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Inside Out 2 * Makes You Think And Discover A Bit Of Yourself

Friday, June 14th, 2024

The little voices inside Riley’s head know her inside and out—but everything changes when Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” introduces a new Emotion: Anxiety. Inside Out 2 returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley just as headquarters is undergoing a sudden demolition to make room for something entirely unexpected: new Emotions! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who have long been running a successful operation by all accounts, aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety shows up. And it looks like she’s not alone. Maya Hawke lends her voice to Anxiety, alongside Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Lewis Black as Anger, Tony Hale as Fear, and Liza Lapira as Disgust.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. dives into the teenage mind: “The teenage mind has a lot of emotion, which we explore in Inside Out 2! From taking rides down your river of consciousness to discovering your deep dark secrets, Inside Out 2 makes you think and discover a bit of yourself.”  Neo M. is head over heels: “I absolutely love the film Inside Out 2 with its vibrant, imaginative worlds, hilarious and unique characters, and engaging storyline.”  Keila V. loves the animation: “The animation in this film is fantastic and the characters look stupendous.” Clara T. appreciates the familiar: “I enjoy that, even though there are a lot of new things and feelings, you can still see all the original ones. I also like the humor and the small details, like when Riley wakes up as a teenager and she has a pimple.” Katherine S. reflects on the message: “Inside Out 2 has many deep messages, like embracing every part of yourself and remembering that it’s okay to feel all sorts of different emotions. Its goal is to de-stigmatize anxiety and other emotions because they are normal and really common.” See their full reviews below.

Inside Out 2
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” returns to the mind of freshly minted teenager Riley just as a new Emotion shows up unexpectedly. Much to Joy’s surprise, Anxiety isn’t the type who will take a back seat either. Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler as Joy and Maya Hawke as Anxiety.

The teenage mind has a lot of emotion, which we explore in Inside Out 2! From taking rides down your river of consciousness to discovering your deep dark secrets, Inside Out 2 makes you think and discover a bit of yourself.

Inside Out 2 is a time skip to the first establishment. It continues to follow Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Liza Lapria), who are Riley’s (Kensington Tallman) original emotions. As Riley enters her “teenage years” new emotions are introduced such as Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser). When Riley gets accepted to Hockey Camp, Anxiety and new emotions try to take over her core beliefs. It’s up to Joy and her group to find a way to get Riley back to the way she was.

This film is much deeper compared to the first film. This explores the concept of growing up and the more complex emotions that can “take over” other feelings. Anxiety, as the villain, is genius in the sense that most people see it that way. Anxiety tends to overpower joy as metaphorically shown in this film.

In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Envy may be small, but she sure knows what she wants. She’s perpetually jealous of everything everyone else has, and she’s not afraid to pine over it. Envy’s wishful thinking and fascination with the newest, coolest thing pulls her attention in all directions and longs for what Riley doesn’t have. Featuring Ayo Edebiri as the voice of Envy. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

My favorite aspect of Inside Out 2 is the little hints of the mind they added. I love that they now have beliefs that create the “self,” the river of consciousness which changes floating items based on your thoughts and, even the vault of secrets. This film runs 1 hour and 36 minutes and is worth the watch for new and prior fans!

The film’s message is to be true to yourself and, while you should prepare for the future, don’t let that stop you from experiencing the present. In the film, Anxiety works on always preparing Riley for the future which means her destroying who Riley is and should be. Riley begins to “suffer the consequences” of that action which takes a toll on her. While there is nothing to look out for in Inside Out 2, it is a much deeper-minded film so it can get viewers thinking deeper or experiencing certain emotions.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it in theaters June 14, 2024.

Inside Out 2
By Neo M, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Fear (voice of Tony Hale) and Disgust (voice of Liza Lapira) aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety (voice of Maya Hawke) shows up unexpectedly. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen, © 2023 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I absolutely love the film Inside Out 2 with its vibrant, imaginative worlds, hilarious and unique characters, and engaging storyline. I felt a deep connection to each character. Every scene captivated me with its colorful animation and the hilarious chaos carries throughout the film. 

The main character, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), is now officially a teenager and the film begins with a brief recap of Riley’s life over the past couple of years. We are introduced to four new emotions: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Embarrassment (Paul Walter), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), and Ennui (Adele E). It seems like an ordinary day at headquarters until everyone realizes that demolition is happening – quite symbolic – and a new emotion, Anxiety, has arrived with the intention to dominate and conquer. Anxiety introduces the other new emotions and takes over with the ultimate goal to eliminate Riley’s sense of self and create a new one. Then chaos erupts!

Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley, where Emotions like Embarrassment (voice of Paul Walter Hauser) take turns driving—or throwing themselves upon—the console as Riley experiences all the feelings. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen.© 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

One of my favorite parts in the film is when Joy and Sadness go down to the belief system. The visuals are so clear and beautiful. I really like the visual imagery throughout the film, with characters navigating worlds like the back of the mind, or the stream of consciousness. I also love the idea of the good memories being “planted” when released into the water, creating a stem to Riley’s sense of self. This film also had me uncontrollably laughing. For example, the moment when a button labeled “PUBERTY” starts beeping, waking up the emotions in the middle of the night. It is hilarious to see how the emotions react to Riley’s changes. This film is very relatable, especially for my age group, because it makes tons of jokes about going through the teenage years.  My absolute favorite moments are related to the character development that emotions like Joy and her counterpart, Sadness, go through. Seeing all the emotions come together and realize that they each play a part in Riley’s sense of self also strikes home.

