible relationships and even more incredible fashion ideas.

The plot of this film is centered on a girl named Caralique (Isabella Blake-Thomas) whose mom is forced to give up her fashion dream in France and moves to the United States due to a loss of her job and therefore, money. However her daughter still continues to come up with fashion ideas. This eventually lands her mom a job. The story continues to play out from there.

The movie Caralique focuses a lot on fashion. With that being said, the fashion in the movie is absolutely stunning. All the designs are gorgeous and innovative. They could be worn in real life if someone created them. The film also utilizes languages in a very unique way. In the beginning the mom speaks a lot of both French and English to the daughter, fostering her use of both languages. Then as the daughter continues to get older they use less French but the influence can still be seen. The editors also add subtitles for when French language is used in the film so even if you don't speak French, you can still understand what's going on. There are lots of characters in the movie. Each has a distinct personality, such as the character named Eloise (Abbie Georganna) who has an accent and has a very different place in life and in her school, different from others her age.

The message of the film is to trust your instincts and never give up on your dreams.

I give Caralique 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. The film can be viewed on VOD and DVD beginning November 21. 2023.

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

Caralique is a film full of lessons we need to bring to life and has thrilling scenes that I really enjoyed and made me thrilled.

The storyline follows Caralique (Isabella Blake Thomas), a young girl, inspired by her parents, who is completely in love with fashion design and has been since she was a little girl. She wants to make people happy by wearing her clothes. Difficulties happen, but still, Caralique has an extraordinary idea that can change her life.

This film is fantastic and so inspiring! It made me believe that we never have to give up even during the hardest situations. My favorite part of the film is when Caralique realizes that she is different, and that is what makes her successful. Scenes like this make us reflect on life. The acting is absolutely brilliant! For example, Caralique cries when she loses a very dear relative and is very discouraged and I could really feel her despair. I also liked the costumes, which play a major role in the film - each one is uniquely based on an individual personality. Caralique's brilliantly shows the stages of her life. Since childhood, she has dressed with a child's version of contemporary clothes, such as simple denim shorts, a white outfit, or even a dress, with the help of her mother. In adulthood, she dresses differently from the normal, with clothing ideas uniquely her own, reflecting her personality.

The film's message is to be yourself no matter where you are, believe in your dreams and don't listen to the bad advice.

I give Caralique 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on VOD and DVD on November 21, 2023.

By Anna Clara B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Caralique is extremely appealing -- the plot pulled me in from the very beginning, starting with the brief overview of Caralique's life story and following with interesting conflicts. The characters are easy to sympathize with, adding to the anticipation of what will follow in the story, making each scene that much more enjoyable. It's a heartwarming story about sticking to what you believe in and doing what you are passionate about.

The storyline follows a young aspiring fashion designer who learns to never give up on her dreams even when she is faced with hardships and has to overcome the difficulties of the fashion industry. Caralique (Isabella Blake-Thomas) learns from her motivating mother and father to chase what she wants most in life -- creating fashion in a unique way.

The conflicts help build the fascinating character, Caralique, into someone you can easily relate to and feel sympathy for; her determination is both incredibly riveting and entertaining. Visually this film is spectacularly colorful, each scene being just, if not more, entertaining than the last. This fits the theme of the film perfectly as the fashion is well displayed into every frame and you are easily drawn to what the character will make next. Caralique is a driven character who promotes individualism and staying true to your passion; she succeeds in this by showing great determination and problem solving in unique ways. The writing in the show is very good, with well-timed pacing and easy-to-follow content. Each scene is significant to the plot development, whether it's something dramatic or something small. Each character has its own time to be evaluated by the audience and therefore builds sense of empathy for further development. The concepts within the film are definitely suitable for a youth audience -- a great amount of the film centers on a teenager's daily life hanging out with friends, having a part time job, and going to school. A child could enjoy this film, as the story centers around a child's motivation not to give up on their dreams even in their teenage years. This incredibly important life lesson is communicated throughout the film perfectly using language a child can easily understand and relate to. This film easily encourages audiences to focus on their passions even if they face hardships, which in turn can motivate younger audiences to start their journey early.

The film's message focuses on the importance of staying motivated to achieve your dreams and not letting others stand in your way. The film encourages the audience to stay motivated and chase your dreams, which is a wonderful life lesson for any age group especially kids.

