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UPSIDE -DOWN MAGIC (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

In "Upside-Down Magic, a Disney Channel Original Movie, 13-year-old Nory Boxwood Horace discovers she can flux into animals, and her best friend Reina Carvajal can manipulate flames. Together, they enter the Sage Academy for Magical Studies. Reina's expert ability to harness the power of fire lands her at the top of her class of "Flares," but Nory's wonky magic and proclivity for turning into a "Dritten"-a half-kitten, half-dragon-lands her in a class for those with Upside-Down Magic, otherwise known as UDM. While Headmaster Knightslinger believes the UDM's unconventional powers leave them vulnerable to dangerous and evil "shadow magic," Nory and her fellow UDM classmates set out to prove that Upside-Down Magic beats right side up

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

This adventurous movie Upside Down Magic is about a girl named Nory and her friend Reina, who are accepted to the Sage Academy for Magical Studies (think Hogwarts from Harry Potter meets Auradon Prep from Descendants). And no wands at this school for sorcery--all the magic comes from within. Plus there are five different schools of magic for Flyers, Flickers, Floaters, Flares and Fluxers. Nory is a Fluxer which means she can shape-shift into animals, but, during her first-day demonstrations of her powers, Nory's not-so-perfect magic turns her into a "Dritten" (a half-kitten, half-dragon) that puts her into a class for the kids with "wonky" (or broken magic) called "upside down magic" also known as UDM. Nory's BFF Reina is a Flare which means she can create heat or fire or sparks from her hand. Reina has amazing abilities, but is tempted to make her powers even stronger when she comes across a book of Shadow Magic, a type of dark black magic that can turn you from good to evil.

Throughout the movie, Nory is convinced that the UDM's can be just as powerful as the rest of the school and, with the help of her teacher Scriff, all the UDM kids learn how to focus to turn their upside down magic...into right side up magic, even if it's not quite perfect.

Like most Disney Channel movies, this is fun, colorful, and full of unique characters. But...not a lot of singing in this one, surprisingly. And I can't spoil from whom and when the singing does come--you'll need to see the movie to find out! It is a little dark and scary at times, but the scariest moments come towards the end of the movie. Otherwise it's full of comedy, friendship, and, of course, lots of magic!

The messages of this film are to sometimes let kids be kids and also to never give up on what you believe you can achieve. Nory wants to be an official Flexer so bad but gets put into UDM. Yet does she settle and give up? Well, you'll have to watch to find out. (Wink.)

If you love movies like the Harry Potter series or Disney's Descendants, then you'll love Upside Down Magic. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to18 and adults will absolutely love it too. Upside Down Magic debuts on Disney Channel on July 31, 2020. Don't miss it.

By Lindalee R., KIDS First! Film Critic, Age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR UPSIDE -DOWN MAGIC (2020)


REBUILDING PARADISE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: EDUC/INSTR (Educational/Instructional)
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
ABRAMORAMA

Description:

The community of Paradise, California, a town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, attempts to rebuild after devastating wildfires in 2018.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

coming soon

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED REBUILDING PARADISE


WIZARDS: TALES OF ARCADIA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-15

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 10-15 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Tales of Arcadia is a trilogy of American computer-animated science fantasy television series created for Netflix by Guillermo del Toro and produced by DreamWorks Animation and Double Dare You. The series comprising the trilogy follows the inhabitants of the small suburban town of Arcadia Oaks, which is secretly home to various supernatural creatures and the young heroes who fight against the forces of evil that lurk in the shadows. Currently, the first two installments of the trilogy, Trollhunters and 3Below, have been released worldwide. A third and final series of the trilogy, Wizards will August 7, 2020 on Netflix.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Guillermo del Toro's new series Tales of Arcadia: Wizards will enrapture its viewers because of its high-quality animation, detailed emotional rollercoaster plot and strong script. The eight-time Emmy award-winning team behind this production creates a whole new fantasy world to dive into with the intricate CGI in this show--the mesmerizing floating castle of Camelot, incredible flying contraptions and futuristic technology complete the look. Designed with the utmost care, the many characters of this show are illustrated with clear lines and realistic coloring for skin, whether human or monstrous, hair, fangs and even fingernails--now that's detail-oriented!

Now to the plot of Tales of Arcadia: Wizards. The main character in this TV show is Hisirdoux or Douxie, our favorite clumsy wizard-in-training. After a stand-off with the Arcane Order - an evil band of magicians led by the wily Morgana - goes wrong, the group of do-gooder wizards (Merlin and Hisirdoux, along with the Guardians of Arcadia: Claire, Toby, and Steve, as well as Archie and Jim) set off on a time-twisting adventure to the times of 12th-century Camelot. The control of magic, the nature of all the supernatural worlds, and Hisirdoux's status in his mentor's eyes all lie in the balance.

The plot is intricate and crafted carefully - there are several plot twists along the way, and all of the characters are nuanced and lifelike. Well, the ones that aren't monsters are lifelike. I found it very hard to peel my eyes away from the screen throughout the ten episodes! Surprisingly, for a fantasy series, I was unable to predict what would happen next!

A highly talented and vaunted figure in television series lore, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, one of the many executive producers of the film, is well-known for his expertise in the industry. It shows in this TV series as well. Throughout the series, I found myself going through tears of joy and sadness, and cracking a super-wide smile at several parts. The script of Wizards, written by Andie Bolt, Ian Rickett and Lila Scott, was truly feature-film quality.

Colin O'Donoghue plays Hisirdoux; I found "Douxie" to be possibly the most nuanced of all the characters, and O'Donoghue is excellent at portraying all the facets of his personality. Steven Yeun plays Steve on the show, and he portrays the clumsy jock with comedic genius. Lena Headey plays the conflicted Morgana with finesse. Those are my three favorite characters on the show, with Archie as a runner-up - you have to love the cat/dragon's sarcastic commentary and incredible portrayal by Alfred Molina. Toby seems like an accessory character in this show and does not have much importance in lines or scenes.

There are several sweet messages incorporated throughout the show--messages of acceptance, perseverance, camaraderie and believing in yourself. The emotional development and maturing of Hisirdoux surely will cause you to shed a few tears as well, and you can't help but be proud of Callista, a troll with an interesting secret, for stepping up and casting aside what other trolls thought of her.

I rate Tales of Arcadia: Wizards 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it to children aged 10 to 15. Tales of Arcadia: Wizards is coming to Netflix August 7, 2020!

Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WIZARDS: TALES OF ARCADIA


WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Description:

After getting expelled at his previous high school, Adam, a teenager diagnosed with schizophrenia who dreams of becoming a chef, strikes up a connection with Maya, who inspires him not to be defined by his condition. With the support of his family and his newfound romance, Adam becomes hopeful that he can be honest about what he struggles with and triumph over the challenges that lie ahead.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Words On The Bathroom Walls portrays a wonderful example of schizophrenia in teenagers. It also adds a comedic essence to the illness, but it does not make fun of the disease. This movie is an eye-opener and a powerful phenomenon.

The story follows teenager Adam (Charlie Plummer) who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He transfers to a Catholic school where he meets Maya (Taylor Russell). The two strike up a friendship immediately, and Maya tutors Adam. However, Adam is struggling with keeping the symptoms of his illness to a minimum.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which sometimes the person hears voices and has hallucinations. In Words On The Bathroom Walls, we visually see a black cloud that torments Adam's mind. We meet three of the voices in his head which provide comedic relief with their big personalities: Rebecca (AnnaSophia Robb), Joaquin (Devon Bostick), and the Bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian). These comedic voices follow Adam and provide guidance along the way. We also meet Adam's mom and stepfather (Molly Parker and Walton Goggins) who help their son as best as they can.

Words On The Bathroom Walls, in its portrayal of Adam, definitely opens up a conversation that needs to be had amongst society: mental illnesses in teenagers. Adam feels as if there is no escape from his disease and as if he has to choose his sanity over his future. He feels pressured to be a perfect son, student and friend. He converses with his therapist throughout the movie and at one point he compares cancer and schizophrenic patients. He says when you're schizophrenic "people can't wait to make you someone else's problem." Adam feels as though his disease is a burden to himself and to his family.

The standout moral of the film is to not let your disease define you. Adam works hard to become a chef and he becomes frightened that he might not be able to graduate or work as a cook. However, he keeps working and overpowers his schizophrenia. He says that once he "was a bystander in his own life." In the end we see how he does not have any limits and how he now controls his life. Adam does not want to "end up on the bathroom walls," so we see him take the reins on his future. The depiction of this mental disorder might concern some viewers. A mature audience is advised.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Words On The Bathroom Walls is available August 21, 2020 in theaters.

Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS


DRAGONS: RESCUE RIDERS: SECRETS OF THE SONGWING
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-13 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

When a musical dragon with a beautiful voice hypnotizes the dragons and people of Huttsgalor, the Rescue Riders have to find a way to break the spell.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I really enjoyed this new, exciting film, Dragons: Rescue Riders: Secrets of the Songwing! The cast and animation are incredible!

The story follows Melodia (Ren�e Elise Goldberry), a songwing dragon who tries to hypnotize the town of Hudsgalore with her beautiful singing voice. When Aggro (Marsai Martin) and Zeppla (Cassidy Naber) are hypnotized, the dragon gang have to help stop Melodia's song. To the rescue come Winger (Zach Callison), Summer (Skai Jackson), Burple (Noah Bently) and Cutter (Andre Robinson) as they save their friends and the rest of the town of Hudsgalore. Alongside the dragons are brother and sister Dak (Nicolas Cantu) and Leyla (Brennley Brown) in this musical special that fans of Dragons: Rescue Riders will love.

The animation in this musical special is excellent, although there are some parts where the sound seemed that it was out of sync with the character's mouths a few times during the film.

The message of the story is that you shouldn't use one of your best qualities -- such as the gift of being able to sing like Melodia can -- to trance everyone else and make them do what you want.

I recommend Dragons: Rescue Riders: Secrets of the Songwing for ages 4-13, but it is a family-friendly film so adults will also enjoy it. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars as it is very enjoyable. You can find this film on Netflix on July 24th. Dragons: Rescue Riders: Secrets of the Songwing is definitely worth the watch!

Reviewed by Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DRAGONS: RESCUE RIDERS: SECRETS OF THE SONGWING


SUMMER FUN WITH MOLANG

Running Time:
30 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD AGES 5-12 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Summer is here! Molang and Piu Piu are ready to make the most of it. From deep-sea diving and discovering underwater wonders, to meeting new friends and travelling in an RV, our two friends will live a summer bursting with fun, surprises and friendship.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

COMING SOON

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Summer Fun with Molang because the characters are super funny and the animation is the cutest thing ever. I also love all the stories in each of the six episodes on this DVD. I don't like that the characters don't talk and only make noises. Sometimes that can get a little annoying, but younger kids will probably love it. Rather than dialogue, the animation includes little pop-up bubbles that show what the characters are thinking. You can also tell what they are thinking by their expressions and the tone of the sounds they make.

This DVD is about a bunny named Molang and a duck named Piu Piu who have a lot of fun and go on many adventures together. In one episode, Molang and Piu Piu go on a vacation to Hawaii. They meet friends on the way, but one of them gets stuck and when they try to help them, they get stuck on the island too. Luckily they work together to get back to Hawaii, but you'll have to watch it to see what they do. Another adventure has to do with a whale. At first everyone is so scared of it, but then they want to help the whale get back to the ocean. Check out the episode called "The Rescue" to see what happens.

I love the settings of all the episodes because they are mostly the ocean and the sand. I'm not familiar with that because there is only a lake and not an ocean where I live. Lake Superior is beautiful, but I love when I get to hang out on the beach in Los Angeles, California. The animation looks realistic and reminds me of having fun on the coast. My favorite part is when the characters have a hula dance in Hawaii because it's funny and cute.

All of the episodes have their own little messages, but overall the message of this DVD is that if you work together you can get things done quicker and easier. I know my dance group performs far better when we are working together instead of dancing as a group of individuals.

I give Summer Fun with Molang 4 out of 5 years and recommend this DVD for ages 3 to 9. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

By Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I love this DVD, Summer Fun with Molang. It has such adorable animation. Summer is here. A bunny and a chick drive around to find a little fun together and are very cute. The anthropomorphic characters seem to be enjoying summer more than anyone!

The bunny, Molang and chick, Piu Piu are the main characters. There are six episodes on this DVD experiencing summer adventure together. In first episode, Molang and Piu-Piu go underneath the water together to face the sea monster, even though everyone is afraid of it. Even during their scary adventure, they find ways to have fun and share good times together. In another episode, they are together at the fair. Molang sees a unicorn on a shelf and really wants to have one. Molang tries several different games but fails to win. Piu Piu doesn't hesitate to help Molang as a best friend. However, Piu-Piu also fails in all game. Piu Piu doesn't stop there. Piu Piu came up with a brilliant idea. It makes Molang smile. I love Piu Piu's brilliant idea and it makes me smile, too.

Director Marie-Caroline Villand really delivers a super cute animated show. The anthropomorphic bunny and chick do everything together. However, even though they act like humans, their speaking is not like humans. Don't worry! You will find ways to understand them while watching this DVD. They go snorkeling underneath the ocean, tubing around an island, build a sand statue of friendship and drive a RV together. In each episode, the adorable bunny and small friend face new adventure with laugher and joy. It seems like their friendship gets stronger and stronger every second.

The message of this animation is, "Friends are always there for each other."

I give Summer Fun with Molang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Adults will enjoy it as well. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Reviewed by Alexis J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9


ISBN # ASINB0863TQ3RJ
Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SUMMER FUN WITH MOLANG


JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
MAGNOLIA PICTURES

Description:

Using interviews and rare archival footage, JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE chronicles Lewis' 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Using present-day interviews with Lewis, now 79 years old, Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter's primarily cin�ma verit� film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

There is an old African proverb: "When you pray, you move your feet." The proverb resonates powerfully in this quote from John Lewis' memoir, Walking in the Wind: "As a nation if we care for the beloved community, we must move our feet, our hands, our hearts, our resources to build and not tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill. In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house, the American house, the American family."

John Lewis is a powerful writer. I read Walking in the Wind several years ago, and it had a powerful impact on me. John Lewis: Good Trouble, the documentary, makes that same powerful impact: it brings his story to life! As in his memoir, the film reveals the man behind the legend.

I was moved to tears by the footage from the 1960s. I was beginning my teenage years back in 1963. Television was still a young medium, and it showed us all that was going on in the world daily. I was learning about the world and its ways in the '60s--the injustices, the fight for dignity, freedom, equality and decency. These were my middle school years, my high school years, formative years brought back to life as I watched this film.

History repeats itself until we learn. John Lewis: Good Trouble follows John Lewis throughout his young life in Alabama, working on his parent's farm, feeding chickens, picking cotton. Mr. Lewis' narration of waking up early, hiding under the porch to wait for the school bus, running onto the bus to get to school to his wonderful teachers where he says he read everything, is a powerful visual image. I love what one of his sisters says about John wearing a tie and carrying the Bible to school every day. John was a serious student. He wanted more in his life. Clearly, he wanted to make a difference in our country for racial justice for African American people. His tireless work and dedication started as a college student. From SNCC leader to Congressman from Georgia, John Lewis fought the good fight for voter's rights, for civil rights, for the right to eat at the same restaurant as white people, for integration, not segregation. His marches, his belief in nonviolence and commitment to the cause have continued for 65 years.

One story that Henry Gates Jr. tells about John Lewis' great-great grandfather getting his voting card back in the 1800s has a powerful twist. So many stories, so much history where he worked so hard from the time of Dr. Martin Luther King to President Barack Obama to now!

This inspirational documentary is a must see. John Lewis: Good Trouble weaves an important story about an exceptional man, shows us our history from the '60s to today, and demonstrates the part John Lewis played, and continues to play, as the fight for racial justice and equality is at a pivotal moment in time with the Black Lives Matter movement.

I give John Lewis: Good Trouble 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it for 9 to 18 year olds to learn about an effective leader and his plight - and to understand even further the times we are currently living through. I also recommend it to adults, to remember all that has transpired through the years, to reflect and act on how we can all move forward once and for all to make the change that is way long overdue. It will be released July 3, 2020 on Apple TV.

Reviewed by Terry S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble delivers an extremely powerful message. It shows the heroism and courageousness of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, as well as many other African American people in this country. Subjects such as civil rights and equality for all races should be better discussed in this nation and, truly, always should have been, and now is the time to put these long-existing issues with racism to rest. John Lewis: Good Trouble encapsulated this moving lesson by telling the Congressman's story and what motivated him to take action.

John Lewis: Good Trouble is about the experiences he had and changes that occurred in his life. It discusses the racial segregation that existed for a very long time and how so many people spoke out against it. The film demonstrates how people aimed -- and still are aiming -- to resolve racial issues in America. Civil rights are an essential part of every government, and this documentary shows these racial inequalities through the life and actions of John Lewis. It communicates these important actions across the timeline of his life, interspersed with many interviews with people that know the Congressman--this gives the perspective of many individuals and shows how he has impacted them.

My favorite part of John Lewis: Good Trouble also happens to be the camerawork. Despite the fact that there is constant movement, the shots remain smooth and crisp in quality. Not all documentaries have the greatest camera operation, so it is nice to see the effort made to bring quality to the viewer's eyes. It makes watching the film more enjoyable for anyone.

The message of this documentary is that speaking up about issues yet to be solved can make others feel driven to help make a change. John Lewis: Good Trouble is definitely successful in portraying this message. Positive social behavior is promoted, and people treat each other appropriately. There isn't any bad language, either. Police brutality is discussed, and some footage of it shown, but nothing risky that children may imitate.

I give John Lewis: Good Trouble 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It will be released on July 3, 2020.

By Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE


MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN: BLAST OFF

Running Time:
99 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-15

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 8 - 15 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Bus, do your stuff! Field trips with Ms. Frizzle are wilder than ever, into space, over to the Galapagos Islands even a plunge into the depths of the Sun itself. And along the way, the kids we know and love bring their science investigations into the 21st century still taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy! Climb aboard for a field trip you will never forget.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

coming soon

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Magic School Bus Rides Again! Love this reboot of the magical series I grew up with. In our household Miss Frizzle can do no wrong as she makes learning complicated science lessons easily understandable and fun. I was worried that our family's all-time favorite learning series would be compromised in some way, but I'm happy to share that I can't wait to watch all the new episodes.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again starts with a new Miss Frizzle and a new school year in science class. Fortunately, we learn that Miss Frizzle is the younger sister of the original Miss Frizzle who is now Professor Frizzle, as she has been busy getting her Ph.D. and continues to be voiced by the incredible Lily Tomlin. Like classmate Arnold, I was nervous about accepting the new Miss Frizzle, but Kate McKinnon adds her voice and personality to her role as Miss Fiona Frizzle and we soon accept her as our new teacher. I say our because as a viewer you are pulled into the lessons being taught in each episode.

All of the original characters return in this series except for Phoebe who has moved and we are joined by a new classmate, Jyoti. The Blast Off! DVD contains four field trips and you will enjoy the new high-tech school bus and other updated gadgets in the new series which bring it into the 21st century. The animation is updated by animator Matthew DaSilva; you still recognize the characters and classroom, but it has a more modern feel and integrates well with the story. You just have to watch these episodes to see the other minor updates.

If you're new to the series, jump on the bus! The Magic School Bus Rides Again is such a fun way to learn, while being massively entertained. Each episode explores a science topic and the magic of the series is that it can take you forward or backward in time, place or size and alters your appearance in an effort to experience life as the subject you are studying.

The message of this series is to learn by taking chances and making mistakes and that is still as true today as when the original series aired. Kids learn through exploring the world around them and seeing how everything is interconnected. Miss Frizzle not only teaches us science but life lessons as well!

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16 and, of course, adults will like it too as our family watched this incredible series together. This compilation is available now on Digital or DVD from NCircle Entertainment.

