Jury Coordination and Notes

Nightbooks * Just The Right Amount Of Scary For A Thrill But Won’t Keep You Up All Night

September 15th, 2021

A young boy named Alex becomes the prisoner of a witch to avoid certain death, he convinces her to let him tell her a scary story every night. Upon meeting the witch’s servant, Yazmin, the two must use their wits to escape her apartment, a magical labyrinth filled with various dangers, before the witch kills them both. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Nightbooks is very entertaining, but has some slow moments. It’s perfect for people who love a scary movie, but may regret watching it at night (like me!). It has the just right amount of scary moments to give you a thrill, but also doesn’t keep you up at night.” See her full review below.

Nightbooks
Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Nightbooks is very entertaining, but has some slow moments. It’s perfect for people who love a scary movie, but may regret watching it at night (like me!). It has the just right amount of scary moments to give you a thrill, but also doesn’t keep you up at night.

Nightbooks follows the story of a boy named Alex (Winslow Fegley) who loves to write scary stories. While trying to find the boiler room in his apartment complex, he is lured into a witch’s (Krysten Ritter) house, who steals children. He meets Yasmin, who is also stuck there. Can they make it out before they face certain doom? Watch the movie to find out.

This filmis based on the book by the same title, so fans of the book should love the movie. The set has so much attention to detail and the costume design, especially for Natacha the witch, is immaculate because all of her outfits perfectly express her personality. The special effects, specifically for the monsters, are so realistic that it gave me chills. My favorite character is Lenore the “sometimes” invisible cat because she has such a mind of her own.

The message is to never lose hope and always be yourself. Just because people think you are different doesn’t mean that you are bad. There is some bad language and some scary parts that young kids find scary.

I give Nightbooks 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases September 15, 2021 on Netflix.

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Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty * Totally Engaging; Makes Us Want To See More

September 13th, 2021

Continuing the dramatic tale of survival revolving around three families of meerkats who are descendants of the legendary meerkat matriarch, Flower. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.” See his full review below.

Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty (2021)

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Many of us live in areas where Mother Nature brings a variety of seasons which exposes us to a wide array of ecosystems. Because we’re used to this variety, we have become incredibly curious about areas of the globe whose ecosystems are perhaps not as vast; one area in particular is the desert. With its harshly hot and dry climate, we know that anything able to withstand such brutal weather has to be an amazing creature and that’s one reason we have completely fallen for the South African meerkat.  The documentary series Meerkat Manor has entertained us for over 15 years and has brought the wondrous secrets of the Kalahari Desert right into our homes. The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.

Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty follows three families of the most charismatic desert mammals and showcases their family dynamics. In the spotlight of this series is Swift, the granddaughter of the original Meerkat Manor Whisker family matriarch, Flower. We’ve waited 12 years to catch up on what the Whiskers, Hakuna Mata and Ubuntu families have been up to and there are many surprises within this series as some things have changed. The new series continues to show us just how difficult life in the desert can be, yet with the perfect family dynamics and role assignments, animals can overcome these challenges. Just like in our own lives, people compete for space, food, and other resources, the meerkat families are no different. These episodes highlight that, despite the fact that the meerkats share a common bloodline, individual survival and the survival of their family is their main concern.

There are a lot of great things about this series, but my favorite part is the character led story telling by narrator Bill Nighy. The series humanizes the meerkats and gives each their own entertaining personalities. There are heroes, villains, babysitters, a Romeo and Juliet pair, and so much more. These personalities are hilarious and interesting to watch. The cinematography is also fantastic with its capturing of some of the most harsh weather conditions on Earth. I especially enjoyed the scenes where the camera was placed deep within the meerkat burrows. Meerkat Manor:  Rise of the Dynasty is a captivating series about the natural world and I appreciate its educational value.   

The message of this series is about teamwork.  Of course, family, culture and perseverance are worth  mentioning here also; however, if this species didn’t have a system of working together, they could not thrive within their harsh ecosystem. Each meerkat has a specific role to support its family. They work cohesively in a variety of ways to assure the success of their family. Whether their role is one filled with drama or with entertainment, one thing is for certain – these desert dwellers are sure to tug at your heartstrings.

I give Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults, especially animal lovers and nature enthusiasts, will also love this series. Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty is available now on BBC American and AMC+. Episodes 7 and 8 are coming out on September 4 and September 9, 2021. 

