Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for July, 2012

‘Teacher’s Pet’ Good Morning Viewing on HDNet Movies kidScene

Monday, July 30th, 2012

TeachersPet_small.jpgA little dog wants to be a real boy. That premise behind the story of Teacher’s Pet, an animated film that Disney released in 2004, may parallel an animated feature from Disney’s earlier day: the 1940 classic Pinocchio. In fact, KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Morgan Bertsch, age 7, points it out: “Our story begins with the little dog Spot and his crazy idea that he wants to be a real boy. Shameless plug of Pinocchio on the TV while Spot is singing is very creative.” Cheyenne Nguyen, age 8, shares one element that makes this movie special: “I love the catchy songs they have in this movie, especially the one that has all 50 states in alphabetical order and tells you something about each state.”

Teacher’s Pet, which will air in the morning on Aug. 4, 10 and 16, is one of the many movies brought to your home by HDNet Movies kidScene, a daily programming block specifically for kids and families from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET every Friday night at 7 p.m.

Teacher’s Pet
Reviewed by Cheyenne Nguyen
(See her full review on video.)

Disney’s Teacher’s Pet is a cleverly scripted animation that both children and adults will enjoy.

Spot Helperman (voiced by Nathan Lane) is a canine dog that wants to be a human as a boy. To make his dreams come true, the dog puts his ears in a beanie and puts on a pair of glasses and pants. Spot becomes Scott and follows Leonard to school during the day.

On the last day of school, they learn that there’s a mad scientist named Ivan Krank (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) who can turn animals into humans. He lives in Florida, and it just happens that Leonard’s mom, who is his 4th grade teacher, is nominated to go to Florida to compete as a finalist in a teacher contest.

Spot has to go through a lot of twists and turns to travel to Florida with Leonard and his mother to fulfill his destiny as a boy with Dr. Krank.

I love the catchy songs they have in this movie, especially the one that has all 50 states in alphabetical order and tells you something about each state.

This animated movie is flashy and has a lot of fun colors. It’s very funny when they make references to other Disney animation classics.CheyenneNguyen.jpg
My favorite character is the cat because he is so cute and talks like he has braces.

The message from this movie is to accept who you are and happiness will follow. Being someone else does not guarantee happiness.

I would like to see some of the other pets in this movie be featured more, especially the house bird.

I rank this movie 4 out of 5 stars, for an age range of 5-10.

Look for this classic family film on HDNet Movies kidScene this month!

Teachers Pet
Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
See her full review on video.)

Teacher’s Pet is another great Disney animated creation! Teacher’s Pet is playing all month long on HDNet Movies kidScene.

Our story begins with the little dog Spot and his crazy idea that he wants to be a real boy. Shameless plug of Pinocchio on the TV while Spot is singing is very creative. Spot is voiced by Nathan Lane. His voice gives a great feel to the character of Spot.

Spot is a dog that can talk and read, so he gets this crazy idea to dress up as a boy and go to school with his owner, Leonard (voiced by Shaun Fleming). While at school, Spot sees his opportunity to change into a real boy in Florida.

My favorite part is when Spot the dog has to sneak his way onto the Florida vacation past Leonard’s mom, who doesn’t know Leonard can talk. She thinks she left Spot at home. Leonard’s mom is voiced by Debra Jo Rupp.

In Florida, Spot meets the wacko scientist Dr. Ivan Krank (voiced by Kelsey Grammer). The wacko claims he can turn any animal into a real person. That’s very confusing and really weird but just the thing Spot is looking to do.MorganBertsch.jpg
It’s a catchy musical with fun characters that’s enjoyable and animated. The songs are wonderful and educational. Some of them stuck in my head for days and I just love to sing along with them. If you want your kids to lean their states in alphabetical order, then this movie gets bonus points.

I give it 5 twinkling stars, for ages 5 and up.

Photos: Teacher’s Pet poster (top), Cheyenne Nguyen (middle), Morgan Bertsch (bottom)

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‘Labyrinth’: Not Your Usual Puppets

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Labyrinth_small.jpgLike The Dark Crystal, which we reviewed in last week’s newsletter, Labyrinth was a creative experiment for Jim Hensen, trying to go beyond the more typical puppet milieu of his popular Muppets. HDNet Movies kidScene brings this 1986 classic to your home Aug. 24 and 25.

As our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics’ views demonstrate, response varied. While 14-year-old Victoria Burns sees the film appealing to much younger audiences (ages 3-6) on the basis of the puppetry alone, 11-year-old Hunter Willow Jones recommends it for ages 8 and up because the characters and situations might be scary for the very young. Hunter makes note of another special element of this movie: “The best part of the movie is the music by David Bowie. It is cool to use a famous rock star and rock music to create a different mood in the film,” and lauds the film’s creativity.