The film’s message is that all emotions shape us into who we are. For example, we need to experience sadness in our lives in order to feel joy. The film expresses the positive message that all emotions are necessary and are part of connecting to who we are.

Inside Out 2
gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Inside Out 2 in theaters, June 14, 2024. 

Inside Out 2 
By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Fear (voice of Tony Hale) and Disgust (voice of Liza Lapira) are awakened to an alarming reality: everything is changing now that Riley is 13. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen. © 2023 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I really enjoyed Inside Out 2. It is a thrilling film about a young girl becoming a teenager and I could relate to the many new emotions she is experiencing. This movie is perfect to watch with someone the age of the protagonist.

The story follows a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) who is just entering puberty and needs to make room for new emotions as she becomes an adolescent. Riley’s headquarters (which is where all her emotions stay) gets demolished so that it can make room for her new “sophisticated” emotions, including: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), Boredom (Adele Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and Nostalgia (June Squibb). In one of the scenes Anxiety tells Joy that Riley needs more sophisticated emotions and pushes aside our classic five being: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale) and my personal favorite Disgust (Liza Lapira).

The animation in this film is fantastic and the characters look stupendous. In one scene when Joy’s emotion changes and she gets frustrated, by the help of animation, she looks as if she is about to explode and cry at the same time.

Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley, where headquarters expands to make room for new Emotions. Pictured from L-R: Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Embarrassment (voice of Paul Walter Hauser), Envy (voice of Ayo Edebiri), Anxiety (voice of Maya Hawke), Disgust (voice of Liza Lapira), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Fear (voice of Tony Hale) and Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith). Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

There are no special effects, but there are many visual effects that match the storyline perfectly. When Joy, Fear, Anger and Disgust get trapped inside of a safe a small character named Pouchie (James Austin Johnson) appears and that animation looks different than the other characters, he sort of looks like a cartoon from the 80s. My favorite scene is when the five emotions first meet – Anxiety, Boredom, Envy, Nostalgia and Embarrassment. The interaction between Anxiety and Joy is a bit strange since Joy thinks these are intruders to headquarters and Anxiety is crazy when it comes to meeting new people. I mean, “Emotions!” Another one of my favorite scenes in this hilarious film is when Riley meets the popular girls. This is one of my favorite scenes because of how funny and awkward it is when Riley goes to meet these girls. To see what happens next, you must watch the movie! I know that you will love it just as much as I did! 

The film’s message is that it is okay to experience a variety of emotions and not just feel happy or sad. Another message is about how starting to become adolescents brings about different feelings than we had in our childhood, so, we need to understand why we feel this way and accept these feelings.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters June 14, 2024.

Inside Out 2
By Clara T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Riley’s Sense of Self is made up of all of her beliefs, each of which can be heard with the pluck of a string. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) and Joy (voice of Amy Poehler) deliver key memories to this formative land. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I really love the movie Inside Out 2. I enjoy that, even though there are a lot of new things and feelings, you can still see all the original ones. I also like the humor and the small details, like when Riley wakes up as a teenager and she has a pimple.

The story follows Riley (Kensington Tallman), who is 13 years old, so she just became a teenager. She discovers new emotions that she doesn’t understand and they are much stronger than the emotions she had when she was younger. The new emotions are Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Houser), and Ennui (Adele Exarchopoulos). They join her original emotions in what could maybe be called a disaster. A lot of things are happening throughout the story and, at one point, Anxiety even takes over Riley. At the end, all of Riley´s emotions are somewhat balanced.

Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley just as new Emotions show up. Embarrassment (voice of Paul Walter Hauser), Anxiety (voice of Maya Hawke), Envy (voice of Ayo Edebiri) and Ennui (voice of Adèle Exarchopoulos) are ready to take a turn at the console. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Inside out 2 is one of Pixar’s newest animated films. It is directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen. The new feelings Riley gets are because she has become a teenager and they represent her coming of age. Anxiety, an important role in this movie, is voiced by Maya Hawke. Riley attends hockey camp and hopes to impress the high school hockey coach. When she goes there, she realizes that the high school team’s hockey captain will be there and she wants to make a good impression. However, she starts to ignore her friends since she knows they will be transferring schools and thinks it’s more important to make friends and connections with people she will be going to high school with. She starts to think this because of her new feeling, Anxiety, who fears what will happen in the future.

The film’s message is to observe and know your feelings, without letting one emotion control you entirely. When Riley becomes a teenager and discovers her new and stronger emotions, she learns to “hug” her emotions and embrace all of her feelings.

Inside Out 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It premieres in theaters June 14, 2024. Look for it.

Inside Out 2
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley just as a new Emotion shows up unexpectedly. And Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke, isn’t the type of Emotion who will take a back seat either. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen. © 2023 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I love Inside Out 2! This masterfully made movie is a sequel to the 2015 film Inside Out that dives deeper into the emotional and mental changes children have as they become teenagers. It has amazing storytelling, numerous powerful messages and so much emotional depth. 