I give Caralique 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It releases on VOD and DVD November 21, 2023.

By Maverick C., KIDS FIRST!

Caralique is an emotional film that is also beautiful and inspiring. This film has an excellent story, talented actors and pretty props, designs and costumes. Caralique is truly a work of art that everyone should experience.

This film follows a girl, Caralique (Isabella Blake-Thomas), from her journey as a young, 8-year old (Kali Funston) to a teen with big dreams. Her mom, Arlette (Helene Cardona), was a talented fashion designer who gave up her dreams to raise her daughter. They struggled financially for most of Caralique's early life, and when her mom loses her job, they must "go on an adventure," as Arlette calls their search for a home. At one of her mom's unsuccessful job interviews, Caralique gives the interviewer a drawing she made. This drawing is the key to Caralique's success, but she faces many obstacles before she gets there.

Caralique's plot is fun and engaging, with many emotional points as well. The story has a perfect amount of happy, uplifting parts to balance the sadder moments. The main characters are determined and sweet, creating great role models and an inspirational storyline. However, some events in the film are slightly unrealistic. For example, even with Caralique's impressive artistic abilities, it is doubtful that a job interviewer would take a second glance at a drawing given to them by an eight-year-old. While this makes the film a bit less realistic and relatable, it does boost the optimistic mood and themes of the film. The actors that portray Caralique and Arlette add so much to the film with not only the raw emotion through their voices and facial expressions, but their chemistry as scene partners. Isabella Blake-Thomas and Helene Cardona truly appear as mother and daughter on screen. Their relationship is vital to the development of the story and the emphasis on the theme -- and the actors do not disappoint. In addition to the mother-daughter relationship, fashion design is a primary focus of Caralique. Since both main characters are so talented in fashion design it's important that the dresses, fabrics and designs reflect these qualities. They certainly live up to this expectation. There are original designs, vibrant colors, unique ideas and matching hair and makeup for each one. The screen is so pleasant to look at all the time with these beautiful costumes and props.

The theme of Caralique is to never give up on your dream, even if it seems like everything is against you. Both Caralique and Arlette must overcome so many obstacles to achieve their goals. This inspirational message is a big part of Caralique, and is developed throughout the film.

I give Caralique 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Caralique on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray beginning November 21, 2023.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
TROLLS BAND TOGETHER

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TROLLS BAND TOGETHER - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION
Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Poppy discovers that Branch was once part of the boy band 'BroZone' with his brothers, Floyd, John Dory, Spruce and Clay. When Floyd is kidnapped, Branch and Poppy embark on a journey to reunite his two other brothers and rescue Floyd.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kennedy P. comments, "I love the new animated musical, Trolls Band Together. The movie delivers a lot of heart, along with showing the importance of family values, friendship, and love. Trolls Band Together had me out of my seat, dancing and singing along to all the songs." Tiana S. adds, "It's time to hit the backstreet for a new edition to the Trolls movie franchise! Trolls Band Together has the perfect music, acting and animation that kept me *Nsync with the story!" Kira O. says, "The music adds a lot of energetic fun to the film, including a new song called "Better Place," from the 90s boy band *NSync. That should make some parents in the audience happy since the band hasn't released a new song in 20 years!" Valerie R. wraps it up with, "I really admire how they brought NSYNC back together to record the song "Better Place" for the film. All in all, this film is a fun and family-friendly film that I and my family really enjoyed! Plus, I love the very important message this movie conveys." See their full reviews plus an interview with director, Walter Dohrn below.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the new animated musical, Trolls Band Together. The movie delivers a lot of heart, along with showing the importance of family values, friendship, and love. Trolls Band Together had me out of my seat, dancing and singing along to all the songs.

In the film, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple. As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boy band "BroZone," with his four brothers. BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch has not seen his brothers since. When Branch's bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of pop-star villains, Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells), Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.