Reviewed by Selene W, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I was absolutely wowed with The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! This adventurous DVD collection kept me entertained, laughing and wanting more. You will ride along with crazy Ms. Frizzle and her lovable class on the adventure of a lifetime. 3...2...1 BLAST OFF!

The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off is a collection of four episodes: Frizzle of the Future, Space Mission: Selfie, Ready, Set, Fail! and Making Magic. Each episode has a new, exciting field trip to watch and enjoy. In this series you will travel from space to the Galapagos Islands while learning lessons about failure, teamwork, getting messy and having fun while doing it all! The kids and teacher you know and love are back and better than ever, so hop on for an experience you'll never forget!

While watching this DVD, many details stuck out to me. To start, the theme song is sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Not to mention that Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Kate McKinnon. Talk about some serious star power. On the topic of Kate McKinnon, she makes a great Ms. Frizzle, as she gives the character the craziness and yet, calm attitude that makes her really come alive. She isn't the only voice actor that sticks out to me. Miles KV, as Arnold, conveys realistic emotion through his character by only using his voice. Even when listening, you can tell he is worried about Ms. Frizzle and her shenanigans. The animation in this show has a very interesting touch. While the character and objects remain cartoonish, the backgrounds look magnificently real, especially when the glass goes to space.

The message of this series is: if at first you don't succeed, try again. The kids learn this through trying to take the perfect space selfie, to getting a magical orb that seems to hold all of life's answers. While doing these things, they figure out that failure can be a good thing, because you can learn from mistakes. They also learn that with good teamwork and a positive mindset, anything is possible.

I give The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 14. This series can now be found on DVD and Digital.

By Allison Buck, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Let me take on you on a field trip because today we are learning about the new children's DVD The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! This new DVD brings back the characters we all know and love and doesn't fail to bring back that hilarious, but educational feeling we get from these fifth graders and their wacky teacher! This DVD doesn't just deliver a flying school bus and a catchy theme song; it also delivers hilarious dialogue and creative adventures.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! follows the same group of students and teachers as the original 90s show The Magic School Bus. Once again, it captures the adventures that Ms. Frizzle (Kate McKinnon) takes her fifth grade class on. This DVD includes four wild adventurous episodes, including going into space and repairing near-by satellites, and flying over the Galapagos Islands.

As a fan of the original show, I was skeptical at first because remakes can sadly sometimes diminish the love for the original. The new show is a breath of fresh air and leaves you wanting more of these wild field trips. Kate McKinnon is the best possible actress for the role of Ms. Frizzle because of her overall humor and energy. What a perfect fit!

This show is educational and provides belly-laughing humor without sounding forced. Many morals are also provided as it teaches children about the importance of teamwork and friendship. Along the way, this show teaches children that mistakes are okay; the best thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them.

This DVD goes above and beyond the stars just like Ms. Frizzle and her class do and provides an educational, yet fun-loving show that all children can enjoy. I give The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 8. It's available on DVD or Digital now so look for it.

By Jude Adler, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN: BLAST OFF


AGATHE-CHRISTINE: NEXT DOOR SPY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-15 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
TRICOAST STUDIOS

Description:

Ten-year old Agathe-Christine, or simply AC, prefers to be on her own. AC fancy mysteries, and from the basement in the building, where she has just moved in, she has established a small detective bureau. AC's first mystery appears to be simple to solve, but before long AC finds herself involved in a much more complicated affair, than she could have ever foreseen.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Agathe-Christine: Next Door Spy is totally unique! The different style of this animated film from Denmark is not traditional, so it makes the film stand out. The storyline of the film is not like other animated films, either. Although the movie has some definite faults, it is sure to be a knockout because of its lead character Agathe-Christine (voiced by Simone Edemann Mogelbjerg).

This film centers around Agathe-Christine, a young girl who recently moved into a new neighborhood. Agathe, however, is not a standard girl of her age (10). She dreams of being a detective. As robberies occur in the town's kiosk, she takes the opportunity to uncover the mystery and prove she is a great detective.

Agathe, or AC, brings wonderful female power to the screen. She's brave and does not let anyone tell her what she can and cannot do. When the going gets tough, she stands strong and continues to prove that she can crack the case. She's very intelligent and creative, not letting her age drag her down. She proves that age is just a number and that the sky's the limit. She's a total powerhouse, and a character every young girl deserves to see in a film.

As for the film's faults, some of the characters are weak--Agathe is really the only strong character. The others are very obnoxious. Her mother is annoying and Agathe's pet, Varanen, is incredibly irritating. Their dialogue is a cookie cutter example of overly-simplified animated films for younger audiences.

The message of the film is to never let anyone give you boundaries, and that you can do anything you set your mind to. Agathe sticks to this message throughout the entire movie.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 15. There are some tiny warnings for this film. A few strong words are used, however, there are not any strong or sensitive topics dealt with. This animated motion picture is child-friendly for the most part. Agathe-Christine: Next Door Spy is available on various digital platforms June 16, 2020.

Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED AGATHE-CHRISTINE: NEXT DOOR SPY


FOUR KIDS AND IT (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-15

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-15 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
LIONSGATE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT
Click to purchase directly from the producer

Description:

A group of kids on holiday in Cornwall meet a magical creature on the beach with the power to grant wishes.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Inspired by E. Nesbit's 1902 serialized novel called Five Children and It, the movie Four Kids and It is a wonderful fantasy film for all ages that brings the story alive. The CGI seems so real that I believed the Psammead (the creature in the film played by Michael Caine) was actually alive and right there with the actors on the set.

Full of adventure, Four Kids and It is about two families. Each family has two kids and all four kids want their birth parents to get back together. When the two split families meet up for a vacation, the kids find out their parents are dating each other and they absolutely freak out. While being forced to play with each other and to get to know one another, they meet a magical sand creature called a Psammead who tells them that he can grant each of them wishes, but only one a day. Also, the wishes expire at sunset.

Throughout this movie the four kids get to know each other better, become much closer and start to bond more like a real family. There is a man named Tristan Trent (Russell Brand), who lives in a mansion on the island that they all go to for their vacation. For generations, Tristan's family were hunters of rare and unique living creatures on Earth. Tristan and his ancestors have been trying to find the legendary Psammead for decades. When the kids come to the island, he knows that he could use them to track the creature down. If he can lure out and capture the creature, he can finally add it to his family's collection of trophies...and hopefully get in a wish or two as well!

The scenes with the kids each coming up with their own magical wishes and living them out for the day are fun. It also made me wonder what I would wish for if I only had a day to experience a wish.

The message of this film is to be careful what you wish for, but also that sometimes change happens and no matter how bad it seems, that it can offer up new opportunities and maybe create something better than you ever had before.

I give Four Kids and It 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 6 to 18, and adults will love it too! I know my parents sure did.

The movie will be available on Digital, Blu-Ray, DVD and on-demand, as well as major digital platforms like Amazon Prime, Vudo and others, on June 30, 2020, from Lionsgate Film

Reviewed by Lindalee R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Directed by British filmmaker Andy De Emmony, Four Kids and It is inspired by the novel Four Children and It by Jaqueline Wilson, which is based in the 1902 book Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit.

This new story is modern and follows two families: the divorced parents are dating and the four kids--two from each parent--share a vacation together in Cornwall, England. The kids don't get along at the beginning, and they have to spend time together and accept their parents' relationship. At the beach, they discover a strange creature that emerges from the sand and grant wishes. One wish per day will be conceded to each kid each day. Despite things not necessarily turning out the way they expect, after each adventure, they discover the importance of bonding and family.

Four Kids and It combines fantasy, magic and drama. The plot is entertaining and there are so many beautiful moments but some things, doesn't work that well. Russell Brand plays Tristan Trent, an eccentric owner of a mansion who wishes more wealth and lives by the beach where the kids find the creature. That part of the storyline doesn't flow that well, and the way it intertwines with the main storyline is not that engaging. The talented Brand doesn't shine as usual and his character is not taken fully advantage of in those scenes.

Ashley Aufderheide and Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen carry the film. They play the two older daughters and their characters are pivotal to the story. Their acting is strong and is one of the greatest assets of the film.

As the voice of the creature we have Michael Caine, and the actor gives the creature, Psammead, the tone of elegance and wisdom that characterizes him. I found this creature adorable and the facial expressions mimic the actor's resemblance. The CGI is very well implemented, and all the scenes with Psammead are my favorite scenes.

The landscapes and cinematography are beautiful and the story is overall entertaining with magic, flying scenes and humor.

The message of the film is simple: be careful what you wish for, but, at the same time, show us that our deepest wishes may be granted within our real and simple life in the joy of family and friendship.

This is a great family movie that little kids and parents can enjoy together. I give Four Kids and It 4 out of 5 starts and recommend it to kids 4 to 14. Four Kids and It opens on all digital platforms on June 30, 2020.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11


This title is available for purchase from LIONSGATE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FOUR KIDS AND IT (2020)


FRANCIS AT THE FARM
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
E-BOOK, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
Book

Distributor:
NEPTUNE PRESS LLC/ D.G. STERN

Description:

Even Francis the Firehouse Mouse needs a vacation every once in a while. He decides to visit his brother, Freddie, who lives on a farm far from the bustling city. There are many chores that have to be done each day: caring for the animals, working in the fields, picking vegetables for the market, and planting new crops to harvest later in the season. It is really different from fighting fires.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Francis at the Farm is a 51-page children's e-book that narrates the story of a mouse that lives in the city and what happens when he decides to visit his brother who lives on a farm. The book touches on the different aspects of living in a city and living on a farm and teaches children about where some common food comes from and explores two different environments - the city and the farm. It positively portrays the farm as a healthy place to live or rest and farming as a hard-working, but very rewarding way of living. The book also does a good job explaining where some things, such as milk, come from and the processes they go through in order to reach their final destination.

I believe children will really like this e-book since children are often attracted to farms, animals, tractors and firefighters, which are all included in this book. The story flows very well and makes use of lots of detail throughout it. I enjoyed how it begins by explaining that the city mouse needs a break and considers the country as a great option for vacationing. I like how the book talks about where certain foods come from, either at the farm or in the city. I believe this helps children identify with their own lives, whether they live in the city or in a rural area. The characters Francis and Freddie are nice for the most part, hard-working, gentle and generous, except when the city mouse eats the pie alone without sharing it with his brother.

The vocabulary used throughout the book could be new for the target age. Words such as "exhausting" or "pasteurized" enrich the vocabulary of young children, especially when they are well demonstrated, which they are here. I also like the collages between real images, objects and designs such as the picture of the train station where Francis arrives. I was not particularly attracted to the appearance of the mice. To me, they look more like otters than mice. Also, I believe the tough look of the firefighter mouse is a bit harsh for a young audience. The look of the farm mouse is very stereotypical, but not in a bad way. The visual quality of the book is quite appealing, aside from the appearances of the mice. The images directly related to the story are clear and easily to identify. The cover is clear, colorful and grabs the attention due to its farm elements.

This book teaches children about the world around them as well as some of the good values one should have and practice. It has great educational content, wonderful collages of real pictures of objects and designs, great vocabulary and stimulates family reading due to its high-level vocabulary.

Based on the vocabulary used throughout the book, I recommend it for ages 8 to 12. For example, words such as "baffled" or "accustomed" would need some explanation to a younger audience. For this reason, I recommend children younger than 10 read this book with the assistance of an adult.

Reviewed by Carolina S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

This simple yet charming tale of an inquisitive city mouse is both informative and engaging. It weaves in details of farm life without coming off as dry or lackluster. The story feels timeless and fresh at the same time, similar to a fable. Although its target audience is much younger than me, I can very easily see how someone in that age group would enjoy it.

Francis at the Farm tells the story of its titular character Francis. He works as a firefighter before visiting his brother in the countryside. During his excursion, Francis learns about the responsibilities and perks of living on a farm. Throughout the book, he works to overcome his city upbringing and adjust to country life.

This book features the protagonist Francis and his brother Freddie, who is the owner of the farm. The juxtaposition of realistic backgrounds and illustrated characters is, while slightly jarring, an efficient way to depict life on a farm. The only shortcoming that I see are in the characters' appearances. Both Francis and Freddie's faces remain the same, without consideration of the context. I would have liked a minor change to make them more expressive. The remainder of the story more than makes up for this minute flaw. My favorite part is Francis learning about and adjusting to helping Freddie with the farm. The writer, D.G. Stern manages to portray the acclimation in a way that does not feel condescending or supercilious.

As clich� as it may be, Francis at the Farm bears an essential message. It echoes the idiom "the grass is always greener on the other side." For Francis, visiting the farm is the "grass" - it appears to be perfect and much better than his current situation. However, he soon discovers that is far from the truth. The lesson is applicable to many situations. For its target audience, it may teach them to avoid idealizing adulthood and to expect responsibilities as they age. While the message may not be a pleasant one, it is one that needs to be said. Aside from its meaning, Francis at the Farm promotes healthy behavior. When Francis displays his ineptitude at farming, Freddie does not belittle or otherwise mock him. Instead, he expresses gratitude for his help and gently guides him through the process.

I give Francis at the Farm 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It is available now online, so look for it.

Reviewed by Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FRANCIS AT THE FARM


FEEL THE BEAT (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

After failing to find success on Broadway, April returns to her hometown and reluctantly is recruited to train a misfit group of young dancers for a big competition.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Feel the Beat is the first feel good movie of the summer! It's a heartwarming light comedy about starting over, life choices, community, ambition and the importance of working together. All in under two hours of entertainment!

Feel the Beat starts when we see April (Sofia Carson) on her way to a Broadway dance audition where the choices she makes impact her future in an unexpected way. We feel her ambition as well as rejection and heartbreak. April leaves her life in New York City to return home to New Hope, Wisconsin. As she tries to hide in her hometown, April is pulled into the local community once again by her old dance instructor Miss Barb (Donna Lynne Champlin) who brings much light and laughter into the movie through her life coaching.

My favorite character is April; Sofia Carson is magical in this role. I love watching her dance throughout this movie as well how she expresses the emotion and humor of her character. My favorite scenes are at the National Dance Finals, but I don't want to spoil the story by disclosing why. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of gentle comedy during the various dance competition scenes throughout the film and the supporting cast of dancers and their parents really add to the comedy and story. April's love interest Nick (Wolfgang Novogratz) is sweet and supportive in his role and together they have great chemistry without embarrassing younger viewers.

Dance is an important character in this movie and Kevin Wilson and Hailee Payne, the choreographers, create some fun scenes in the various dance competitions. Costumes, under the supervision of Carol Wong, add to the depth of story as we see the New Hope Dance Team progress from competition to competition in skill, attire and confidence.

The message of this film is that your imperfections not only make you unique, but spectacular - and what a message that is. The movie also shows the importance of loyalty and commitment as we see April learn and grow throughout her journey.

I rate Feel the Beat 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, and adults will enjoy it as well. This movie is on Netflix starting June 19, 2020.

Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FEEL THE BEAT (2020)


UPTON CHARLES - DOG DETECTIVE TIME TALE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-15

Category: FAMILY
EBOOK, AGES 7-15 series

Media:
Book

Distributor:
NEPTUNE PRESS LLC/ D.G. STERN

Description:

A beautiful sailboat suddenly appears at a local ship yard. Upton, his "human" father, Hank, together with Watson, Upton's feline assistant, are asked to find the vessel's owner. By the way, Upton is a Bichon Frise (that's "BEE-shon free-ZEY"), a little white dog, with uncanny canine investigative skills.

Their efforts are interrupted by the appearance of a Navy admiral, who has a very curious interest in the sloop "Sweet Pea" and her builder, August Mayer, a brilliant, but reclusive scientist.

The mystery is intensified because the boat appears to be brand new, but almost 100 years old at the same time. Join Upton, Watson and the rest of the Charles family as they search for the answers in Time Tale.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the e-book Upton Charles-Dog Detective Time Tale because it is very interesting and full of knowledge. I like how the narrator is a dog named Upton Charles, who is also the main character. I also like how easy it is to read this book and that you can either read or listen to it.

This book is about a Bichon Frise dog named Upton, his loyal assistant cat Watson and their owners The Charles family - Mom, Dad and twins Veronica and Alex. Upton and his family discover an old sailboat at the local shipyard. The father, Mr. Hank, and a friend named KJ try to find out who made the sailboat. A Navy Seal Admiral named Bill says he has an interest in the boat named Sweet Pea. They find out that the boat is over 100 years old, but still haven't found the person who made it. Upton and Watson team up to find the person who built the boat.

D. G. Stern is the author of the award-winning Upton Charles - Dog Detective series for younger readers as well as other children's books. He has also written four adult mysteries including Hot Tea & Cold Case, There's Always Tomorrow, Stabbing Along the Straightaway and Chaos at The Concourse, as well as numerous screenplays. Ginger Marks is the illustrator and Neptune Press is the publisher. I like how the text's font is a combination of Comic Sans MS font and the Georgia font. The book doesn't have that many pictures, but the few pictures it has are hand drawn looking pictures of the main idea in each chapter. This e-book has 102 pages and 22 chapters.

The moral of this story is "don't judge a book by its cover." Hank, Upton, Watson, KJ and Bill are mistaken in who they think is the person that made Sweet Pea and, through their detective work, they figure out who the actual builder is.

I give Upton Charles - Dog Detective Time Tale 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 18 plus adults. This e-book was released June 1, 2020, so hurry up and look for it!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I was thoroughly engrossed while reading Upton Charles-Dog Detective Time Tale. This book had me invested in the plot throughout the whole story! While reading this tale you experience mystery, comedy and fun along with our hero, detective Upton Charles.

Upton Charles-Dog Detective Time Tale is a mystery told from the perspective of a three-year-old Bichon Frise pup. The mystery revolves around a curious boat that was brought down to the old boatyard where Upton's human works with no sign of who made it or where it came from. Things get crazy when a Navy Admiral arrives and tells a story about the possible origin of the boat, but it doesn't seem so real as much as science fiction.

The message of this story is that little things can make all the difference when working on something. If Upton, his dad, the twins, KJ and the Navy Admiral (Bill) hadn't all worked together and followed the clues, they wouldn't have solved the mystery. If they hadn't paid attention to the little clues and listened to each other, they definitely wouldn't have solved the mystery.

In this tale, there are many great examples of descriptive writing such as when Upton describes the boat cabin - "The forward portion of the cabin forms a small v-shaped space in which anchors, ropes, and sails are stored. The sides of the cabin are lined with cabinets. A small sink is on the left as you enter the cabin, and a cooking stove is on the right." This type of writing makes it easy and paints a picture in your mind. Speaking of pictures, I especially enjoyed the illustrations throughout the book. The Illustrator, Ginger Marks, made them cartoonish, yet detailed. The only problem in the whole story is when the author, D.G. Stern, mentions Upton wanting to eat chocolate, "Chocolate chip cookies sound good to me." Dogs can't have chocolate. It is very bad for them, especially small dogs where, even a small amount of chocolate, could make them sick or possibly kill them.

I give Upton Charles-Dog Detective Time Tale 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 12. This book is available now, so look for it.

Reviewed by Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Upton Charles Dog Detective Time Tale is a spectacular book for young readers. It's about a Bichon Frise dog named Upton as he uncovers a wild mystery. He is easy to connect to. His personality is amusing which children will love. Upton and Watson are polar opposites, yet make adorable siblings. Upton possesses human qualities which are perfect for the book. He is determined to uncover the case. He's a wonderful character. Throughout the book, when the going gets tough, he works through it and never gives up. The special part about this book is seeing how much he loves his family and how much he wishes to be like humans. By the end of the book, readers will see their pets or animals differently. The descriptions used to describe the boats, locations and setting are wonderful. They are thorough and paint a clear picture for younger readers.

The storyline follows Upton Charles, his owner Hank, and his cat companion, Watson, who find themselves in a mystery. New boats appear at the ship yard, but no one knows where they came from. However the boats seem to be about 100 years old. It is up to Upton to figure out what is going on.