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Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. * Perfect Modern Teen Role Model Shown In A Positive And Truthful Light

September 7th, 2021

Set in modern-day Hawai‘i, Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. – a coming-of-age dramedy inspired by the hit medical series Doogie Howser, M.D. – follows Lahela “Doogie” Kamealoha, a 16-year-old prodigy juggling a budding medical career and life as a teenager. With the support of her caring — and comical — ‘ohana (family) and friends, Lahela is determined to make the most of her teenage years and forge her own path. Guiding Lahela is her career-driven mother Dr. Clara Hannon who’s also her supervisor at the hospital, her doting father Benny who helps keep her connected to what matters most, her free-spirited older brother Kai, her gregarious younger brother Brian Patrick, her best friend Steph, her surfer crush Walter and her fellow hospital colleagues, Dr. Lee, Charles and Noelani.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.  is a show that our generation so desperately needs. It exemplifies the life of a modern teenager in a positive and truthful light while being totally binge-able.” See her full review below.

Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. 
By Ashleigh Clyde, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17 

https://youtu.be/E11M2_OMkk4

Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.  is a show that our generation so desperately needs. It exemplifies the life of a modern teenager in a positive and truthful light while being totally binge-able. 

Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. is a Disney Plus Original Series inspired by the 1989 TV series Doogie Howser. It follows Lahela “Doogie” Kamealoha, a medical prodigy who is only 16 years old. With her life as a doctor and a teenager she struggles to keep up with both lifestyles.  

The main character, Lahela (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) is a great character that exhumes girl power. From the show before this she is a modern take on old practices. Plus, she is a person of color and a female who is breaking unforeseen barriers at an early age. Apart from Lahela, Dr. Lee (Ronny Chieng) is one of my favorites. His jokes and comedic timing are always funny. Oftentimes, Disney comedies are very predictable and rarely contain great jokes; however, the humor in this show has modern references that create a wonderful watching experience. Same with the costumes in this show; the wardrobe throughout for Lahela are age appropriate and wearable. The show is based in Hawaii, so the sets at the hospital, the beach and the Kamealoha home are all beautiful with bright, vibrant colors accompanied with the soothing sounds of the ocean. My favorite part of this show is how it reflects the modernity of teenagers throughout the years. Many shows today portray teenagers in an inappropriate and unrealistic light. But this show makes it comfortable for a 17-year-old girl, like me, to be proud to be a teenager. 

The message of this show is that it may seem like the world is on your shoulders, but the family around you has plenty of shoulders to help with the weight. This film promotes positive social behavior. 

I give Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. This show starts streaming exclusively on Disney+ September 8, 2021, with new episodes every Wednesday. 

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9/11: Inside The President’s War Room * A Remarkably Detailed Documentary About 9/11 Attacks

September 4th, 2021

9/11 from the President’s perspective, with exclusive access to information from the one’s that had to take decisions during the World Trade Center’s attack. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st  century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room was created.” See his full review below.

9/11: Inside The President’s War Room

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15 

In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st  century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room was created.

Going minute by minute, hour by hour, 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room offers two narratives, following the president’s actions, thoughts, and movements, and the developing situation in New York City. 

President George W. Bush was interviewed for this film and his impeccable memory of the day and skilled delivery make the documentary even more unique. His impassioned vow to bring Al-Qaeda to justice, his struggle to keep his anger in check, and his helplessness as he was flown around the country to avoid a rumored attack on Air Force One show exactly how novel this crisis was. The film includes high-quality archival footage and the perspectives of individuals like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Ted Olson, as well as the president and vice president’s chief of staff. I’ve never seen a more thoroughly researched and impeccably pieced-together documentary. The many perspectives from all these individuals contribute to a strong narrative that captures you from minute one. Each interview is compelling and the editing cuts between medium shots of the individuals and archival footage, creating an immersive and truly “in the room” experience. The background music complements the film’s somber tone. 

9/11: Inside The President’s War Room is a portrait of resilience, tact, patience and leadership.  There is some  mild profanity in the film as well as some footage of the Twin Towers collapsing with screams in the background.

I give 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room is available now on Apple TV+ . 

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Diary Of A Future President: Season 2 * I Couldn’t Stop Watching It! Great Message

August 18th, 2021

The second season of Diary of a Future President returns to Disney+ with all ten episodes available for binge-worthy streaming. Continuing the origin story of Cuban American and future leader Elena Cañero-Reed as she enters the seventh grade and recounted through excerpts from 13-year-old Elena’s diary, this coming-of-age series follows Elena through the ups and downs of middle school which sets her on the path to becoming the President of the United States. 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Season 2 has lots of fun things to talk about. First is the theme song at the beginning of every episode. I love the way it starts as her middle school diary and ends as the president’s book. It kind of shows her journey. Second, there are lots of relatable new things in this season, such as having a crush that doesn’t feel the same way you do and having your friend get a girl or boy friend and not having time for you. Third, there are lots of cool sets such as Elena’s bedroom. The way that the bathroom is in between Bobby and Elena’s room is so cool.” See her full review below.