The film did pick up some award nominations in a variety of categories: Saturn Award for Best Costumes from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, a BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects, and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Reviewed by Hunter Willow Jones
(See her full review on video.)

I love how creative this movie is!

It is the story of Sara (Jennifer Connelly), who is sick of having to watch her infant half-brother, Toby. She wishes that the goblin king would come and take him away and, unbelievably, her wish comes true. The Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie) arrives at her house and tells her she has thirteen hours to get Toby back, but she has to go through a massive labyrinth. If she fails to do so, Jareth will keep Toby forever and turn him into a goblin. Sara regrets her wish, so she decides she must go through the labyrinth. Throughout her journey she meets many friends and has many near-death experiences. She also learns not to take things for granted.

I really like how the movie is creative. I think having puppets as main characters is really cool. Jim Henson, the creator of Kermit the Frog, wrote, directed and did the puppetry. I also like the setting a lot. It goes with the storyline and makes the movie feel mystical. The set has so many cool ideas. When Sara first comes into the labyrinth, a worm tells her to go through the wall and take a chance. It looks like there is no way to get through, but when she decides to go through she finds that there are more ways for her to go. The best part of the movie is the music by David Bowie. It is cool to use a famous rock star and rock music to create a different mood in the film.HunterWillow.jpg

The storyline could be more creative because the concept is too close to Alice in Wonderland.

Jennifer Connelly’s acting is a little weak. She only uses one facial expression the whole time. She doesn’t show much range to her emotion.

I give Labyrinth 4 out of 5 stars and feel that it is better for kids who are 8 and over because the puppets can be a little scary for little kids.

Labyrinth was originally released in 1986 and it will be playing all month on HDNet Movies kidScene!

Reviewed by Victoria Burns

I just watched Labyrinth and, from a teen perspective, I would recommend this movie for ages 3-6. I found myself becoming bored and trying to find the point of the storyline. I was looking for more backstory on the main character. There was lots of puppetry that I liked and think would capture the attention of younger audiences.

In this movie, Sarah (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly) asks the Goblin King (portrayed by David Bowie) to take away her little brother Toby (portrayed by Toby Froud). Sarah didn’t actually believe that the goblin king would take away her brother. But he does, and she does everything she can to get him back in a deadline of 13 hours while making friends along the way.Victoria_CU.jpg

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars because the story didn’t draw me in. This is a great movie to watch with small children.

Photos: Labyrinth poster (top), Hunter Willow Jones (middle), Victoria Burns (bottom)

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A Hero’s Battle: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

DarkKnightRises.jpgWe at KIDS FIRST! extend heartfelt condolences to all the families touched by the shooting in Aurora.

“The true test of a hero is to be able to face your darkest fears and rise above,” says KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Julianna Noone, age 12, in a very perceptive opening to her review of The Dark Knight Rises. This thought underlies much of the storyline of this final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and may sustain it in real life as it moves past the undeniably tragic occurrence that marked its opening weekend.

As an artistic accomplishment, The Dark Knight Rises offers some highly entertaining treats of its predecessors (such as Michael Caine’s Alfred) and new delights, such as “Bat,” a gadget Julianna describes in her review below.

KIDS FIRST! youth film critics Victoria Burns, age 14, and Raven Devanney, age 15, share their reviews on video as well.

The Dark Knight Rises
Reviewed by Julianna Noone
(See her full review on video.)

The true test of a hero is to be able to face your darkest fears and rise above. Christopher Nolan’s film, The Dark Knight Rises, begins eight years after the last film, with Batman hiding from the police and Bruce Wayne hiding from life. Christian Bale continues in the dual role as Bruce Wayne/Batman and does a tremendous job in the role.

In this last film of Nolan’s trilogy, Gotham City’s rich are prospering in the post-Harvey Dent era. Little does anyone realize that a storm is coming, in the form of the ruthless terrorist Bane, played brilliantly by Tom Hardy. Throw in a beautiful cat burglar, Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), played by Anne Hathaway, a modern-day, female Robin Hood who steals from the rich to give to the poor, and soon enough, darkness falls over Gotham City. The question is, will Batman return to save Gotham? And better yet, if he does, is there any chance he can stop Bane, the physically superior and heartless monster who unleashes his fury upon Gotham?

There is a great ensemble cast in this film, starting with Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie policeman Officer Blake, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred, amongst others. My favorite character is Selina Kyle/Catwoman because, though she is a cat burglar, she only steals from the rich who can spare to give up some of their wealth. She also is very capable of taking care of herself and isn’t afraid of anyone.

