Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Jojo Rabbit * A Masterful Dark Comedy and Satire of One of History’s Most Horrific Times

November 11th, 2019

A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “I really love Jojo Rabbit. It is a work of art and definitely deserves so many nominations for the award season. It is a beautiful story told in a very original way, but some people may not fully understand everything, especially if you don’t know much about World War II.” Katherine S., adds, “Jojo Rabbit is very funny, even though it covers a very serious topic. There are plenty of interesting characters and the acting is terrific. The vividness of Jojo’s imagination is incredible and his friendships throughout the movie are so very important to the success of this story.  Julie S. wraps it up with, “Wow! I was stunned by this film. I heard people talking about it after seeing it at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year and couldn’t wait to see it. Taika’s masterful control of a highly charged subject, the Holocaust, turning it into a dark comedy is pulled off in the most remarkable way.” See their full reviews below.

Jojo Rabbit
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really love Jojo Rabbit. It is a work of art and definitely deserves so many nominations for the award season. It is a beautiful story told in a very original way, but some people may not fully understand everything, especially if you don’t know much about World War II.

(L-R): Thomasin McKenzie, Roman Griffin Davis and Taika Waititi in the film JOJO RABBIT. Photo Kimberley French. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

This storyline is about a boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) who lives in Nazi Germany and is in one of Hitler’s youth training camps. He constantly talks to his imaginary friend, who is a child-like version of Adolf Hitler. One day, he finds out that his mom (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin Mackenzie) in their home. As the film goes on, Jojo discovers the truth about the Nazi world and the Jews as well. By discovering Elsa and the development of their friendship, Jojo starts questioning his ideals and loyalties. 

This film is a dark comedy and a satire of one of the most horrific events in history, the Holocaust. This was a very dark time in the world and somehow Taika Waititi (the director) turns this tragic time into a remarkable comedy. The narration in this film is really good and the story unfolds very easily. I didn’t really know much about World War II, and the film doesn’t really address why Hitler was bad, but this is not a documentary. It doesn’t refer to many facts of the Holocaust; it really addresses Jojo’s struggles and is a story about tolerance and how love overcomes bigotry.

(L-R): Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson). Photo Kimberley French. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The acting is very good. I especially love the performance of Taika Waititi who plays the imaginary Hitler. Sam Rockwell plays a very intriguing role as Captain Klenzendorf and Scarlet Johansson is a very loving mother you immediately connect to immediately. Roman Griffin David is the perfect Jojo in this, his acting debut.

One thing that really caught my attention was the music because there are Beatles’ songs in German. I like the paradox because the Beatles are, to me, a great expression of love. I really love the idea of using Beatles’ songs and found it very creative. The director was inspired by the idolatry Beatles’ fans have for this British band.  The bright colors contrast with the sadness of the era, representing the illusion of wellness that a lot of Germans felt while they were being brainwashed by the Nazis. The cinematography creates a very warm atmosphere and the wardrobe also shows the elegance of the era.

Scarlett Johansson and Roman Griffin Davis in the film JOJO RABBIT. Photo – Larry Horricks. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

I like these types of film where they make you research about things that you may not have known about before. After seeing this film I was a little confused, but after doing some research I really saw the beauty of the film. One of my favorite scenes is when Jojo and his mom are on a bike ride together.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. Jojo Rabbit opens November 8, 2019. Be sure to check it out.

Jojo Rabbit
By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Jojo Rabbit is very funny, even though it covers a very serious topic. There are plenty of interesting characters and the acting is terrific. The vividness of Jojo’s imagination is incredible and his friendships throughout the movie are so very important to the success of this story.

Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in the film JOJO RABBIT. Photo – Kimberley French. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Jojo Rabbit tells the story about a 10-year old Nazi-loving boy, Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and his youthful journey through World War II, alongside his imaginary friend, who leads him with his political sway. While at a Hitler Youth Camp JoJo throws a grenade and accidentally blows up his face and legs. Jojo’s dreams of becoming a Nazi soldier quickly fade. One day while at home he hears something unusual in the attic. That something turns out to be a Jewish girl hidden in his attic. So, Jojo and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (no less), make a plan to get to know as much about Jewish people as they can.