Diary Of A Future President: Season 2
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Diary Of A Future President: Season 2 is very different from other Disney Channel shows. It has a very inspiring message which makes it a show that I would want to keep watching to find out what happens next.

The storyline follows young Elena (Tess Romero) finding her way through middle school as she starts 7th grade and begins a journey to becoming the president. Her brother Bobby (Charlie Bushnell) is having some problems with starting high school and managing his crush. Their mother Gabi (Selenis Levya) is dating Sam Faber (Micheal Weaver) and has just decided to have him move in. All in all, there is lots of fun new changes in the second season.

Season 2 has lots of fun things to talk about. First is the theme song at the beginning of every episode. I love the way it starts as her middle school diary and ends as the president’s book. It kind of shows her journey. Second, there are lots of relatable new things in this season, such as having a crush that doesn’t feel the same way you do and having your friend get a girl or boy friend and not having time for you.

Third, there are lots of cool sets such as Elena’s bedroom. The way that the bathroom is in between Bobby and Elena’s room is so cool. One of the sets is at the school and added this season is a theater which is a fun set. Fourth, this show uses lots of fun camera angles to enhance the viewing experience. Last, this show and its cast have been nominated for five different awards in 2020 and 2021. Most notable is winning a Gracie Allen Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role to Selenis Layva.


Diary Of A Future President: Season 2
gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. This premieres August 18, 2021 on Disney+. So be sure to check it out.

The message of this TV show is to always include others, be yourself even when that is hard, and always be honest.

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What If… ? * Fails At Multiple Attempts To Recreate The Authenticity Of Previous Marvel Films

August 11th, 2021

Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jude Adler comments, “Marvel Studio’s What If… ? is a major hit across the multiverse with its narrator-type journey, yet fails at multiple attempts to recreate the authenticity of previous Marvel films.” See his full review below.

What If… ?

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

Think about every decision or choice you’ve ever made and now, wonder, “what if I did that differently?” Marvel Studio answers these mind-boggling questions with its new hit animated series, What If… ? Every major plot line that occurred throughout the history of the MCU is twisted and turned to show different outcomes of various realities. Every Marvel film has a similar, typical way of story-telling, yet What If… ? has a new authentic narrator-type style that is extremely refreshing to longtime fans. However, the episodes fall a bit short recreating the nostalgic feeling from each film, resulting in many jokes feeling out of place and simply not landing. 

After the events of Loki, we are not dealing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. We are dealing with the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse! The Watcher (Jeffery Wright) is our all-seeing tour guide, showing us various different realities in which time and events play out extremely differently from what we know. Each episode explores stories generated from the simplest of choices. These subtle choices could result in a new superhero being born, a foe becoming a friend or even a murder. 

DC Comics has been the leader in superhero animation for a while now, but with What If… ? that title might be in jeopardy. The animation in this new series is extremely unique. The broad color scheme is very eye pleasing and ties into the 3D art extremely well, providing a tranquil flow. Witnessing characters written by different writers from previous films can be very noticeable at times. With new content added to stories we already know and love, certain characters feel out of place because of the writers recreating their personalities.

Marvel content over recent years has been very intense. Unlike its predecessors, What If… ? is more lighthearted and not driven by a serious tone. Throughout the series, action and mild cursing frequently occur. Each episode is radically different from other episodes due to the lack of continuity of the story. As a result, there are new morals and lessons included in every episode. A prominent moral lesson throughout the show is that you can be whatever you want, despite the obstacles. The show explores themes such as perseverance, trust and family. 

Marvel Studio’s What If… ? is a major hit across the multiverse with its narrator-type journey, yet fails at multiple attempts to recreate the authenticity of previous Marvel films. I give What If… ? 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. A new episode of What If… ? streams every Wednesday starting August 11, 2021 on Disney+. Make sure to check it out!

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Notorious Nick * Exciting, Great Moral About Fighting For What You Believe In

August 7th, 2021

Nick Newell, a one-armed MMA fighter gets a rare chance to fight for the lightweight championship. He strives to win for himself and all the other people in the world with physical challenges. The film is based on an inspiring true story of a young man who became known as “Notorious Nick.”

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, “This film is absolutely amazing. Hopefully the way it approaches disability in an empowering perspective will encourage more studios to do the same. Instead of Nick always being knocked down and seeing the negativity of his disability, he learns his strengths, never giving up, working to find a way to perform at his full capacity.” See her full review below.