I really like Upton's character. His humanlike mind is adorable as he states things he wishes to do, but being a dog, he cannot do. He wants to go to school, just like his human siblings do and he says, "it's not fair." He wants to do humanlike things but he cannot. So being a detective is difficult for him. Nevertheless, he works on uncovering the case. The moral of the story about working hard until the end. Being a dog never stops Upton from working on this case. I certainly recommend this e-book for families with young children since they will like the cute storyline.

As this is a children's book, no aggressive topics are handled. The characters treat each other kindly. There is no stereotyping, since the main character is a dog. It is unlike most detective stories in that way.

The cover illustration showcase little Upton with his big bushy white fur in full color. Inside the book, the illustrations are in sketch form. On the first page we see him sleeping with his friend Watson. The reader can immediately see the friendship and love which is definitely a positive attribute.

The message is about never giving up, as we see Upton doing. He does not give up, even when the circumstances become difficult.

My favorite parts in the book are in Chapter Four, when Upton describes the ship in perfect detail. It helps young readers easily visualize what kind of ship the characters are on.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED UPTON CHARLES - DOG DETECTIVE TIME TALE


THINK LIKE A DOG
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 1018 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
LIONSGATE FILMS

Description:

A 12-year-old tech prodigy's science experiment goes awry and he forges a telepathic connection with his best friend, his dog. The duo join forces and use their unique perspectives on life to comically overcome complications of family and school.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Think Like A Dog because it has an interesting story about a boy named Oliver (Gabriel Bateman) who can suddenly hear everything his dog is saying. It's funny to hear what his dog, Henry, has to say. I always wonder what dogs think, so it is fun to find out what Oliver's dog has to say to him. I like everything about this film.

The storyline follows Oliver working on his science fair project. His friend from China, Xiao (Minghao Hou), gives Oliver an upgrade for his science project and, the next day, Oliver can hear everything his dog Henry is saying. Henry helps Oliver deal with his family. His parents, Lukas (Josh Duhamel) and Ellen (Megan Fox) are thinking of splitting up and selling their house and Oliver doesn't know about this until Henry tells him and he confronts his parents. There's a bit of a twist when it comes to Mr. Mills (Kunal Nayyar), who judges the science fair. He turns out to be totally different than what I originally thought. He wants to be the most famous scientist in the world, but you have to watch the film to see if he's successful, and whether Henry and Oliver save the day.

The characters in this film are super funny. The actors really portray their characters well. Oliver (Gabriel Bateman) plays a very believable smart, but shy guy. And Henry, his furry friend, is probably the funniest character in the movie. I wish he were my pet! The camerawork by Giles Nuttgens are flawless; it really seems as if you're in the same room as the characters. My favorite part of the film is when Oliver asks a girl named Sophie (Madison Horcher) to the school dance. I won't give away whether or not she says yes, but it's cute how nervous Oliver appears, and how much he needs his dog to help him get the courage to ask her.

The message of the film is to trust yourself and your dog's instincts. Surprisingly, your dog might know what's best for you more than you do. Even if your dog can't talk, it can still make you happier - and possibly save your life. I don't have a dog yet, but I am always begging my mom for one.

I give Think Like A Dog 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 17, plus adults. This film premieres on digital, On Demand, Blue-ray and DVD June 9, 2020.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR THINK LIKE A DOG


YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE

Running Time:
95 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-15

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-15 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Jibanyan, Whisper, and Nate travel back in time where they team up with a heroic Yo-kai named Hovernyan and Nate's adolescent grandfather to stop an evil Yo-kai from taking over the world! Together, they fight Dame Dedtime and her evil Wicked Yo-kai minions to save the world from her evil plans. Can they discover the secret origin of the Yo-kai Watch and save humanity before time runs out!?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Although I'm not an anime fan, Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie definitely held my interest. The cute Yo-kai and Nate keep me engaged and curious to know what their next actions would be.

The film is centered around Nate Adams, his grandfather and their Yo-Kai. The movie begins in Nate's home town, Springdale, where suddenly things become enlarged. Megnnyan is enlarging everything and tells Nate that the world is in trouble. Confused, Nate goes to his Grandma's house where a Yo-kai leads him to Hovernyan who tells Nate that they must go back in time to find his Grandpa and his Yo-kai Watch, so they can fight the Wicked who are trying to destroy everything.

The script creates a story full of events and exciting fight scenes, which are the main focus of the film. By creating bizarre scenes of enlarging things at the beginning, the screenwriter catches the viewers' eyes early on. Subsequent events are fast-paced, so presumably, young viewers will not get bored. Nevertheless, the story with "good fighting evil" brings little innovation to the table and renders predictable results. Moreover, a few minor details are not carefully planned for consistency. For example, Nathaniel hesitates helping his friends in the factory, but at the beginning of the movie he saves Nate without hesitation.

My favorite part is the ending when all of the Yo-kai combine their powers to fight the Wicked. Whisper is my favorite character; the actions and his dialogue are hilarious. In one scene, Whisper is flying around trying to find Master Yada who is standing right in front of him. One thing that stands out is the animation, which is some of the best anime that I have seen. The scenery and characters are very detailed and colorful and the action scenes are high-octane, with well matched background music.

Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie definitely meets the KIDS FIRST! criteria. I give it 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 11. Since fighting scenes in films were my favorites as a young boy, I think boys would prefer this over girls. The primary message is that when people work together as a team, they can overcome many obstacles and achieve almost anything. This is a very positive and powerful message for the film's target audience.

Reviewed by Justin Y., KIDS FIRST! reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie is such an entertaining film. I really like it. First off, the animation is out of this world. The animation has an intriguing aspect to it. Moreover, there is a large amount of imagination in this film. One can only wish that creatures like the ones in this movie really existed. Also, meaningful stories are always good to see and this one is definitely that.

Nate Adams (Johnny Yong Bosch) is "the chosen one" in this film. There are magical creatures called Yo-Kai and only Nate can see them. In this story the bad Yo-Kai are up to no good, so Nate and his friends team up against them. This is a good plot, although a bit typical. However, this story has some unique and interesting twists to it, with some humor mixed in as well.

As Nate and his friends unite, they make some puns that will surely get a smile from the audience. The effects in this film are so colorful and they really stick out. Furthermore, I love how each Yo-Kai is unique. Humans can relate in a way, since no two humans are exactly the same. In addition, plot twists really develop the storyline and make it even more interesting. One of my favorite characters is Whisper, one of the Yo-Kai. He is silly, but very friendly and loves helping. The best part of this film is the battle between Nate and his friends and the bad Yo-Kai. There is so much action that, if you blink, you might miss something of importance. Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie does not fail to keep your attention.

This film has many messages about friendship, teamwork and perseverance. We see the characters learn about teamwork and how essential friendship and determination are. The mood if this movie is hopeful.

I give Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 11. It is available on DVD now, so look for it.

By Ginebra Q., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like Yo-Kai Watch: the Movie because it is very funny. The story line of this movie is quite unique. I like that this film is not a sequence of the Yo-Kai Watch TV show.

Yo-Kai Watch: the Movie captures the fun of one of the hottest Japanese video game and collectible toy brands in the world. This famous video game was created in 2013 and the show Yo-Kai Watch first aired in 2014. The show has three seasons and a total of 214 episodes.

Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie is about a boy named Nate and his grandfather who can see the Yo-kai. Yo-kai are mischievous creatures that become friends with Nate. Nate and Yo-kais Jibanyan and Whisper go back in time where they meet a heroic Yo-kai by the name of Hoveryan and Nate's grandfather when he was a kid. Together they take on evil Dame Dedtime, an old and ugly, evil lady and her evil Yo-kai minions. This DVD is approximately one hour and thirty-five minutes.

This show's animation is Japanese anime and is very neat and colorful. The graphics are amazing and the voice-overs fit each character. The graphics are similar to the TV show. My favorite scene is when Hovernyan saves Nate and his grandfather from Dame Dedtime who is trying to kill them for rescuing Jibanyan. It is cool to see someone fight a mob of bad Yo-kai and then save people after surviving a huge attack like that.

The moral of this movie is that having friends is a positive thing; everybody needs a friend. Nate's grandfather said he didn't need friends and yet, all the Yo-kai want to be his friend. When he needs help the most, the Yo-kai are there to catch him when he falls to help him.

I give Yo-Kai Watch: the Movie 5 out 5 stars and recommend it ages 6 to 18, plus adults. This movies is available on DVD now, so look for it. Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE


MIRA, ROYAL DETECTIVE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-9

Category: FAMILY
SERIES, AGES 4-9 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY JUNIOR

Description:

A CGI-animated mystery-adventure children's television series inspired by Indian culture and customs. It debuted on Disney Junior channel the United States on March 20, 2020. Set in a fictional kingdom called Jalpur which resembles a late 19th Century India, the series follows the brave and resourceful girl Mira, a commoner who is appointed to the role of royal detective by the queen and travels throughout her kingdom to help royals and commoners alike. Joining Mira are her two mongoose sidekicks Mikku and Chikku.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Chalo, chalo, let's go (!) solve a case with Mira and her friends! Mira, Royal Detective is so enchanting with its brilliant animation, authentic South Asian culture and positive messages.

Mira, Royal Detective is about a young girl, named Mira (Leela Ladnier), who lives in the mystical land of Jalpur (a fictional place based on India and the South Asia region). She is appointed by the queen as the official Royal Detective, and she's the first girl ever to have this position. We follow her while she solves mysteries with her best friends.

Mira, Royal Detective is fun to watch because she teaches us to solve our own mysteries. The animation is super beautiful, the colors are so vivid and the outfits are gorgeous! Every little thing in every nook and cranny is very detailed and the dancing and music is reflective of traditional Indian culture. The music is light-hearted, happy and very catchy. The cast, which is all South Asian, is outstanding. Leela Ladnier has an extraordinary voice for a kind, little girl like Mira. Karan Brar (Prince Veer) voices a perfect practical prince and Kamran Lucas (Prince Neel) has a "sweet inventor" tone to his voice. My favorite character is (of course) Mira because she is so charming, but Mikku and Chikku are also memorable characters because these snack-loving mongooses are both funny and adorable.

There are many positive messages throughout the show, including never give up, pay attention to the little things, girl power and always lend a helping hand to a friend in need. Since Mira depicts a strong female character in a traditional male role, she serves as a good role model as well. Every character is kind to one another and inspires each other, including the audience.

I give Mira, Royal Detective 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 through 9. This show is available to watch now on Disney Jr.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR MIRA, ROYAL DETECTIVE


PLACE TO CALL HOME, A

Running Time:
40 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-8

Category: NATURE
AUDIO CD FOR AGES 4-8 series

Media:
AUDIO

Distributor:
DANA'S MUSIC PLAYGROUND

Description:

Every living being, from honey bees to humans, needs a safe place to call home. Dana's seventh album explores the different places animals live. Featuring numerous musical genres, the songs are designed to educate and entertain children while planting seeds of care for the planet we all call home.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Dana's hot off the press new album called A Place to Call Home is a breath of fresh air and a warm musical hug that inspires and requires multiple listenings. The songwriting, performances, production and various musical genres lend energy to this album that is truly infectious whether your home is where your heart is or in sweet home Alabama or even at home on the range along with a myriad of animals. A Place to Call Home shares a covering of love and acceptance with a batch of nifty crafted terrific tunes with perfect timing from a true professional.

A Place to Call Home is hip, happening and has energy to burn. Terrific arrangements and clever songwriting! Dana is a tried and true trooper and knows her audience extremely well so yes, I highly recommend.

There is a strong theme about animals and their habitats/homes that is lovingly presented. The production quality is excellent, executed by professionals. I love how it makes children aware that they can become difference makers in the global sense. Once again this pro knows her audience and loves what she's doing. She talks up to kids not down. Experience counts, especially from those who have toured and performed for live performances. Clearly Dana knows what works.

I can't say enough about Dana's spot-on vocals and the production value throughout this project. The different musical styles give the album a true World Music vibe. Teachers will have fun breaking down the animal and their habitats' segments for reports and activities with the kids.

I recommend A Place to Call Home for ages 5 to 8 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by John Wood, KIDS FIRST! Music Specialist.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like A Place to Call Home it is a very interesting musical CD. I like the fact that it has a variety of melodies and music genres, plus I like how the songs pumps my adrenaline and some songs are so slow that they calm me down.

This CD is produced by EJ Ouellete and all the songs belongs to singer, Dana Cohenour. Dana Cohenour is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of independent children's music. She is named as on of the "Top Five Kids' Singers You Should Know." Her six albums for kids have won 22 National Awards so far. Her music is very contagious and enthusiastic. On this CD, in particular, you can listen to different music genres such as dance music, rock and roll, jazz, country and ballad among other music genres. This CD has 11 songs and each song has a different message of how to take care of our planet, the animals and how to build things in order to give animals shelter or protect them. Each song has approximately a duration of four to five minutes.

My favorite song is "Animal Hide and Seek" because this song is about animals hiding in their own habitat, such as bees hiding in a hive and cows hiding in a barn. Dana finds the animals and describes in her song how and where she finds them with a very adventurous lyric and country music rhythm that makes you want to stand up and dance.

The moral of this DVD is to help the environment around you, like helping animals when they are in need. Besides the environment, we need to take care of animals with whom we share the planet Earth. We need to remember to be kind to the animals and to our beautiful planet because this amazing place is what we all call home.

I give A Place to Call Home 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 4 to 18. Adults can enjoy this CD as well. For example, if you are going on a long trip with your family, this CD would be delightful and entertaining to listen to and to sing along to the catchy songs. This CD is available now at iTunes and elsewhere, so look for it!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Suggested Retail Price
      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR PLACE TO CALL HOME, A


HIGH NOTE, THE (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOCUS FEATURES

Description:

A superstar singer and her overworked personal assistant are presented with a choice that could alter the course of their respective careers.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

This musical romantic comedy/dramatic film shines a light on someone who is normally in the dark. There are many plot twists which kept me intrigued the whole time. The original songs in the film also kept me watching because they sound incredible.

The film focuses on the life of Maggie Sherwood, personal assistant to superstar Grace Davis. Maggie is amazing at her job and loves working for such a successful person in the music industry, but her dream job is to be a music producer. Her goal is to produce another hit song for Grace Davis and help her overcome the stigma of being an older woman of color in the music industry.

Tracee Ellis Ross plays Grace Davis and perfectly does so. She fully embodies the persona of an accomplished superstar and her vocals are always on point. Ross also adds a lot of comedic elements to the film. Dakota Johnson is an accomplished actress so it comes as no surprise that she is able to pull off many of the difficult scenes as Maggie Sherwood. Johnson is able to convey Maggie's determination and feelings of ambition to the audience.

The costumes are absolutely beautiful. Naturally as a superstar, Grace Davis has to present herself in the best way possible and she does not disappoint. The locations where this is shot are breathtaking as well. They beautifully capture the views and beauty of Los Angeles.

Describing my favorite scene would spoil the movie, so all I can say is that I really love how inspiring this film is. It accurately depicts the life of musicians living in LA and seeing a story like this will inspire many to go for their dreams, despite all the odds that may be against you.

There are multiple messages within this film. One of them is to go for your dreams despite the risks. The film shows that you need to be able to take risks and work hard to reach your goals. Even if you do encounter a setback, all that matters is that you keep getting back up and getting right back to work. Another message is to do what you want to do, even if others are against you. Grace Davis is an older woman of color in the music industry and, because of this, people try to shove her into a category and tell her what to do. But Grace has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

I love this film and the messages it conveys. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It comes out on Video on Demand May 29, 2020, so make sure you look for it!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR HIGH NOTE, THE (2020)


LLAMA LLAMA'S BEST SUMMER EVER! (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-11

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 2-7 series

Media:
Video and DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their safe, friendly hometown and make childhood memories. On this DVD, join Llama Llama as he camps, boats, floats and swims his way through his BEST summer ever! Adventure and learning awaits with Llama Llama and pals!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! DVD is tons of fun and will appeal to kids and families. It's a bright and happy animated series that is based on Anna Dewdney's books about an adventurous llama and his circle of family and friends. This DVD has eight episodes with an option to play all the episodes or select them one at a time at an approximate run time of 90 minutes of lively entertainment. The series employs bright colors, fun animals and engaging story lines that align with the daily activities that many kids are involved in, to capture their interest. The cute story lines deliver positive messages. For example, Llama Llama's kite is torn on the last day of summer and his mom teaches him resourcefulness. There's no need to buy a new one, we can fix this one and it will be better than before. The writing structure is straightforward and geared towards its target audience. The continuity and style reinforce each episode's message, teamwork, resourcefulness and helping others. The series uses vocabulary that appeals to young kids. For example, when Llama Llama's kite is torn his mom states that she will help him make a swirl-o-rama kite!

Through Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat, kids will learn how to problem-solve, work as part of a team, help others, develop friendship and enjoy their families with awesome summer activities such as making lemonade, camping, boating, swimming and kite flying. The series visually appeals to kids with its bright colors and cute animal friends. The DVD cover is appropriate and appeal as it features Llama Llama and his friends. There is also a listing of each episode included, with a picture next to it representing what the episode is about. There are educational benefits as kids are taught about problem solving and teamwork. For example, Llama Llama wants to help his friend buy a new bike tire, so he opens a lemonade stand to earn the money. His friends help him improve his product and help with marketing it. Additionally, kids are shown that everyone can be included even if they don't do the same things. i.e. Euclid the Sheep shows up when everyone's flying kites. He doesn't have a kite, but he can make calculations on wind, temperature and time to help the other kites fly. There are several messages in this series about teamwork, resourcefulness, friendship, family and helping others. The DVD menu has an option to watch all the episodes or select them one at a time. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 11.

Reviewed by Jennifer V., KIDS FIRST! juror.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Llama Llama is an animated series full of family values and nature adventures! This heartwarming series is based on the beloved children's books by Anna Dewdney who also illustrated the books. There are eight episodes on the new DVD Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever!

Llama Llama has exciting adventures with his family and friends which include valuable life lessons at the beach, camping and around the town. The series features Jennifer Garner as the voice of the loving Mama Llama. My favorite episode is "Last Day of Summer" where Llama Llama seizes the day with friends and goes to the park to fly kites and ends up using imagination when the weather complicates their plans. Change can be exciting and fun!

The message of this series is to learn from family and friends and to enjoy childhood. Change can be tough but you can always enjoy time with family and friends.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 6. The DVD is available now.

Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Llama Llama's Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content. The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.

This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friend having the time of their lives on their summer vacation. Episodes include Let's Go Camping, Beach Day, Boat Float and Last Day of Summer. Wherever Llama Llama goes, there will always be fun.

The Llama Llama animated series is so cool, because they are based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. There are several lovable characters including Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe. This DVD is approximately 90 minutes long with eight episodes. My favorite episode is Last Day of Summer, because it shows that even if the weather is bad you can still have fun indoors during the summer.

There are a lot of positive messages in this DVD including keeping a positive attitude when your plans change unexpectedly and, if you go with the flow and have a positive attitude, the outcome can still be fun. We also learn that a little bit of practice can make you feel more confident and that if you feel as if you are not getting enough attention from your parents, just know that they still love you. This DVD has no bad language and there is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do. However, there are scenes showing jealously.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend this DVD for your kids.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Llama Llama's Best Summer Ever because it is very entertaining. It is a great tool to entertain young children or kids my age, especially during this pandemic. Each episode is very well illustrated and the script is well written.

This DVD is based off the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. One of Dewdney's of the first books in the series is Llama Llama Red Pajama. Her Llama Llama books have been adapted into an animated television series for Netflix and this DVD is a compilation of episodes about summer. Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep, Gilroy Goat explore their hometown and have fun at the same time making childhood memories. This is truly the best summer ever for Llama Llama and his friends! Every episode is a new story with a new story line. This DVD includes eight episodes with a duration of approximately 11 minutes each for a total of 90 minutes of fun and adventure.

