Jury Coordination and Notes

They Call Me Magic * Helps Us Appreciate The Sacrifices And Challenges Magic Experienced To Be The Legend He Is Today

May 3rd, 2022

Takes an illuminating, holistic look into the life and career of one of the world’s most iconic figures, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. This docuseries explores the remarkable accomplishments and global impact of Johnson’s life, both on and off the court. From his humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, he changed the conversation around HIV and transcended into a community activist and successful entrepreneur. Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with Magic, his family, powerhouses from business and politics, and those in his inner circle, the series will offer an unprecedented look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our era.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like They Call Me Magic because it is a four-episode docuseries about the life and career of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the five time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. The audience can appreciate Magic’s humbleness, sacrifices and challenges he went through in order to be the Legend he is today.” See his full review below.

They Call Me Magic
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 13

I like They Call Me Magic because it is a four-episode docuseries about the life and career of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the five time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. The audience can appreciate Magic’s humbleness, sacrifices and challenges he went through in order to be the Legend he is today.

They Call Me Magic is about the beginning of Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s career as a basketball player, his journey from playing in high school, college, becoming an NBA All Star player, and a successful businessman and advocate for the minority communities. The audience will learn where his nickname Magic came from. What type of obstacles Magic had to go through to have the successful life he has today. He experienced racism, rivalry, jealousy, three engagements gone wrong with his actual wife, Cookie Johnson, he has the HIV virus and had to deal with the acceptance of his son, EJ Johnson, being homosexual and the repercussion that comes with it.

This Apple TV+ docuseries was directed by Rick Famuyiwa with editor Dirk Westervelt and cinematographer Rachel Morrison. The audience will enjoy listening to special guests narrating some of Magic Johnson’s highlight moments in his life. We get to see former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton expressing their admiration for Magic. Former basketball players like Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about their personal experiences with Magic, inside and outside the basketball court. Jimmy Kimmel, Arsenio Hall, Samuel O’Jackson and Snoop Dog are also some of the celebrities expressing their admiration and narrating Magic’s influence in his community and globally. Today, Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a successful businessman, an advocate for HIV/AIDS patients and for the minority community. He owns several sports teams as well.

The moral of this docuseries is that things always happen for a reason and to never give up when situations in life get hard. Magic never thought that having the HIV virus will turn his life for good by educating the world about this illness. He shared his experience with the virus and taught the world that AIDS is not necessary a gay illness. Anyone can be contaminated by this virus.

I’d give They Call Me Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, with adult’s supervision due to foul language. They Call Me Magic is available now on Apple TV+. 

Share this page on:

No Vacancy * A Heartwarming Tale Based On A True Story

April 30th, 2022

A jaded reporter is demoted to a rural news station, where she befriends a recovering addict and gets involved with a church’s plans to transform an old motel into housing for homeless families.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Apurva S. comments, “No Vacancy is a good, heartwarming tale, which is especially crowd-pleasing as it is based on a true story… I found it very exciting. Even though this isn’t an action movie, No Vacancy is engaging.” See her full review below.

No Vacancy
Apurva Sistla, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

No Vacancy is a heartwarming tale, that is especially crowd-pleasing as it is based on a true story.

Brandi Michaels (Sean Young) is a news reporter who lives with her mom and an alcoholic brother (Wade Hunt Williams). Being a very close-minded person, her view of the world changes when she meets a homeless drug addict (T.C. Stallings). She believes that people are only out for themselves, but when she discovers a church that is struggling to purchase a motel for homeless families, her thoughts change. 

The storyline hooked me into the movie the most. I found it very exciting. Even though this isn’t an action movie, No Vacancy is engaging. Sean Young, who plays main character Brandi, is an exceptional actress when it comes to emotion. She has subtle expressions which contribute to my overall favorable opinion of this film. Brandi is portrayed as a simple person whose view of the whole world changes after she sees how unselfish and altruistic people can be, and the character development portrays this evidently. The pace of the film is perfect, not being too fast or too slow.

I give No Vacancy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for mature kids ages 12 to18, plus adults. No Vacancy releases in theaters on May 9, 2022.