Notorious Nick
By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Notorious Nick will have you on the edge of your seat, cheering and screaming at the top of your lungs! This film delivers on all aspects; it leaves you teary-eyed and motivated to get out of your comfort zone. This is the perfect family film.

Notorious Nick tells the true story of Nick Newell (Cody Christian), who is a one-handed MMA fighter. Nick starts off as a wrestler and faces multiple challenges, but pulls through, becoming a world renowned MMA fighter, known as Notorious Nick. With the support of his family, best friend and coach, Nick proves that sky’s the limit.

This film is absolutely amazing. Hopefully the way it approaches disability in an empowering perspective will encourage more studios to do the same. Instead of Nick always being knocked down and seeing the negativity of his disability, he learns his strengths, never giving up, working to find a way to perform at his full capacity. He holds his own against famous mixed martial artists. He also encourages a boy with a similar disability to change his attitude. He believes in himself, even when he is the only one who does.  His mother is a great role model, inspiring other parents by always pushing Nick to succeed. The sheer determination between this mother and son duo empowers everyone. Nick learns how to fight inside the ring and out, even when he has to fight for his right to compete in the Light Weight Championships. He has to prove that – every competition where he has fought was legitimate, and he never backs down – determined to prove himself to the board and his opponent. Stay for the end credits for a chance to meet the real-life Notorious Nick and his coach. He talks about his journey and about how he’s only just getting started.

The moral of this film is to never give up; fight for what you believe in; and believe in yourself. Nick always fights against bullies, discrimination, opponents and negativity. With his disability, he learns to compete in the ring, to be considered just as great as his competition. He proves himself worthy to everyone and to himself. Be forewarned that there is profanity and depictions of alcohol use.

 I give Notorious Nick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters August 6, 2021.

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Joey and Ella * An Adventurous Comedy That Has It ALL, And Reminds Of To Take Care Of Our Planet

July 26th, 2021

A mysterious diamond causes a baby kangaroo named Joey to grow quickly and gain the power of speech. When two bumbling thieves try to retrieve the magical gem, a teen and her new boyfriend try to get Joey to safety before it’s too late.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella M. comments, “I love Joey and Ella! It is an adventurous comedy that is perfect for the whole family. This movie has it all – boy meets girl, girl likes boy, a mysterious jewel heist, an adorable kangaroo and a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet. So, buckle up and get ready for an action packed, fun filled family adventure that will inspire you.”  See her full review below.

Joey and Ella
By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I love Joey and Ella! It is an adventurous comedy that is perfect for the whole family. This movie has it all – boy meets girl, girl likes boy, a mysterious jewel heist, an adorable kangaroo and a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet. So, buckle up and get ready for an action packed, fun filled family adventure that will inspire you. 

This modern-day movie opens with two criminals stealing and then losing the Mazinski Diamond, which is a rare alien diamond.  This unique gem is unknowingly swiped by a baby kangaroo from a traveling circus. Ella, a young girl who just moved to her grandfather’s countryside house, discovers a cute kangaroo, Joey, hiding out in her grandfather’s barn.  Quickly, Ella discovers that the Mazinski diamond is not only rare, but magical. The diamond’s magic allows Joey to grow rapidly and gives him the amazing power to speak! Word gets out that Joey has the Mazinski Diamond and soon everyone is on the chase for this special kangaroo. Ella and her new friend from school, Luke, have to work together to save Joey.

This cast is filled with many talented actors – Jennifer Michele (Ella), Angela Tran (Joey) and Jude Manley (Luke). Each one really connects with their character and delivers strong performances throughout the movie. My favorite part is when Joey and Ella meet for the first time in the barn, because it is such a heartwarming and sweet moment.  You can really feel the bond between the two of them. And, I absolutely love the animation for Joey. It is so realistic. You think that he is a real kangaroo throughout the movie.

The intent of this film is to spread awareness about the effects of climate change and encourage us to work together in our communities to protect our planet.  Climate change has negatively impacted Australia where there are many wildfires and droughts that put the kangaroo population at risk. This movie inspires us all to help keep our environment and animals safe by playing an active role.

I recommend Joey and Ella for ages 7 to 18. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It releases on DVD and Digital July 27, 2021. So, hop to it! This is a movie you don’t want to miss. ELLA OUT! 

