Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for February, 2022

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery * Lovable Characters, Beautiful Locations, Classic Film Takeoff 

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is a vibrant new take on the classic 1951 Alice in Wonderland film. Featuring reimagined (though instantly-recognizable) versions of iconic characters and introducing memorable new ones, the series highlights diverse cultures and characters as Alice and her friends learn about community through their adventures in the Wonderland Bakery. Wonderland is home to all sorts of unique families, each with their own fascinating cultures and traditions, which Alice and her friends learn about through their explorations with food. In this contemporary version, the royal family, for example, is inspired by Cuban heritage, giving Alice and her friends the chance to discover buñuelos and huevos habañeros, among other Cuban-inspired treats, while Hattie, a mad hatter boy and descendant of the original Mad Hatter, is based on Japanese culture and whips up mochi and sekihan with his family.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is absolutely magnificent! Lovable characters, beautiful locations and references to a classic film take center stage in this excellent show.” See her full review and interview with Libby Rue below.

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery

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

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is absolutely magnificent! Lovable characters, beautiful locations and references to a classic film take center stage in this excellent show. Fans of all ages are bound to love this series.

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery follows Alice (Libby Rue) who is a young baker in the world of Wonderland. Alice goes on several adventures with her friends, Hattie (Cj Uy) and Fergie (Jack Stanton). The trio resemble the personalities of their ancestors, Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit from the classic tale Alice in Wonderland.

The series has such fun-loving characters, each a “rockstar” in their own right, with vivid  personalities and a developed character arc. Even though they mirror iconic characters from the classic Alice in Wonderland, they are not carbon copies—that means some refreshing twists as we see these new kids grow and learn their way around this topsy turvy town. Alice is a bright, spunky, and modern version of Alice from the 1951 film. My favorite character is definitely Hattie—he’s very fun to watch—not always fitting the stereotype of what a “Mad Hatter” is, growing into his own, but proud of his heritage.

The songs on the soundtrack to the series move the storylines along perfectly—no doubt sure to be a hit, with young children soon to be bopping along to the melodies. The animation is spectacular—every strand of hair is visible on Alice’s head just like the fur on Fergie. The visuals of bright colors, abstract patterns and unusual architecture add to the world building of the Wonderland that fans all around the world are familiar with. It’s as if the show picks up with Alice exactly where the movie left off in 1951 and nothing since has changed. This series is perfect, reminding fans why they fell in love with the original film, engaging audiences to watch every last second of every episode.

The theme of Alice’s Wonderland Bakery is to follow your dreams. Alice loves baking with her whole heart and is regarded as the best baker in Wonderland. Even as things don’t go her way all the time, Alice never gives up baking, and sometimes solves her problems by baking delicious cakes.

I give Alice’s Wonderland Bakery 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 12, and older. It premieres February 9, 2022 on Disney Junior.

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Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

The UH KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, presented by Outreach College, continues with FREE virtual screenings — plus coming up this weekend, live stream interview/Q&A sessions with filmmakers and crew. Programs focus on climate change and the environment, space and technology, social justice and tolerance, arts and culture…and just plain fun.

All films stream free of charge. Click on the “Reserve Tickets” button for an All Access Pass to the festival. To reserve tickets for thematic film blocks/individual films, go directly to the Virtual Festival Catalog. Be sure to check out our live streaming interviews and Q&A’s this weekend.
For free tickets to all live streams and virtual screenings, visit kidsfirsthawaii.eventive.org


Films available for viewing from Feb 16, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

You Do You No Matter Who – Part 1 • 9 films

With artistry and humor, short films about building bridges and finding common ground across differences. Positive messages: never give up, resist giving in to social pressures, celebrate who you are.



Films available for viewing from Feb 17, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

Music Moves • 2 films

Pops is Tops is a musical journey through the home and life of Louis Armstrong.

Quaranteened: A Virtual Musical, from The Theatre Bug in partnership with MA2LA, was written by teen writers, recorded from home, and produced remotely.



Films available for viewing from Feb 18, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

All Kine Kids • 9 films

Delightful tales of kids being kids everywhere — from the school room to the stage to the reindeer roundup — from the US, Canada, Belgium, Iran, and Mongolia.