This movie follows Riley (Kensington Tallman) as she enters her teenage years in the summer before she starts high school. As she hits puberty, her mind headquarters undergoes an unexpected change to make room for new emotions, like Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), Boredom (Adele Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and Anxiety (Maya Hawke). These new emotions challenge not only Riley’s emotions but also her friendships and sense of self.   

Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley, where her Emotions Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Fear (voice of Tony Hale), Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) and Disgust (voice of Liza Lapira) must make room for new Emotions, including Envy (voice of Ayo Edebiri), Anxiety (voice of Maya Hawke) and Embarrassment (voice of Paul Walter Hauser). Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen, “Inside Out 2” releases only in theaters June 14, 2024. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I believe people of all ages will enjoy Inside Out 2. This film was made nearly a decade after the original movie, and with a purpose, it seems. I feel that the creators of this movie waited this long to make this sequel so that all of the original viewers would be older. I was only six or seven when I saw the original Inside Out. And now, I’m sixteen and my mind is so much more complex than the five core emotions featured in the original movie, which Inside Out 2 addresses and is why the timing of this release is so perfect. This movie really masters the more complex emotions that come as we age. Anyone in their teenage years or adulthood will be able to relate to this movie because of these new emotions. Younger children will definitely like this movie, but they may not understand it as deeply as an older person will. I love the new characters. As in the original movie, these performances blew my mind. The strongest performances come from Amy Poehler as Joy, Maya Hawke as Anxiety, and Kensington Tallman as Riley. Kensington, Grace Lu (as Grace) and Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green (as Bree) have so much chemistry and truly seem like they are best friends. My favorite performance is from Adele Exarchopoulos, who plays Ennui (boredom) and, even though she doesn’t have that many lines, she’s hilarious.

Inside Out 2 has many deep messages, like embracing every part of yourself and remembering that it’s okay to feel all sorts of different emotions. Its goal is to de-stigmatize anxiety and other emotions because they are normal and really common. 

Inside Out 2 gets 5 of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. People who enjoyed the original Inside Out movie will definitely enjoy this one. It comes out in theaters on June 14, 2024.

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The Keeper of The Five Kingdoms * Compelling With Lots Of Magic And Mythical Characters Such As Sorcerers, Talking Lizards, And Trolls

Thursday, June 13th, 2024

When Patsy Lee discovers an ancient relic box, she has no idea that it will transport her, her grandfather, and her friends to a mystical world of vampires, goblin witches, talking turtles, and an evil sorceress who will stop at nothing to get the box. Their only chance of returning home is to stop her before she finds the key to the 5 Kingdoms and destroys the entire world. Directed by former child actor Zack Ward (Scut Farkus) from A Christmas Story.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalynn G. comments, “The film The Keeper of the Five Kingdoms has a ton of magic and mythical characters such as sorcerers, talking lizards, and trolls. This film is very cultural. I love its focus on Chinese culture.” Ryan M. adds, “If you like a youth-aimed action movie coupled with some ancient Chinese magic and funny situations, you will definitely like The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms. It is light, has no violence and is funny.” Gloria J. wraps it up with, “I found The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms appealing due to its rich incorporation of Chinese culture, which brings authenticity and educational value as seen with the traditional elements like the Chinese leopard water, traditional attire, and the artifacts in the grandfather’s store. The fantasy and adventure aspects, such as the magical land with a Chinese dragon and creative escapes like the car transformation, create an engaging, imaginative world.” See their full reviews below.

The Keeper of The Five Kingdoms
By Avalynn G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

The film The Keeper of the Five Kingdoms has a ton of magic and mythical characters such as sorcerers, talking lizards, and trolls. The film takes place in a forest and that setting definitely fits the characters and scenes. The costumes also stand out as they fit the story so well.

The storyline follows a girl named Patsy Lee (Michelle Mao), her friend squirrel (Anna Harr), her brother Hopper (Matthew Sato) and her grandfather Chuck Lee (James Hong). One day they all get sucked into a portal in a stone and are transported to a magical kingdom where they face a lot of obstacles – in order for them to go back home they have to defeat the evil sorcerer.

This film is very cultural. I love its focus on Chinese culture. The costumes are outstanding, especially Allura’s outfit before she turns into a troll – it’s very detailed and beautiful. I like this film although it isn’t really my style. The acting seems too unnatural; sometimes it’s very overly dramatic and, in some scenes, you can tell there is a green screen behind them. Other than that the production is great! My favorite part is when Patsy gives the lizard the box with the bad magic stone. Then, the lizard puts the entire family in a gigantic hole in the ground, and starts dancing wildly above them. The way he dances is really funny.  I love the relationship between the grandfather, Patsy, and Hopper. They always have each other’s back. You can tell that they love each other.

The film’s message is about friendship and a reminder that our family always has our back, no matter what. Hopper always has Patsy’s back like when the bad guys try to force Hopper to give them the box and threaten his sister. Hopper protects his sister first and foremost.

I give Keeper of the Five Kingdoms 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 8 to 12. This film releases on VOD and streaming June 18, 2024. 

The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms
By Ryan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

If you like a youth-aimed action movie coupled with some ancient Chinese magic and funny situations, you will definitely like The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms. It is light, has no violence and is funny.