My favorite scene is one of the climactic scenes in the film, where Catwoman tells Batman that she will help him open the tunnel to allow the City’s residents to escape but that she is not staying to help further and believes he shouldn’t either. She shows her true colors by coming back to save Batman from Bane, and helps him fight to save the city.

The cinematography is fantastic, from the opening scene where Bane hijacks a plane and escapes in mid-air to the fight scenes that were shot on Wall Street in downtown NYC. The CGI is amazing. How they made the football stadium field implode and the shots of the bridges being blown — they are so realistic it is a bit frightening. In all three films, they have had the best gadgets for Batman to use, and in this film, they didn’t let us down. They created a cross between a car, a helicopter and a plane that could basically do anything. They call it “Bat.” It’s a great addition to Batman’s gadgets. The musical score by Hans Zimmer is so well done, it adds to the intensity of the critical moments of the film. Julianna.jpg

Overall, I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars, as there are many new characters that spread out the storyline and make the film a bit long. Plus terrorist threats, which are eerily similar to many real-life threats today, make for a chilling storyline. Don’t get me wrong, though — I love this film. The violence makes the film appropriate for ages 13 to adult. It’s a great ending to a great trilogy … or is it?

Look for this film in theaters and IMAX everywhere. And remember, it doesn’t matter who you are, a true hero can be anyone … it starts with a simple act of kindness.

Photos: The Dark Knight Rises poster (top), Julianna Noone (bottom)

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‘The Dark Crystal’ Classic Jim Henson on HDNet Movies kidScene

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

DarkCrystal.jpgIn 1982, Jim Hensen was riding a popularity high with his amiable Muppets, and his attempt to use puppets to create a darker experience was not universally well received. Although The Dark Crystal garnered a prestigious BAFTA Award nomination in 1984 for special visual effects, a Hugo Award nomination in 1983 for dramatic presentation, and a Saturn Award win in 1983 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films USA for Best Fantasy Film, much of the wide following it now enjoys has built over these intervening years.

KIDS FIRST! youth film critics give the film high marks for its technical achievement: Morgan Bertsch, age 7, credits Jim Hensen with creating some really spectacular effects, and Julianna Noone, age 12, especially applauds the puppets’ anthropomorphic qualities.

Catch The Dark Crystal on HDNet Movies kidScene when it screens Aug. 24 and 25.

The Dark Crystal
Reviewed by Julianna Noone
(See her full review on video.)

Do you enjoy the puppets used in the classic Muppet films but wish they had a darker storyline?  Well, look no further than The Dark Crystal.

This is a Jim Henson film that stars Jim Henson as Jen, Kathryn Mullen as Kira and David Goelz as Fizzgig. This movie is about an elf-like Gelfling who is sent by his dying master to find a shard from a broken lamp that will help restore the balance in his universe. This Gelfling’s name is Jen, and Jen  has some troubles along the way. First off, he has the shard but doesn’t know what to do with it. Also the Skeksis are trying to kill him so that the prophecy can’t be fulfilled and the Skeksis can live forever. However, Jen gets some help from Kira, the only other Gelfling alive, and the animals from the forest where the witch Kira lives.

I think that the puppets they use are very well designed and detailed so much so that they have anthropomorphic qualities. The cinematography is considered to be cutting-edge for this movie, but could have been better, as some scenes in the movie you can see the wires on the puppets. Julianna.jpg

My favorite characters are Kira and Fizzgig, Kira’s pet. I like Kira because she is brave and determined to protect Jen. I like Fizzgig because he is loyal to Kira and protective of her. Also, even when Fizzgig does not want to do something he still does it when Kira asks him to. My favorite scene is when Kira and Jen touch hands and share their memory with one another. I like these scenes because it is kind of the Podlings to share their village with a stranger. I dislike the scenes that are rude and/or cruel. The puppeteering is phenomenal, as expected from Jim Henson. 

I hope you guys out there enjoy this movie. I think that this film is for ages 8 to 14 because these aren’t your normal Jim Henson puppets, and the dark storyline may be too much for young children.    Overall, I rate this film 3 out of 5 stars because, while it was well done, the darker storyline just isn’t for me.  Look for this film playing on HDNet Movies kidScene this month. 

The Dark Crystal
Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch
(See her full review on video.)

The movie The Dark Crystal is playing all month long on HDNet Movies kidScene.

The Dark Crystal is a sci-fi fantasy-adventure that happened thousands of years in the past. It’s cast entirely of puppets, and Jim Henson also voices Jen, a Gelfling. You know Jim Henson as the creator of the Muppets. In this movie, he partners again with his creative friend Frank Oz to pull of some really spectacular effects. MorganBertsch.jpg

The Dark Crystal is missing a shard, broken in an ancient battle, and prophecy says that a Gelfing would heal the crystal. It’s an extraordinary adventure with creatures that are out of this world. When light and dark come back together, the world is healed.