Jojo Rabbit is directed by Taika Waititi, who also plays Adolf Hitler in this movie.  Nazis are not funny at all, but the perspective of this movie is from a child’s eyes and I found the story to be intriguing and funny. There are some incredible actors in this movie including Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson and Roman Griffin Davis. My favorite character is Yorki, played by Archie Yates.  He is so hysterical.

(L-R): Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen and Roman Griffin Davis in the film JOJO RABBIT. Photo – Larry Horricks. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The message of the movie is to treat others kindly and not to judge them by their faith. This movie has some profanity, some gory scenes of war and blood, and dead bodies. As you might expect in a movie taking place during a war there are risky things that kids might try to imitate. 

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults will also like this movie, if they don’t think too much about the true history behind it. This movie opens in theaters November 8, 2019.

Jojo Rabbit
By Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

Wow! I was stunned by this film. I heard people talking about it after seeing it at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year and couldn’t wait to see it. Taika’s masterful control of a highly charged subject, the Holocaust, turning it into a dark comedy is pulled off in the most remarkable way. The cast is superb, starting with Roman Griffin Davis, whose innocence draws you in from the opening scene and somehow he holds onto it, even as he discovers truths that threaten his ideals and beliefs that he has held fast. His invisible friend Adolf Hitler, played by Taika Waititi, comes in like a big surprise. You want to laugh at his antics, and not laugh because he is Hitler. In the end, you laugh, because the entire film makes you do that. Scarlett Johansson, as Jojo’s mom is warm and slightly off kilter. You se her passion for her young son and for “doing the right thing.” You’re not surprised at what happens to her, as horrific as it is. Thomasin McKenzie, as Elsa, the young Jewish girl living in the attic plays her role beautifully and her relationship with Jojo develops realistically as his eyes are opened to the idea that Jews are not what he’s been told at Hitler’s youth camp. The ending is satisfyingly appropriate. We can only imagine what happens next. 5 out of 5 stars and recommended for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.

Playing With Fire * Great Family Friendly Movie With Message About the Importance of Family

November 10th, 2019

When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters come to the rescue of three siblings, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet — babysitting. As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children — much like fires — are wild and unpredictable. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eva W. comments, “Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen!  It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message – family is the most important thing to help you keep going.” Ethan P. adds, “I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny.  Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans.  John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.” Leandro wraps it up with, “The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they are their kids and teach them what to do and not do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and they start to grow on each other.” See their full reviews below.

Playing With Fire
By Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen!  It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message – family is the most important thing to help you keep going. There is a lot of comedy in this movie that makes the audience laugh out loud.

L-R: Tyler Mane, Christian Convery, Keegan-Michael Key, Brianna Hildebrand, John Leguizamo, Finley Rose Slater (back to camera), and John Cena in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The story line is both adventurous and exciting.  There is lots of action, but it is not violent. The characters are super funny and the acting is phenomenal! If I had to recommend any film to watch with friends and family, it would be this one. Some parts are sad, but there is also plenty of action and comedy to keep the audience engaged.

Playing With Fire is about four smoke jumpers, which is an elite team of fire fighters. Jack and his friends are specially trained to jump into dangerous wildfires, so they can rescue people and fight fires. Their lives are perfect, until they find three kids trapped in a fire and this special group of men is forced to hang onto them until they can find their parents. Until then, they have to fight fires and take care of the kids. What could go wrong?

John Cena and Christian Convery in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The cast in this film is amazing!  The casting director, Rich Delia, not only picked some big names to be in this film, but also found some talented new-comers. The whole cast portrays their characters really well and they are hilarious too! Superintendent Jack Carson, head of the smoke jumpers, is played by John Cena, a well-known actor and WWE wrestler. Keegan- Michel Key, a famous comedian, plays Lieutenant Mark, a friend of the Superintendent and another smoke jumper.  Jack’s soft-hearted friend, Rodrigo, is played by John Leguizamo. Brianna Hildebrand plays Brynn, the oldest of the three kids. This film also has a dog named Masher, that is  Jack’s fierce firehouse dog. Masher is very well trained and his interaction with the kids is hilarious.  Andy Fickman directs the film.

