Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for November, 2011

‘Game of Your Life’ Family Fare for Friday while its Star Guests on KF Coming Attractions

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

GameOfYourLife_TitusMakin_LeaThompson.jpgKIDS FIRST! youth film critic Gabriella Chu (age 14) shares her insightful review of made-for-TV family film Game of Your Life, which NBC will air on Friday, Dec. 2. The film’s lead, Titus Makin Jr., came by to visit with KIDS FIRST! youth film critics for this week’s Coming Attractions radio show, and talks about himself and the movie. Check it out (here) as many times as you like, as the episode continues to stream on the VoiceAmerica Kids Channel.

Game of Your Life
Reviewed by Gabriella Chu
(See her full review on video.)

Game of Your Life is an inspiring movie about a bunch of teens who are accepted into a prestigious video game-designing school. The teens are divided into groups to compete among each other to design a video game. The movie focuses on one group in particular, made up of Zach Taylor, Sara Ramirez, Donald Wallace and Phillip Reese. The movie depicts the struggles and difficulties of teamwork, especially with Zach (Titus Makin Jr.), since he’s always preoccupied with helping his father keep their home because the bank is about to foreclose it, and designing another video game for the head of the school, Marcus Bentton. Will Zach stay committed to his team even though he is working on many other things as well?

I enjoyed watching the struggles of the team. The movie shows that in order for a group to be successful, all members have to be involved. As the movie progresses, Zach straightens out his priorities and learns that he shouldn’t be so focused on saving his home because the meaning of home is friends and family and not the physical house you live in. Moreover, the movie makes a comparison between games and life. In life, you always have to choose between options, just like the game Zach and his group designs.GabriellaChu_3_1.jpg

I recommend this movie to kids 10 and up. The subject matter of the movie will most likely appeal to tweens and teens. Game of Your Life is an uplifting made for TV family film presented by Walmart and P&G. Watch it on Friday, Dec. 2 at 8/7 central on NBC!

To view the trailer, visit http://bcove.me/g6mnatlq           

Photos: Zach (Titus Makin Jr.) and Dr.  Lambert (Lea Thompson) in Game of Your Life (top); Gabriella Chu (bottom)

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‘The Dog Who Saved Christmas’ Re-released for 2011 Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

DogWhoSAvedXmas_200x290.jpgThe message at the heart of this slapstick tale of doggy derring-do from Anchor Bay is relevant any time of the year: Everyone deserves a second chance. Delivering it in a Christmas setting adds an extra zing because, as the mother in this story insists, “No one should be alone for Christmas.”

Shades of Home Alone, but here with a  former K-9 police dog as hero, give the film its big pay-off and most of its humor. Unfortunately, it takes far too long to get there, straining for humor and character identification along the way. Part of the problem with the movie is its ambivalence about what age audience it’s going for.

At the start of the movie, we meet Zeus, a golden Labrador Retriever who looks well fed and well cared for. But appearances must be deceiving, because Zeus shares his thoughts with us about gettting picked up and sent to an animal shelter so he can be assured of “three square meals on the inside.” (Zeus is not so much a talking character as one whose thoughts we are able to hear.) Such references are above the heads of the youngest viewers, but the tone of voice most characters use is the one that many adults affect when they try to make conversation with toddlers.

Zeus is adopted from the pound by George Bannister, who promised his wife, Belinda, that he would not buy a dog until the two of them had time to discuss it more. His sophistry (“I didn’t buy it; I got it for free”) raises a point about honesty parents may want to discuss with their kids after viewing the movie. Ostensibly, George wants a dog that can be a guard dog, as there’s been a robbery on their block; Belinda, however, suggests they get an alarm instead. What George really wants is a pet, because as a child he lost his dog. So when it becomes apparent that Zeus lacks a basic requisite — he can’t bark — George insists on giving him another chance.

The Bannister kids, Kara and Ben, are on their dad’s side, and we see them getting a DVD “Teach Your Dog to Bark.” Even though they profess to care about Zeus, we don’t see any real feeling to their words or actions.