The animation is neat with bright colors, very detailed and colorful landscaping and excellent voice-overs that match each character. My favorite episode is "Last Day of Summer" which is about Llama Llama going kiting with his mom and friends at the beach, but it starts raining so his mom suggests doing indoor activities. His mom thinks of a fun way to go kiting indoors. They place a sand-looking mat on the floor; turn on a fan and Luna stands on the background to move fake waves made by cardboard. This episode is my favorite because it gives you a very good idea of how to have fun while staying at home during this pandemic.

The moral of this show is to never give up because Llama Llama does not stop trying to sell lemonade and keeps trying till he eventually gets customers. This shows how to keep trying even when things don't work out the way you want them to. It teaches children to be persistent because there is no worse battle than the one you don't fight for. This show also teaches children to be creative and to be resourceful like when they are kiting inside the house.

I'd give Llama Llama's Best Summer Ever 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 5 to 18, plus adults can watch and enjoy this DVD with their children! This DVD is available now so go and look for it! It's perfect for summer and pandemics.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LLAMA LLAMA'S BEST SUMMER EVER! (2020)


SCOOB! (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Scooby-Doo is the hero of his own story in "SCOOB!," the first full-length, theatrical animated Scooby-Doo adventure, which reveals how he and his best friend Shaggy became two of the world's most beloved crime busters. The story takes us back to where it all began, when a young Scooby and Shaggy first meet, and team up with Velma, Daphne, and Fred to launch Mystery Incorporated.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Grab your Scooby Snacks and get ready for a Scoob-tasic adventure. Zoinks, this movie is terrific! The storyline is creative and entertaining and there is wonderful character development that is unique to this movie versus the cartoon episodes we all grew up with.

Scoob! is about the never-before-heard origin of the Mystery Inc. gang and how Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby Doo (Frank Welker) met. After a montage of solving mysteries, we see the gang wanting to expand and we get to follow them on their biggest mystery yet. Only their friendship can save them.

I LOVE The Scooby Doo Franchise! And Scoob! is no exception. I remember watching the show and wondering how the Mystery Inc. gang got together. And now, in Scoob! we finally learn the answer. The animation is super vivid and creative. Everywhere you look, there is an "Easter Egg." For example, the names of streets and stores are names of people associated with Hanna-Barbera. The cast includes children of some of the adult actors. The characters' voices are cast to perfection. Frank Welker has a fantastic snack-loving dog voice and has been the voice of Scooby Doo for nearly 20 years. Will Forte has a hilarious hippy voice; Amanda Seyfried (Daphne) has a magnificent, kind and caring tone in her voice; and Gina Rodriguez (Velma) has an excellent voice portraying wit, intelligence and quite a bit of sarcasm. My favorite character is (SURPRISE) Scooby, because he is such a sweet dog and, as Frank Welker says, "When he talks, I'm not even sure I am listening to a dog talking like a human, or a human talking like a dog." I agree. But a close second is the villain of the movie (no spoiler here) because his name, his voice and his appearance are just perfect for a bad guy.

The key message of this movie is about the power of friendship. This movie has mild bad language and some magic scenes that may be scary for a younger audience.

Jinkies, I give Scoob! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults will love this as well. Scoob! is available online May 15, 2020. #SCOOBMOVIENIGHT

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

SCOOB! is a hilarious, action-packed and adventurous animated movie based on the original Scooby Doo cartoon. This movie is a cool, updated version and includes cell phones and references to some of the current stores, such as IKEA and Wal-Mart. There are so many funny scenes in this movie that the whole family will love.

In SCOOB!, the entire Mystery Inc. team from Scooby Doo returns to solve more mysteries. We learn how Shaggy, Scooby, Velma, Daphne and Fred originally met one Halloween night. The team then goes on several adventures while trying to solve mysteries. Their biggest mission is when Velma, Daphne and Fred find out that Shaggy and Scooby are missing, and they go on a quest to find their lost friends. They need to stop the villain, Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), from capturing Scooby and using him to open up the gates so he can steal the treasure of the underworld.

The lead characters are Shaggy (Will Forte), Scooby (Frank Welker), Velma (Gina Rodriguez), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) and Fred (Zac Efron). It was interesting to learn what role each of them had in the group. For example, Velma is the "brains" of the team. The costumes are amazing and spot on to the originals. Scooby even gets an upgrade and gets to wear a great superhero costume in the movie. There is a lot of great music from different eras and it takes place in Venice, California. It is really clever that the movie starts with Dr. Dre and Tupac's song, "California Love." The special effects are realistic and make you feel as if you are in the movie. One of the coolest parts of the movie is when other Hanna Barbara characters such as, Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) and Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemmons) show up to help save Shaggy and Scooby. A great surprise is when American Idol's, Simon Cowell (Simon Cowell) appears in the movie. I love how current events are used in the movie, especially the joke they include about how Simon is responsible for giving the world Kelly Clarkson.

The message in SCOOB! is all about friendship. The cast uses the phrase "friendship saves the day" throughout the film. Anytime the Mystery Inc. team needs to solve a case, they do it together. This movie is PG and, even though there isn't a lot for parents to look out for, there are two scenes that could be mistaken for inappropriate language.

SCOOB! is PAW-tastic and a film you definitely want to see. You may even find yourself dancing while watching it. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 5 to 18. Adults will love it too. This movie is available on video on demand now, so grab your Scooby Snacks and order it today!

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Fire up your Mystery Machine and head to your home theater to watch the new Scooby snack-eating, ghost-catching and hilarious new film, Scoob! Scoob! brings much more to the table then huge sandwiches and Scooby snacks, it also brings amazing characterization and belly-laughing humor. The film has outstanding animation, but some parts look a little bit off and need a little more detail. The movie brings back that nostalgic feel we all know and love, and makes the movie feel somewhat like another episode of some ghost-catching, meddling kids.

Scoob! starts off with a young, lonely Shaggy Rodgers (Iain Armitage) when he runs into a stray puppy and names it Scooby-Doo. From that day forth we get the amazing dog and man duo that forms Mystery Inc! The movie cuts to about 20 years later to see the full-grown meddling kids we all know and love, Shaggy (Will Forte), Scooby (Frank Welker), Daphne (Amada Seyfried), Velma (Gina Rodriguez), and Fred (Zac Efron). One day, Scooby and Shaggy are attacked by scorpion-looking robots and have to team up with the local superhero, Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) to find the culprit responsible for these menacing attacks! This movie is an emotional rollercoaster filled with twists and turns you never saw coming!

There are many Scooby-Doo movies out there and I personally think that they all kind of all are the same, but let me tell you, Scoob!is completely out of the Scooby snack-box and original. I have to give big props to director Tony Cervone for making a movie that is completely original and its own. Another obvious favorite of this movie is Scooby-Doo himself! Frank Welker's voice acting is spot on and captures everything we all love about our snack-eating dog, Scooby. The only weakness with this movie is the character design. The main characters are designed extremely well, however, the people in the background all have a generic look and seem the same, but with different hair and shirt pieces.

Scoob is rated PG, but it is very edgy for a PG rating. The film includes two mild curse words and a bunch of hilarious adult jokes that will go over many kids' heads. The film also has scorpion-looking robots that might be frightening to younger viewers and, in some scenes, the scorpions turn into little cute robots. The movie's main theme is friendship, so throughout the film, many morals are provided for teaching younger viewers.

Overall, the producers and directors really put the pedal to the metal of the Mystery Machine and provide an original, fun-loving Scooby-Doo story with great characterization and humor. Therefore, I give Scoob! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this film for kids ages 4 to18. You can buy or rent Scoob! Digitally beginning May 15, 2020.

Reviewed by Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I like SCOOB! because it has an amazing mystery and the characters are really cute. It's cool that they have their own opinions about pretty much everything, yet are still good friends. This film is full of action and also has some touching scenes that that will make you feel emotional.

This animated film is about a gang that meets on Halloween when they are young and they solve their first mystery. Then they start solving mysteries all the time. When they grow up, they try to find an investor to support their mystery-solving business. Simon Cowell (Simon Cowell) meets the crew in a diner and says he won't give them any money if Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) are part of the business, since he believes a group is only as strong as its weakest link. Shaggy and Scooby go off bowling on their, but wind up getting chased by evil robots. They get transported to Blue Falcon's (Mark Wahlberg) ship and meet Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) and Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemons). The group gets chased by the robots who are controlled by Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs)--a bad guy that wants to take Scooby and open the gate to the underworld. You'll have to watch to see if Dick successfully opens the gate.

All the characters are so funny; each one has its own little personality. Fred (Zac Efron) isn't the smartest guy, but he's the cutest. Velma (Gina Rodriguez), on the other hand, is probably the smartest person ever. The group relies on each other to solve problems. To me, that's pretty cool. My favorite part is when Shaggy and Scooby sing "Shallow" to Simon Cowell. It is so funny because they are definitely not good singers. But I love it because "Shallow" is my favorite song.

The message of the film is to trust your friends. Even when they mess up, you should have their back. It kind of reminds me that sometimes I mess up and I want my friends to support me still.

I give SCOOB! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. I also think adults will like this film--especially if they used to watch the animated shows when they were kids. SCOOB! is available now online, so go look for it!

By Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SCOOB! (2020)


NATALIE WOOD: WHAT REMAINS BEHIND
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
HBO FAMILY CHANNEL

Description:

Exploring Natalie Wood's life and career through the unique perspective of her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and others who knew her best.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind is a wonderful biography telling the story of Natalie Wood's life in a raw way from the perspectives of multiple people. The film gets into lots of details and aspects of her life. By the end, the audience knows all about who Natalie Wood was.

The film is composed of old video and audio clips of Natalie Wood as well as multiple interviews, some of which are conducted by Wood's daughter, Natasha. The clips follow in somewhat of a chronological order, but the film doesn't start off at the beginning of her life. It covers details and facts about her entire life, but skips around, going to different parts. It focuses on her success as a child, her family's struggles, her love life, and the drama surrounding her death. The documentary also highlights all of her achievements in her film career.

The people featured in the documentary represent Natalie Wood's extensive circle of family and friends. Their interviews tell their perspectives of Natalie and her life. Included are her daughters, the family nanny, her husband and people who worked with her.

I thought it was interesting the way that they decided to skip around to different phases in her life. Normally documentaries pursue a chronological order, starting from the beginning and following through to the end. In contrast, this documentary is really effective in the way it skips around, because it gives the audience a bit of background information before returning to explain some aspect in deeper detail. I liked this because it allowed me to get a general idea first of what Natalie Wood was like and then what she experienced. I could see how people viewed her from the outside and then, the film delves deeper into a closer perspective by her friends and family.

My favorite parts are the home videos of Natalie Wood with her children. These clips make you realize that, even though she was under the pressure of the spotlight all the time and looks perfect, she is a human being with a life too.

The purpose of this documentary is to honor Natalie Wood and show people how great a life she lived. Some people focus more on the tragedy of her death and overlook her legacy in the film industry.

I loved watching and learning more about Natalie Wood's wonderful story. I give Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Even adults will enjoy learning from this documentary. Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind premieres on HBO May 5, 2020 so be sure to look for it!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR NATALIE WOOD: WHAT REMAINS BEHIND


OCTONAUTS: OCEAN ADVENTURES

Running Time:
66 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-12

Category: EDUC/INSTR (Educational/Instructional)
DVD, AGES 2-12 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

The Octonauts are a team of adventurers who explore the world s oceans, rescue aquatic creatures and protect their habitats - from the bustling eco-system along the Amazon River to the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench. Deploying a set of aquatic vehicles, Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, medic Peso and the rest of the crew embark on missions around the globe before returning safely to their home base, the Octopod. On this exciting DVD, join the Octonauts as they journey to the Midnight Zone to rescue a bomber worm! Come along with Dashi as she teams up with her sister, Koshi, so solve a mysterious disappearance. And when Shellington crashes the Gup-D, he and Kwazii team up to pick up the pieces. Enjoy these adventures and more with the Octonauts!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Octonauts Ocean Adventures is an exciting educational DVD that follows the adventures of a team of friends that explore the world's oceans. It is comprised of six colorful and fun episodes including titles such as Kelp Monster Mystery, The Loneliest Whale and Operation Cooperation. Follow the crew in this action-packed series as they explore mysterious ocean life, learn about and rescue curious sea creatures and teach us how to protect their environments and habitats. The team is lead by Captain Barnacles, the bravest polar bear you will ever meet and always the first to rush in and help whenever there is a problem to be solved. Other characters include Kwazii - the daredevil cat, Dr. Shellington - the coolest marine biologist sea otter around, Dash dog - a sweet natured IT officer and Tweak - a bunny who's ready to lend a helping hand. From their underwater Octopod, they are always ready for excitement and the challenges that await them in the deep blue sea. The DVD's run time is 66 minutes and includes menu options such as episode selection and comes with a colorful booklet with information about The Octonauts and other shows from NCircle Entertainment. This series is highly recommended for any child that enjoys colorful characters, fun songs, adventure and learning about the ocean and its creatures. I give Octonauts Ocean Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 through 10. It's available on DVD now, so check it out. Reviewed by Eli B, KIDS FIRST! Juror.

Octonauts: Ocean Adventures is a DVD collection of episodes from The Octonauts, a group of sea creatures lead by Captain Barnacles to go on exciting missions all across the world. This is a highly educational show, though this fact is hidden in many fun and informative adventures. Kids enjoy the mindful characters and upbeat music while learning a lot.

All the characters are engaging and interesting. They have good interpersonal relationships. The storylines oftentimes highlight problem solving-skills and thoughtful learning. The characters work together as a team, which is great modeling for kids to see. The animation has bright colors and backgrounds. The backgrounds make the film really interesting and fun to watch. The music is very catchy and any child who has heard it will recognize it immediately. It's definitely danceable for both preschoolers and young elementary school aged. The music is very much a highlight of the show.

Of course none of these stories would happen in real life, as it is a fictional cartoon. Captain Barnacles and Dashi are the most memorable characters in the series. They are mindful, personable characters. My favorite part is when they're surrounded by all the creatures that want to eat Little Jimmy and they try to fight off the creatures. They use the boat to get out and are followed to the main ship and then they turn on the lights. Captain Barnacles is a brave person and a true leader. He helps people when necessary, especially people in need. Always help people in need when you can is a prominent message in each episode. I learned all about bomber worms and how they use flares to defend themselves and signal their friends. They live in the middle of the trench because if they go to the bottom they can't swim back up and can easily die.

I give Octonauts: Ocean Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 9. It is available now on DVD so look for it.

By Hanna M., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the Octonauts: Ocean Adventures because the animation is so cute and the characters are super funny. It can get a little repetitive for older kids when you watch more than a couple episodes, but I think little kids would want to watch all six episodes on the DVD. I really like how each episode shows the actual animal, and not just the animated one. It allows viewers to get a better idea of what the animals looks like in real life.

This DVD has different episodes about a specific animal that lives in the ocean. The Octonauts, featuring Captain Barnacles, ex-pirate Kwazii (a cat) and medic Peso (a penguin) go on a bunch of adventures under the ocean. In one episode, the Octonauts help two very competitive shrimp that are fighting, become best friends. In another one, a confident polar bear goes underwater with Kwazii and Peso to talk to little worms they meet and look for one worm that sank to the bottom of the ocean. Other characters, like an otter, help Kwazii search for parts after their ship crashes to the bottom of the ocean. It's a very fun DVD because there is a lot of action and you always want to know what will happen next.

All of the characters have their own personality, such as the penguin, named Peso. Peso is very scared, but Kwazii (the cat) is not afraid of anything. I love how all of the characters are so different from one another. It reminds me of some of my friends who like different things than I do, or have a shy personality. Even though we are different, we still have fun together. My favorite part about this DVD is when Peso gets so scared of the huge "monster," but it's not quite a monster. You'll have to watch the DVD to find out what the creature actually is. I also like the blobfish who always wants food--especially worms--but is so slow he often misses out on a snack. That character is probably the funniest part of the DVD.

The message of this show is: if you work together, you can even save people's lives. It's amazing what you can do when you work together. Even if you different from one another, you can still use the strengths of each person in the group to be successful.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 9. This DVD is out now, so go look for it.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I was absolutely thrilled with the stories told in the DVD Octonauts: Ocean Adventures. This series of tales is full of twists and turns that will keep you engaged throughout the six action packed episodes. You will have tons of fun and learn valuable lessons along with the Octonauts, Captain Barnacles, ex-pirate Kwazii and medic Peso.

Octonauts: Ocean Adventures follows a team of underwater explorers that save ocean life and protect their habitats. The Octonauts help all animals and sea life ranging from the predatory mantis shrimp to the wiggly bomber worms. While doing this, the gang faces troubles such as transportation breaking down and fights between other animals. Even though the troubles seem tough, the Octonauts always manage to come through and learn skills to help them in life.

In this DVD, we are introduced to six episodes: Mantis Shrimp, Kelp Monster Mystery, Bomber Worms, Loneliest Whale, Operation Cooperation, and Spinner Dolphins. Each episode tells a unique story. I truly enjoyed each episode and did not get bored with any of them. The fun ocean setting captivated me, since there are so many things that are unknown about the ocean habitat. I was happily surprised when I heard the voices of all the characters. Instead of having high, cartoonish voices, the Octonauts voices are deep, and some even have accents. I particularly liked Captain Barnacles' English accent voiced by Ross Breen. That isn't the only audible thing I enjoyed. I was very entertained by the music. It sets a tone and makes situations seem much more relaxed, dire or whatever the mood may be. The clever theme music composer Darren Hendly is to thank for the catchy intro. Lastly, I really appreciate the animation style in this show. It is funny and adorable, without giving a fake impression of how these animals truly look.

The message behind these episodes is that, even when there are problems that seem tough and unsolvable, you can count on teamwork and kindness to always help you out. If we all help each other out, the problems can be fixed and you can gain important lessons from them.

I give Octonauts: Ocean Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to ages 6 to 12. This collection can be found on DVD and Digital now.

Reviewed by Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I am a big fan of the Octonauts series and this DVD is one of my favorites. It never gets boring and kept me looking forward to the next episode.

Octonauts: Ocean Adventures is about a team of under-the-sea adventurers. They explore, rescue and protect everything in the ocean. We follow them along many expeditions like cleaning the ocean and helping a lonely whale. Episodes include Mantis Shrimp, Operation Cooperation, Kelp Monster Mystery and more. The DVD runs about an hour, so it is the perfect amount of entertainment for a younger audience.

This is such an educational, yet fun DVD. I learned about animals that I had no idea even existed! Children will enjoy it, and so will others! It is great for the whole family to watch. The animation is simple, yet adorable, and the sea animals are darling. There are a lot of episodes in the Octonauts series and, just when you think that you have learned it all, NCircle Entertainment always throws more stuff at you to learn, and you're having a blast doing it. The characters' voices in Octonauts fit their personalities perfectly. Simon Greenall has a flawless, bold polar bear voice, Paul Panting plays a wonderful, gentle penguin and Bob Rackstraw voices a magnificent, dare-devil cat. My favorite episode is Bomber Worms because I learned about this animal for the first time and how interesting and unique they are.

There are many positive messages throughout the DVD including teamwork, friendship, being adventurous, and loving animals.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 through 9. This DVD is currently available.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Octonauts: Ocean Adventures is such a fun and educational DVD! It offers a good mix between learning about marine life and entertaining younger kids. This series will entertain kids for more than an hour while they explore the world's oceans.

Octonauts: Ocean Adventures is about a team of adventurers called the Octonauts that explore the world's oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats on land and sea. The DVD includes 6 episodes of fun, underwater adventures that teach kids all about the oceans and many of the animals that live there.

