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Archive for June, 2022

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience * A Story That Explores The True Meaning Of Originality

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

Calling all rock stars, fashion icons and naked mole rat lovers! Mo Willems’ fan-favorite Naked Mole Rat, Wilbur J. Mole Rat, Jr. emerges from his underground tunnel for a stunning CGI-animated hour of “underground” music and comedy in Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience! Based on Willems’ book, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed this animated rock opera strikes a power chord about accepting others. The musical event is accessorized by a fun and funny tale about a sensitive, curious and rockin’ Naked Mole Rat named Wilbur (Jordan Fisher) who “scandalously” decides to (gasp!) get dressed! Find out what happens when Wilbur’s newfound love of rocking outfits rocks Naked Mole Rat society to its core.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nyara A. comments, “The adorable film Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience by Mo Willems and Mr. Warburton gives viewers a story that explores the true meaning of originality. Wilbur The Mole Rat is loveable and a fan favorite and, even though he is an animal, we can all relate to his search for acceptance within his community.” Hanadie K. comments, “With adrenaline pumping rock ‘n’ roll, high fashion and naked mole rats, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience combines three unrelated things and makes a perfectly-mixed animated production. Based on best-selling author Mo Willems’ children’s book, this is a super fun and funky animated adaptation.” See their full reviews below.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience
By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The adorable film Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience by Mo Willems and Mr. Warburton gives viewers a story that explores the true meaning of originality. Wilbur The Mole Rat is loveable and a fan favorite and, even though he is an animal, we can all relate to his search for acceptance within his community. In this film, viewers will find a deeper meaning behind the well-crafted plotline and creative music. The viewers will root for Wilbur as he explores how clothes can give us personality.

The storyline follows the protagonist, Wilbur (Jordan Fisher) as he discovers the potential for clothes to bring joy. He also happens to live in a community of naked mole rats who shudder at the thought of a mere sock. Although he aspires to open a clothing store in the town center, his band mates (Yvette Nicole Brown, Kate Mucicci, Michael Richardson) discourage his newfound dream, threatening to turn him in to the great Grandmah. Although she is a hero to the colony, she is also the most feared and powerful mole rat to exist. Will Wilbur continue to fight through the constant bumps in the clothing road, or will he become a menace to the colony and no longer be able to follow his dreams?

Jordan Fisher plays Wilbur with an innocence that makes his already charming character even more relatable. Yvette Nicole Brown as  Wilbur’s bandmate, Grande is hilarious and brings sass into this sweet film. Music is the most special part of this film– bringing emotion to the plotline. Because this film is directed towards younger kids, the music is easy to understand and the beats are catchy! The animation is unique and each mole rat is special and diverse. The clothes add a touch of color to the colony which enhance the message of this film. My favorite part of this film is the first time Wilbur watches clothes fall from the sky. He is filled with wonder and sings an upbeat musical number celebrating the beauty of self expression.

The message of this film is that everyone is special no matter what they choose to wear, act, say or do. Following the trend may not always be right for everyone and that is okay, because being oneself makes us happy and the whole world more interesting. This is an amazing message to send to every kid and adult who feels like they don’t belong because they are “different.” This is definitely a film for younger kids, but parents/guardians would enjoy watching it with their children.

I give Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, plus adults. It releases on HBO Max, Cartoonito and Cartoon Network on June 30, 2022.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience
By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

With adrenaline pumping rock ‘n’ roll, high fashion and naked mole rats, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience combines three unrelated things and makes a perfectly-mixed animated production. Based on best-selling author Mo Willems’ children’s book, this is a super fun and funky animated adaptation.  

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience is also a rock opera that tells the story of strong-willed, progressive-thinking, and fashionable mole rat, Wilbur J. Mole Rat Jr. (Jordan Fisher), who decides that he is willing to risk public humiliation to stand for what he believes in.

The cast of this film are all strong actors and actresses with a reputation for delivering excellence. Mo Willems and Tom Warburton are the geniuses behind the script for this remarkable film. With the help of world-renowned music composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, the script adaptation turned out to be a lighthearted, inspiring, rockin’ good musical.

The storyline follows Wilbur facing scrutiny and resistance from many mole rats in the community, including law-abiding and gentle-natured Tall (Kate Micucci). Venti (Kevin Michael Richardson) refuses to get dressed; there is nothing he cares about more than being a rock ‘n roll musician, his mole rat bandmates, music and being naked. Yvette Nicole Brown gives a remarkable performance as Grande, the lead member of the high demand rock band, “The Mole-ing Stones.”

This film encourages viewers to be courageous enough to ask the question, “Why not?” It’s no longer enough to go along to get along. Wilbur reminds us that tradition is not a strong enough motivator to deny the passion and purpose you have in life. Thanks to Wilbur Mole Rat Jr., the moles in the tunnel are now liberated and dressed to the nines.