MORE TO COME! The Festival continues through February 21 with streaming films & live stream events with film creatives.


For free tickets to all live streams and virtual screenings, visit kidsfirsthawaii.eventive.org

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Blues on Beale * Provides A Rich Insight On The Blues And Its Place In American History

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

Featuring Grammy award winner Bobby Rush, Grammy nominee Shemekia Copeland, award-winner Castro Coleman and a host of acclaimed musicians, Larry Lancit’s Blues on Beale was filmed entirely in the Blues clubs on famed Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, captures the people, the soul and music of the 36th International Blues Challenge, an annual event organized and staged by The Blues Foundation. Starting in the early fall of 2019, Blues Societies from across the globe held local competitions for Blues bands and solo/duo acts. The winners of these competitions qualified to travel to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge in late January 2020. 232 winners of these local contests brought their hopes and aspirations to Memphis to compete for medals, recognition and possible record contracts by performing in 20 clubs along renowned Beale Street, the most celebrated Blues location in the world. The 2020 IBC was perhaps the last major music event staged before Covid-19 put the world on “hold.”

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “If you love the blues genre of music, Blues on Beale is the perfect documentary for you! If it is not your favorite style of music, or you don’t know much about it, this film written by Cecily Lancit and directed by Larry Lancit (also producers) provides a rich insight on this art form and its place in American history.” See her full review below.

Blues on Beale

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Jamell Richardson

If you love the blues genre of music, Blues on Beale is the perfect documentary for you! If it is not your favorite style of music, or you don’t know much about it, this film written by Cecily Lancit and directed by Larry Lancit (also producers) provides a rich insight on this art form and its place in American history. As a music lover, I found this exceptional work beyond entertaining.


Some background: The International Blues Competition on its 36th edition was one of the last events that took place before the lockdown in January, 2020. Over two hundred acts (bands, solo or duo) from around the world got together at the iconic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee to compete in a challenge organized by The Blues Foundation. Only 16 acts make it to the final and 5 are awarded winners. This documentary covers this competition and intertwines live performances and interviews with the musicians, judges and music experts. The montage brings the audience back to the origins of blues with footage and photos from legends like BB King and Elvis Presley and others that gave birth to this touching music.  Stories about those blues pioneers contrast with contemporary artists like Bobby Rush and Shemekia Copeland, making Blues on Beale educational as well as fun to watch.

Sandra Bouza

I am impressed by the talent and the different ethnicities and performers from countries like Croatia and Australia that share the love for blues, despite the fact that it is a secular folk music created by African-Americans early in the 20th century in the South of the United States of America. The producers excel at getting these artists to share their stories. You learn how blues is perhaps the music genre that better connects with the human condition and how it transcends boundaries. Despite the connotation of the word “blues.” this music is uplifting and meaningful. Blues also connects with the audience by telling a story whether is about slavery and oppression, longing for a better job or love.

Mr. Sipp

The editing flows nicely and surprisingly—there’s a good element of surprise. It just feels that the narrative is sometimes redundant and lacks a deeper insight on the venues and idiosyncrasy of the city. Memphis is the perfect location, but feels a bit abandoned in the storytelling. My favorite part is the energy in how they present the information and ignite a spark in the audience. You’ll appreciate the true craftsmanship in the performers and how they don’t follow a trend nor are they part of a marketing campaign.

The message of the film is that music is powerful and transcends gender, race and nationality; it unites people and goes beyond the competitive spirit.

I give Blues on Beale 4 out of 5 stars and recommend for kids 10 to 18, plus adults. Blues on Beale is available now on VOD.

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Tall Girl 2 * A Heartwarming, Inspiring Film. Light And Happy But A Deep Meaning And Message

Monday, February 14th, 2022

After her inspiring speech at the homecoming dance, Jodi (Ava Michelle) is no longer just the “tall girl” – she’s popular, confident, has a boyfriend, and just booked the lead role in this year’s school musical. But as the pressure of her newfound popularity intensifies, so do her insecurities, and new relationships are formed while old ones are tested. As the world she built starts to crumble around her, Jodi realizes that standing tall was only just the beginning.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Tall Girl 2 is a heartwarming, inspiring film. It has a light happy feel to it, but still has a deep meaning and message. See her full review below.