Trolls Band Together embraces the boy band era with so many references to everyone's favorite bands. The movie delivers a lot of heart, along with showing the importance of family values, friendship, and love. The entire movie is filled with humor, catchy cover songs, amazing animation, and lessons about family. Directed by Walt Dohm and Tim Heitz, the animation in this DreamWorks production is stunning -- all the vibrant colors throughout the movie are amazing. I was not able to take your eyes off the screen. All the music goes so well with the storyline in every scene. It features a new original song, "Better Place," from Justin Timberlake's old boy band NSYNC. It was so fun to sing and dance along. The voice actors are terrific. Timberlake and Kendrick are joined by Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Icona Pop, Anderson Paak, Ron Funches, Kenan Thompson, Kunal Nayyar plus a handful of newcomers. They could not have picked a better group of actors to voice these characters. The script by Elizabeth Tippet is so smart, but my favorite part is all the songs and dances throughout the movie. Trolls movies have been a hit with viewers of all ages and this one is no different. I predict that everyone will be singing and dancing and loving every minute of this movie.

The film's message is about family dynamics and how all family relationships are different. It shows viewers that no two families are the same and all families have their differences with each other, but they are still family. Be aware that it contains some rude and suggestive humor and some scary creatures like the Bergens and large spiders, plus the trolls are chased and eaten.

I give Trolls Band Together 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can watch Trolls Band Together in theaters on November 17, 2023.

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

It's time to hit the backstreet for a new edition to the Trolls movie franchise! Trolls Band Together has the perfect music, acting and animation that kept me *Nsync with the story!

In Trolls Band Together we get to see the family of Branch (Justin Timberlake) and their former band "BroZone." After the band breaks up, one of the brothers, Floyd (Troye Sivian) gets kidnapped by Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Venner (Andrew Rannells) who steal his talent. It's up to Branch, his brothers, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and some other new and recurring characters to find a way to save him before it's too late.

The film's main characters are Poppy, Branch and the BroZone brothers. There are many new characters introduced in this film. I personally love characters with an evil aura and Velvet has to be my favorite. She's the perfect mix of a prideful mean girl and a typical big sister. Velvet's singing performance by Brianna Mazzola sounds so angelic and beautiful, which I loved as well. Speaking of singing, the music covers in this film are outstanding! I love the boy band references throughout the film, like New Kids on The Block, 98 Degrees and One Direction. Plus NSync came together to record a new song for this film. In the film, we see a lot of issues between family members. BroZone members are constantly at odds with each other - John Dory (Eric Andr�), trying to be the boss of everyone and the brothers treating Branch like a baby, causing hard feelings and arguments. Even Velvet shows her evil and demanding ways towards Venner. This movie is worth watching and covers a lot of issues we can relate to.

The film's message is about the true meaning of family. Being a family by blood is one thing, but actually portraying an equal family system is more important, especially among siblings. Kindness, equality, and understanding can relieve so many issues. Things parents may need to look out for are kissing scenes, love-related aspects like making out or having kids, and other very subtle words.

I give Trolls Band Together 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It opens in theaters November 17, 2023. Be sure to stay for a short post-credits scene.

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

Trolls Band Together is an awesome movie! This latest film in this DreamWorks trilogy did not disappoint me! It is filled with surprising back stories for some of the most beloved Trolls characters.

Similar to the first two Trolls films, viewers join a rescue adventure led by Branch (Justin Timberlake) and Poppy (Anna Kendrick). The film starts with a lead up to the wedding of Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) and King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) when a person from Branch's past comes crashing in.

We learn that Branch has three older brothers, John Dory (Eric Andr�), Spruce (Daveed Diggs), Clay (Kid Cudi) and Floyd (Troye Sivan). They had a boy band, BroZone that failed, leaving Branch to live alone with their grandmother. Fast forward to present day and Floyd has been kidnapped by the film's villains, Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells) who plan to steal Floyd's singing talent. John Dory tries to get the band back together, to save Floyd. First, he enlists the help of Poppy and Branch, and then they set out to find Spruce, and then Clay. My favorite part is when they are searching for Clay and end up at an abandoned golf course and discover a new community of trolls. Viva (Camila Cabello) is the leader of the troll community. I don't want to spoil the surprise but a main character is very important to Viva. The animation is very good and consistent with the Trolls trilogy, which means vibrant colors, a wide range of characters and lots of pop music montages from the '80s, '90s and 2000s. The music adds a lot of energetic fun to the film, including a new song called "Better Place," from the 90s boy band *NSync. That should make some parents in the audience happy since the band hasn't released a new song in 20 years!