I give Playing With Fire 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults Playing With Fire opens in theaters November 8, 2019!

Playing with Fire
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny.  Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans.  John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.

This movie is about four smoke jumpers played by John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane and John Leguizamo, who save three kids from a cabin on fire.  The three children are siblings and two of them, Will and Zoe, are under the age of 10. Their older sister Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand, X-Men) is taking care of them.  The smoke jumpers bring the kids to their depot until their parents can come to get them.  The kids constantly mess with all the equipment at the fire depot, which distracts the smoke jumpers from doing their jobs.

The storyline includes comedy and sometimes sad moments.  The visuals are perfect. The fire scenes looks real. The child actors are great at portraying their characters.  My favorite scene is when Will is feeding peanut butter to the smoke jumpers’ dog and he accidentally spreads it on the firefighter truck.  Will drops the industrial soap and takes the fire fighter hose to clean the mess and the truck makes lots of foam.

John Cena and Keegan-Michael Key in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The moral of this film is that family fulfills your life, in addition to working hard to accomplish your professional goals.  Jake’s (John Cena) priority is his career.  He works hard to achieve and accomplish his title in the firefighter department and forgets to have fun or remember that there are people around him that love him.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18 and adults can enjoy it too!  Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019.

Playing with Fire
By Leandro Ramirez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Playing with Fire is a funny and a fantastic Nickelodeon movie. It has so many funny moments and cool stunts. There are some scenes that are very emotional. It is very fun and up beat. It is an enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch.

The storyline is about fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) and his elite team of firefighters, coming to the rescue of three siblings and realizing that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet – babysitting. The three siblings, Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Chrisian Convery) and  Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) cause trouble all over the fire depot and are uncontrollable, much like fires. There are lots of hilarious moments that everyone will laugh at, and sad moments where you might cry.

The cast of Playing with Fire, especially John Cena, Keegan Micheal Key, John Leguizamo, and Brianna Hildebrand, elevates the film and makes it amazing. They all put there own little twist on there character and it is really cool how they performed all of their stunts. The cinematography and special effects is fantastic as well. The director, Andy Fickman, did an outstanding job directing everything and everyone. The screenwriter, Dan Ewen, also wrote a funny and a great script.

The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they are their kids and teach them what to do and not do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and they start to grow on each other.

I recommend this movie for ages 6 to 12, as well as adults. Younger audiences will find it more fun and exciting than teens will. I give this movie 4 out of 5 star rating. You can find this movie in theaters on November 8, 2019, so go watch it.

Sonic Boom, Season 1, Vol. 1 * Sonic the Hedgehog is Back, Funnier than Ever!

November 6th, 2019

It’s a Sonic you haven’t seen before – an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline. The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.”  Beatrice N. adds, “What do you call a blue hedgehog that is really fast and trying to stop an egghead from taking over the world? Sonic! It’s been a while, but he is back along with all of his friends…and enemies. This show is action-packed, hilarious with some dad jokes and just overall fun.” Leandro R. wraps it up with, “Sonic Boom is a really good cartoon filled with funny jokes and adventure. It is based off of the Sonic video games and turns it into an ensemble comedy. It pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline and excitement.” See their full reviews below.

Sonic Boom, Season 1, Vol. 1
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 11

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining.  Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.

Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 1, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment.  The package comes with two DVDs that include 26 episodes.  Each disk is 145 minutes.  Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog who has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures.  Sonic’s friends – Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) –  help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock).  Each episode has a different story line.  It does not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that’s what makes it so entertaining.

The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright.  The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character.  The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy.  My favorite episode is The Meteor when Sonic and Dr. Eggman switch their brains and body accidentally.  They touch a meteor and then their brains and bodies are switched.  Dr. Eggman becomes Sonic and Sonic becomes Dr. Eggman. Dr. Eggman tries to act like he really is Sonic and tries to trick Sonic’s friends so he can destroy them and he can rule the world, since he is now a genius and super fast.  My other favorite episode is Double Doomsday.  In this episode a kid meets Dr. Eggman and the kid gets mad at Dr. Eggman, because he is makes the kid do chores.  The kid makes a doomsday device to destroy the world.  He tells Dr. Eggman that his doomsday device is going to do more damage and they start competing against each other to destroy the world.