Tall Girl 2

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 15


Tall Girl 2 is a heartwarming, inspiring film. It has a light happy feel to it, but still has a deep meaning and message.

The structure of the film really stands out to me. Although this is a sequel, the storyline still feels entertaining, fresh and relevant—unlike with some sequels— and continues to grab my interest throughout. I also enjoy how different each character’s personality is. For example, Harper (Sabrina Carpenter) is very confident, and knows what she wants. Whereas Stig (Luke Eisner) is more sarcastic, and still trying to figure out who he is. Representing different types of personality is a strong quality in a film—it also attracts a bigger audience, because viewers are always looking for a character they can relate to.


The message of Tall Girl 2 is to never give up on yourself. And the meaning in this story really stands out—throughout the movie they illustrate an important lesson. Overall, it’s very inspiring, and makes you examine your life through a different lens.

I give Tall Girl 2 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Tall Girl 2 releases on Netflix February 11, 2022.

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Opening Weekend! Free University of Hawaii – KIDS FIRST! Film Festival

Friday, February 11th, 2022

The UH KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, presented by Outreach College, celebrates the  30th anniversary of the national KIDS FIRST! with over 100 FREE virtual screenings plus live stream interview/Q&A sessions with filmmakers and crew.

For free tickets to all live streams and virtual screenings, visit kidsfirsthawaii.eventive.org.



Films available for viewing from Feb 12, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

This episode features deaf actress Shaylee Mansfield in a “sign over” performance, one of the first in a kids’ animated series. The character is named and modeled after Mansfield and was animated by using a video reference of the actress performing for animators to model from. Mansfield’s character, Shaylee, uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate, expanding inclusivity and promoting awareness of ASL.

Live stream interview/Q&A: Feb 12, 12-12:30pm HST

Johanna Stein, Executive Producer and Showrunner
T.J. Sullivan, Supervising Director 
Justin Maurer, ASL Consultant
Delbert Whetter, ASL Consultant 
Jevon Whetter, ASL consultant   

Three hand-painted animated shorts: Blue Cooler, Hepa!, & Rolling Down Like Pele https://watch.eventive.org/kidsfirsthawaii/play/61f9b3ffc0bba10060505c6f

Live stream: A Conversation with Laura Margulies: Feb 12, 1-1:30pm HST

Laura Margulies has been creating hand-painted animated films and commissioned work for 30 years. Her work combines motion, color, texture, live action, rhythm, and sound to create award winning, expressive media. She often animates with paint in a stop motion style. Laura worked as a Designer and Color Artist at MTV animation on such shows as Beavis and Butthead, The Head and Daria. Her work has been shown worldwide. She is currently an Assistant Professor of animation at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the Academy for Creative Media.

More Animation: Saturday, Feb 12, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

Toons for Tots to Tweens • 12 films

Adorable animated shorts from Spain, Singapore, Canada, the UK and US — including films by students.

Global Imagination Animation • 12 films

Award-winning animation from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Canada, Spain, Korea, Japan, the UK and US.



Films available for viewing from Feb 13, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

Age-appropriate groupings of films focusing on the positive impact kids have on their environment and in human relationships. Featuring the series Kids Who Save the World: plastic, saving energy, upcyling, climate change, and clean air; live-action and animated films about the ocean: sharks, whales, penguins, and living coral; kids tackling the challenges faced by today’s youth.

Kids to the Rescue • 11 films

Animation and live-action shorts for kids who care about our planet from Germany, Malta, Turkey, China, the UK and US.

Care to Change • 15 films

Empowering animation, live-action, and music video shorts highlighting the actions of kids to bring about positive change.

Enviro/Adventure Feature Film: The Sentries of the Delta

Adventures of children at an environmental camp in the Danube Delta Natural Reserve between Romania and the Ukraine.


Special Valentine’s Day Program: Monday, February 14

Films available for viewing from Feb 14, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

Matters of the Heart • 10 films

A Valentine to silly, sweet, deep and unconditional love from Canada, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Iran, the UK and US.


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