The message of Trolls Band Together is that things do not have to be perfect to work, including families.

I give Trolls Band Together 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It releases in theaters on November 17, 2023.

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

Want to embark on a magical adventure filled with funky characters and a spectacular soundtrack? Trolls Band Together is the perfect movie for you and your entire family to watch together on movie night as I and my family loved it.

The story follows Branch (Justin Timberlake) who discovers that one of his brothers is being held captive by villainous pop stars Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells). Poppy (Anna Kendrick), Branch and his other brothers, Clay (Kid Cudi), John Dory (Eric Andre) and Spruce (Daveed Diggs) embark on an emotional journey in order to rescue their brother Floyd (Troye Sivan). During the journey Poppy discovers she has a long lost sister named Viva (Camila Cabello). Throughout their journey the Trolls learn the importance of family, and the importance of sticking together and solving problems together.

What I enjoy the most about this film are the character designs and animation throughout the entire film. The animation is perfectly clear and visible; it is very different from the original Trolls movies, and looks hyper-realistic. I love how they reference bands like NSYNC, One Direction and Boys ll Men to describe Branch and his brothers' former band that disbanded. Another thing I love about this film is the comedic timing of the characters. The jokes are absolutely hysterical! Although there is so much to love about this film I am not a fan of the visual effects; the colors are so exotic that they made me feel quite nauseous and dizzy. The flashing lights and the variety of colors made my eyes hurt. Another thing worth mentioning is the soundtrack, which made me feel like dancing and singing along. I really admire how they brought NSYNC back together to record the song "Better Place" for the film. All in all, this film is a fun and family-friendly film that I and my family really enjoyed! Plus, I love the very important message this movie conveys.

The film's message is that family is the most important thing and that family should always stick together. Never take family for granted and always put family first. Please be advised that there is brief profanity.

I give Trolls Band Together 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Trolls Band Together releases in theaters Friday November 17, 2023

By Valerie R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
MARVELS, THE

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MARVELS, THE - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol's estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team-up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as "The Marvels."
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - While it is far from perfect, The Marvels is a captivating film filled with adventure and laughter. It has unexpected twists and turns around every corner that help make it an entertaining movie.

The Marvels centers around members of the Avengers. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), better known as Captain Marvel, has found herself and her superpowers linked with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and new teenage superhero Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Miss Marvel. These three powerful women must team up to stop Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), the ruler of a struggling civilization who has set her eyes on taking resources from thriving planets. However many secrets about Carol's past resurface as they do so.

Iman Vellani's performance as Kamala Khan overpowers the movie with a new side of joy to the MCU. Her explosive personality bursts through the screen as a huge highlight throughout the entire film. I love her character as she brings it to life with a passion. There are so many insane plot twists throughout the film and, while most are a great addition to the plot, a few get a little too crazy for my liking; though they aren't wild enough to drag the movie down. I enjoyed the plot being based around three strong women who are in charge. It's something not seen as often in superhero movies, especially in the past, but the MCU has been doing it a lot recently and it's very empowering. My favorite part of the movie is towards the beginning when Monica, Kamala and Carol first discover their powers have been entangled and they find themselves fighting soldiers in three different places and switching back and forth between locations throughout the battle. It's super fun to watch and my eyes were glued to the screen.

The message of The Marvels is that true friends and family will love you and always be there for you no matter what. Carol learns this throughout the movie as she sometimes worries about what the people who care for her will think about her past; eventually, she accepts that they will love her for who she is now and not what she's done before.

I give The Marvels 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters November 10, 2023.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

The Marvels is a blockbuster film, filled with action and adventure. It is highly engaging while still staying true to the message throughout the entire movie.

In this film viewers are reunited with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) for a second time, in this sequel to Captain Marvel. The plot follows Captain Marvel, along with her little cousin who isn't so small anymore. After experimenting with the power of time and universes, the two powerful women find themselves to be linked with a teenage girl from New Jersey, who likes to think of herself as Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani). These three team up in order to gain their revenge on the Supreme Intelligence, all while going up against old and new enemies, and keeping the universes stable.