The moral to the stories is about team work making the dream work, because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friends to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing.  This disk is definitely worth four hours.  Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 1, is available now, so look for it!

Sonic Boom: Season 1, Volume 1
By Beatrice Nail, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

What do you call a blue hedgehog that is really fast and trying to stop an egghead from taking over the world? Sonic! It’s been a while, but he is back along with all of his friends…and enemies. This show is action-packed, hilarious with some dad jokes and just overall fun. Each episode also has some kind of moral or message at the end. I watched the Limited-Edition DVD Gift Set that comes with a DVD of over four hours of action- and adventure-filled episodes, plus it includes Sonic and Dr. Eggman pose-able action figures. But let’s just do this, shall we?

We enter the animal world of Sonic Boom, with all of its strange buildings and characters that are actually animals. We are first faced with a problem, which is usually Sonic’s responsibility to solve, and which always involves his nemesis Dr. Eggman. Along with help from his friends, Sonic uses his super speed to save the day. Let’s meet a few of Sonic’s friends! There is Amy, a pink hedgehog, who uses her giant pink and yellow hammer to defeat Dr. Eggman. There is Knuckles who uses his super strength, and of course his knuckles, to take down Dr. Eggman. Finally, there is Sticks, who uses her boomerang to help Sonic win each battle with Dr. Eggman.

It all takes place in Sonic’s strange village and Dr. Eggman’s evil lair. The series is directed by Natalys Raut Sieuzac and Sonic is voiced by Roger Craig Smith. Sonic is a mischievous blue hedgehog. He can sometimes get a little overprotective of his friend Tails, a cute fox who loves making gadgets that are actually helpful, unlike Dr. Eggman’s scary but silly inventions. Dr. Eggman is a true blockhead who sees himself as a genius, even though he is not at all clever. Amy is a true peacemaker who can’t stand it when her friends fight, but gladly helps fight Dr. Eggman. Knuckles is well… pretty much a dingbat. He often believes anything he hears and he hears a lot of those unbelievable things from Sticks. No, not a twig! Her name is Sticks and she is way too wild and crazy.

Get on board with Sonic and his friends because every episode is a new, supersonic adventure! The message of this series is to always help your friends and sometimes your enemies too.

Sonic Boom: Season 1, Volume 1 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 4 to 12. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

Sonic Boom: Season 1, Volume 1
By Leandro Ramirez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Sonic Boom is a really good cartoon filled with funny jokes and adventure. It is based off of the Sonic video games and turns it into an ensemble comedy. It pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline and excitement. The animation is great also.

The storyline follows Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Sticks who defend Seaside Island from various threats such as Dr. Eggman and his robotic creations. Wherever Sonic goes, his friends are always there to help him. Dr. Eggman always creates robotic things and tries to defeat Sonic with them, but he always fails.

In the video game, Sonic did not speak, but Robert Craig Smith gives life to the character and makes him awesome. The director, Bob Rafei, made this animated series great. The writer, Ian Flynn, wrote a great and comedic script too.

The message of Sonic Boom is to always have fun in what you’re doing. Whenever they fight Dr. Eggman, they are always telling jokes and having fun. Sonic Boom: Season 1, Volume 1 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 10. This DVD is available now so look for it.

Dora And The Lost City Of Gold Knocks It Out Of The Jungle!