The source of Zeus’ problem is explained in a short, confused flashback scene: On a police mission, he barked at the wrong time and blew a five-year investigation. Now, he knows he has to overcome this psychological block, and, predictably, it takes a robbery attempt on the Bannister’s house to get him past his hang-up.

Recurring gags are Zeus drinking out of the toilet and one of the robbers with a flatulence problem. The pair of robbers are, in many ways, more likeable than the family whose home they’re robbing. They are stupid and clumsy, easy foils for Zeus’ tricks, and their conversation and pratfalls — over-the-top though they are — provide the most honest humor in the movie.

A secondary story involves a hermit-like neighbor about whom Kara and Ben propagate a rumor that she poisons dogs. Zeus also plays a role in resolving her relationships in time for a merry Christmas.

Recommended for ages 9 to 12. 

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‘Spy Kids’ Fun Adventure Romp – and a KF Film Critics Search Title

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

SpyKids_AllTheTimeInTheWorld.jpgReleased theatrically last summer, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D comes out today on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s a fun adventure romp, as KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Anthony Aranda (age 9) shares in his review, below. And it’s one of the movies that are part of the KIDS FIRST! Filmm Critics Search to find eight new KIDS FIRST! youth critics for 2012. Kids aged 6 to 14 have until midnight, Dec. 31, to submit their review of one of the selected titles. Click here for all the information – and tips on creating a great review.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D
Reviewed by Anthony Aranda
See his full review on video.)

I love this movie a lot because it is really cool. The movie has a lot of action and adventure.

This movie is all about two kids, Rebecca and Cecil, who find out their stepmother is a spy and go on an adventure [with her] to try to stop a bad guy named the Timekeeper. They get themselves into some trouble but always manage to find a way out. They also are really good at playing pranks on people.

Some of the main characters in the movie are Marissa (the mom, played by Jessica Alba), Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook). My favorite character in the movie is the kids’ dog, named Argonaut. The dog talks and is really funny. He helps out with the baby and he gives really good advice.

My favorite part in the movie is when the baby flips over a bad guy at the end. That is really funny. And then they call the baby Spy Baby. Marissa is really excited to see the baby do that.AnthonyAranda_190x250.jpg

I recommend this movie for ages 2 and up because there is only one scary part in this movie that I don’t think little kids would like. The movie has a lot of action and a lot of funny parts. Go out and get this on DVD.

Photos: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D poster (top), Anthony Aranda (bottom)

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Gloom Engulfs ‘Breaking Dawn’

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

BreakingDawn.jpgAs Breaking Dawn draws fans to the theaters for Summit Entertainment’s release of the latest installment of The Twilight Saga, KIDS FIRST! youth film critics Daniel and Jonah Menegaz (age 13) each share a thoughtful analysis of the movie.

Eight new KIDS FIRST! youth film critics will get their chance to review films and experience the thrill of red carpet interviews as we hold our second annual KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search.

Entering is fun and easy – and, if you live in the New York City area, entering includes the extra opportunity of a chance to receive a ticket to the Mama Doni Band’s Chanukah Fever concert Dec. 18 at the famed 92nd Street Y located on Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street in Manhattan or a copy of the Mama Doni CD “Chanukah Fever.” Scroll down for more information.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Park 1
Reviewed by Daniel Menegaz

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is the first half of the final installment of the Twilight Saga movies based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer that has gripped the nation since Twilight first came out on print. It is the tortured love story between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the vampire.

In this first part, Bella gets married and then gets pregnant on her honeymoon. The movie ends with her opening her bright red eyes as a vampire.

Having read Breaking Dawn, I thought it was fairly accurate to the story. However, the book doesn’t have quite enough information to stretch into two movies, so the movie was a little boring. The movie had some heavy drama; in fact, that was something I didn’t like. All the characters seemed to be depressed at what should have been a happy moment. Other than that, the movie was fairly good.MenegazDaniel_275x370.jpg

I really enjoyed the soundtrack and particularly the scenes. The movie had some very stunning nature shots.

I think this movie is for ages 13 and up because of very inappropriate subject matter regarding the sex and Bella’s pregnancy.