The story follows a queen named Lord Kuang (Bai Ling) who wants a box that contains magic. She sends two servants, Mr. Rat (Dante Basco) and Mr. Chicken (Dave Sheridan), some kids Patsy (Michelle Mao), Squirrel (Anna Harr) and Hopper (Matt Sato), plus a Chinese uncle named Chuck (James Hong) to find the box which leads them to an amazing adventure.

I commend the director, Zack Ward, for his work here. There are a lot of comical situations, like when Pasty’s mom is trying to make Grandpa Chuck say that something was leopard pee. However, the animatronic and green screen work sometimes lack synchronization with the puppets’ mouths, and some hair fades onto the green screen,  like when they get out of the deep hole. Some actors could have been a bit more convincing, like when they are falling, the only person that looks convincing is Hopper.

The film’s message is that love is a very strong power. I give The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. This movie releases on VOD and streaming on June 18, 2024.

The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms
By Gloria J., KIDS FIRST!

I found The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms appealing due to its rich incorporation of Chinese culture, which brings authenticity and educational value as seen with the traditional elements like the Chinese leopard water, traditional attire, and the artifacts in the grandfather’s store. The fantasy and adventure aspects, such as the magical land with a Chinese dragon and creative escapes like the car transformation, create an engaging, imaginative world. The film also delves into complex family dynamics, particularly the reconciliation between Patsy and her grandfather. The moral lessons, like the queen’s redemption through Patsy’s love spell, provide meaningful themes about forgiveness and transformation. However, the complex plot, numerous characters and rapid scene changes can be overwhelming, and the fast-paced narrative leads to a lack of depth at times. While the reliance on familiar fantasy tropes can feel predictable, the cultural richness and emotional arcs make it a compelling watch. Children will enjoy its exciting fantasy elements, like the magical portals, the Chinese dragon, mythical creatures and spells, and young characters like Patsy, which offer a sense of thrill and connection. 

The film begins with a slave informing his master of finding a key to her freedom. Two men from the mythical world are sent to hunt for a treasure box with the key; they evade police using magic and communicate with the master through Chinese characters on a scroll. Patsy accidentally picks up a mystical box, which leads to a series of events where her friend, Harper, is taken hostage and will only be released on the condition that she gives the box back, thus leading them to travel to a magical land. There they encounter mythical creatures, solve ancient puzzles, and ultimately confront an evil queen, who is redeemed by Patsy’s love spell, helping them return home.

The Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms offers a captivating blend of fantasy escapades and cultural exploration that are delightful. From mesmerizing magical portals to mythical creatures, the visuals are breathtaking. What sets this film apart is its rich cultural tapestry, with traditional Chinese music, clothing, artifacts, and beliefs seamlessly woven into the narrative. Viewers are not only entertained but also enlightened as they embark on a journey of cultural appreciation and understanding. The themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness resonate deeply, as characters like Patsy and her friends, with her grandfather’s guidance, navigate challenges and ultimately find redemption through love and empathy. Through its intricate plot and dynamic characters, it encourages viewers to question, probe, and problem-solve, fostering critical thinking skills and igniting curiosity. The program strikes a perfect balance between educational value and entertainment, leaving audiences both enchanted and inspired.

The film bursts with cultural richness, although pacing issues, awkward scene transitions, and a complex plot affect its impact. It takes you on a wild ride and what really brings the story to life is the intelligent use of traditional Chinese music, artifacts and beliefs, magical portals and dragons. You feel as if you’re stepping into another world! The film keeps things exciting with thrilling adventures and relatable young characters like Patsy. The reconciliation between Patsy and her grandfather adds emotional depth. The writer’s mix of magic, adventure, and family drama is excellent. The storyline strikes a balance between fantasy, adventure and cultural education, providing an enriching experience for young people.Stunning visuals bring this film to life. The attention to details such as the majority of the cast being of Chinese descent, Joe’s traditional clothing, and the grandfather’s shop contribute to cultural authenticity. The mystical world set is well portrayed with its creatures, the queen’s soldiers, the talking tortoise, invisible bridges, and the architecture of the castle. The skilled direction captures all of this – in both animated and live-action scenes there are clear, detailed visuals and high production values.

The film supports inquiry and investigation, and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, the incorporation of cultural elements encourages viewers to explore and learn about an unfamiliar culture, which fosters curiosity and understanding. Additionally, the fantastical elements, such as magical portals and mythical creatures, invite viewers to question and probe the boundaries of reality, stimulating their imaginations and creativity. The complex plot and character dynamics provide opportunities to analyze motivations and consequences, promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The film offers a blend of educational value and entertainment that encourages viewers to engage with the content on multiple levels.

The film’s message revolves around themes of family, friendship, cultural appreciation, and the power of love and forgiveness. The film emphasizes the importance of reconciliation and understanding within families, as seen in Patsy’s reconciliation with her grandfather. The cultural elements of the film promote appreciation and respect for different cultures. The redemption of the evil queen highlights the transformative power of love and forgiveness, suggesting that understanding and empathy can lead to positive change.

I give The Keepers Of The 5 Kingdoms 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults.  This film releases on VOD and streaming June 18, 2024. 