November 1st, 2019

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle, nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure yet — high school. Accompanied by a ragtag group of teens and Boots the monkey, Dora embarks on a quest to save her parents while trying to solve the seemingly impossible mystery behind a lost Incan civilization. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “Paramount Pictures has done it again! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Deliciouso! Are you ready for a new live action Dora?! If so, you’ll love this feature transformation of Nickelodeon’s TV show Dora The Explorer.” Zoe C. adds, “Vámonos! Dora and the Lost City of Gold sends me back to my not-that-long-ago childhood and reminds me why kids love Dora: she is simple, enthusiastic and an avid explorer! Now a teenager, Dora keeps her spirit and deals with identity, like most teens nowadays do, and continues teaching us lessons—and some Spanish. (“Vámonos” means “let’s go!”)” Mia G. wraps it up with, “As someone who grew up watching the show, Dora the Explorer, I am delighted at all the little tidbits in the movie that are reminiscent of the cartoon.  Dora speaks to the camera, carries her nifty backpack everywhere she goes and she throws in a Spanish word every once in awhile – ‘Can you say Delicioso?’” See their full reviews below and check out some of their interviews including coverage at the Studio Movie Grill honoring Pat Gonzalez from Paramount Studios for her charity work with the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Southern California.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Paramount Pictures has done it again! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Deliciouso! Are you ready for a new live action Dora?! If so, you’ll love this feature transformation of Nickelodeon’s TV show Dora The Explorer. If you have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up in the jungle, that’s a question for Dora and her playful monkey Boots. This film takes you alongside Dora as an explorer learning the jungle’s darkest secrets. Buckle up, it’s going to get wild.

This film follows Dora, a teenage explorer who leads her friends on a adventure to save her parents and solve the mystery behind The Lost City Of Gold. Dora spent most of her life exploring the jungles of South America, but nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure yet, high school. Yes, high school. Dora spent most of her life in academic isolation with her professor parents. Get ready for Dora and her adventures to begin. Swiper, no swiping. Swiper, no swiping.

Isabela Moner stars as “Dora” in “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

The lead characters are Dora (Isabela Moner), Elena (Eva Longoria), Boots (Danny Trejo’s voice), Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), Swiper (Benicio Del Toro’s voice), Dora’s Father (Michael Pena) and Diego’s Mother (Pia Miller). My favorite character is clearly the favorable Dora who shows strength and courage throughout the film. For example, her parents doubt her, but she has a light inside her that will prove them wrong. She wants to show her friends, family and fellow explorers that, just because she’s young, she can be a leader and explore alongside her parents. I love that the film features a predominantly Latinx cast. The Spanish parts feel really natural and funny. The Latina female lead really inspired me in so many ways. I learned from her spirit and her willingness to be herself. 

My favorite scene is unquestionably when Dora and her friends find the Lost City of Gold. We see how the treasure hunters have tried stealing something that wasn’t their own. This scene definitely shows teamwork, action, decision-making and communication skills.

Isabela Moner and Jeff Wahlberg star in “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

This film shares an important message about always being yourself. Dora proves this as she enters high school for the first time, after being home schooled. She expresses her own personality and doesn’t change for anyone.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. There is no bad language or violence or anything to be concerned about.  It comes out on Digital November 5 and on DVD/Blu-ray November 19, 2019. Make sure to go check out this astonishing and adventurous film.  

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Vámonos! Dora and the Lost City of Gold sends me back to my not-that-long-ago childhood and reminds me why kids love Dora: she is simple, enthusiastic and an avid explorer! Now a teenager, Dora keeps her spirit and deals with identity, like most teens nowadays do, and continues teaching us lessons—and some Spanish. (“Vámonos” means “let’s go!”)

In this live-action movie, Dora (Isabela Moner) goes to the city to explore . . .  high school! The jungle seems to be her natural habitat, so when Dora arrives in the city she seems a bit lost and confused. There she meets with her cousin Diego. She doesn’t know much about what going to school is and real life in a city seems more dangerous than the jungle does. On a field trip, Dora goes back to doing what she knows best: having adventures. Dora and some classmates accidentally end up in the jungle, and she helps her parents solve a mystery and find the Lost City of Gold.

I love that this film keeps the essence of the original Dora animated series and brings to the big screen elements from the TV show, like some of the animated characters. I like that family is important to Dora, and that she is a good example for younger children. The acting is very good and everyone fits nicely in their roles. Eugenio Derbez, one of the producers of the film, is surrounded with a great group of actors. He plays Alejandro Gutierrez, an explorer related to Dora, although she doesn’t know him well. Eva Longoria and Michael Peña play Dora’s parents, and they are funny and add a warm touch. Isabela Moner is the perfect Dora: she totally embodies the tone of the little girl while playing a teenager.