The protagonists in the movie are Captain Barnacles (Simon Greenall), Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw), an ex-pirate and a doctor named Peso (Wayne Grayson). Other animal friends show up on different episodes to join the Octonauts on their various quests. My favorite episode was The Loneliest Whale because I love how the Octonauts help the lonely whale, named Joe, find other whales and food. It is really heart-warming. The characters are all really nice, sweet, open-minded and have hearts of gold. While I love the main Octonauts, my favorite characters are Dashi and her little sister Koshi, because they work well together, have a great bond, love the same things and can relate and understand each other. The animation is so fun that it makes you feel like you are on missions with the Octonauts. The setting under the sea is really beautiful with neon colors that kids will love watching. It is really creative how everything the Octonauts use, such as the Octopod and the Gups, look like real animals.

This DVD encourages friendship, kindness and teamwork. The message across all episodes is that when you have kindness you can build great friendships and that teamwork is really important because it helps you get the job done faster. This movie has a G rating and there isn't anything parents need to be warned about.

Octonauts: Ocean Adventures is a great show for younger kids. Kids will definitely learn about the world's oceans, smarine life and how to be great friends and work together. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 2 to 8. This is out on DVD now, so make sure you go check it out.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

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      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR OCTONAUTS: OCEAN ADVENTURES


SHARK SCHOOL WITH JESSICA HARVEY

Running Time:
25 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: NATURE
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
GEORGE C. SCHELLENGER

Description:

Join Jessica Harvey as she takes you to the coolest school on planet earth, the school of sharks. From the Tiger Shark - to the Bull Shark - to the Great Hammerhead, get ready for an educational experience you can really sink your teeth into!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

If you are looking for the "coolest school on the planet," well, look no further because I have found it! Shark School with Jessica Harvey offers the best instruction - marine style - right from your own home! The film's producer, George Schellenger takes you on an exciting journey into our oceans while providing us with some amazing lessons about a variety of shark species ranging in size from a few feet long to the length of an entire school bus. Scientist Jessica Harvey, the daughter of the legendary artist and Marine Biologist, Dr. Guy Harvey, adds such excitement as she narrates this film. The film's magnificent footage of some of our Earth's most precious oceanic creatures is sure to leave viewers wanting more instruction from this school!

Shark School with Jessica Harvey gives viewers a detailed education on over a dozen shark species living within our oceans. The narrators give a detailed explanation on the size, feeding patterns and special anatomical features of a variety of sharks occupying different marine habitats. From lateral lines, dermal denticles, to electroreceptors, each of these shark species are explained as being so unique. The film highlights how these characteristics are considered evolutionary advantages, yet sharks have become an addition to the threatened or endangered list due to over hunting and human consumption. With the alarming decline in shark population numbers, this film serves as a call to action that research, conservation, and preservation is much needed in order for man to save these species.

Hats off to the production and cinematography crew for showcasing such amazing creatures which inhabit our oceans. The up close footage of these amazing creatures shows how lively our marine environments are. The fact that the researchers can get that close to these majestic creatures and that there is somewhat of a mutual understanding between man and shark is what I like best in this film. Sharks appear to be underestimated by some, yet they are so critical for a balanced ecosystem.

The message well conveyed in Shark School with Jessica Harvey is about finding balance between man and nature. Sustainable seafood consumption and conservation are critical for our shark species. Shark diversity has been negatively impacted by man and if we don't make changes soon, we may never be able to recover from such an alarming decline in shark populations. Education is the key! If we aren't aware of a problem, we can't change it. This film makes people excited about our oceans and the creatures that call the oceans their home. This excitement may be the driving force that we desperately need to conserve what little we have within our ecosystems. There is great value to our sharks and this film has given me a new appreciation of these fish!

I give Shark School with Jessica Harvey 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 8 to 18. This is a perfect educational film for teachers, nature lovers and environmentalists. They will love it just as much as kids. This film can be rented or purchased now on Amazon. Check it out. This is a film that you do not want to miss!

Reviewed by Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Sharks are the scariest predators in the sea! That is why it is important to learn accurate information about them, which is what you can on the documentary Shark School with Jessica Harvey from the Guy Harvey Expeditions. Both the narrator and Jessica help the viewer understand facts about the different species of sharks.

This documentary is about many different sharks, but I will only be talking about a few. The first shark I want to talk about is the bull shark. Bull sharks can actually live in fresh water and, although most shark attacks are blamed on white sharks, they might have been from the bull shark. The bull shark also is one of the most dangerous sharks in the sea, mostly because of its strong quest for food.

One shark I found particularly interesting is the hammerhead shark. For one, since its eyes are located on each end of its head, the shark has a wide view. Did you know that hammerhead sharks can use their heads like a metal detector to find sting rays? Now, that's cool. Sadly the hammerhead shark is endangered; not only because of overfishing, but because people like to eat shark fin soup, which often comes from hammerhead sharks.

My favorite shark is the whale shark, which is as big as a bus. That is crazy! And, whale sharks don't eat normal shark food; they eat very small foods like plankton. They can reach up to 40 feet in length and they are the biggest fish in the ocean.

I give Shark School With Jessica Harvey 3 out 5 stars because I wish it had more information but it is still a great documentary and was fun to watch. I recommend this series for ages 10 to 15, plus adults. It is available on Amazon to rent or buy. Check it out.

Reviewed by SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like Shark School with Jessica Harvey because I learned about things I didn't know about sharks. Some parts were a little boring because there is a lot of information, but I really liked the scenes of sharks swimming in the water.

Shark School with Jessica Harvey teaches you bout different species of shark. For example, the whale shark is a shark that is about the size of a school bus. When I watched that part it made me want to be able to ride a bus to school. I learned that sharks have a dorsal fin on top and pectoral fins on their undersides. The caudal fin is the "tail" of the shark and helps them swim in the water. Sharks use gills to breathe and don't have bones. I didn't know much about sharks until I watched this film, so if you want to learn more, you have to watch it. I did know about the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Guy Harvey is Jessica's dad. I bought a necklace for my dance teacher that was designed by Guy, so it was very cool to learn more about his foundation and the information his daughter shares in the film.

I really like how the film breaks down the different types of sharks, step-by-step. It's very interesting learning all about the sharks and hearing what you can do to protect them. I like that the film shows real sharks swimming after showing illustrations of the different parts of the sharks. My favorite part of the film is when the hammerhead shark is talked about and shown. I've never seen a real shark before, so it was neat to see the odd-shaped head of the hammerhead. I was surprised to find out that it is considered to be a pretty friendly shark.

The message of the film is that sharks aren't necessarily scary. Before I watched this film, I was really scared of sharks, but learning more about them makes them less scary. Now I'm not afraid of sharks, although I don't know if I'd swim with them anytime soon--at least not without experts around me.

I give Shark School with Jessica Harvey 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 16, as well as some adults, especially if they are interested in learning more about sharks. Shark School with Jessica Harvey will be available on Amazon to rent or to buy sometime soon.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

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KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SHARK SCHOOL WITH JESSICA HARVEY


ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

When a suburban family inherits a real-life money tree, they have a one-way ticket to easy street. As they lose sight of the things that matter most, the family will be tested to discover that it is better to give than receive.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Root Of The Problem is one of my new favorite films. I planned to watch the first part of the film and the rest later, but the movie was so interesting that I watched it all in one session. I love this movie because one is always eager to know what happens next.

The movie centers around an ordinary man named Paul Campbell (Sergio Di Zio) who lives in Ohio with a wife and two kids. After his wife's uncle passes away, his family is left with a plant. Unbeknownst to Paul, the plant actually grows money. Paul is the first one to discover this and he decides to keep it to himself. Being selfish and greedy, Paul only buys things for himself. Eventually, authorities catch on to his spending habits. Turn of events happen, which lead Paul to reconsider his greed and other life choices. Eventually, Paul regrets all of the choices he has made and vows to right himself.

One of my favorite scenes is when Paul decides to buy a new car, even though he has bought an expensive lawn mower without his wife's permission, which creates a feud between them. It is funny because he has the audacity to do it again, only buying something way more expensive. Sergio Di Zio acts the selfish and greedy Paul Campbell perfectly at the beginning of the movie and follows through with an amazing performance as a changed new man at the end. Di Zio has his best acting when he pours all his emotion out vividly in the scene of Paul showing his genuine remorse after his big mistake later in the film.

One thing that stands out in the movie is the music. The music in the movie fits the tone of the scenes really well. The movie starts out slow and eventually picks up the speed. It could be better if the early part got to the exciting moments more quickly, so as not to lose the younger audience with short attention spans. A number of events in the movie, such as buying a Porsche with cash, a lawn mower costing $5,000 and a tree growing money by itself, are not very plausible in real life. The screenwriter seems to throw these events in for the convenience of developing the plot.

One of the main messages of Root of the Problem is to never be greedy and, when you have a chance, always give back. Root of the Problem without a doubt meets the KIDS FIRST! baseline criteria. This movie is geared towards teenagers because younger children might not understand why certain things happen in the movie, such as the authorities' investigation of Paul. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.

Reviewed by Jason Y., KIDS FIRST! reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Root Of The Problem is one of my new favorite films. I planned to watch the first part of the film and the rest later, but the movie was so interesting that I watched it all in one session. I love this movie because one is always eager to know what happens next.

The movie centers around an ordinary man named Paul Campbell (Sergio Di Zio) who lives in Ohio with a wife and two kids. After his wife's uncle passes away, his family is left with a plant. Unbeknownst to Paul, the plant actually grows money. Paul is the first one to discover this and he decides to keep it to himself. Being selfish and greedy, Paul only buys things for himself. Eventually, authorities catch on to his spending habits. Turn of events happen, which lead Paul to reconsider his greed and other life choices. Eventually, Paul regrets all of the choices he has made and vows to right himself.

One of my favorite scenes is when Paul decides to buy a new car, even though he has bought an expensive lawn mower without his wife's permission, which creates a feud between them. It is funny because he has the audacity to do it again, only buying something way more expensive. Sergio Di Zio acts the selfish and greedy Paul Campbell perfectly at the beginning of the movie and follows through with an amazing performance as a changed new man at the end. Di Zio has his best acting when he pours all his emotion out vividly in the scene of Paul showing his genuine remorse after his big mistake later in the film.

One thing that stands out in the movie is the music. The music in the movie fits the tone of the scenes really well. The movie starts out slow and eventually picks up the speed. It could be better if the early part got to the exciting moments more quickly, so as not to lose the younger audience with short attention spans. A number of events in the movie, such as buying a Porsche with cash, a lawn mower costing $5,000 and a tree growing money by itself, are not very plausible in real life. The screenwriter seems to throw these events in for the convenience of developing the plot.

One of the main messages of Root of the Problem is to never be greedy and, when you have a chance, always give back. Root of the Problem without a doubt meets the KIDS FIRST! baseline criteria. This movie is geared towards teenagers because younger children might not understand why certain things happen in the movie, such as the authorities' investigation of Paul. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.

Reviewed by Jason Y., KIDS FIRST! reviewer

The Root of the Problem is a film where everything is entirely adequate, but nothing more than that. The cinematography by Scott Corban Sikma guides us through the story beautifully. Though the story itself is rather uninteresting at times, and the acting is uninspiring, the music is certainly a highlight of this film. If you are ever looking for a light-hearted family film, this movie is exactly that.

The Root of the Problem is about a man, Paul Campbell, who inherits a plant from his uncle's will. Paul's family is living like any average income family - frugally and mindful of their money. But when the deceivingly ordinary plant begins to grow hundred-dollar bills, Paul trades family values for cars, machines and other expensive things. All of this causes a rift within the Campbell family.

Cinematography is one of the most important things in a film. The Root of the Problem understands this and delivers a well-shot movie. The screenplay by Francis Damberger and Joanne Sikma is a little on the bland side, though this is minor matter for a children's film. There are emotional scenes, which must be dealt with carefully to keep the viewer engaged and the actors pull it off well. Though there are negatives sides in the cast's performances. For example, Paul Campbell, played by Sergio Di Zio, nails the humor and stress his character feels when given the responsibility of acquiring his uncle's plant. But, when Paul is upset and crying, the actor struggles with being out of control and letting real tears flow freely. This causes the emotional impact of that scene to be reduced. Another thing to note is that the music is very catchy, which sets a cheeky atmosphere every time it plays. All in all, it's a solid film.

The message in The Root of the Problem is that nothing, not even money, is worth giving up your family for. Be generous, selfless and kind-hearted. These are wonderful lessons everyone can learn from.

I rate The Root of the Problem 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16. This lovely movie comes out on digital and DVD on July 7, 2020!

Reviewed by Joshitha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED ROOT OF THE PROBLEM


HALF OF IT, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Bookish introvert Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is perfectly content with her life: watching old movies with her widowed father and ghostwriting papers for her high school classmates to help pay the bills. But her side gig turns personal when lovelorn jock Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) hires her to craft love notes to Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) -- a smart, popular girl out of both their leagues... and Ellie's own secret crush. Just as the duo's plan begins to work, a new wrinkle emerges: Ellie and Paul have fallen into a deep friendship neither could have anticipated, giving rise to a surprising love triangle. Written and directed by Alice Wu, THE HALF OF IT is a heartfelt comedy-of-errors about searching for perfect love--and finding yourself in the process.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Half of It is certainly a beautiful story about love, friendship and longing. It is a very relatable story about the process of discovering love and what comes with it. The acting is splendid and writer/director Alice Wu is very assertive in both capacities.

The story follows Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), a shy and introverted, straight "A" student, in her senior year, helping a friend, Paul, to capture the attention of the girl of his dreams, Aster. Initially, Ellie writes just one letter, but the story evolves into an exchange of text messages before their first date. During the journey, the characters discover the truth of the stress and challenges of courtship.

The film starts with a beautiful, artsy animation and excellent voice over work, guiding us into the mysteries of love at a very young age. The Half of It is a very well narrated story, keeping you intrigued, making you wanting to know more about the characters and how they will end up. The editing and music are very interconnected and they work in perfect harmony, turning into amazing storytelling.

I enjoyed the acting and the honesty of Leah Lewis' portrayal of a very timid, but determined girl. I love Paul naivet� and his struggle to communicate and show his emotions and how his innocence contrasts with Ellie's intelligence. Despite their differences they become friends, which is one of my favorite aspects of the film. I also love Collin Chou who plays Ellie's dad. He barely speaks English but he's really funny. He portrays a very loving and kind man and wants what's best for his daughter. Ellie's Dad loves classic films and, throughout the movie, there are several references to art in different disciplines like painting and poetry. This makes the film feel very grounded. "The Best Part," as Ellie's Dad refers when interrupted when watching his cinema classics, is when Ellie and Aster are in a secret lake and just talking. The scene itself is beautiful and the acting feels so natural. I love how this scene is shot and found it really relaxing.

The Half of It is not the typical high school movie, because in almost every high school movie there is a popular girl, a shy nerdy girl with lots of clich�s and no substance. But in this movie the characters are real, current and deep.

The message of this film is "be the best version of you." Ellie used to be an artist and one of the things she learns is that "you can have a good painting, but to make it a great one you need to make a bold stroke." I think what she means by "bold stroke" is the best version that you can possibly be of yourself. Also we hear that "love is the journey we pursue with determination."

This film is wonderful! I could watch it a million times and still be entertained. I give The Half of It 5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18. The Half of It opens on Netflix May 1, 2020.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The Half of It is interesting, however I feel like it could have been much better. I like it, yet I think there is a lot of missed potential.

The movie follows Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) who makes money by charging other students for essay help. One day, a jock named Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks her for help writing a love letter to his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire). However, as Ellie continues to help Paul win her over, she ends up also falling for Aster.

A big aspect of this film is the LGBT twist. As someone who cares a lot about representation, this intrigued me. However, I have mixed feelings about the way this movie goes about its representation. I can't elaborate much as that would lead to spoilers, but let's just say the actual LGBT romance is a little lackluster and mostly overshadowed by the straight romance. This isn't really an issue for most of the film, however this heavily affected my opinion on the ending. I usually try not to compare pieces of media, however I want to compare this film to Love, Simon. An issue I've noticed when it comes to LGBT representation is the prevalence of tragedies and dramatic stories. Either that, or stories where the LGBT character doesn't have a happy ending. This is why Love, Simon was such a hit with the LGBT audience, because it is a wholesome, romantic comedy that embraces its gay representation. And considering The Half of It is also pushing the gay aspect in marketing, it could have been a lot better. The Half of It is far from the worst when it comes to unsatisfying representation, but it definitely has room for improvement.

However, the representation is not the only aspect of the film. As this is a comedy, how is the humor in this movie? Honestly, I really like a lot of the comedy in this film. I like the way Ellie and Paul play off each other and there's many well executed visual gags and recurring bits. I also really like the friendship between Ellie and Paul. Despite the fact that they're technically romantic rivals, you really buy their friendship as they have a great chemistry and you want them both to be happy in the end.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. It comes out on May 1, 2020. Look for it.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Half Of It is a film that virtually anyone can enjoy. It's hilarious, unique, and has many intersecting relationships that keep you guessing what will happen in the future. The small-town setting helps the story feel more relatable. The personalities of the characters blend well and the progression of the plot makes sense.

Netflix's The Half Of It takes place in a small town by the name of Squahamish, following a girl named Ellie Chu. Ellie is in high school and has a way with words. Although she is talented, she is made fun of frequently. One day, Ellie is riding her bike and her classmate, Paul Munsky, asks her to write his crush, Aster, a love letter. Ellie is skeptical and annoyed, but she agrees to help him out. Little does she know that she will become his friend and fall for his crush at the same time.

Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) and Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) make a great cast of main characters. Paul and Ellie (despite their differences) make a great team when trying to impress Aster. I love so many parts of this movie, however I have to choose a favorite! The acting really is something else. The cast is really amazing and, when you watch it, you feel an emotional connection to them. There is one specific person from the cast who does an exceptional job - Leah Lewis. She embodies the role of a reserved and skeptical-of-everything teenager very well.

The lesson from this film is that acting like your true self is for more valuable than the person you may want others to perceive you as. This way, others can love you for just being you. The movie is most definitely successful in portraying this. It is a very positive and uplifting message. This movie promotes the positive social behaviors of friendship and helping other people. However, there is quite a bit of bullying towards the main protagonist, Ellie, that occurs. There is a slight bit of swearing, but nothing too severe, and some alcohol use is shown.

I give The Half Of It 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find The Half Of It on Netflix in May.

Reviewed by Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HALF OF IT, THE


GIGANTOSAURUS: DINO TALES

Running Time:
90 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 4 - 12 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

ROCKY, BILL, TINY and MAZU are four young dinosaurs growing up in the Cretaceous period. Life is always an adventure: new volcanoes are popping up all the time, long-necked brachiosauruses and enormous triceratopses roam free, meteor showers light up the night sky and the big bad Gigantosaurus reigns over it all! On this exciting DVD, join Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu as they explore the world of Cretacia. Embark on a mission to help find a lost egg s missing parents. Join the four friends as they venture out on a sleepover at the lake and camp among the herds in the desert. The adventures don t end there! Race with Mazu to see a once-in-a-lifetime comet and join Bill as he becomes invisible during a game of hide and seek. Enjoy these adventures and more with our Dino pals!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales is an English dubbed collection of episodes from the titular French CGI-animated preschool series. Kids learning through early childhood education will find plenty of great messages and funny characters. Most of the episodes follow a repetitive structure, although there are a few standouts.

This anthology follows the adventures of Rocky (Dylan Schombling), Bill (Nicholas Holmes), Tinu (Aine Sunderland), and Mazu (Nahanni Mitchell) who are four young dinosaurs growing up in the Cretaceous period. Surrounding these tales is the overarching mysterious Gigantosaurus who helps them on a few adventures.