I give Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience releases on HBO Max, Cartoonito and Cartoon Network on June 30, 2022.

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Rise * Heartwarming, Inspirational Story About Family, Sacrifice, Love And Basketball

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation. With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple was desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers– Giannis and Thanasis — would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world class athletes, along with brother, Kostas. With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family. And last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “All rise for the heartwarming, inspirational biographical story of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family!  Rise is a story of family, sacrifice, love, and basketball. Perfect for the entire family, the Antetokounmpos’ story is sure to score in the hearts of viewers.” See her full review below.

Rise
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

(L-R): Ral Agada as Thanasis and Uche Agada as Giannis in Disney’s live-action RISE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All rise for the heartwarming, inspirational biographical story of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family!  Rise is a story of family, sacrifice, love, and basketball. Perfect for the entire family, the Antetokounmpos’ story is sure to score in the hearts of viewers. 

Rise follows parents, Charles (Dayo Okeniyi) and Veronica (Yetide Badaki) Antetokounmpo, as they leave their home, and oldest son, in Nigeria due to immigration laws and head to Greece. There the couple struggles to find work and raise their children, Thanasis (Ral Agada), Giannis (Uche Agada), Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa), and Alexandros (Elijah Shomanke). Even though they are struggling to survive and dodging immigration, Giannis and Thanasis take up basketball for a local youth team. They find a passion for the sport and eventually are noticed by scouts, which starts their quest for the NBA … but not without still playing defense against deportation, racism, and laws preventing them from getting work permits.

Yetide Badaki as Vera, Ral Agada as Thanasis, Elijah Sholanke as Alexandros, Uche Agada as Giannis, Dayo Okeniyi as Charles, and Jaden Osimuwa as Kostas in RISE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Patrick Redmond. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

While the movie focuses on the rise of the Antetokounmpo brothers, the entire family is the star of this film. Everyone makes sacrifices in order for Giannis to get drafted into the NBA, which opened doors for his brothers. Every day leading up to the 2013 NBA draft is a challenge to avoid deportation. One wrong move can expose them and send everyone back to Nigeria. The film is an emotional rollercoaster as you follow the Antetokounmpos’ journey from Nigeria to Greece to the NBA. My favorite aspect of the movie is seeing all the sacrifices each family member made for the overall goal. I enjoyed the old-school and hip-hop songs, which will draw in audiences of all ages. The camera angles also help engage viewers and give a close up understanding of the family.

(L-R): Yetide Badaki as Vera and Dayo Okeniyi as Charles in Disney’s live-action RISE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rise is all about family and sacrifice. The family shows what you can accomplish when everyone sticks together. Throughout the film, we see how Charles Antetokounmpo constantly reminds his children that “if one scores, then they all score.” He instills in them the value of family and how they can’t make it by themselves. Considering that Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas became the first trio of brothers to win championships in NBA league history, I would say they understood the assignment.  

Rise is not just for basketball fans … it’s the perfect family movie that is just the inspiration we all need to keep pushing forward. I give Rise 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Rise tips off on Disney+, June 24, 2022.

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For All Mankind: Season Three * Full Of Suspense And Unpredictable Circumstances

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

The propulsive new season of the alternate-reality series takes viewers to a new decade, moving into the early ‘90s with a high-octane race to a new planetary frontier: MARS. The Red Planet becomes the new front in the Space Race not only for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but also an unexpected new entrant with a lot to prove and even more at stake.  Our characters find themselves going head-to-head as their ambitions for Mars come into conflict and their loyalties are tested, creating a pressure cooker that builds to a climactic conclusion.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “Are you looking for a good TV series that’s quite literally out of this world? Well, if you are, then Season 3 of For All Mankind is the perfect choice for you! It doesn’t matter if viewers are not up to speed or have missed the first two seasons — this next series of episodes is so full of suspense and unpredictable circumstances that viewers are able to jump right in and enjoy it.” See his full review below.

For All Mankind: Season Three
By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Are you looking for a good TV series that’s quite literally out of this world? Well, if you are, then Season 3 of For All Mankind is the perfect choice for you! It doesn’t matter if viewers are not up to speed or have missed the first two seasons — this next series of episodes is so full of suspense and unpredictable circumstances that viewers are able to jump right in and enjoy it. Whether you are a NASA enthusiast, have a love for science fiction, or you really enjoy history, For All Mankind will not disappoint you.

For All Mankind is a science fiction drama series which poses to viewers the question, “what if?”  What if, for example, history didn’t happen as we know it? Season 3 episodes expose viewers to an alternative global space race that puts the Soviet Union in the lead ahead of the United States.  As the United States is defeated in their race to put the first man on the moon, NASA must now work with great speed and efficiency to make certain that this alternative history doesn’t repeat itself in the race to inhabit Mars!  This renewed challenge has a new twist in which a third contender enters the space race—an ambitious, independent entrepreneur.  Who will be the first to cross that finish line? You’ll have to watch the series to find out!