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Summer Of Soul * Beautiful Story Of A Life-Changing Festival & The Civil Rights Movement

July 23rd, 2021

Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is a feature documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Allison B. comments, “What do you know about the Harlem Culture Festival? This beautiful event that created so much love and togetherness has rarely been seen or discussed in mainstream media, until now. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) tells the beautiful story of this life-changing festival, and what it meant for the civil rights movement.” See her full review below.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
By Allison B., Age 14, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

What do you know about the Harlem Culture Festival? This beautiful event that created so much love and togetherness has rarely been seen or discussed in mainstream media, until now. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) tells the beautiful story of this life-changing festival, and what it meant for the civil rights movement. This documentary offers an eye-opening perspective of the times that motivated the festival and its incredible outcome.

Gladys Knight & the Pips perform at the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969, featured in the documentary SUMMER OF SOUL. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Summer of Soul talks about the importance of the Harlem Culture Festival, and what it meant to the people of color at that time. There are many interviews with people that discuss how this event impacted their lives and gave them a sense of unity during those trying times. We also are fortunate enough to see live, unseen performances from such icons as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, B.B. King and more.

What impressed me the most is that this happened in the same year as Woodstock. I grew up hearing a lot about the Woodstock Festival, but until I saw this movie, I had never heard of the Harlem Culture Festival. This shows just how divided our country was at that time, and how unfortunate it is that more people don’t know about this beautiful event. I learned so much from this movie, especially about different aspects of the civil rights movement. It features videos showing the riots that occurred over justice and equality. Sadly, these riots still happen today for similar reasons. I especially appreciate that this documentary doesn’t only show the fun parts of the Harlem Culture Festival, but these various socio-political aspects of times. The director, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, shows us the beauty of the event, plus the reason behind it.

The message of this film is: when you have to fight back, fight with love and creativity. People will always bring each other down, but if we can just help one person to know their worth, then we are doing good. That is something we could all hear more often.

I give Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Couldn’t Be Televised) 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 17, plus adults. Releasing in theaters July 2, 2021.

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Schmigadoon! * A Fun-Filled Musical Comedy Perfect For Theatre Kids And Musical Lovers!

July 16th, 2021

A couple, Melissa and Josh, go on a backpacking trip in an attempt to patch up their failing relationship, only to find themselves still arguing. They then discover a magical town called Schmigadoon, which is perpetually trapped in a Golden Age-style musical, and slowly realize that they cannot leave until they find true love. The title and concept is a parody of the 1947 Broadway musical Brigadoon. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Schmigadoon! is a fun-filled musical comedy perfect for theatre kids and musical lovers! The cast of this new series has some famous faces like: Keegan-Michael Key, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenoworth and many more!” See her full review below.

Schmigadoon!
By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 12

Schmigadoon! is a fun-filled musical comedy perfect for theatre kids and musical lovers! The cast of this new series has some famous faces like: Keegan-Michael Key, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenoworth and many more! 

On a bonding trip, lovers Josh and Melissa accidentally find themselves in the 1940’s musical town of Schmigadoon. Josh and Melissa see everyone bursting into song and dance and soon discover that they can’t go home until they find true love. Do they have it? Will they find it? Watch Schmigadoon! to find out!

The cast of Schmigadoon! stands out and so do the sets  Josh Skinner (Keegan-Michael Key) is not excited about this musical town and tries everything he can to get away from all the singing and dancing. Josh experiences many emotional highs and lows: engagement, break-ups and drama. Melissa (Cecily Strong) is the one who decides on the bonding trip which leads them to Schmigadoon!  She does enjoy the musical town and, eventually, joins in on the fun.

The scary Mrs. Mildred Layton (Kristen Chenoworth), wife of Reverend Layton, is the leader of the “Mothers of the Future” organization and isn’t very fond of Josh and Melissa’s arrival. As well as Josh, Mildred is also trying everything she can to get them to leave, as she thinks they are ruining “her” town. Betsy (Dove Cameron) is a young waitress who takes a quick interest in Dr. Skinner and tries to be his true love.  Enchanting and wise school teacher Emma Tate (Arianna DeBose) doesn’t care much for love and focuses on teaching the children, but all that changes when she meets Josh. 

The set replicates a genuine theatre stage set, creating a definitive boundary between the real world and Schmigadoon!’s stage set—I love that. The music is all taken from mid-1900s musicals, but the words have been changed. You’ll spend all day singing the tunes in your head, trying to figure out what the original songs are. I love the contrast in costumes from Josh and Melissa’s modern day clothes to the town’s 1940’s outfits. 

While there is more than one message to the story, the main one is that when hope looks lost don’t give up (and maybe add a bit of song and dance).

I give Schmigadoon! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults, but strongly recommend this for theatre kids. This series does contain strong language and some slightly inappropriate scenes. You can find Schmigadoon! starting July 16, 2021 on Apple TV. I’m looking forward to a season 2 already!

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