Share this page on:

Brie’s Bake Off Challenge * If You Are A Fan Of Baking Shows, You’ll Want To Stop What You’re Doing And Tune Into This Brilliant And Fun Film

April 25th, 2022

Brie Hayes is an aspiring baker who wishes to win her school’s Spring Bake Off Challenge. Troubles ensue when Brie’s confidence reaches an ultimate low and her “arch nemesis”, Vanessa, does everything she can to slim Brie’s chances of winning. Brie’s family and her best friend Millie must help her gain perspective and practice to win. Stakes are high as these pre-teens compete for the grand prize of $5,000 and for four Cosmo Land tickets. This is the ultimate baking movie for children and adults who love watching cooking and baking shows.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Hanadie K. comments, “First things first, if you are a fan of baking competition shows, you’ll want to stop what you’re doing and tune into this brilliant and fun film. Brie’s Bake Off Challenge delivers all the adorableness and laughter of a teen dramedy while speaking directly to my food-loving spirit.” See her full review below.

Brie’s Bake Off Challenge
By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 11

First things first, if you are a fan of baking competition shows, you’ll want to stop what you’re doing and tune into this brilliant and fun film. Brie’s Bake Off Challenge delivers all the adorableness and laughter of a teen dramedy while speaking directly to my food-loving spirit. If you appreciate a cute, teeny-bop movie, you’re in for a sweet treat!

Brie Hayes (Devyn Mitchell) is an aspiring baker who wants nothing more than to win her school’s annual Spring Bake Off Challenge. The path to victory becomes harder for Brie to see as her view is blocked by self-doubt, issues with her adversary, and tension with her best friend. With a $5,000 grand prize and four Cosmo Land tickets at stake, Brie is more determined than ever to be the champion.

Devyn Mitchell’s performance pulls viewers in emotionally. Her acting range is evident in multiple scenes. First, you see her anger when she scolds her little brother Peter (Isiah Givens) for destroying her chocolate cake. Next, you see her discontentment and frustration when she goes toe to toe with her arch-nemesis and bully Vanessa Weiler. Then she shows you her creative and intelligent side when strategizing how to win with her best friend BFFL Millie (Mallory Vertman). This film keeps the competitive energy of baking shows while making us feel like we were walking the halls of middle school. My favorite part of the film was when Brie’s Mother, Violet (Jennifer Richards), decides to put Brie and her best friend through intensive baking training.

Brie’s Bake Off Challenge reminds tweens that even our worst days are temporary anddemonstrates the importance of resilience and determination. There are a series of unfortunate events, and she easily could have used those dilemmas as a reason to quit. But instead, her perseverance has great reward. This sends an encouraging message to tweens facing similar situations.

I give Brie’s Bake Off Challenge 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 14, plus adults. Brie’s Bake Off Challenge is available now on HBO MAX. Check it out if you love cute teen movies, delectable baked goods, and movies with happy endings.

Share this page on:

Transformers: BotBots * Transformers Are Back Like You’ve Never Seen Them — Smaller Robots Than Usual, But They Are More Than What Meets The Eye

April 18th, 2022

When the lights go out at the mall, the BotBots come out to play. Meet a fun-loving crew of everyday objects that morph into robots at closing time.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “A cheeseburger, soccer ball, flashlight and even a plunger … the Transformers are back like you’ve never seen them! They may be smaller robots than what we usually see, but these bots are still more than what meets the eye…” See her full review below.

Transformers: BotBots
By Tiana S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

A cheeseburger, soccer ball, flashlight and even a plunger … the Transformers are back like you’ve never seen them! They may be smaller robots than what we usually see, but these bots are still more than what meets the eye in the upcoming new series, Transformers: BotBots, named and based off the toy line of the same name.You’ll enjoy relatable characters, hilarious adventures and great friendships in the first comedy in the Transformers franchise.

Transformers: BotBots follows everyday objects that turn into mini robots at night after a substance called Energon hits the mall. Things get interesting when “The Lost Bots” from the lost and found section of the mall run into the mall guard as they strive to get back into their original squads. Will they be able to prove that they are worthy of being part of their original groups or will they stay lost forever?

Burgertron (James Harnett) is the main protagonist of the Netflix series Transformers: Botbots. He is a burger transformer, the former leader of the Food Court Squad and leader of the “Lost Bots.” The rest of the “Lost Bot” team are Kikmee the soccer ball (Lisa Norton), Dimlit the flashlight (Deven Christian Mack), Cloggstopper the plunger (Christian Potenza and Bonz-eye the Bonsai plant (Louisa Zhu). Most of the adventures take place as the “Lost Bots” try to avoid the flesh being, Dave the Mall Guard (Mark Little).