A huge standout in this film is the CGI effects. Throughout the movie the three main characters' powers are synced together, and we often find them switching positions mid fight. The way that this is executed is very impressive. The visuals in the fight scenes, moving from space, to earth, and to other galaxies is all so overwhelming, but intriguing at the same time. Additionally, the costumes are really impressive and eye-catching. In the different universes that they explore, the people in those villages have the most unique looks - everything from their hair, to their makeup and their attire is so creative, and really stands out. I also enjoyed Captain Marvel's signature suit she wears, which really contributes to her statement look. Finally, this film is highly engaging. There is never a dull moment, and it held my attention the entire time. Every scene is packed with action, and definitely lives up to the original film, as well as the Marvel name. I also enjoyed the plot, and how straight forward it is. It gets right to the point. I never found my mind wandering off, or feeling lost in the story. The movie kept attention 100% of the time, which is rare.

The message of The Marvels is to remember your truth, and always do what you believe is right. Be forewarned that this film contains some intense fighting scenes and the use of weapons.

I give The Marvels 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Marvels releases in theaters November 10, 2023.

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

The film, The Marvels blends teamwork, girl power, comedy and emotion with action-adventure. It's heartening to see a movie that not only entertains but also resonates with positive themes.

The central plot revolves around Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Mrs. Marvel (Iman Vellani) teaming up to thwart the menacing Der-Bann (Zawe Ashton) from wreaking havoc on their homes - classic Marvel setup.

The enthusiasm for the film is palpable; the movie is successful in delivering a compelling, entertaining, and empowering cinematic experience. The brevity of The Marvels sets a new record for Marvel in terms of its runtime and it stands out in a franchise known for sprawling narratives. The commendation extends to the CGI and camera work, with special mention of shots and angles that enhance the viewing experience. It's clear that attention to detail has been a priority, ensuring that every frame contributes to the overall brilliance of the film. Brie Larson's portrayal of Captain Marvel showcases her character's development. The shift from a more serious tone to a nuanced performance is highlighted, indicating growth in both the actor and the character. Zawe Ashton's portrayal of the villain, Dar-Benn, earns high praise, what I consider to be "Oscar-Worthy." The film's pacing is lauded for its seamless flow, allowing the audience to absorb every moment without missing a beat.

The emphasis on "girl power" as the film's message is particularly noteworthy, aligning with the growing trend of empowering narratives in the entertainment industry. However, be forewarned about the profanity in the film which adds a layer of responsibility to parents.

I give The Marvels 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Marvel fans, both young and old, will find an exciting experience when this film opens in theaters on November 10, 2023.

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

I love The Marvels. It is fun, laugh-out-loud funny, has some heartfelt moments and the chemistry between the three leading ladies is outstanding. The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end.

In The Marvels Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), aka Captain Marvel, has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. However, unintended consequences see her shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to a wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with two other superheroes to form the Marvels - Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) learn to work together because their powers become entangled.

I love all the action scenes and watching the three leading ladies working together to fight against evil. I recommend watching Ms. Marvel and Wanda Vision on Disney+ before watching The Marvels. They give you the background on Kamala and Monica, which will help you understand where they are coming from in this film. I immediately fell in love and related to Iman Vellani's (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel). She is a Marvel fan, just like us, and she is so excited to meet her heroes and fangirls just like we would do ourselves! I was so happy to see her family in the film as well because they steal the show. The family scenes are full of laughs and the family dynamics really make this movie. The chemistry between the three 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 when the three of them switch places, which is so fun to watch.

The Marvels is about teamwork, girl power, friendship, family, heart and action. It shows how family will always be there for you, no matter what, and reminds you to always stay true to who you are. You are never wrong when you are doing what is right.

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

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ENDORSED
NEXT GOAL WINS

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NEXT GOAL WINS - SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Directed by Academy Award� Winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok) and based on a true story, Next Goal Wins follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamously known for their brutal 31-0 loss in 2001. With the World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world's worst soccer team around in this heartfelt underdog comedy.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - SEE YOUTH COMMENTS
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Next Goal Wins, based on a true story, is a heartwarming and genuinely enjoyable film that captures the essence of teamwork, perseverance and the human spirit. It's a family-friendly movie that offers both humor and feel-good moments and is told with an authenticity that makes it relatable and engaging.