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School of Magical Animals 2 * Love The Magical Talking Animals With Fun Personalities

Friday, June 7th, 2024

The students of the school of magical animals want to perform a musical for the school’s anniversary. Will the rehearsals end in chaos or will the class pull together? And what’s up with the strange holes on the school grounds? With the help of their magical animals, the children learn what really matters: teamwork. The School Of Magical Animals 2 is a warm-hearted adventure with CGI-animated animals, set in an unusual school where the children receive a magical animal as a companion.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella S. comments, “I absolutely love the movie School of Magical Animals 2! The sets are very detailed and are beautifully designed to fit the lighthearted style of the movie. The animals’ hilarious antics kept me laughing throughout the film! Best of all, you don’t need to have seen the first film, School of Magical Animals.” Clara B. comments, “I like the film The School of Magical Animals 2. It is entertaining with all the magical animals talking and having fun personalities. I also really like how the animals match their owners’ personalities. The movie has a castle in a village for the school which makes the setting very interesting.” Ashleigh C. wraps it up with, “The lead characters in this film are brought to life by a talented cast. The dynamic between the students and their magical animal companions is both heartwarming and entertaining. The CGI used to create the animals is top-notch, making each magical creature feel real and full of personality.” See their full reviews below.

School of Magical Animals 2
By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I absolutely love the movie School of Magical Animals 2! The sets are very detailed and are beautifully designed to fit the lighthearted style of the movie. The animals’ hilarious antics kept me laughing throughout the film! Best of all, you don’t need to have seen the first film, School of Magical Animals. You can enjoy and completely understand the film for what it is!

School of Magical Animals 2 follows a group of students and their talking pets preparing to celebrate their school’s anniversary with a musical performance. They want to honor their school by recreating the story of its foundation. The only problem is, they cannot agree on how to do it! Ida (Emilia Maier) is appointed director, but when the school’s most popular girl, Helene (Emilia Pieske), attempts to take control, the class is torn. Additionally, the school director, Mr. Siegmann (Justus von Dohnányi) has his own vision for the musical and insists that it is followed. With the advice and assistance of the magical animals, the students eventually realize they must join forces, each learning a valuable lesson along the way.

The sets immediately stood out to me, especially the individual characters’ bedrooms. The room decorations reflect each of their personalities. My favorite room belongs to Anna-Lena (Lilith Johna). She is a shy but happy, welcoming girl with a wonderful singing voice and a talent for textiles. Her room is covered with beautiful fairy lights, warm pastel-colored cushions, and sewing equipment, because she is sewing the main character’s dress for the musical. There is a wooden bunk bed with a ladder and there are plants and vines around the room, in adorable white or neutral pots. Her room looks like it belongs to a garden fairy, which describes Anna-Lena perfectly! Aside from the characters’ rooms, the rest of the sets are also beautifully designed, such as the stage for the performance and the set for Ida’s rooftop birthday party. Both maintain a light, happy color scheme to support the movie’s cheerful tone. They are very detailed as well, with star-shaped cutouts and strobe lights for the stage and a whole snack booth with cafe-style tables set up by the trampolines for Ida’s birthday party.

The animals are essential to the plot and the character development. Each main character’s animal represents either their internal thoughts or a lesson they need to learn. For example, Anna-Lena receives a chameleon named Caspar (Rick Kavanian), who pushes her to overcome her shyness and step out of her comfort zone, even encouraging her to take on the lead role in the musical. And Juri (Axel Stein), Jo’s penguin, represents his conscience when he makes a mistake and guides him to the right decision by sharing advice, as well as his own hilarious stories from when he was in Antarctica.

The message of School of Magical Animals 2 is that teamwork makes the dream work! At the end of the film, the students realize that they are more powerful together than apart, and to make their musical the best it can be, they need to work together, share their ideas and listen to others’ opinions. Be aware that this film was originally recorded in German and is dubbed in English, with captions provided.

School of Magical Animals 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. School of Magical Animals 2 releases in theaters on June 7, 2024. 

School of Magical Animals 2
By Clara T., KIDS FIRST! Film critic, age 11

I like the film School of Magical Animals 2. It is entertaining with all the magical animals talking and having fun personalities. I also really like how the animals match their owners’ personalities. The movie has a castle in a village for the school which makes the setting very interesting. The only drawback is that, at times, it is a little repetitive.

The storyline follows Ida and Benni who attend the Winterstein School where the students are practicing a musical to show their parents and they sometimes disagree and make each feel upset or left out –  but they work it out. At the end when they put on the play something strange happens and they are shocked to find out.

Based on the successful German children’s book series by Margit Auer, this film is a blend of CGI animation and live action. What makes it particularly fun is the talking animals, which include a talking fox, tortoise and magpie. Director Sven Unterwaldt beautifully brings this story to life. Ida, a kind and nice girl, is played by Emilia Maier, who portrays her perfectly.  Her pet, Rabbat, is wonderfully voiced by Max Von der Groeben.

I love watching the magical animals sing, rap, talk, and dance, and at times they advise their human friends. The animals help teach lessons in friendship, perseverance, and the importance of sharing feelings. Another fun fact about the animals is that they can transform into stuffed animals when needed, so they can hide from strangers. Throughout the movie, you see beautiful landscapes and European villages and castles.

The film’s message is about teamwork. In the beginning, the children struggle to come together as a team, but when they start to work together they start to accomplish more.

I give School Of Magical Animals 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It is available in theaters June 7, 2024.