I love how, throughout the entire series, each episode is a new adventure and picks up where the previous one left off — almost like a movie. One of my favorite characters is Bonz-eye because she is fierce, carries a cool Katana and is the perfect representation of girl empowerment. The series is really funny, especially when Bonz-eye tries to slingshot Burgertron to save another bot and does it with enough force to cause his toppings to spill out. 

Transformers: BotBots is about not focusing so much on the negative or changes that happen in your life. The “Lost Bots” were so focused on reconnecting with their original squads that they forgot to take time to appreciate the new friendships they had with each other. Sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy what life gives you.  

I give Transformers: BotBots 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13, plus adults. It really has something for everyone, and you can stream it now on Netflix.

Share this page on:

Reign of Chaos * Gripping, One-Of-A-Kind Tale That Will Have You Intrigued With Its Storyline

April 10th, 2022

When the world is gripped by a plague unleashed by the evil lord Chaos, and humans are turned into rabid creatures, mankind can only be saved by three young women, descendants of a Goddess, with the power to stop Chaos’ evil.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Reign of Chaos is a gripping, one-of-a-kind tale that will have you intrigued. Its plot makes up for the, at times, weak production. The most remarkable part of Reign of Chaos is its storyline. There are also lots of close-up and medium shots with dim lighting to complement the eerie mood.” See his full review below.

Reign of Chaos

By Eshaan M, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

https://youtu.be/VSjXMEwLQTs

Reign of Chaos is a gripping, one-of-a-kind tale that will have you intrigued. Its plot makes up for the, at times, weak production.

Reign of Chaos is a tale of anarchy. The evil Chaos has released a terrible plague on the world. Humans are descending into a rabid race of monsters, and mankind’s last hope lies in three young women, descendants of a goddess who each have special powers. They must train and then use their powers to take down the great lord Chaos.

The most remarkable part of Reign of Chaos is its storyline. There are also lots of closeup and medium shots with dim lighting to complement the eerie mood. The voice modulation used on Chaos, one part of the special effects in the film, is great; it gives him a Darth Vader-esque voice that’s menacing and powerful. The casting of this film is not particularly memorable—perhaps because the roles are not especially memorable—though every actor portrays their character well.

Reign of Chaos promotes resourcefulness, leadership, taking action and teamwork. The film contains violence and some profanity; the protagonists are initially a bit hostile to one another, but in the end work together and are great examples to kids watching the film.

I give Reign of Chaos 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Reign of Chaos will be available on Digital April 12, 2022.

Share this page on:

Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers * Perfect Show For X-Men Fans And Those Who Are New To X-Men As Well

April 3rd, 2022

In the present year mutants are fighting each other in a civil war. Humans and mutants at war as well. Scott Summers (Cyclops) is a leader amongst a mutant organization and helping restore peace for all. This chronicles the backstory of Scott Summers from an early age to his mid adulthood years. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers, a new episodic series, is the perfect show for X-Men fans and the “unordained” who are new to X-men as well; its beautiful cinematography, compelling and sonorous soundtrack, plus great acting make this a must-watch series.” See his full review below.

Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers
By Eshaan M, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers, a new episodic series, is the perfect show for X-Men fans and the “unordained” who are new to X-men as well; its beautiful cinematography, compelling and sonorous soundtrack, plus great acting make this a must-watch series.

A fan-made production, Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers follows the story of Scott Summers (Keith Sutcliff) from his upbringing to how he became Cyclops, one of the most well-regarded and fierce leaders, and my personal favorite X-Men character. On the way, he faces several trials and must confront his enemies.

Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers has some incredible camera work, music and acting! Sutcliff’s dialogue delivery perfectly fits the dark Cyclops; even a four-minute episode reveals his acting talent. For a fan-made, unofficial production, the camera work looks super professional. The shots of Cyclops driving down a dusty road and looking pensively ahead are my favorites in the pilot episode. Now, the music — it sounds like something out of older Batman films, adding enough suspense and tension to the episode to keep viewers enthralled. It’s one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a while. The production truly takes Cyclops Chronicles to another level.

Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers is all about the hero’s journey: courage to face adversity and gumption! And this film contains some references to drugs.

I give Cyclops Chronicles: The Story of Scott Summers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Cyclops Chronicles is available now on digital and DVD.