The four leads share great banter allowing for believable friendships. Keep in mind, they are all child actors who are slowly coming into their own. Dylan Schombling, as Rocky, is easily my favorite of the bunch overcompensating his masculinity towards his inner fears. His dynamic with Bill, voiced by Nicholas Holmes, is strongest with a touching episode addressing how he helps his friend face his fears. The dynamic between Tinu, Mazu and other pair-ups are not as strong, although Aine Sunderland and Nahanni Mitchell give charismatic performances.

The animation is easily the most impressive feature here. The character models appear swiftly, and the environments fully capture the Cretaceous aesthetic. I should point out that the episodic plots follow a similar pattern, and the characters lack distinct personalities, especially the antagonists who are always juvenile bullies. Granted this is a cartoon made for preschoolers, so this will not be as obvious to them as it is to an older viewer such as myself. "The Island" is the one episode that really stands out for me, featuring a touching plot about friendship as Bill helps Rocky face his fear of swimming.

The message of this film is to always value friendships. All four of the dinosaurs have a great dynamic that revolves around trust and teamwork. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7. This DVD us available now on DVD and digital so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the Gigantosaurus Dino Tales DVD because it is very entertaining and funny. This show amuses younger children as well as older children like myself.

This DVD is a compilation of eight funny episodes with each episode a duration of 11 minutes approximately. The episodes do not follow a sequence. Each one has its individual story line. This DVD is about four "dino" friends, named Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu, who explore the world of Cretacia, where they live and make missions along the way. This show is very entertaining for young audience, keeping their attention their entire time.

The graphics are very bright and colorful. I especially like the jungle background. The voice-over talents suit each character. The music is appealing, especially the theme song. The episodes are short and interesting. My favorite episode is "Mazu's Comet," which is about Mazu wanting to see a comet with his name, because he is actually named after the comet. This is a special day for him because the comet only passes by every 100 hundred years. He makes a telescope, but the lens of the telescope breaks, so he scavenges to find a new lens in the desert. He only has a limited time to get back to the mountain to watch the comet. Finally, he finds the lens he needs but he gets distracted by another dinosaur in need of assistance and forgets all about the lens that he needs to see this special comet. He travels back without the lens and keeps helping more fellow dinosaurs along the way. When he finally arrives at the mountain he realizes that he forgot his lens. All the dinosaurs that Mazu helped along the way help him get his lens back and Mazu watches the comet successfully. My favorite character is Rocky because he is very adventurous dinosaur.

The moral of this DVD is that "teamwork makes the dream work," while having fun together. There is nothing like having a strong bond with our closest best friends to experience adventures together while exploring our surroundings or hometown.

I give Gigantosaurus Dino Tales DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults can watch this DVD with their children as well. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

What I like about this DVD is seeing how all the characters of different types get along as great friends. I like how they work together as a team to solve problems. I also love the animation.

This DVD is a collection of episodes from the TV show by the same name. The story line is four young dinosaurs growing up in the Cretaceous period where there is a new adventure every day from volcanoes popping up, to meteor showers lighting up the night sky to all the various dinosaurs that you might run into at any time. The young dinosaurs, Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu invite the audience to join them in their adventures.

What stands out in these animated episodes are the minute details of each dinosaur and the positive relationship between the four characters. The dinosaurs are very distinguished so that the viewer can determine their various types. The lead character Rocky pretends to be very brave, but his friend assures him that it's okay to have fears. The character Bill shows his loyalty as a friend. Mazu and Tiny are committed to their friendship. It's also fun that the dinosaurs have human-like qualities, making them anthropomorphic.

The message of this DVD is to demonstrate friendship, acceptance and compassion. The episodes focus on taking care of one another and being thoughtful. I learned to continue to value my friends and enjoy fun times together. I also learned how to pronounce some of the difficult names of dinosaurs.

I give Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages w to 5. It is available now on DVD or digital, so look for it.

Reviewed by Bailey Rae F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Suggested Retail Price
      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR GIGANTOSAURUS: DINO TALES


HIDDEN ORCHARD MYSTERIES: THE CASE OF THE AIR B&B ROBBERY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

When a home robbery occurs in neighborhood, two junior detectives looking for adventure attempt to discover the culprit. Their closest neighbors are the most likely suspects and their investigation digs up bigger secrets than they expected.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

coming soon

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B&B Robbery because of how the two girls are best friends and they work together to figure things out. The beginning is a little boring because there's not much adventure, but once the film gets going, I like the mystery.

The film begins with someone stealing some jewelry in total darkness and the camera shows pictures of people in frames. Two girls, who are best friends, see that there is a problem at the neighbor's house. They start working on discovering who this thief could be. They make a plan that they are going to start the next morning. I like the breakfast scene because it shows how Lulu (Ja'ness Tate) helps her friend, Gabby (Gabriella Pastore), who doesn't like her new mom because she think she is trying to replace her biological mother, feel more comfortable with her new mom. It is nice to see how the friends support each other. They start going to all the neighbors' houses one by one and they get confused sometimes, but they get some good clues. They also go to the librarian (Diane Cater), who tells them two neighbors might be having an affair. The two best friends work together to find the truth.

The actors are amazing because they portray their characters well through their facial expressions and body language. I also think the camera angles by Frazer Lockhart (Director of Photography) are great because it really feels as if you're in the same room with the characters. My favorite part of the film is when the two girls are eating cupcakes at a caf�. They are just pounding them down. Cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts, so that's probably why I like that scene so much.

The message of the film is to go with your gut, and if you work together a lot can happen in a good way. When I work on a project with my best friend, it's not only more fun, but also is easier to do. One warning is that the characters occasionally say some bad words and there is a gun involved, which might not be appropriate for younger children. But those are the only things that might concern parents.

I give Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B&B Robbery 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 17. Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B&B Robbery can be found online and on DVD June 16, 2020.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B & B Robbery because it shows very funny and inspiring scenes. The movie is entertaining and, at the same time, teaches a life learning lesson.

This film is about a small, upper class, mostly black community name Hidden Orchard, where a robbery has occurred in one of the houses whose owners, The Parkers, have turned it into an AirB&B. Two teenage girls, Gaby and Lulu, who live in this community, start an investigation to find out which of the neighbors robbed the Parker's house. They interview each neighbor, especially a young guy nicknamed Dayday. Daydady is a scrawny, young black man who returned to the neighborhood after being away for some mysterious situation he got involved in. Both girls are suspicious of Dayday, because of his appearance and because of his mysterious disappearance when he went away before.

My favorite scene is when Gaby and Lulu meet the owners of a bakery who are a very funny couple. Gaby and Lulu convince the couple to be their partners in crime by sending one of the owners across the street with cupcakes, because Mrs. Parker was mysteriously meeting with Mr. Patricks, an insurance broker for the Hidden Orchard community. The film's scenery is very beautiful, especially the landscaping and the houses. The music is not that appealing. Some scenes are a bit boring, too long or lack a purpose in the story line. The main actors are pretty good, but some of the others are not.

The moral of this film is to not to judge a book by its cover and that not everything that shines is gold. Gaby and Lulu are convinced Dayday had something to do with the robbery, because of his appearance and his past. This film teaches you to have better judgment, to be kind and that everyone deserves a second chance. Also, it points out that things are not what they appear to be.

I give Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B & B Robbery 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film comes out on Digital and DVD June 16, 2020. Look for it.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HIDDEN ORCHARD MYSTERIES: THE CASE OF THE AIR B&B ROBBERY


HORSE CAMP: A LOVE TAIL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

It's a new year at horse-riding camp and everything changes when the ranch hand has a crush on the riding instructor! The campers put competition aside and rally together to help him win her over her while building new friendships.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Horse Camp: A Love Tail is a fun movie about life lessons learned at a horse ranch. The horses and ranch serve as the backdrop for the characters to learn about kindness and true friendship. Together they learn how to be better riders and people.

It's a new summer at Black River Farm and Ranch and their camp has a lot of changes this summer. New faces and returning campers, as well as staff changes, create an interesting social environment. Campers and staff are divided until Jerry (Richard Karn), the ranch hand, develops an awkward crush on Bonnie (Teri Lee) the new head riding instructor. The campers are familiar with new love and social awkwardness and come together to help Jerry gain Bonnie's notice and affection.

The beginning of the movie during the opening credits which shows trick riding is my favorite scene. Unfortunately, we don't get to see any more of this type of footage in the movie. I really like the storyline, but the writing and characters seem very immature. Jerry's shyness and dialogue is extremely awkward and unbelievable. Luckily, Bonnie is able to see his kind heart and value rather than focusing on his behavior and speech. The one scene where he expresses his anger which is due to jealousy is really over the top.

My favorite character is Stacey Vanderbelt (Kristen Ryda), a former camper who was supposed to be the head riding instructor this camp session, but is replaced with newcomer Bonnie Lightyear who becomes Jerry's love interest. Stacey's transformation in the movie as a rider, teacher and a person is really inspiring and I enjoyed watching her change from a self-absorbed popular girl to a kind person who improves herself and others. Life lessons are abundant throughout this film and there is a lot to take away from watching this movie.

The message of this film is that kindness matters and that you can build self-confidence without bringing down others. Being popular has a limited time in the spotlight, but making and supporting friends can last a lifetime.

I rate Horse Camp: A Love Tail 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Movie releases to digital and DVD May 15, 2020. Watch for it.

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HORSE CAMP: A LOVE TAIL


VAST OF NIGHT, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, a young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

See youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Vast of Night was somewhat disappointing. The film has an interesting set up but it feels underdeveloped and a waste of potential.

The story is a very clear parody of shows such as The Twilight Zone, to the point where the story is framed as if it was an episode of The Twilight Zone. The plot follows two high schoolers named Everett and Fay, who run a radio show together in the 1950s. One night, Fay hears a strange frequency through the radio and she investigates it with Everett.

To start off, I want to talk about my biggest problem with this movie, which is the pace. There are many scenes in this movie that go on for way too long and, as a result, completely kill the atmosphere and investment. The worst of these is the scene near the beginning in which Fay first hears the frequency. She calls a bunch of other people to ask them about it, and this takes around ten minutes. There is no justifiable reason that this scene needs to be so long. It barely establishes anything and, at most, reestablishes the same thing. It's not entertaining and is incredibly boring. But what makes this scene even more tedious is that, for ten minutes, there is not a single cut. It's the same frame and same shot of Fay, for the entire ten minutes. I'm usually not one to talk about cinematography and editing, but this combination is a recipe for boredom. However, props to Sierra McCormick, the actress who plays Fay, for being able to pull this scene off. I'm sure this scene was difficult to do. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this major flaw. In actuality, this film is pretty short, but it feels like an eternity.

Aside from the pacing and poor editing, the mystery of the frequency is ultimately confusing and unsatisfying. And as an homage to The Twilight Zone, it's not eerie or unique enough and honestly it feels like a gimmick. The fact that the story takes place in the 50s rarely comes up other than the old technology, which is a bit disappointing to me, since I really like the 50s aesthetic.

I give this film 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It comes out May 15, 2020 and on Prime Video May 29, 2020. Look for it.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

This movie is so creepy and bone chilling! From start to finish, audiences are kept at the edge of their seats. The eerie feeling is present throughout the film and the ending is unexpected and a shocker.

The Vast Of Night centers around a radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) and his younger friend Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) as they investigate a peculiar radio frequency. Set in the 1950s, the movie starts out as a show, imitating the Twilight Zone. Throughout the film, we switch from watching the television set, to watching the actual episode.

The acting by both central characters is phenomenal! Jake and Sierra have wonderful onscreen chemistry. The casting for both of their characters is superb. Their friendship is comedic. Jake's character, Everett, is sarcastic and hilarious. Even in dark times, we need humor. The storyline is super freaky and very mysterious. The ending is one that is completely unpredictable. Writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger really create movie magic with their unique plot. Following these characters throughout their eventful night is an amazing adventure.

The lesson of the film is to always stay curious and always investigate. The moment Fay and Everett discover there is something wrong they immediately go in search of the problem. They gather all the clues to save their town. There is a tiny amount of adult language and several tobacco depictions.

I give this excellent motion picture 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. The Vast of Night is available on Amazon Prime May 29th, 2020.

Reviewed by Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED VAST OF NIGHT, THE


DOOZERS WE DIG SPRINIG!

Running Time:
66 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 2-8 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Doozers: We Dig Spring! - Living at the edges of our world and right under our noses are Doozers. Just who are the Doozers? They're green, they're cute, they're three inches tall, full of energy, ideas, and enthusiasm they're AWESOME! Doozers love to create, build, and innovate. Doozers are DOERS they put their ideas into action! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, "The stories follow four green Doozers that love helping wildlife and building things. Doozers are little green, cute and energetic creatures - two boys and two girls. Each one has a unique talent. For example, one has the power of science, another has technology, the third one has engineering and the fourth one has arts and math. All together it equals STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and math)." See his full review below.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Doozers We Dig Spring! DVD because it is very entertaining, even for an 11-year-old, like me. This animation has very unique story lines in every episode.

The DVD has six episodes, each about 11 minutes long. The stories follow four green Doozers that love helping wildlife and building things. Doozers are little green, cute and energetic creatures - two boys and two girls. Each one has a unique talent. For example, one has the power of science, another has technology, the third one has engineering and the fourth one has arts and math. All together it equals STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). In every adventure they learn something new such as the stages of a butterfly, what bees like or how to work together.

My favorite episode is Oh Beehive where one of the Doozers is hungry and goes to a bakery to get something to eat. When he is about to go inside, a storm of bees swoops in front of the bakery's door so the owner has to shut the bakery down. The Doozer calls his friends to come and help him. All four Doozers together think of a genius plan so they can stop the bees and remove them from the door. The animation is cute with vibrant colors. The voice-overs are all by kids and their voices fit each character perfectly. The theme song is very energetic. Each episode is a different adventure and they don't necessary follow a sequence. My favorite catch phrase they say is, "Doo, doo, doo..." and, right after that phrase, they start working together as a team to resolve a situation or to build something.

The moral of Doozers We Dig Spring! is "team work makes the dream work," because in all six episodes all four Doozers team together to solve situations or to build something and they always put their ideas together to make things happen as a team.

I give Doozers We Dig Spring! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 4 to 18, and adults can enjoy this DVD as well. This DVD is available now so go get it before it runs out! Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DOOZERS WE DIG SPRINIG!


FLOOGALS: INVESTIGATION STATION

Running Time:
66 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 4-12 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

EXPERIMENTAION, DISCOVERY, OBSERVATION, HUMANS

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Floogals Investigation Station because it is very funny, original and creative. It captured my attention the whole time. I like that it is not just animation, as some parts are real life graphics. I also like that it is always teaching kids to explore and experiment in every episode.

This DVD is about three purple lookalike aliens called Floogals - Captain Fleeker, First Officer Flo and Junior Boomer. The Floogals learn new things and report back to their boss to inform him what they have learned on Earth. This DVD contains six episodes about experimentation, discovery and observation. Each episode has about 11 minutes of adventure and funny situations. One of the funniest things of this show is that the aliens call the humans "hoomans."

My favorite episode is "Project Popcorn." This episode is about the Floogals discovering a food called popcorn. When a human accidentally lets go of the popcorn, it falls and the dog eats it, so they think it is dog food. Later they start to realize what popcorn is. Another one of my favorite episodes is "Project Sleep" which is about how a "hooman" girl invites her friends over for a sleepover. The Floogals spy on the girls to see what a sleepover is all about. The Floogals slowly learn about and process the word "sleepover," The Floogals do not realize that the whole time they are actually part of the sleepover. The graphics are real live backgrounds and the Floogals are little animated aliens. The animation is neat and very colorful. The voiceover talent suits each character. I like Junior Boomer's character the most, because he is clumsy, funny, and always curious about learning new things.

The moral of this show is: don't ever let someone stop you from doing what you desire. Don't allow anyone to discourage you from doing what you are capable of doing. For example, Junior Boomer investigates this thing call "popcorn" and Captain Fleeker tries to stop him, but Junior Boomer still investigates.

I give Floogals Investigation Station 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 6 to 18, plus adults. By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR FLOOGALS: INVESTIGATION STATION


MY SPY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

My Spy follows JJ a hardened CIA operative (Dave Bautista) who has been demoted and finds himself at the mercy of a precocious 9-year-old girl, named Sophie (Chloe Coleman) where he has been sent undercover begrudgingly to surveil her family. When Sophie discovers hidden cameras in her apartment, she uses her tech savviness to locate where the surveillance operation is set. In exchange for not blowing JJ's cover Sophie convinces him to spend time with her and teach her to be a spy. Despite his reluctance JJ finds he is no match for Sophie's disarming charm and wit. The hilarious actioner is directed by Peter Segal from a script penned by Jon and Erich Hoeber and stars Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, Kristen Schaal, Parisa Fitz-Henley and Ken Jeong. Producers are Chris Bender, Peter Segal, Jake Weiner, Robert Simonds, Gigi Pritzker, Dave Bautista and Jonathan Meisner.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I thought My Spy was so good because I loved the friendship and love that develops between the characters JJ (Dave Bautista) and Sophie (Chloe Coleman)! They start off as strangers and then, throughout the movie, JJ teaches her how to be a good spy, and she teaches him how to be a kinder person as their relationship grows stronger and they become friends. Not only does JJ have a change of heart and but eventually he develops feelings for her mom.

My Spy is the story of a CIA agent who is secretly watching a family in order to try and get information connected to a big case he is on. One of the people he is watching is the little girl, Sophie, who discovers J.J. and that he is spying on her and her mom. In exchange for not revealing his secret, Sophie makes him teach her how to be a good spy.

One of my favorite parts of My Spy is when JJ goes on a date with Sophie's mom and starts dancing. Because his character is so serious and he's such a large person, it's very funny to see him trying to do all these trendy dances...because he does it so terribly! Honestly, it kind of reminded me of my dad dancing.

For those who like Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy you will love him in this movie. Chloe Coleman has a very bright acting future--she is such a kind person both on and off camera, and she has such an amazing on-camera presence.

A quick note to parents: My Spy does contain some adult language (and in some songs played during the movie.) So while younger kids may enjoy it, parents should decide if their kids are mature enough to see a movie with moments of profanity.

My Spy is full of action, fun, comedy and love. I give My Spy 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 10 to 18, and adults will love it too! Available now on Amazon Prime

Reviewed by Lindalee R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

My Spy is a very entertaining and funny movie! The casting director, Anne McCarthy and Kellie Roy, picked the perfect people to play the roles in this film. The music selections are very upbeat and work perfectly in each scene.

My Spy tells the story of J.J. (Dave Bautista), a CIA agent who secretly spies on a family with his colleague Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) until their nine-year-old girl, Sophie Vale (Chloe Coleman) finds out what they are up to. Sophie blackmails J.J, into doing things for her so she's not left alone or unable to attend certain events. J.J. decides to help Sophie so that she won't tell anyone about him and blow his cover. They go on an adventure filled with drama and secret spy missions.

The main characters are J.J. and Sophie Vale--she is my favorite character. She is so smart and funny. My favorite part of this movie is when J.J. and Sophie are walking away from an explosion and Sophie's mom, Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), is confused because they are walking slowly away instead of running. The special effects, such as the explosions, in this movie are so realistic. The music really drives the movie, and the right song plays at the right time. For example, in the beginning, J.J. is in a car chase and tries to find the perfect song for the car chase. I also enjoyed seeing the relationship between actors Coleman and Bautista on scene. You can tell they had fun filming it together, and you'll have fun watching them on scene.

The message of My Spy is to trust people, even kids. Throughout the movie J.J. has to learn that he has people in his life that can help him. You have to let other people help in order to be successful or accomplish your goals-- you never know what could happen if you work with others and let them in. Adults should look out for gun violence and effects that may be scary for younger kids.

My Spy is a "spy-tastic" film that the whole family, especially older kids, will love! I give My Spy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 10 to 18 years old. Adults will like it too. My Spy comes out on Amazon Prime Video on June 26, 2020.