The story revolves around the determined coach, Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) who takes on the challenging task of coaching an American Samoa soccer team with a historically abysmal loss record. Their only goal is to score one point, a seemingly insurmountable task.

This film is a delightful cinematic experience that celebrates the power of belief, teamwork, and the indomitable human spirit in the world of sports. As the film develops, it dives deeper into the characters' lives, particularly Coach Rongen and the soccer team. The connections that form between the players showcase the power of heartfelt camaraderie in sports. The film brings out both the emotional and comedic aspects of these players journey. It's clear that the cast and crew put their heart and soul into this project, resulting in a standout film. The camera work is outstanding - it captures the action on the field with finesse, making you feel like you're right there with the team as they strive for victory. Michael Fassbender's performance as Coach Rongen is commendable, as he skillfully balances humor with emotional elements in the film, delivering a memorable character. Oscar Kightley, as Tavita, Coach Rongen's right-hand man, brings a good-spirited energy to the film. His character adds to the loveable dynamic of the team, making it easy for the audience to root for them. The film's pacing is fast-paced, keeping the story engaging and ensuring that viewers remain invested in the team's journey from start to finish.

The film's core message is a simple, yet powerful one: believe in yourself and have fun. It's a message that resonates with both young and adult audiences, reminding us of the importance of enjoying the process and having faith in our abilities. It's important to note that the film contains some profanity, alcohol use, glimpses of drug use, and a transgender lead character, which may require some parental guidance depending on the age of the viewers.

I give Next Goal Wins a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults who appreciate uplifting and heartwarming stories. It releases in theaters on November 17, 2023.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:


KIDS FIRST ALL STAR
HAUNTING IN VENICE, A

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HAUNTING IN VENICE, A - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - A Haunting in Venice is set in eerie, post-World War II Venice on All Hallows' Eve and is a terrifying mystery featuring the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world's most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a s�ance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - While A Haunting in Venice is a significant departure from its roots as an Agatha Christie novel, its clever writing, superb set design and cinematography--and Kenneth Branagh's skillful acting--make it a relentlessly intriguing, vivid film for lovers of mystery, history, and intrigue.

In 1947, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is in retirement in Venice, and when visited by his American authoress friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), he is pulled into a mystery at the palazzo, a former orphanage haunted by children's spirits. Oliver invites Poirot to a seance held by opera singer Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), who's mourning the death of her daughter, Alicia. He must get to the bottom of whether Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), a medium who means to summon Alicia's spirit during the s�ance, is legitimate or not. What ensues is a creepy series of -- perhaps fortunate -- events. The plot is interesting, but the solution to the mystery is not particularly unique, though it is unveiled with a lovely, dramatic monologue by Branagh. The setting of the story in post-World War II Venice is most striking; some characters suffer from PTSD, and even Joyce Reynolds was a nurse during the war. Everyone is in mourning of some sort.

The story revels in the richness of its visuals, unique setting, and in its talkative script. Kenneth Branagh not only headlines, but also directs the film. Branagh, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos and production designer John Paul Kelly are a dream team; they beautifully capture one of the world's most striking cities, interspersing the action--which takes place in the dark, ornate palazzo--with classic, scenic shots of gondolas and canals at sunset. The classic horror movie effects like scurrying rats, falling chandeliers, and banging doors are not overdone, though they are somewhat cliched. Branagh hams up Poirot's Belgian French accent and truly seems to be loving his role. Tina Fey shines as the sharp-tongued American, the authoress with a suspicious motive; she balances out Poirot's gloominess with some humor and an almost campy demeanor. This, along with other elements in the film, means that A Haunting in Venice is both a horror and a whodunit, a perfect film for Halloween, the spooky season, or anytime.

A Haunting in Venice touches on all kinds of themes -- religion, the supernatural, and belief in good over evil. Poirot repeats time and again that his job, dealing with cruelty, vice, and death, means he simply cannot believe that God exists. He lives, instead, on cold rationality. This mystery doesn't exactly make him change his mind, but he ends with a belief that he, as a detective, can do some good in the world, and he decides to emerge from retirement. There's optimism and light even in this dark tale. Parents should be aware that A Haunting in Venice contains mentions of suicide, death, murder, and violence.