What I enjoyed most about For All Mankind is that you never know what’s coming next. Events are unpredictable and have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Some of the scenes are slow at times which allows viewers to critically think and imagine what’s ahead within the episode. I also enjoyed how emotionally intense this series is. You don’t have to be a part of that generation in history to appreciate For All Mankind. Anyone can enjoy these episodes which are brilliantly written, supported by a talented cast, and that offer such tremendous cinematography.

For All Mankind is a timely film series that provides us with a strong sense of teamwork which encourages people to work together despite division in society.  The NASA team, made up of diversified astronauts, works so closely on their race to be the first to reach the Red Planet.  There are plenty of obstacles on this path to success, yet with their strong communication, decision making, and optimism, the U.S. Space Team is determined to come out the winner.

I give For All Mankind 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Season 3 began streaming on Apple TV+ June 10, 2022.  This is a great series and one you won’t want to miss.

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Eureka! * Perfect Show To Learn More About S.T.E.A.M. And Problem Solving

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Eureka! tells the story of a young girl inventor who is way ahead of her time. Utilizing creative out-of-the-box thinking, she designs inventions and contraptions in the hopes of making the world a better place and moving her prehistoric community into a more modern era. With the help of her supportive parents, teacher, best friends — Pepper and Barry — and beloved pet mammoth Murphy, Eureka is learning to embrace that she is not ordinary … she’s extraordinary.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Eureka! Coming your way is a new animated, music-filled series full of life lessons, adventures, and “thinkering!” Eureka! is the perfect show for kids to learn more about the world of S.T.E.A.M. and problem solving.” See her full review and interview with star Ruth Righi below.

Eureka! 
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Eureka! Coming your way is a new animated, music-filled series full of life lessons, adventures, and “thinkering!” Eureka! is the perfect show for kids to learn more about the world of S.T.E.A.M. and problem solving. This show has a diverse cast of characters, endless entertainment, and relatability, and is perfect for the whole family to watch.

Eureka! follows a fearless, young girl inventor named Eureka (Ruth Righi) who lives in Rocky Falls with her parents and pet Mammoth, Murphy (Fred Tatasciore). Eureka is always designing new inventions and contraptions in her prehistoric community to help make it more modern. From finding a way to get Murphy into the house when he couldn’t use the door to creating a one-person band of instruments, whenever she “thinkers” she is sure to solve whatever issue she comes across.

Eureka as the lead character is the perfect role model for younger girls. It’s amazing to see a young female like Eureka showing other kids that they aren’t too young to be in the world of S.T.E.A.M. I love the support Eureka gets from her family, friends, teachers and the rest of her community. It really encourages her to be confident even when she doesn’t always fit in. One of my favorite scenes is when Eureka and her mom Roxy (Renée Elise Goldsberry) are singing about the Rubber Tree Soup, and she shows that her mom doesn’t give up when the soup doesn’t come out the way she expects it to. While this series is set in a prehistoric time period, viewers will love watching Eureka modernize her community. An example is when Eureka redirects underground steam to create an oven for her mom’s restaurant. It gives the show a unique twist that will draw viewers to it.

EUREKA! – “Tusks, Trouble, and All / Absoflutely Fabulous” (Disney) MURPHY, EUREKA

There are multiple messages throughout the series, like never giving up on your goals, and that even when you fail it’s important to try again. Eureka also teaches young viewers about responsibility by taking care of her pet Mammoth, Murphy. Overall Eureka! teaches kids all about the world of S.T.E.A.M., being fearless when solving problems, and creating inventions even as kids.

I give Eureka! 5 out of 5 stars. This is definitely a kid-focused, family-friendly series, so I recommend it for kids 2 to 8. Eureka! debuts on Disney Junior June 22, 2022, and on Disney+ the same day.

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Dinosaur Cove * An Enthralling Adventure Film With A Simple, Yet Sweet Plot And High-Quality Cinematography

Monday, June 27th, 2022

Dinosaur Cove is a family adventure film about a boy who discovers dinosaur eggs and must protect them from a crazy scientist.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Dinosaur Cove is an enthralling adventure film with a simple, yet sweet plot and high-quality cinematography. It’s a superb family-friendly film and will certainly entertain dinosaur-lovers!” Maica N. adds, “Who doesn’t love a good dinosaur story? Dinosaur Cove is here to entertain you and widen your imagination. With a fun mystery, interesting characters, and a surprising twist, this movie will have you wondering… could dinosaurs still exist?”