Isabela Moner stars as “Dora” in Paramount Pictures’ “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

The story is a little predictable but overall is entertaining. The sets are not perfect, but they serve the purpose. I was actually excited to see the film since Dora is such a classic and 2020 (next year) will be the 20th anniversary of the character. The message of the film is: family comes first, and you don’t have to change who you are to fit into society.

I give Dora and the Lost City of Gold 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 4 to 14.  Dora and the Lost City of Gold comes out on Digital November 5 and on DVD/Blu-ray November 19, 2019.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
By Mia G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8

I love Dora and the Lost City of Gold much more than I thought I would! The live-action movie is light-hearted, full of comedy and adventure, and stays true to the original Dora the Explorer TV series.

L-R, Eugenio Derbez, Nicholas Coombe, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden and Isabela Moner star in Paramount Pictures’ “DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD.”

The movie follows Dora, a teenager now, who is begrudgingly shipped off from the jungles of Peru to Los Angeles, California to live with her relatives, including her cousin Diego. Dora struggles to assimilate in high school and has difficulty making friends.  Meanwhile, her parents who are professors and explorers, go missing while on their latest quest to find the Lost City of Gold.  Through a series of events, Dora and her new friends are off to save the day!

As someone who grew up watching the show, Dora the Explorer, I am delighted at all the little tidbits in the movie that are reminiscent of the cartoon.  Dora speaks to the camera, carries her nifty backpack everywhere she goes and she throws in a Spanish word every once in awhile – “Can you say Delicioso?”

Isabela Moner portrays Dora so well. She fits the part perfectly; looks like her cartoon counterpart; sounds like her and is Peruvian herself! She is upbeat, and as one of the characters in the movie says, has a “relentless good-natured spirit.”  Though I initially thought the movie would be cheesy, I enjoy Isabela’s comedic timing.  She carries the movie as its heroin.

Isabela Moner and Eugenio Derbez star in Paramount Pictures’ “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

Dora’s best friend, Boots (a monkey) and nemesis, Swiper (a fox) join her in this adventure.  They are the only two characters who are in CGI.  Though it might be have been created like this on purpose, I find the graphics of these two characters too cartoony. They stand out too much from the live-action cast.

The message of the movie is to stay true to yourself, which is the advice given to Dora early on. Because Dora stays true to herself, she is able to conquer both the high school and jungle worlds.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, because of its youthful nature.  It comes out on Digital November 5 and on DVD/Blu-ray November 19, 2019.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness – Unique and Unexpected with a Spiral of Surprises!

November 1st, 2019

All Little Wolf wants to do is stay at home with Mum, Dad and his brother, Smellybreff. However, Mum and Dad are worried that their precious son, Little Wolf, is not as bad as a small wolf should be. So they decide to send him off to Cunning College in Frettnin Forest to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Bigbad. Uncle Bigbad is a hopeless teacher, but armed with determination and native wit, Little Wolf thinks things out for himself. Sent out by his Uncle to round up a troop of boy scouts to eat for supper, Little Wolf discovers that the scouts have many useful skills that Little Wolf can learn from them. In the end, Little Wolf decides not to follow outdated rules of proper wolf behavior but to be true to himself. As a result, he inherits his Uncle’s fortune and becomes master of Cunning College. Based on a world-famous series of best-selling Little Wolf story books, this one-off is a treat for the whole family! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “With its spiral of surprises, I never could predict what would happen in the next scene. The story also puts a twist on common fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.” Dariana A. adds, “Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a very odd type of film. It’s not your typical Dora the Explorer type of kids’ show, which is good because there are too many of those types of shows out there.” Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “! I love the fact that this is a little story where we actively see a child decide who they want to be and being so proud of themselves. This is the kind of feel good story that every child needs to watch.” See their full reviews below.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness
By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness, directed by Karsten Kiilerich, is unique and unexpected! With its spiral of surprises, I never could predict what would happen in the next scene. The story also puts a twist on common fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.