School of Magical Animals 2
By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 20

School of Magical Animals 2 is an enchanting sequel that absolutely captivated me! This film continues the magical journey with even more excitement, heart, and humor. The combination of great acting, a fantastic soundtrack, and impressive CGI makes it a must-watch for fans of the first movie and newcomers alike.

In this sequel, the students of the School of Magical Animals are preparing a musical for the school’s anniversary. However, things don’t go as smoothly as planned. With strange holes appearing on the school grounds and the pressure of rehearsals mounting, the students must rely on their magical animal friends to navigate the chaos. Together, they discover the importance of teamwork and friendship in overcoming obstacles.

The lead characters in this film are brought to life by a talented cast. The dynamic between the students and their magical animal companions is both heartwarming and entertaining. The CGI used to create the animals is top-notch, making each magical creature feel real and full of personality. The sets and scenery are vibrant and perfectly complement the magical atmosphere of the story. The costumes are wonderfully designed, adding to the visual appeal of the film. One of my favorite parts of the movie is the cute and enjoyable love story between the two main characters. It’s a delightful extension from the first movie and adds an extra layer of charm to the story. The musical numbers are catchy and well-executed, thanks to the great soundtrack. Every element of this film, from the direction to the special effects, contributes to its overall magical feel.

The message of School of Magical Animals 2 is that teamwork and friendship are essential in overcoming challenges. The film successfully conveys this message through its engaging storyline and relatable characters.

School of Magical Animals 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, and adults will enjoy it as well. You can catch this magical film in theaters on June 7, 2024.

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Summer Camp * An Adventurous Film About The Importance Of Having Strong Friendships And Taking Risks Together

Friday, May 31st, 2024

Summer Camp tells the story of Nora (Keaton), Ginny (Bates), and Mary (Woodard), who have been best friends since being inseparable at summer camp. As the years have passed, they’ve seen each other less and less, so when the chance to reunite for a summer camp reunion arises, they all take it, some begrudgingly and others excitedly. Each of their lives might not be where they’d imagined, but one thing is for sure — Nora, Ginny, and Mary need each other, and summer camp reminds them why.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tia O. comments, “Summer Camp is an adventurous film targeted at an older audience. My favorite parts are the wardrobe, characters, and location – all of which make this super enjoyable. The film’s message is about the importance of having strong friendships and taking risks together.” See her full review below.

Summer Camp
By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Summer Camp is an adventurous film targeted at an older audience. My favorite parts are the wardrobe, characters, and location – all of which make this super enjoyable.

Summer Camp is a comedic movie that follows a trio of best friends – Nora (Diane Keaton), Ginny (Kathy Bates) and Mary (Alfre Woodard) who met years ago while attending a summer camp together in their youth. Over the years, they’ve drifted apart due to lifestyle changes. So when the opportunity for a summer camp reunion arises, they all decide to go and relive the fond moments they used to share. Though a few bumps in their camp stay emerge, Nora, Ginny, and Mary all remember the importance of having strong friendships.

The wardrobe styling in this film is stellar. Costume designer, Maria Lorenzana, designed all of the characters’ outfits so that they were not only tailored to each person but also represented specific characteristics of their personalities. For example, Nora’s studious and reserved side is showcased by her wearing corporate colors, business suits, collared shirts and turtlenecks.  Ginny’s spunky and creative side is enhanced by her wearing vibrant colors, playful patterns, and big accessories. Mary’s quiet and soft side is represented by her wearing simple outfits, solid color tops and soft fabrics.

I adore all of the characters in this film, however my personal favorite is Nora. I relate to her because she’s very cautious before taking risks; she’s the logical thinker in the group, and she has a passion for science. Diane Keaton plays this role so well and I love her performance throughout the film. Lastly this movie was primarily filmed at Camp Pinnacle located in North Carolina and the location is gorgeous. The sky-high shots of the vast mountains and rolling hills captured by cinematographer Karsten Gopinath are truly breathtaking.

This film’s message is about the importance of having strong friendships and taking risks together. Be aware that the film does contain some cursing, inappropriate jokes, sexual themes, and some minor gore.

I give Summer Camp 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Look out for Summer Camp which releases in theaters May 31, 2024.

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The Garfield Movie * Heartwarming Story Beautifully Animated, Great Pace And Laugh-Out-Loud Humor

Friday, May 24th, 2024

The Garfield Movie * Heartwarming Story Beautifully Animated, Great Pace And Laugh-Out-Loud Humor

Garfield (voiced by Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father – scruffy street cat Vic (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) – Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sydney S. comments, “The Garfield Movie is a heartwarming story with a great pace and humor that’s cleverly put together.” Carter P. adds, “The Garfield Movie is fun, heartwarming, has a great villain, stunning animation is stunning and an exceptional cast.” Alma K. comments, “I have always loved all things Garfield, so I was expecting to love The Garfield Movie—and I do! It remarkably captures the essence of Garfield, and I couldn’t think of a better movie to bring Garfield back to the big screen where he belongs.” Arjun N. adds, “The cast features an ensemble of Hollywood greats performing voice acting that prevails against the somewhat derivative heist plot and awkward humor that often plagues kids’ films.” Audrey S. wraps it up with, “The film’s message is that you should never judge others without knowing their full story. You may think that you know how something happened, but it’s important to get all the information.” See their full reviews below.

The Garfield Movie
By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Garfield Movie is a heartwarming story with a great pace and humor. It’s cleverly put together with beautiful animation which makes it an engaging film.