Share this page on:

Jessie and the Elf Boy * Family-Friendly Film With A Sweet Story And Scottish Sense Of Humor

April 1st, 2022

Inspired by Scottish legend, this feel-good comedy follows the antics of the solitary forest elf Ghillie Dhu who becomes friends with a girl lost in the woods. When she is unexpectedly whisked away by her mother, a forlorn Ghillie sets out on a quest to find his lost companion. Years later, in the city, Ghillie meets Jessie Macrae, a plucky teenager determined to win favour with her high-flying mother by becoming a renowned hair stylist. When Jessie discovers that Ghillie has a gift for hair styling, they strike up a unique partnership which causes chaos for the manager of the chic hair salon and catapults Jessie to fame. Thanks to Ghillie, Jessie’s dreams are within reach, but will this meeting of two worlds be enough to overcome the deep hurts of broken relationships through the generations?

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Jessie and the Elf Boy is a family-friendly film set in Edinburgh, Scotland. With a sweet storyline and its Scottish sense of humor, Jessie and the Elf Boy is one for the family to watch. My favorite part of the salon storyline is when Jessie discovers Ghillie, and he creates some amazing hairdos. I love the forest at the beginning of the movie where Ghillie’s home is set—it is beautiful, and highlights the amazing scenery that Scotland has to offer.” See her full review and interview with the director and star below.

Jessie and the Elf Boy
By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Jessie and the Elf Boy is a family-friendly film set in Edinburgh, Scotland. With a sweet storyline and its Scottish sense of humor, Jessie and the Elf Boy is one for the family to watch. 

The story follows Ghillie Dhu (Huck Whittle), an elf that you can only see when wearing a special necklace. When a girl he meets in the forest moves away, he goes in search to find her, only to realize that that young girl has grown up. He then finds Jessie (Julia Brown), who he believes is that young girl from all those years ago. Jessie has just started a new job at her mother’s salon, and it turns out that this elf may just be the thing she needs to become the next big hair stylist.

Jessie deals with her mother freezing her out as well as trying to get her to notice the amazing things she can do—Julia portrays these characteristics really well. Huck Whittle is a newcomer making his debut in this film—his character, Ghillie, is very comedic about how he searches for his childhood friend. He discovers various things that he didn’t have in the woods—one of my favorites being fizzy juice. Jessie’s mother, Valerie, (Gail Watson), the owner of the hair salon, plays a very big part in the end, but I won’t say too much. My favorite part of the salon storyline is when Jessie discovers Ghillie, and he creates some amazing hairdos. I love the forest at the beginning of the movie where Ghillie’s home is set—it is beautiful, and highlights the amazing scenery that Scotland has to offer. 

The message of the film is that the truth will always come out in the end, and it will have its perks—good and bad. 

I give Jessie and the Elf Boy 3 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 8 to 11, plus adults. The film will be released April 1, 2022 to digital platforms.

Share this page on:

CODA * Very Inspiring Film With A Moral Message And Comedy    

March 30th, 2022

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music by wanting to go to Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “CODA is a very inspiring film with an overall good script and moral message. There are many morals to this film, but the main one is that no matter what you suffer from or who you are—or even how you look—we are all humans. We should all be treated equally, and we are each unique in our own way.” See his full review below.

CODA
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

CODA is a very inspiring film with an overall good script and moral message. I also love the comedy in this movie.

CODA is about an 18-year-old named Ruby who is the only one in her family of four without a hearing impairment. Her father is a fisherman, and she needs to help her dad with fishing since he can’t hear. For example, if he violates a fishing code, the Coast Guard calls him, but he cannot respond because he can’t hear the call.  That’s when Ruby comes in handy. Ruby’s passion is singing. Her dream is to go to the Berklee College of Music. She finds out about a chorus group and joins it, which leads to some conflicts—primarily that her family relies on her, but she also wants to live her life and go to college.

CODA, which stands for “child of deaf adults”, is an outstanding film (with many awards and nominations) that is a remake of the 2014 French film, La Famille Bélier. Sian Heder wrote and directed this beautiful adapted screenplay. Not only is this film heartwarming and comical at the same time, but it also lets the audience experience what it is to be deaf to the point of feeling vulnerable by not experiencing the joy of a live concert. My favorite part is when Ruby performs a song on stage with her family watching in the crowd. This is the most interesting and heartwarming scene because when they cut out the audio you get to see the dad’s point of view. You really feel what he experiences as a deaf person.