Reviewed by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR MY SPY


I STILL BELIEVE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-14

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-14 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
LIONSGATE FILMS

Description:

The true-life story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his journey of love and loss that looks to prove there is always hope.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth review

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I Still Believe is a sincere and true love story, held down by clich�d dialogue and plot development. The subtle messages and radiant leads stick their landing without feeling preachy. Adults and kids will admire this faith-based tale, perhaps in a matinee and a box of tissues.

This story brings the true-life story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp (KJ Apa) and his remarkable journey with his wife Melissa (Britt Robertson). Their faith in God is tested when Melissa is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Still, Jeremy believes there is always hope and a faith worth sharing through his music and memories.

The two leads share great chemistry allowing for a believable relationship. KJ Apa, as Jeremy Camp, steps into the shoes of the Christian music singer, through his original music and devotion towards his wife Melissa. Speaking of which, Britt Robertson, as Melissa, is the best performance nailing the emotional gravitas of the real-life counterpart's plight. She fares much better in emotional scenes, and while KJ has great screen presence, he could improve his emotional chops. Both characters absolutely deliver a heart-warming dynamic that makes the ending all the more tragic, but also reminiscing. Nathan Dean, as Jean-Luc, adds a love-triangle dynamic that feels more at home in a CW show than a dramatic real-life story. Still, his character is charismatic and relatable in his struggles. Gary Sinise, as Tom, is Jeremy's father, adding more heart to Jeremy's unwavering love and choices.

Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin return after directing the Christian film I Can Only Imagine. The Erwins have a good grasp on not being preachy and instead, focus on the human relationships that bind. However, this film's first half panders with one instance of egregious product placement, unbecoming of its more mature second half. It feels tonally inconsistent in spite of KJ and Britt's natural chemistry. There's a scene involving a broken jar of pickles where the film becomes thoughtfully complacent about its conflicts. This is where the film began to click, and it ends up being moving and lyrically heartwarming.

The message of this film is to always keep the faith and stay close to those you love. They make us for who we are, and unfortunately, tragic things can happen. It's best that we stay close and not waste any day with them.

I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 due to strong thematic material. The movie releases in theaters March 13, 2020, so check it out.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED I STILL BELIEVE


STARGIRL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-14

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-14 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

A boy becomes intrigued by a mysterious and quirky student named Stargirl and spends his time trying to know more about her.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Stargirl is an amazing movie that encourages you to be yourself and not let anyone tell you who else to be. This movie could make a great impact on the world and it has such a powerful and positive message with the ability to inspire many people.

Stargirl is about a boy named Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere) and a girl, Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal) who, after many years of being homeschooled, decides to attend a regular school and the two of them begin a connection. When Stargirl shows up at the school, positive things start happening, like the football team winning games, which it hadn't for YEARS)! But, when Stargirl makes a choice that causes the school to lose the championship football game, everyone turns on her and it's up to Leo to save Stargirl and win back everyone's love for her.

One of my favorite parts is when Stargirl sings Happy Birthday to Leo at the beginning of the movie, because that's when he starts noticing that this girl is different and wonders what she knows about him. What a surprise to have a complete stranger serenade you on your birthday, in front of the whole school! I also love the moment when Stargirl runs out of her house as Leo is leaving and kisses him. She's like, "Oh no, what do I do now?" and runs back into her house. I think that's so cute and funny and I love that he gets so giggly and happy about it. It is so adorable.

The message of this film is simple enough - be true to yourself and never let anybody tell you who to be or what to do, because you'll be unhappy with yourself in the end.

I love Stargirl and give it 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. If you're in high school you'll be able to relate to at least one of the many likeable characters in this movie. And, Disney fans, as well as adults will LOVE this movie too. There's something for the whole family in this film. Make sure to have a box of tissues near by when you watch it. You just may need it for both the heartwarming and joyful moments. This movie is streaming on Disney+ beginning March 13, 2020.

By Lindalee Rose, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR STARGIRL


BLOODSHOT
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
COLUMBIA PICTURES

Description:

Ray Garrison, an elite soldier who was killed in battle, is brought back to life by an advanced technology that gives him the ability of super human strength and fast healing. With his new abilities, he goes after the man who killed his wife, or at least, who he believes killed his wife. He soon comes to learn that not everything he learns can be trusted. The true question his: Can he even trust himself?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments`

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Bloodshot because it has a unique storyline, awesome action and great stunt scenes. This film keep your attention throughout the entire movie.

Bloodshot is about a solider named Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) who gets killed in action and is brought back to life by an innovative scientist named Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), who fixes wounded soldiers by augmenting what the soldier lost in battle. One soldier, named Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), lost his legs in battle so Dr. Harting gave him robotic legs. Ray lost his life and Dr. Harting replaced all of his blood with nanites, which can rebuild any part of his injured body.

My favorite part is the elevator shaft fight scene when Ray, Jimmy and Tibbs (Alex Hernandez) are fighting on top of the elevator. The digital effects are awesome, like how the nanites heal Ray every time he gets hurt. The graphics are perfect. The costumes look like army gear with special devices attached. There is some foul language and violence. The cast fits each character, especially Vin Diesel who perfectly playa Ray Garrison.

The moral of this movie is that not everything is what it seems. You have to see the film in order to understand the moral.

I give Bloodshot 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Bloodshot comes out in theaters March 13, 2020. Go watch it.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED BLOODSHOT


CRITICAL THINKING
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
CQCM - CARIBBEAN CHAPTER

Description:

CRITICAL THINKING is based on the story of the 1998 Miami Jackson Senior High School chess team that defied the odds and overcame incredible adversity to become the first urban high school to win the U.S. Chess National Championship. John Leguizamo stars as Mario Martinez, the determined high school teacher who's unwavering belief in his students set in motion the rise of the Miami Jackson chess team from the city streets of1998 Miami, to the spotlight as national champions.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Critical Thinking is a film with incredible, fleshed out characters in an emotional story which surprises you at every turn. It gets you to connect with the characters quickly and made me actually feel bad for them when things go wrong.

Critical Thinking tells the true story of the lives of members of the Miami Jackson High School chess team during the U.S. National Chess Championship. It goes into the motivations behind the members and their team supervisor, Mr. Martinez, as they struggle to get out of a system that doesn't value them via the chess tournament. It follows their journey from the start, raising money to get to the tournaments, and the events that occur during the tournaments, as well as all the problems throughout. The film also goes into specific details of the members' personal lives to show their daily struggles.

The characters are developed incredibly well, making you feel as if you know the characters. It makes even the most insignificant characters interesting. They are all real people who make real choices about their lives, for better or worse. I really enjoyed the way they show the players develop during the competitions. They play like real people and make mistakes like them too. There are very complicated relationships between the characters that help them develop their abilities and personalities.

The score is subtle and matches the film. There was never a point when I noticed that the score was practically good or bad, but it fits the themes and changes when necessary. My favorite scene is the final chess match. Marcel takes risks which make sense for his character. The other members of his team appear genuinely nervous, because they don't know who is going to win. They put Marcel under a lot of pressure, and it is unclear if he is going to break because of it. There is one point when an offer is made to him and it is unclear if he would be willing to abandon his team for personal gain.

The film delivers a message that people who come from different places can still accomplish incredible things. It also addresses the problems with the school systems' view on people of color.

I give Critical Thinking 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18, because it covers some very mature topics. Critical Thinking will be released summer 2020.

Reviewed by Rohan F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CRITICAL THINKING


ADVENTURE BOYZ
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
Video and DVD

Distributor:
HOWARD FORD

Description:

When speedway racing champ Mike Harris has his kids for the summer holidays, he is stunned they want to sit inside playing on their devices. Insisting they get out into the real world for adventure and exercise, little does he realize, he is about to set off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Adventure Boyz is an engaging film in which family ties are tested and strengthened. The beginning of the movie shows the toll that family separation takes and the father realizing where his children are headed if they continue on that road. It ends with the returning of a missing family member and becoming a family again.

Adventure Boyz encourages family activities as healthy ways to nourish family relationships between parents and children, denouncing the use of electronics as some kind of epidemic that turns people into zombies.

What I found appealing are the main characters, the views and scenery. Plus, there is adventure and fun involved. Although the film lacks in creativity, it flows well most of the time. There are some things that don't quite make sense such as like the father being allowed to compete again and winning. It offers a please feeling of familiarity with the characters and their environments. The movie exceeds in showing positive family and faith values.

Adventure Boyz offers a positive message about family and the importance of good parenting. It emphasizes trusting God and positive advice that a committed parent should give her children. It does have some unnecessary physical violent scenes, that you should be aware of.

I give this 3 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 13 to 18. This film is available now on DVD and digital.

Reviewed by Carolina S., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Adventure Boyz because it has a good, interesting story. This film is full of action and adventure. It is cool how the two boys, Sam and younger brother Jake (Rory Ford, Felix Ford) work together to solve a mystery. I like how the boys' dad is a speedway racer, because that is something I'm not ever around. I also like the mom, because she is very protective of her kids. You can tell she loves them very much.

The story starts off with a news reporter reporting that 50 diamonds has been stolen in the castle. This grabbed my attention right away. When the two brothers are biking, they find a hideout where the diamonds hidden. That is just the beginning of their big adventure. The boys get chased by two bad guys pretty much throughout the movie and have quite a few close calls. They have to fend for themselves because their mom is away and their dad winds up in jail. It's really up to them to set things straight.

I love one of the bad guys in the story--one of the antagonists. He has a great personality, because he is always getting distracted by things and it's funny when he gets off task. The other antagonist is the complete opposite; he is very focused and very serious about his job. My favorite part is when one of the bad guys is admiring flowers. It's ironic because, earlier on in the film, he tells his partner he never wanted to be a criminal, he wanted to be a gardener.

The message of the film is to trust yourself. Sam sometimes has moments when he doubts himself and then, he learns to be more confident and does the right thing. I know when I'm more confident, I tend to do better at something, like when I'm singing, dancing and acting. There is one scary part, the abduction scene, when someone is tied up and has duct tape over his mouth.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 14, but even older kids and some adults may like it. Adventure Boyz is available now on Blu-Ray/DVD and streaming services, so look for it.

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED ADVENTURE BOYZ


KOKOWANDA BAY BY RUTH AND EMILIA

Running Time:
90 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
4-12

Category: FAMILY
AUDIO CD FOR AGES 4-12 series

Media:
AUDIO

Distributor:
RUTH WEBER, ENRICO LOPEZ-YANEZ AND EMILIA LOPEZ-YANEX PRODUCTIONS

Description:

URR the alien returns to Emilia's backyard to get her help in saving beautiful Kokowanda Bay which has become polluted. The two work together and sing these catchy tunes as they learn about recycling, reusing, and reducing, to make the world a better place.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The mother and daughter team of Ruth and Emilia have a winner of a new album on their hands with Kokowanda Bay, a rock 'em sock 'em joyous explosion of fun and educational songs of friendship, caring, love and wondrous discovery and includes a cute alien visitor from another planet for good measure. The production value and super vocals are indeed other-worldly with great use of instruments. (Hey, isn't that an oboe!) Songs move the story merrily along. A fun time is guaranteed for all - on this or any planet!

Kokowanda Bay by Ruth & Emilia is finely produced, well paced and flows easily. The album speaks to its target age group with messages of love, acceptance and care for the Earth. The arrangements are totally appealing and the vocals are terrific. I absolutely recommend this with its very positive and educational messages. It encourages that we all, regardless of age, can do our bit to be proactive. This album does not talk down to its audience, but uplifts them to a brighter understanding. All done in a loving and creative way.

The production value is terrific. The vocals are lovely and the musicians are on their game. It has lots of positive messages about going green, recycling and the wonders of nature. This would make a terrific tool for schools with its participatory projects, especially regarding science and the environment. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Reviewed by John Wood, KIDS FIRST! Music Specialist

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Ruth and Emilia: Kokowanda Bay is a fun musical story that is extremely positive, while teaching younger viewers many important things about friendship. Even though this CD comes off as a children's CD, do not let that turn you away because this little package has lots to offer such as amazing singing, lyrics and important morals.

An adventurous team of Kokowanda Bay is formed when the planet Goopda sends an alien named UUR to Earth to save Kokowanda Bay. The team explores different ways to help the earth such as "going green" and planting flowers across Kokowanda Bay. They also participate in fun beach activities and learn about some of nature's cycles.

There are many reasons to love this CD and the biggest one is the vocals. Emilia Lopez-Ya�ez and Ruth Weber's voices are amazing! Their voices combined makes you want to listen to this CD for hours! Emilia and Ruth also wrote the song lyrics, which are also outstanding. They are creative and positive one thing that makes it even more fun is that they rhyme most of the time.

This CD is extremely kid-friendly, however, it moves very fast so it may be difficult for younger viewers to comprehend the entire story. The CD teaches young viewers the importance of friendship while also teaching different ways to take care of the environment.

I give Ruth and Emilia: Kokowanda Bay 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. This CD is widely available now. Look for it. Reviewed by Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR KOKOWANDA BAY BY RUTH AND EMILIA


WENDY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

Description:

Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Wendy is the new re-imagined version of the Peter Pan story and a very thoughtful and meaningful film. It is beautifully shot, and it reminds us of the power of imagination. Wendy is a very introspective story that combines adventure with drama but is not a colorful vibrant tale--instead it is filled with some sadness and a little gloom.

Director Benh Zeitlin co-wrote this film with his sister Eliza, a story where a little girl, Wendy, assumes the role of a mother figure to her brothers. The story explores adulthood and the challenges of a new self-acquired freedom.

Trains pass everyday just next to Wendy's house and everything shakes. Her life seems very methodical; she helps her mom at the dinner business that operates in the lower level of her house. On the top level, she plays and uses her imagination reading books and daydreaming about adventures. One day, when she is little, a kid disappears on top of a train in front of her pretty blue eyes. Years later, she decides to disappear on a train, too, followed by her brothers, curious to see what happens at the end of the journey. She meets Peter Pan and arrives in a remote volcano island. She also meets the kid that disappeared years ago, but he hasn't aged. She discovers the secrets behind staying forever as a kid as she learns the importance of growing and enjoying every stage of life.

The film was shot on location, in places that represented a real challenge to the crew. Zeitlin is a passionate filmmaker who challenged himself filming in 16mm, a format that is artistic but represents more efforts, technically speaking. The format definitively adds texture and works perfectly for the story. The young actors are excellent; they totally conveyed a wide range of emotions.

Wendy is about lots of things; definitively a coming-of-age film where Wendy deals with the fact of growing up and assuming responsibilities and being afraid of that. But it is also about family, respect for nature and grown-ups and older people. And this is probably my only issue with this film - at times, it feels that it has too many moments of symbolism which makes it hard to follow the main purpose.

The message of the film is we should always remember the good things about being a child, keeping a free spirit and use our imagination. But aging brings wisdom and we can't change the course of life.

I give Wendy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids age 10 to 18. Some images could be a little intense for young kids and this movie will not be very easy to understand for kids under 10. Wendy opens February 28, 2020.

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This soulful fantasy drama drew me in from the very beginning and never let up. It is so visually stimulating, with a lot of different camera angles and incredible stunts. The location is both beautiful and exotic. It's the perfect setting.

Wendy is a very different adaptation of the classic Peter Pan story. It follows a young girl named Wendy and her adventure to a mysterious island with her brothers. Once on the island, they discover the wonders of nature, freedom and the surprising struggles of life. Wendy fights to keep her family together, while trying to stay young.

Benh Zeitlin co-wrote the screenplay with his sister, Eliza Zeitlin, and also directs the film. The awesome thing about this twosome is that they didn't just, one day, think of this idea for a movie, but had the idea their whole lives. Benh also co-composed much of the dynamic music for the movie along with Dan Romer. Wendy was filmed on location in the Caribbean, using 16mm film versus a reliance on green screens for background settings. It features real nature! This movie has a wonderful cast of nonprofessional kids, such as Yashua Mack, who plays a very believable Peter. Gage and Gavin Naquin, as Wendy's brothers Douglas and James, have a visible bond with each other as brothers as well as in real life. My favorite character is Wendy (Devin France), because she is so brave, very curious, and has a kind spirit.

The messages of this film are that it is ok to grow up, but never loose joy, hope, wonder and freedom and to confront, not escape, life's difficulties. This movie has some mild profanity, some gory images and some very risky adventures, but the last is on purpose because they wanted these kids to be free to do fun and dangerous things.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults will also like this movie. Wendy opens in theaters on February 28, 2020.

Reviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like Wendy because it is a totally different and more realistic version of the Peter Pan story. I like how this movie follows Wendy's life story and point of view about life.

This film is about a little girl named Wendy who has a pair of twin brothers and they are raised by their single mother. Their mom owns a diner and she works very hard in order to take care of her three children. They live upstairs above the diner and, next to their house, is a train track where they can see the trains pass by very close to their bedroom window. When Wendy was about two or three years old, her neighbor, Thomas, who was about eight at the time, jumped on one of the trains and never came back. That memory hunts Wendy. Years pass by until one night, Wendy sees a train that's similar to the train Thomas jumped on and she decides to wake her brothers up and jump on the train. Once they are on the train, they meet Peter, a young boy who takes them to an island where a group of children and a group of very old people named "The Lost Boys" live.

Wendy is not the traditional Peter Pan classic tale or movie that we are used to seeing. This movie is unique because Wendy comes from a low income and hard working family. She is raised by her mother only. The kids are dirty, sweaty and untidy. They are very hyper, wild and adventurous. They use foul language and fist fight with each other. There is only one graphic scene with blood in it. There is no Tinkerbell and the creation of Captain Hook is very original. It is a great new take on this fairy tale story.

The moral of this movie is to always be young at heart and to use your imagination and creativity in life. Wendy physically grows old, but in her heart she is young. She believed in helping her brothers overcome their sadness and bad experiences on the island, in order for them to continue to be young.

I give Wendy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Children under 10 could watch this film under the supervision of an adult. Wendy was released in theatres February 28, 2020.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WENDY


ONWARD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

Description:

Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Oh my gosh, I loved this film from Disney/Pixar. Perhaps my favorite Pixar film yet! Lovely story with a wonderful message, beautiful told and, of course, beautifully animated. I could watch this multiple times and shared it with my daughter who is 12. The humor is great, without bowing to potty humor, thankfully. The voice actors are superb in their character portrayals (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) and Octavia Spencer as The Manticore is the icing on the cake. Love it love it love it. Go see it. You'll be glad you did. Reviewed by Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

As of now, this film is easily one of my favorite Pixar films. I adore the touching story and especially the world building. Overall, Onward is an amazing film.

Onward takes in a world much like our own, except it's populated with fantasy creatures. We follow two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot as they discover magic still exists and thus go on a quest to revive their father for one day.

So, first the animation. I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. Since it is Pixar, the animation is absolutely outstanding. But, I specifically want to discuss the world in which Onward takes place. There are so many creative and diverse character designs and representations of mythological creatures (which I appreciate as a mythology fan). The world building is probably some of the best I've ever seen. I have contemplated the idea of a suburban fantasy, so I'm really happy seeing that idea brought to life. There's a lot of really funny gags surrounding this idea, such as an historically accurate "Dungeons and Dragons" and unicorns becoming the equivalent of raccoons. You can tell the artists really enjoyed designing the settings.

However, the world is not the only enjoyable aspect of this film. The characters are especially fun. The two brothers, Ian and Barley, have amazing chemistry. This is probably thanks to their voices actors - Tom Holland playing Ian and Chris Pratt playing Barley. They already have a connection from the Marvel movies, so their relationship feels real. But Ian and Barley aren't the only great characters in this movie. I would say my personal favorite character is The Manticore, played by Octavia Spencer. The Manticore is probably the funniest character and I really like her friendship with the brothers' mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Speaking of which, Onward is really funny. There's a specific scene involving The Manticore that caused me to laugh probably the hardest I've ever laughed at a Pixar movie. There are also a lot of gags involving the fact that the world is populated with fantasy creatures.