Kendall B. wraps it up with, “Something about this film that really sticks out is the songs. I love their poetic lyrics and the melodies are great too. The scenery and cinematography is really beautiful, specifically the shots of ocean. I love the scene when the dad is driving his boat, because the water looks amazing.” See their full reviews below.

Dinosaur Cove
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Dinosaur Cove is an enthralling adventure film with a simple, yet sweet plot and high-quality cinematography. It’s a superb family-friendly film and will certainly entertain dinosaur-lovers!

The film follows Riley Harrison (Brayden Eaton), an adventurous young boy. Riley discovers pteranodon eggs in the town where his grandfather lives, aptly named Dinosaur Cove. With the help of Dr. Theresa Starr (Holly Houk), he must protect them from a mad scientist named Dr. Victor Vandersaurian (James Pilachowski) and get them to safety. Throughout his journey, he strengthens old bonds, especially with his writer father Wyatt Harrison (Jared Withrow), whom he has grown distant from after his mother’s passing.

Director Daniel Knudsen hits another home run with Dinosaur Cove. It’s evident he’s coached the talented actors very well — they deliver dialogues naturally and emote organically. The script by Derrick Steele is also wonderful; there are no stilted scenes where dialogue feels unnatural. I also love Knudsen’s cameo in the film as egg expert Terrance Walker. The cinematography is incredible and I especially love the ending shot of pteranodons flying across the horizon at sunset. It’s easy for a romantic subplot to be underdeveloped in an indie film, but the subtle romance between Wyatt Harrison and Dr. Theresa Starr is one of the most heartwarming parts of the film and provides for superb character development, especially in the case of Wyatt, who is recovering from the loss of his wife just a year ago. Jared Withrow and Holly Houk do justice to their roles.

Dinosaur Cove promotes always doing the right thing, even if no one is watching. It also emphasizes teamwork and protecting the vulnerable. It truly is a film with great, family-friendly messages.

I give Dinosaur Cove 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8-125, plus adults. Dinosaur Cove released on June 1, 2022 on digital.

Dinosaur Cove
Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Who doesn’t love a good dinosaur story? Dinosaur Cove is here to entertain you and widen your imagination. With a fun mystery, interesting characters, and a surprising twist, this movie will have you wondering… could dinosaurs still exist?

Dinosaur Cove is about a young boy named Riley (Brayden Eaton) who moves with his dad Jared (Wyatt Harrison) to his grandfather’s house after his mom passes away. While they are there, Jared is busy working on a book and Riley is running into trouble. After seeing something that he thinks is a dinosaur, he has to prove that what he saw was real, and then protect it from an evil scientist.

Although the CGI isn’t the best, it really helps enhance the plot of the movie. The images of the dinosaurs and the eggs allow the viewers to visualize what it would be like to live amongst dinosaurs. There aren’t many dinosaur movies aimed at younger children being released, so Dinosaur Cove is really refreshing. It’s a clean and entertaining movie that kids can enjoy. However, although its focus is younger children, there is a deeper meaning and a thicker storyline as Jared is grieving the loss of his wife and Riley’s mom. It also shows the process of moving on, and how resilience is a key part of life. This creates a part of the story that older audiences may relate to. At some points of the film, the audio track is uneven, which can be distracting. Nevertheless, Dinosaur Cove is a humorous and action packed movie that will be enjoyed by kids and families.

The message of Dinosaur Cove is that being open-minded can lead you to something amazing. If you rule something out too quickly, you could be missing out on a significant opportunity.

I rate Dinosaur Cove 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 11. Dinosaur Cove is available now on Digital, so make sure you check it out!

Dinosaur Cove
By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Dinosaur Cove is an exhilarating and fun new film that younger children will love! It has great characters and a story that is equally fun. The dinosaurs add the perfect amount of fantasy to the story.

The storyline follows Riley (Brayden Eaton), his dad and his grandpa who have just moved to Dinosaur Cove! As soon as he arrives he finds a creature (a dinosaur) obviously. But the problem is, nobody except for his best friend, Savannah (Addilyn Houk), believes him. Little does he know there’s an evil scientist that wants to capture the dinosaur. Can Riley keep his new friend safe?

Something about this film that really sticks out is the songs. I love their poetic lyrics and the melodies are great too. The scenery and cinematography is really beautiful, specifically the shots of ocean. I love the scene when the dad is driving his boat, because the water looks amazing. But by far my favorite scene is earlier in the film, when one of Riley’s new friends hits a golf ball into a man’s window, hands the golf club to Riley and runs away.

The message of Dinosaur Cove is that teamwork is great. The kids work together in many different situations, but it’s not just the kids. The adults also help out in some circumstances. One thing to be aware of is the use of a tranquilizer gun and the fact that the kids go exploring a lot without telling their parents and, in a few cases, end up in dangerous situations as a result.

I give Dinosaur Cove 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. Dinosaur Cove is available now on digital platforms.

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