The story follows the cat, Garfield (Chris Pratt), who has the dream life – a dog best friend, a nice house, and most importantly, access to an endless amount of food. Everything’s going perfectly until he reunites with his long-lost father. The animals have a perilous journey ahead of them, having to deal with the conflict between the father-son duo.

I really like this movie because it’s super funny but also has deep messages about relationships with important people in your life. Its main characters are Garfield, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), Jon (Nicholas Hoult), Otto (Ving Rhames) and Jinx (Hannah Waddingham). The characters are unique and represent different emotions – Garfield represents anger, Jon represents anxiety, Vic represents regret, and Otto represents sadness and longing. It illustrates a positive message for the younger generation at the end of the movie. I really like the animation; it’s unique and a cool mix of 2D and 3-D awareness of space. There isn’t a dull moment in this film. It’s constantly engaging, like when they’re running from a nasty security guard or dodging ridiculously big cutting knives.

I like the pacing; it’s not too fast nor too slow. Plus, there are flashbacks to when Garfield was a young kitten, which gives the film a strong backstory. The background music helps set the mood. When it’s raining and young Garfield is abandoned, the music is slow and depressing. However, when Odie and Garfield are playing, the music lightens up. My favorite part of the movie is when Vic gets Garfield on the train by launching him off of a tree branch. Garfield bounces off trees, animals, rocks, and more, and it’s hilarious to watch.

The film’s message is about forgiveness and family. Garfield’s dad has a reason he left Garfield, which was actually to help him, rather than hurt him. Vic goes out searching for food and when he comes back, Garfield seems to be happy under Jon’s care. Garfield and Vic forgive each other, and become close again.

I give The Garfield Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. The Garfield Movie releases in theaters May 24, 2024.

The Garfield Movie
Carter P., KIDS FIRST!  Film Critic, age 12

I love The Garfield Movie. It is fun, heartwarming and has a great villain.  The animation is stunning and it has some heartfelt moments with an exceptional cast.  The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end and I was laughing out loud.

Garfield (Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father, scruffy street cat Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist.  There is nothing not to love about Garfield.  He hates Mondays, loves lasagna, and is loyal to his best pals Jon and Odie.

I really love the animation in this film. It is extremely well done — the way the fur moves and how it looks on all the animals throughout the entire film is stunning.  When the fur moves during action sequences and when the heist plans are being made, they even switched the animation style which I thought was particularly cool. I really do not think they could have picked a better cast for this film.  Chris Pratt is perfect in the role of Garfield.  I love hearing Harvey Guillen as Odie, especially his different barks with different emotions expressed throughout the movie.  Hannah Waddingham voices Jinx, a cat who is the villain. She plays a fantastic villain — she is a little intense, but never too scary even for younger audiences.  I like that the plot is made simple so kids can easily understand it and the storyline is so funny.  This movie is rated PG; it is 1 hour and 41 minutes and it never drags.  I was completely entertained by the entire movie.  I left the theater wanting Italian food and a pet.

The film’s message is about teamwork, family, and friendship.  It shows how family will always be there for you, no matter what. The film shares the importance of doing what is right and being loyal to the people around you.

I give The Garfield Movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults.  The Garfield Movie opens in theaters May 24, 2024. Be sure to check it out!

The Garfield Movie 
By Audrey L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9 

The Garfield Movie is an entertaining animated film about a lovable tabby cat and his adventures. I like funny movies and this one definitely falls into that category. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt! This film isn’t all jokes though; there are many heartwarming moments as well. 

This film starts out by making sure the audience knows just how much Garfield (Chris Pratt) loves Italian food. While eating his morning snack, he begins to tell the story of how he met his owner Jon (Nicholas Hoult) after his own father Vic (Samuel L Jackson) seemingly abandons him. Jon takes Garfield in, and from there he has quite the luxurious life; he gets to sit around all day eating and watching cat videos on TV with his buddies. Unsuspectingly, Garfield is taken from his normal routine and forced to adjust to a world he is not prepared for. On this new journey, Garfield meets lots of new people and learns many new life lessons. With the help of his new friends and his dad, Garfield learns to be independent. Garfield eventually makes his way home to a new normal that he helps create. 

The Garfield Movie is an animated film that personifies everything from ordinary house pets to farm animals. The animation is very well done and the colors used are an iconic part of what makes Garfield, Garfield. The music used throughout this film really helps set the vibe at crucial moments, such as when Italian music plays at the local Italian restaurant and familiar “danger” music plays during action scenes. My favorite character is Garfield because he is hilarious, loves Italian food, and hates Mondays! The selection of voice actors for each character is also spot on. When Roland the dog (Brett Goldstein) fakes a British accent to make Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) more comfortable, then switches back to his New York accent at the end, the talent of this voice actor really shines through.

The film’s message is that you should never judge others without knowing their full story. You may think that you know how something happened, but it’s important to get all the information. This message is successfully delivered through the development of Garfield’s relationship with his father. Note that this film does contain some violence; although delivered in a funny way, some parents may be uncomfortable with their kids watching such aggressive behavior. 

I give The Garfield Movie 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available exclusively in movie theaters beginning May 24, 2024. Be sure to check it out. 