I give A Haunting in Venice 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. A Haunting in Venice debuts on digital retailers and Hulu on October 31, 2023, and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD on November 28, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

A Haunting in Venice combines real life and supernatural elements into one creepy mystery. Although it is slow to start and a bit overwhelming at times, but it has a very interesting plot with many in-depth characters.

This film follows retired detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) as he attends a Halloween party followed by a seance at a palazzo that is rumored to be haunted. Trapped in the house with people he doesn't know and danger increasing by the minute, he realizes he must identify the murderer as quickly as possible. As he speaks with each of the other people trapped in the house and puts together the pieces of the trouble, he must also ignore the voices he's hearing and children's ghosts he's seeing.

A Haunting in Venice takes place in a haunted palazzo, which sets the story up to be scary and suspenseful. The palazzo is dark and appears old and abandoned. The structure, furniture and general style of the place also clues me in to how ancient the house really is. It is perfectly ominous, forcing me to constantly be on the edge of my seat. While this film does an excellent job of creating suspense and eeriness within the haunted palazzo, some of the supernatural elements are unnecessary distractions. The main focus of the plot is around the mystery, figuring out who committed the murder of Alice long ago, and who could be committing crimes now. However, with the constant emphasis of supernatural bits, such as the supposed ghosts and voices that some people seem to be seeing and hearing, the mystery seems less important than escaping these spirits. While the combination of the supernatural and mystery elements make for a constantly suspenseful story, it often leads to too much chaos, distracting me from the mystery and the story eventually becomes slightly hard to follow. With all of this being said, the mystery itself is very well done. Clues throughout the film as well as careful concentration during each of the characters' alibis all add up to the shocking ending of who is responsible for these crimes. Each character has so much depth, with their alibis showing information from their background, providing possible motives and revealing some reason to suspect them.

The theme of A Haunting in Venice is to be careful who you trust. Even though most of the characters seem to get along fine, they all realize that the murderer is among them, possibly even someone they thought to be their friend. The Haunting in Venice does contain some gore and mildly inappropriate language, as well as scary and creepy elements.

I give A Haunting in Venice 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Haunting in Venice on Hulu and other digital retailers beginning October 31, 2023 and on Blu-ray and DVD beginning November 28.

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

A Haunting in Venice is a chilling murder mystery with a ghostly twist. I love the set design and the plot development, and the use of symbolism adds to its grim sophistication.

The storyline takes place over Halloween night and follows Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), a retired detective who has relocated to Venice, Italy, intending to find a peaceful balance in his life away from solving mysteries. Poirot's old friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) convinces him to join her at a Halloween party at the palazzo, where he meets Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), who persuades him to solve the mystery of her daughter (Rowan Robinson)'s murder. However, all is not what it seems, and after a disturbing session with a spiritualist (Michelle Yeoh), Poirot begins to suspect he is up against a supernatural force.

The setting of Venice is fitting for the movie, with its peaceful canals and masquerade parties. The palazzo has an abandoned charm, and the dark, Baroque-inspired interior reflects the ghastly style of the movie. The lighting is dim for the most part, adding to the ominously peaceful vibe. I enjoyed the cinematography, especially for flashback scenes, which are black and white and grainy, like an old movie. This pattern repeats itself in the flashbacks in all Poirot movies. A Haunting in Venice is, in part, a psychological thriller. If you pay close attention, you will notice that apples are used as a symbol throughout the film. At the end, Poirot confirms that the apples were used as a diversion - someone used them to try to play games with his mind. At the beginning of the movie, Poirot is nearly drowned while apple-bobbing. Apples are placed in every room in the palazzo, intended to lead Poirot to think he is losing his mind. There are also multiple references made to Adam and Eve, one of which is the apple. Another is the cuckoo clock, which features Adam, Eve and Satan. This clock is shown multiple times. The chiming of the clock is used to foreshadow an epiphany, a reveal or a shocking event.

The message of A Haunting in Venice is that we should all watch out, because the people we trust the most might be the first to betray us. Another message is that you should never rule out any possibilities if they have a chance of being the truth, because sometimes it can surprise you. Be aware that there are disturbing scenes of violence, spiritual possession and psychosis.

I give A Haunting In Venice 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. A Haunting in Venice debuts on digital retailers and Hulu on October 31, 2023, and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD on November 28, 2023.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media:



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