There are many morals to this film, but the main one is that no matter what you suffer from or who you are—or even how you look—we are all humans. We should all be treated equally, and we are each unique in our own way. CODA does have some sexual scenes and foul language.

I give CODA 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. CODA is available now on Apple TV. 

Share this page on:

Por Mi Hija * Gripping And Evocative – Encourages Dialogue About Immigration

March 23rd, 2022

A young couple from Mexico decides to come to the U.S. in search of the “American Dream” — illegals in a foreign country, no family, no friends. They are forced to confront the choices they have made.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Por Mi Hija is a gripping, evocative film; it does its part to encourage dialogue about immigration and the journeys of illegal immigrants to the U.S. while greatly entertaining audiences. The film’s cinematography further enhances the engaging storyline.” See his full review and interview with director, Fernando Rodriguez below.

Por Mi Hija

By Eshaan M, age 16, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Por Mi Hija is a gripping, evocative film; it does its part to encourage dialogue about immigration and the journeys of illegal immigrants to the U.S. while greatly entertaining audiences. The film’s cinematography further enhances the engaging storyline.

Por Mi Hija follows Leo (Christopher Bustos) and Emma (Daniela Vidaurre), a newlywed couple from the small town of Jalostotitlán, Mexico. Leo’s friend helps him get a job in Fresno, California, and the two head north as illegal immigrants to start a new life.  Soon they must confront the reality that their new life in America isn’t all that it’s cut out to be.

The acting, cinematography, and storyline of the film all come together to make Por Mi Hija a unique experience. The film jumps back and forth in time, using color and light to indicate these shifts. Director Fernando Rodriguez ensured this isn’t disorienting to audiences; rather, he keeps viewers interested throughout the hour-long feature film. Rodriguez also wrote the script, which contains a melodious mix of Spanish (about 90%) and English (about 10%).

Bustos, Vidaurre, and young Luciana Elisa Quiñonez, who plays the character of the same name, deliver their lines with beautiful conviction. Their eyes speak just as they do, and their body language syncs up perfectly with the mood of the scene. The cinematography is remarkable as well; especially towards the beginning and during tense scenes—the use of light and framing of scenes adds layers to the film.

Por Mi Hija promotes staying together despite difficulties, taking risks, never running from challenges, and, at its heart, the film’s all about empathy: empathy for immigrants, yes, but also for all those around you. Por Mi Hija contains racism, blood, slight profanity, and alcohol.

I give Por Mi Hija 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Por Mi Hija is available now on digital and DVD.

Share this page on:

A Fun Charlie Brown Spin-Off Focusing On The Life Of Charlie Brown’s Dog Snoopy

March 8th, 2022

The world’s most iconic dog is ready for his close-up. Dive into new adventures with the happy-dancing, high-flying, big-dreaming beagle, who’s joined by best friend Woodstock and the rest of the “Peanuts” gang.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha P. comments, “The Snoopy Show is a fun spin-off series from Charlie Brown’s many movies and shows. This animated series is enjoyable for young audiences because it focuses on the life of Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy.” See her full review below.

The Snoopy Show

By Samantha P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Snoopy Show is a fun spin-off series from Charlie Brown’s many movies and shows. This animated series is enjoyable for young audiences because it focuses on the life of Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy. This show has the same style as the originals, which makes it interesting to watch, especially if you are a fan of the Charlie Brown classics!

Each episode follows Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown (Ethan Pugiotto) and Charlie Brown’s friends as they get into different hilarious situations. Woodstock and Snoopy have creative and intriguing solutions to problems they face, like wanting a fishbowl so they can become astronauts, or writing a story for a competition. Every episode is unique and has a creative storyline.

This series has interesting anthropomorphic characters, because Snoopy, along with his animal friends, walks on two legs and has many human characteristics. Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) doesn’t talk, but he makes many noises like yelling, grunting, sighing and laughing for his character. Woodstock (Rob Tinkler) does something similar for Woodstock. Every episode has about three five-minute shows within it. The first episode has three stories about the backstory of Snoopy, which is really interesting.

Every episode has a different theme; some common themes are selflessness, perseverance and coming-of-age.

I give The Snoopy Show 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 11. The Snoopy Show returns for season two on Apple TV Friday, March 11, 2022.

Share this page on:
Kid movie news & Free DVDs:
Join KIDS FIRST! on Twitter Join KIDS FIRST! on YouTube Join KIDS FIRST! on Instagram Join KIDS FIRST! on Facebook Join KIDS FIRST! on Pinterest