The Garfield Movie
By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I have always loved all things Garfield, so I was expecting to love The Garfield Movie—and I do! The film remarkably captures the essence of Garfield, and I couldn’t think of a better movie to bring Garfield back to the big screen where he belongs — and with a talented star-studded cast.

The story follows Garfield (Chris Pratt) who has an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson) when Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) — the movie’s crazy vengeful antagonist — kidnaps both Garfield and his fellow pet Odie (Harvey Guillén). Jinx forces the two of them from their perfect (marred only by Mondays), pampered, luxurious lives into joining Vic in a high-stakes heist as revenge against Garfield’s father. The plot is tied in with so much humor and so many plot twists overall making it a fun family comedy.

Chris Pratt’s voice suits Garfield perfectly, and he brings the right attitude and edge to the character. Samuel L. Jackson wonderfully conveys emotion into his character, Vic (Garfield’s father) so as a viewer, you really end up feeling for his character. And Hannah Waddingham is outstanding as Jinx, Garfield’s antagonist. She voices Jinx as maniacal and flamboyant but she also brings heart and soul to Jinx, making viewers sympathize with Jinx’s motivations. Hannah Waddingham also has two songs in this movie:  An original called “I’m Back” which rolls over the end credits and a rendition of the French nursery rhyme “Alouette, Gentille Alouette”, the latter of the two occurring in my favorite Jinx scene. The Garfield Movie is really funny. I especially like the parts with Jon (Nicholas Hoult) in them. I do feel like there is a huge effort to make Garfield more modern in this movie… there are lots of pop culture references. In some cases it’s done very well, but the movie overdoes this. Garfield calls himself “G-money” and makes shark tank references. And The Garfield Movie has a huge fixation on mobile devices. The film loses out on a very important nostalgic aspect of the film by attempting to adjust Garfield to better match the present-day audience. Garfield is relatable to modern kids and loved by the modern audience not because he has a phone. As Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis says, “Garfield is a human being in a cat suit”. The film does flesh out his character and I really enjoy seeing it. Yes, his adventures are significantly wilder but that just makes them more fun to watch.

The message of The Garfield Movie revolves around the importance of family and connection. It explores themes of sacrifice, the unseen presence of love, how misunderstandings can change your whole worldview, and the deep (sometimes hidden) bonds that define family.
I give The Garfield Movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2-18, plus families as well as all fans of the lovable cat. Look out for The Garfield Movie, which opens in theaters May 24, 2024.

The Garfield Movie
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22

The Garfield Movie delivers a fun adventure while not fully delving into the signature deadpan humor that the Garfield comics are known for. While it underwhelms a bit, the film has a poignant hook with some heart to it. Families might have fun, and kids will adore the new chapter of the infamous Garfield’s life.

This film follows Garfield (Chris Pratt) after coming of age with his owner Jon (Nicholas Hoult) and dog Odie. Unfortunately, trouble in paradise occurs once a mysterious group of animals kidnaps Garfield and Odie for a milk heist helmed by a nefarious cat Jinx (Hannah Waddingham). The conspiracy gets deeper once Garfield is paired with his long-lost, deadbeat dad Vic (Samuel L. Jackson). Bitter emotions follow, but one thing remains certain – they must settle their beef and team up if they want to successfully survive the heist.

The cast features an ensemble of Hollywood greats performing voice acting that prevails against the somewhat derivative heist plot and awkward humor that often plagues kids’ films. Chris Pratt, as Garfield, presents a newfound emotional side to the character with his baggage regarding his dad Vic, while retaining the natural charm he’s known for. Unfortunately, the script never commits to the Garfield’s signature deadpan humor; so, it often feels like Chris Pratt is just playing a caricature of himself rather than of Garfield. Regardless, he maintains witty and despicable father-son banter with Vic. Samuel L. Jackson is a highlight as Vic by maintaining his redemption alongside a whimsical demeanor. He easily delivers the film’s funniest dialogue. The pack of criminals brings great stakes to the adventure at hand. Hannah Waddingham, as Jinx, overcomes her character’s generically nefarious intentions with her commanding presence. Although Jinx is disappointingly written, her lackeys hold some originality in their absurdity. Brett Goldstein, as Otto, especially maintains a menacing foil to Garfield and Odie as a hound with a mute dog partner named Nolan, but the film pinpoints a hidden, sweeter side to the sinister pair. Garfield and Vic are helped by the headstrong mascot bull Otto, played by Ving Rhames. Otto is a great mentor to the two amidst their beef, and helps them out on their milk heist to get back at the farm and reunite with his “cow lover” who’s detained there. Nicolas Hoult, as Jon, is sidelined by the overarching heist plot, but his yearning for his lost pets showcases a side to the character that pet owners will immediately relate with. Finally, Snoop Dogg makes a colorful cameo as Snoop Catt. Mark Dindal directs the film alongside vibrant, colorful animation. Despite some originality found here, too many pop culture references oversaturate the film.

The film holds a great message about the importance of fatherhood. Although Vic left Garfield, it’s his realization that Jon would bring a decent upbringing for Garfield that redeemed his character. It proves that Vic has the best of intentions, but there remains a lesson in the importance of communication. Similar to Tom and Jerry, the film features slapstick action and rude humor that never overstay their welcome for a younger audience.

I give The Garfield Movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on May 24, 2024 in theaters. Be sure to check it out in theaters.

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