The story follows Little Wolf (Alexander Pownall), who is not bad enough for his family. So his Mum (Lucy Whybrow) and Dad (Richard Hope) send him on a journey to Cunning College to learn from his Uncle Bigbad how to be a true bad wolf. On his quest, he learns the ‘Nine Rules of Badness.’

Alexander Pownall, the voice actor for Little Wolf, creates personality through his voice. His voice is high, making it sound like that of a young child. As Little Wolf ventures through the woods to reach Cunning College, I heard the fear in his voice and sympathized with him. When he writes letters back to his family and reads them, I heard the unwillingness to be where he was and the sense of defeat just through his voice. Michael Gambon, voice actor for Uncle Bigbad, has terror in his voice that gave me goose bumps. For example, when he is first introduced and he speaks, I knew Little Wolf was going to have a tough time in Cunning College.

The animation is dark but appealing. It sets the tone of the movie as it reflects Little Wolf’s feelings. For example, when Little Wolf feels that his trip was a waste of time and nothing good will come out of his journey, the scenery is dark, it is raining and there are shadowy clouds looming above him. The costume designs add to the personalities of each character. For example, Little Wolf has simple clothes that are similar to a schoolboy’s outfit, reflecting what his purpose is in the movie. Uncle Bigbad wears a grey suit, with a yellow shirt and blue tie which reflects his personality as an evil wolf but also one who has the potential to have color or goodness in his life.

My favorite part of this show is the animation. The type of animation that is used made me feel as if I was watching my own imagination. The message here is that goodness will always outshine darkness. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 15. This is available on DVD now so check it out.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness
By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a very odd type of film. It’s not your typical Dora the Explorer type of kids’ show, which is good because there are too many of those types of shows out there. This is a story and a good story at that. It teaches kids through a wolf who is supposed to be bad, but wants to be good.

The storyline is about Little Wolf who just wants to stay at home with his family, but his parents don’t think he’s bad enough to live up to the Wolf family name. So, they send Little Wolf to Cunning College to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Big Bad. But it turns out Uncle Big Bad isn’t such an amazing teacher after all.

As I said, the show is pretty great. The animation wiggles a bit, even when they are standing still. This is probably intended, but it is kind of distracting. One of the things I really like about this show is its plot and the simple way it shows the lessons they are trying to teach without even saying so. This is what makes it a different type of kids’ film. It is also very slow paced. There isn’t very much action. One thing I wondered about the whole time is why Little Wolf always sneezes when he’s around Mr. Twister. Is he allergic? Michael Gambon, the voice talent for Big Bad is really cool. David Thewlis voices Mr. Twister, which is pretty awesome. I know and like both Gamgon and Thewlis from the Harry Potter films. Another thing I really enjoyed about this film is how scary they make Big Bad. I really was kind of scared when the character Big Bad came on and yelled at Little Wolf. That is probably my favorite scene because it really shows who Big Bad truly is.

The message this film teaches is that, even if you’re bad or scary, that doesn’t mean that you are happy. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars because it has a cool, different way of teaching kids. I recommend this film for ages 2 to 6. This film is available now on DVD so, go check it out.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness
By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a short film based on the book with the same name by Ian Whybrow and made into an award-winning film by Karsten Kiilerich. I personally love this film. Little Wolf’s parents are very concerned about him not being big and bad enough, not really displaying typical wolf behavior. So his parents send him to Cunning College in hopes of learning the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Bigbad. Bigbad sends Little Wolf out to some troops and he, in turn, learns many lessons from them. After all is said and done, Little Wolf is true to himself and doesn’t try to change his behavior to reflect the Nine Rules of Badness. This ends well for him and I don’t want spoil what happens for him at the end. You’ll just have to watch and find out. The animation is style is reminiscent of the books and is very charming. My three-year-old loved watching this. I give  this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for age 4 to 12. However, I’m sure some older kids and adults may enjoy it as well. Reviewed by Rachel V., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer.

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