Overall, I would give this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for a movie filled with drama, vampires and werewolves, this is your movie.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Reviewed by Jonah Menegaz

Twlight. I shouldn’t have to say another word. The iconic books have swept the nation, and every girl who reads it loves it. Every girl who reads it sees and loves the movie, hence why the movies are so popular.

In case you haven’t read the books, this particular movie, based on Breaking Dawn, is about Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) getting married, and, while on their honeymoon, having sex. Edward being a vampire, they didn’t know it was possible to have a baby, but they did.

The acting and the portrayal of the characters were good and pretty believable, except for the fact that every time the main characters were supposed to look happy, they look all weary and depressed.

The make-up was good, considering how much of it they needed to put on and make it look the same in every scene, perfect in every scene, although sometimes it got to be a tad bit too much.

The sets were amazing, and they shot on location. The scene where Edward and Bella had the wedding was beautiful. The [sound stage] sets were great, too, if they used any.MenegazJonah_275x375.jpg

Breaking Dawn was rightfully rated PG-13 because of sexual content and some violence. I would not recommend this movie for people under the age of 11. 

Overall, I’d rate this move 5.5 out of 10.

Photos: Breaking Dawn poster (top), Daniel Menegaz (middle), Jonah Menegaz (bottom)

Know a child who wants to be like Daniel and Jonah – or who aspires to become the next Roger Ebert? Here’s an opportunity for them. Enter the KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Search. http://bit.ly/rGImlF

Entering is fun and easy – and, if you live in the NEW YORK CITY area, entering includes the extra opportunity of a chance to receive a ticket to the Mama Doni Band’s Chanukah Fever concert Dec. 18, 2011 at the famed 92nd Street Y located on Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street in Manhattan or a copy
of the Mama Doni CD “Chanukah Fever.”

To enter, “LIKE” KIDS First Film Festival Official Site, https://www.facebook.com/KIDSFIRSTFilmFestival, and let us know you have entered the campaign for youth film critics. We will draw from entries tagged on our wall beginning Nov. 22, 2011. Winners will be notified by Dec. 15, 2011.

For more information about the prize, read all about it @https://www.facebook.com/events/275692132468415/ and then let us know you want to win tickets or a CD to New York’s CHANUKAH FEVER CONCERT.

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‘Happy Feet Two’ Is Awesomely Happy

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

HappyFeetTwo.jpgKIDS FIRST! youth film critic Anthony Aranda (age 9) follows up his recent review of Happy Feet – a KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Search title released on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this month – with a reivew of the animated film’s sequel, Happy Feet Two. Awesome animation is just part of what makes Anthony urge families to go see it.

Happy Feet Two
Reviewed by Anthony Aranda

I just finished watching a really funny movie called Happy Feet Two! This movie is about Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Gloria’s (voiced by Pink) baby penguin named Erik (voiced by Ava Acres), who wanders off from all the other penguins. His father, Mumble, tries to find him, and while he is gone a big iceberg blocks the penguins from going anywhere.

My favorite characters are Mumble, Erik and two krill named Will and Bill (voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, respectively). I like Mumble because he is really funny and he sometimes gets mad at Erik. I like Erik because he tries to get his father to take more chances and he is almost always happy. I like the two krill because they show how friendships take work. They split up in the movie, get lost and then find each other again and make a stronger friendship.

My favorite part of this movie is when Will and Bill start tapping on the ice from underneath —kind of like how Mumble taps on the ice from above. Then a whole bunch of other krill join in and they light up the ice with all of their tapping. I think this is really cool because it is neat to see all the lights and how they actually do that.

The animation and special effects in this movie are really cool. When the krill light up the sea, that is really cool. When some of the ice goes tumbling down, the effects of that are really neat. The animation in this movie is awesome. The penguins look very real and [the filmmakers] do a good job at making them talk.AnthonyAranda_190x250.jpg

I recommend this movie for ages two and up. This movie does have a few scary parts that might be frightening for kids younger than two. For example, when one of the elephant seals falls into a big hole, his kids get really scared because they think he might get stuck down there forever. That part made me a little nervous. This is a great family movie that shows happiness and friendship. Go out and see this movie when it comes out in theaters near you.

Photos: Happy Feet Two poster (top), Anthony Aranda (bottom)

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