Ages are 8 and up, or anybody who loves puppets.

I give it 3 1/2 twinkling stars.

Photos: The Dark Crystal poster (top), Julianna Noone (middle), Morgan Bertsch (bottom)

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Fourth Time and Still Charming: “Ice Age: Continental Drift’

Monday, July 16th, 2012

IceAgeContinentalDrift.jpgThe Ice Age cometh again. The fourth in 20th Century Fox’s franchise, Continental Drift, is rolling its way through communities throughout the world and opened in U.S. theaters last weekend. The characters are as endearing as ever, with the familiar voices of Ray Romano (Manny), John Leguizamo (Sid) and Denis Leary (Diego), among others. New to the cast of characters this time out is Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes), who makes a big hit with KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Cheyenne Nguyen, age 8: “My favorite character in this moive is Granny. Everything about her is funny and unpredictable.” On a more technical note, KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Julianna Noone, age 12, observes, “The animation is so well done that the characters appear life-like as you can see the details in the the sheen of their fur and the muscle movements. Also, the 3-D is well placed and not overdone, so it doesn’t take over the film.”

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Reviewed by Julianna Noone
(See the full review by Julianna Noone and Cheyenne Nguyen on video.)

HOLY CRAB! What a great movie! This film really kicks some pirate booty.

From Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox comes Ice Age: Continental Drift. This fantastic film is about a group of different families that come together to form their own herd, and together they overcome obstacles to stay together.

Once again, Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) and Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) set off on another wild adventure caused by Scrat’s continued chase of that elusive acorn. Along the way, they overcome pirates, sirens and many other life-and-death obstacles.

While I love all the characters and they are voiced by a terrific and funny set of actors, my favorite character is Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes), who is a new addition to the cast. Granny is so hilarious and a little zany and crazy. Everyone thinks Granny has an imaginary friend, but as the movie goes along, we find out that the friend is not so imaginary. It’s a very precious moment in the movie.

My favorite scene is when Manny, Sid, Diego and Granny are having hallucinations that are unique to each of them. Sid’s is about a female sloth; Diego sees Shira, a female pirate and also a sabertooth tiger; Granny sees a muscular sloth; and finally Manny sees his wife, Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), who says to him, “Manny, you were right, you’re always right.” Manny hears that and he snaps out of his hallucination because he knows that Ellie would never say that to him. It’s such a funny moment in the film, but also saves them all from dying. Julianna.jpg
The music is very catchy and fits the movie well. My favorite song is at the very end, because it’s about family and it is an adorable song. The animation is so well done that the characters appear life-like as you can see the details in the sheen of their fur and the muscle movements. Also, the 3-D is well placed and not overdone, so it doesn’t take over the film. Well done.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars as it is funny, well written and has a great message for the audience. It is a perfect movie for everyone in your herd. Look for this film in theaters everywhere starting July 13th.

Always remember, stick with your herd because they always have your back, no matter what.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Reviewed by Cheyenne Nguyen
See the full review by Julianna Noone and Cheyenne Nguyen on video.)

Ice Age: Continental Drift is an adventure and comedy animation.

Ice Age 4 picks up where Scrat still does not catch that acorn, and the result of his chasing after the acorn is the continent drifts apart.

Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) is an over-protective father trying to keep his teenage daughter, Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), from hanging out with the bad group of mammoths. However, Peaches is desperate to prove that she is cool so she can hang out with the cool kids.

Manny and his daughter have a fight in front of her friends, and the last thing Peaches says to her father is, “I wish you were not my father.” This is when the earth shakes; Manny, Diego and Sid are separated from the rest of the pack. They encounter ice pirates and many different sea creatures.

They all are homesick and want to find a way home. However, the ice pirate wants to capture them as prisoners. Manny and his gang have to come up with a plan to escape from the pirates and use his ice ship to go home.

This movie has a lot of jokes that make me laugh throughout the movie. The love story between Diego and the white tiger Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez) is so cute. The 3-D is totally awesome.

The message of this movie is the importance of family and we do not have a choice to pick who is in our family.

My favorite character in this movie is Granny. Everything about her is funny and unpredictable. CheyenneNguyen.jpg

One thing that I did not like is there are too many new characters. I would like to see more of Granny.

I rank this movie 5 out of 5 stars because it’s exciting, funny and all the characters are so strong and different.

I recommend this movie for ages 3 to 18.

This movie will be released July 13 to theaters near you.

Photos: Ice Age: Continental Drift poster (top), Julianne Noone (middle), Cheyenne Nguyen (bottom)

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