And as expected from a Pixar film, it's pretty emotional. And, given the context of the plot, I feel this might be one of Pixar's most heart wrenching films. When you think about it, who wouldn't want to bring someone back, even for one day?

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. It comes out on March 6, 2020 so look for it.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Onward is a spectacular film! I especially enjoyed the very well written story line and the animation. This film had me laughing and crying, as well as sitting on the edge of my seat. The characters are funny and very well animated, and remind me of humans that I know and love.

Onward is about two elf brothers named Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt). Their dad passed away when the Barley was very young and Ian was about to be born. All the two brothers want is to see their dad again. After getting their dad's old wizard staff and a spell to bring him back for a day, they find it is a lot harder than it seems and they need to work together to solve the puzzle.

The characters in this film are voiced by some very well-known names. Tom Holland (Spiderman movies) voices Ian Lightfoot and Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) plays Barley Lightfoot. Julia Louis-Dreyfus voices Laurel Lightfoot, Ian and Barley's mom. Manticore, the fierce creature who helps the brothers, is voiced by Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures).

Onward has everything that a fairy tale adventure film needs. The whole film is filled with magic and magical creatures like a fairy tale films has, but it also contains just the right amount of action to make it qualify as an adventure film as well. Onward's story line is fantastic! Every single detail is spot-on. My only problem with this film is that the pace starts a little slowly, but it picks up as the story develops. Other than that, I love this movie!

My favorite character in this movie is Barley, Ian's big brother. He is my favorite because most of his lines are very funny and he had me laughing every time he opened his mouth. I admire him because the other creatures think Barley is weird, but he is confident in who he wants to be and he is always himself.

The message of this film is that sometimes the very thing that you are looking for is right in front of you. I give Onward 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Onward opens in theaters March 6, 2020, so be sure to look for it! Now I will take my family to see this movie. By Eva W, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This animated fantasy film, directed and co-written by Dan Scanlon, is heart-warming and magical! Onward is a hilarious movie with terrific animation and special effects. Jeff and Mychael Dana's musical compositions are spectacular and really drive the flow of the movie.

Onward is about two teenage elves that receive a magical staff left to them by their father when he passed away. Their father was a magical wizard and created a way for them to use a magic spell to bring him back for 24 hours. Unfortunately, when they try to use it, the staff malfunctions and only half of their father returns. So, the brothers go on an adventurous journey to find the phoenix gem, so they can bring back the other half of their father. The catch is they only have 24 hours to do it, while solving the mystery using weird clues and some magic to get to see their dad again.

The protagonists are Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and Barkley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt). The chemistry between the brothers is amazing, which is probably because Tom and Chris have worked with each other before. All the characters are well-developed. My favorite character is The Manticore (Octavia Spencer), because she is extremely funny. I love how she becomes the fearless warrior she was before the world stopped believing in magic. My favorite scene is when Ian uses the magic staff to make a gas can bigger and accidentally shrinks Barkley. Barkley jumps up and down, because he thought the magic worked, and then realizes it only worked on him. It is pretty funny. I also think it is clever how the unicorns play the role of raccoons and dragons act as pets. The special effects in this movie are spot on. I love the scene where Ian tries to bring his father back and everything flies around the room. Other scenes where Ian uses the magic staff are pretty cool too.

Even though the special effects are great, they are not what make this movie magical. The message of the film does. Many of the characters in this film have stopped believing in their own magic. In order for them to move onward, they need to believe in themselves, each other and the magic they each have. Adults may want to be cautious with children that have lost loved ones, as it might be disturbing to them.

Onward is an adventurous, family-friendly movie. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults will enjoy this too. Move onward to see this film in theaters opening in theaters March 6, 2020. Reviewed by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Onward is fun, exiting, adventurous, and an emotional roller coaster. Pixar delivers another wonderful film that is very appealing to new generations and easy to relate, despite characters from another world.

Onward is a computer animated, urban fantasy film directed by Dan Scanlon, who also co-wrote the script with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin. The story follows brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), two teenage elf's who embark on an extraordinary quest. Their goal is to try and see if there is magic left in the world, in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were younger. This is a story about bonding between father and son, and between two brothers.

Tom Holland, as Ian, the younger of the two brothers delivers a very subtle, but engaging interpretation that makes the audience immediately connect with his loner behavior. Chris Pratt, as Barley, the eldest brother, is vibrant, optimistic and his personality is almost opposite to his younger brother. Octavia Spencer plays Manticore, a fearless creature who can fly and sends people on quests). I absolutely love Octavia's performance and Manticore is my favorite character. I've always loved Octavia as an actress, so I was really exited that she voices this character. Another great voice is Laurel, the brother's mother, by super fun and charismatic Julia Louise-Dreyfus.

The animation in this movie is very detailed and sometimes photo realistic. Pixar has developed digital animation over the years to a fine art, and truly this film displays that. You can see so many details in the characters' facial expressions. If you look very closely you can see that the elves all have freckles! There is also a lot of emotion in this movie and the animation displays it so well.

I'm pretty sure everyone who watches this movie will cry at one point. I sure did. One of the fascinating aspects of Onward is how these fantasy creatures interact with each other and go through a journey of redemption and self discovery.

Onward is entertaining all the way, but some jokes don't work out and, at some point, it's a little hard to feel fully invested in one of the characters that appears only from his waist to his feet.

The message of this film is - believe. The magic in the film is a metaphor for our own ability of make things happen and letting out the light within ourselves.

I give Onward 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 13. Make sure to check out Onward in theaters on March 6, 2020. By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Onward is Disney/Pixar's new action-packed animated movie with lots of magical laughs! There's hilarious physical humor, exciting chases and fights, but it's also a very moving film. You really feel the main characters' sense of loss at not growing up with their father.

Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) are teenage elf brothers who live in a suburban mushroom house in a land that was formerly full of magic. They use a spell to bring their dad back to life, but only get his bottom half! They have 24 hours to complete a quest to finish the spell and see him one more time. All they need to finish the spell is the Phoenix gem, but finding it proves a lot more complicated than they first think. While they are working to bring him back, they have to bring their dad's legs and feet along with them for the ride.

The animators have created a beautiful imaginative world with lots of clever details that will make you want to watch again and again. The voice acting is top notch, with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt showing a range of emotions and humor as Ian and Barley. Octavia Spencer as Manticore brings her character to life with frantic energy. The introduction of her character is hilarious! She's a former magical adventurer turned family restaurant owner. I really like the part when Barley shrinks down to a tiny size due to Ian messing up a spell. I also like when Ian turns their boat into a cheese puff so they can eat their own transportation! I love Officer Colt and his catchphrase where he asks everyone if they are "working hard or hardly working."

There are a lot of positive messages in this film about family and loyalty. Another message is that you can go searching for things you've never had in life, but you might find they were right with you all along. Parents of younger kids might want to watch out for some of the risky actions the brothers take, like when Ian walks off a cliff, trusting in his magic to keep him safe.

I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 17, and adults will like it too. You can see Onward in theaters everywhere starting March 6, 2020. By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love Onward! It is a whimsical story filled with colorful and eccentric characters. Pixar nailed the animation, and the cast of voices is pure perfection.

Onward takes place in a magical world, that isn't quite so magical anymore. Brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) are complete opposites in every way. Brave Barley is never is afraid to take a risk, especially when it involves magic. Ian, on the other hand, is quirky, and lacks confidence. Their mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), is an important character as she is the glue keeping their family together.

The movie is inspired by the director, Dan Scanlon's own childhood. I love the setting of this movie. It takes place in a modern town, where everyone lives in mushroom-shaped houses. Unicorns, once a majestic creature, are now more like raccoons than anything else. Adorable mini dragons are kept as pets. The voice-over actors are wonderful. Mel Rodriguez, who voices Officer Bronco, has the funniest laugh. Octavia Spencer, who voices The Manticore, acts as wild as a Manticore should. Tom Holland (Ian) perfectly portrays an awkward kid. My favorite character is Barley, because he is a classic rock loving boy.

The messages of this movie are that family is the most important thing and sometimes what you're looking for has been with you the whole time. This film does have some magical scenes that kids should not imitate. It also reminds us to always pay your parking tickets.

I give Onward 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. People with siblings will especially like it as will adults. Onward opens in theaters March 6, 2020. By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR ONWARD


CALL OF THE WILD, THE (2020)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION

Description:

A sled dog struggles for survival in the wilds of the Yukon.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Call of the Wild is an amazing film based on a book with the same name by Jack London that follows the story of a massive, clumsy dog named Buck, who gets taken away from his master, is forced into slavery and struggles trying to discover his true destiny.

When the movie begins, Buck is taken away from his home and must adapt to his new environment in the wilderness. I really like the way the movie shows him changing to fit in. They use a giant, black, shadow of a wolf with glowing, yellow eyes. Every time Buck needs to make an important decision, the wolf is there leading him to the best path.

The animation and CGI in this movie are great; all the dogs look incredibly realistic. There is a dog fight between Buck and another dog that is very intense and the dogs act just like normal dogs act when fighting each other. The cinematography, with the visual effects, is really outstanding. Each different landscape has thousands of small details that showcase the amazing power of mother nature, which is exactly what the movie wants to show to us.

My favorite character is Buck the dog; he is playful, kind, funny and all-around relatable character. Buck is the main character in the movie, even though he doesn't talk. My favorite scene is when John Thornton, Buck's final owner, is trying to drink his bottle of whiskey and Buck keeps knocking his glass out of his hand. Eventually, Buck steals the bottle and buries it in the yard. This scene was hilarious and it made me think that Buck was saying, "no drinking."

There are two different messages that this movie offers. One is, "you don't need to hurt people to be a leader; be kind and you will get your best team." The second is, "Mother Nature is powerful, don't try to take too much from it, only take what you need so the world can stay as beautiful as it is today."

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18 because some jokes most kids won't understand. This film comes out in theaters February 21, 2020. Look for it.

Reviewed by Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

My feelings about this movie are quite mixed. On one side, the use of CGI helps to portray the strong emotions of the dogs. On the other hand, there are many scenes containing brutal animal abuse that many audiences will find disturbing and unsettling. The storyline, however, is incredibly well-structured and detailed.

The Call of the Wild is about Buck, a fearless, strong dog who has been through so much in his life. After being shut out on the porch of his California home, Buck's name is called and he finds himself in the hands of a dog seller, who locks him inside of a box for transport. A while later, he is recruited as a puller for a dogsled that delivers mail in Alaska. After a journey full of twists and turns, Buck discovers a whole new world with someone he loves and trusts by his side.

Some of the lead characters include John Thornton (Harrison Ford) Perrault (Omar Sy) and of course, Buck. What really stands out is the CGI that is essential in expressing the emotions of the animals. It is really effective in this aspect of the story. The dogs look almost human! With such emotion in their eyes, and their actions, there is barely anything that humans can't relate to. (Except for the furriness!) My favorite part of this movie is in fact the CGI. The difference it makes in it is emotionally impactful and helps the audience feel attachment to the characters, and love for them too. It improves the quality and aesthetic which makes the viewing experience vivid.

This movie strongly conveys a message of how perseverance is enlightening and can make anyone a stronger, more intelligent person who can take on more difficult challenges than ever before. It is definitely successful in signifying this empowering lesson through symbolism and emotion, and definitely reminds me to push through the problems that I run into in life. There is something that the audience should look out for. There is some extremely aggressive behavior that is inflicted upon animals, and between other characters. Several weapons are used, such as a whip, a bat, and guns. Minimal amounts of blood are shown. There really isn't any bad language, however.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can find The Call of the Wild in theaters on February 21st, 2020.

Reviewed by Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Call of the Wild is an action-packed suspenseful movie that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. The film follows many CGI created animals that seem very inconsistent and too expressive to be real animals. Throughout the film, there are laugh-out-loud jokes to lighten the mood from its intense plot and dialogue. The film has amazing landscapes showing the Yukon terrain and prospector theme.

The Call of the Wild follows a dog named Buck as he gets kidnapped and joins a sled dog team. At first, Buck doesn't seem to fit in anywhere, but throughout the film, he grows to be a more confident dog and learns to face challenges head-on. One day, Buck meets a man named John Thornton (Harrison Ford) who sees the abusive condition Buck is in and decides to save him. For the rest of the movie, John and Buck's friendship grows and you get a glimpse of the sweetest duo ever.

For The Call of the Wild, the CG images are critical. Even though the CGI is inconsistent, I give major props to all the visual artists for their work. A movie like this is heavily reliant on CGI and, frankly would not be possible without it. Harrison Ford once again proves that no matter whether it's Star Wars or Indiana Jones, his acting is spot on and he never disappoints. The photography is extremely crisp and makes you really feel the wilderness environment.

The Call of the Wild is rated PG and advertised as a family-friendly movie, but I disagree with this rating because throughout the entire film, the dogs face multiple levels of abuse that will make you put your hands over your eyes. The overall tone of the movie is sad and dark. It is a real tear-jerker and just makes you want to help these poor dogs. However the movie does teach viewers the importance of loyalty and companionship.

The Call of the Wild portrays multiple levels of animal abuse and cruelty, so I recommend it for ages 13 to 18 and give it 2.5 out of 5 stars due to graphics, but well-portrayed relationship between a man and a dog. The Call of the Wild opens in theater February 21, 2020.

Reviewed by Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 13

The Call of the Wild has such wonderful sets, cinematography and CGI. Although the film is pleasing to watch, the plotline itself is predictable and redundant. There are so many films out there about a man's best friend and there was nothing in The Call of the Wild that sets it apart from them.

Based on the novel by Jack London, the storyline follows a dog named Buck who is stolen from his home on a ranch. He is sold to become a sled dog to deliver mail. Buck has many encounters with a man named John Thornton who eventually becomes Buck's owner. They become very close and John takes him on a trip to the other side of the mountain in honor of his late son, because it is a trip that he would have loved. Unfortunately, another man named Hal, whose judgment is clouded by greed, believes that John is taking this trip because he knows where the gold is. Hal follows him with ill intentions. Because of this whole journey Buck, in the end, finds where he belongs.

Harrison Ford, who plays John Thornton, embodies his role and shows the audience the bond that Thornton develops with Buck. It's almost as if he sees Buck as his own son. The dog that plays Buck is named Buckley. He was a stray dog in Kansas and director Chris Sanders and his wife adopted him because he was the same breed as the dog in the novel. Buckley went from being on the streets to starring in a movie where he gives an amazing performance.

The story is set in Alaska where the scenery is quite beautiful. They capture the majesty of the frozen mountains and even the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The CGI for the dogs is photorealistic. It is super cute how they show the dogs' emotions by their facial expressions.

My favorite parts of this film are the various shots of the scenery. It really looks so beautiful in both the daytime and nighttime shots. I loved seeing it and it makes me want to visit those places.

The message of this film is about realizing that life is a journey and will be full of challenges, but through these challenges you will find your place. If Buck wasn't kidnapped from his home on the ranch he never would have truly been happy. Without the challenges that he faced, he would have never gotten his freedom in the wild. Everything happened for a reason, from being tortured to meeting John Thornton.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Even adults might enjoy this film. The Call of the Wild comes out in theaters on February 21, 2020, so check it out!

Reviewed by Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CALL OF THE WILD, THE (2020)


EMMA.
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOCUS FEATURES

Description:

Jane Austen's beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending, is reimagined in this. Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Emma is a cheerful adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved novel. Readers of Jane Austen can rejoice as her characters come to screen. Others might not find this to be their cup of tea.

In this adaptation the "handsome, clever and rich" matchmaker Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor Joy) pursues adventuring through matches and romanticism to find love.

Anya Taylor Joy, as Emma, gives the best performance. Anya has grown from a being newcomer, and this demanding performance proves that, allowing for eloquent speaking and characterization. Her conversations with other characters are straight out of the classic Victorian tale; keeping in mind, she is American. Her love interests are Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley, a dashingly critical friend, and Callum Turner as Frank Churchill, a rich gentleman. I also enjoyed Mia Goth as Harriet, as she helps Emma find her match.

Director Autumn de Wilde is artistic, but the pacing could be tighter. This is a slow movie as several scenes are long, drawn-out conversations. I feel this aspect is best achieved in books, though some movies can capture the audience's attention like that. This movie really must be your forte for it to be enjoyable. The character's parlance is always olden English, and there is a loss of stakes. The score by Isobel Waller-Bridge is authentically Georgian capturing the grounded roots of genteel women living in England.

The message of this film is to not rush love, as Emma and Harriet let time prove its worth after hasty pursuits. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, due to brief nudity, even though younger kids might not be interested in watching this. The movie releases in theaters on February 21, 2020, so check it out.

Reviewed by Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED EMMA.


SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help it defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on it.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like this movie because is based on one of my favorite game characters. Sonic The Hedgehog is a live-action film--except for Sonic who is a CGI character (Ben Schwartz)--based on the global blockbuster video game franchise from Sega.

The story of Sonic the Hedgehog follows Sonic, a small blue hedgehog who has super-speed powers. When Sonic was younger, his owl guardian gave him a bag of rings to help him escape to different planets in case anyone discovers and kidnaps him because of his powers. One night, after he comes to Earth, he is playing baseball by himself and he gets upset because he realizes he is very lonely. Sonic runs in circles as fast as he can because he is upset. He is so fast that blue energy comes out of his body causing the whole town to black out.

This power outage causes big problems for Sonic who is pursued by a crazy military man named Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) or Dr. Eggman, as Sonic calls him. Fortunately for Sonic, the town's sheriff (James Marsden) catches him and helps protect him from Dr. Robotnik.

The graphics in the movie are excellent, and, with the new Sonic design, it looks like Sonic is real. The new design works better than the Sonic design Paramount Pictures had before redoing this movie. The special effects are impressive too, such as Sonic's blue lightning which also looks real. Ben Schwartz did and very funny voiceover for the Sonic character. He is really full of energy.

The moral of this movie is that you are never alone in the world. There will always be someone for you to be your friend, to talk to and to be by your side when you need it. When Sonic is feeling alone, Sheriff Tom, or The Doughnut Lord, as Sonic calls him, takes Sonic to protect him and help him get to the Mushroom planet where Sonic needs to go.

Sonic the Hedgehog is filled with a lot of action and fun. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. If I could, I would give this movie 100 out of 100 stars. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18 plus older adults. Sonic the Hedgehog comes out in theaters on February 14, 2020.

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Sonic the Hedgehog fails to evoke the propulsive rush of its source material. There's so much possibility in translating this character and the mythology he brings with him from the video game to the big screen. Unfortunately, this film gets bogged down in familiar family film antics.

An adaptation of the popular game franchise of the same name, Sonic the Hedgehog follows Sonic (Ben Schwartz), a carefree, lightning-quick blue hedgehog who hides out, in fear of what those with villainous intent would do with his super-speed. Trouble comes calling in the form of a genius named Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who is brought in to deal with the growing threat of a rogue, ultra-powerful hedgehog. Sonic convinces a small-town police officer (James Marsden), who dreams of working in the big city, to help him retrieve a few of his golden rings to help Sonic flee this world and move on to a new one.

Jim Carrey delivers a next-level performance as Dr. Ivo Robotnik, and he's easily Sonic's most valuable asset. Robotnik is another entry in the pantheon of zany, almost manic characters Carrey plays so beautifully. Carrey hasn't been this in control of his comedic strengths in a long while and its great to see him back in his element. His performance is on an entirely different wavelength than the rest of the film and, yet, it feels like he knows exactly what this movie should be. Kooky, frenetic and even more cartoonish than the film's CGI lead, Jim Carrey gives Sonic the Hedgehog a boost of energy it desperately needs. Ben Schwartz works well as the blue speedster at the center of the film. There's an innocence and playfulness to Sonic that Schwartz radiates nicely in his vocal performance.

I don't understand the screenwriter's choice to coop Sonic up in a car for much of the film's runtime. A character that is known for his speed finally arrives on the big screen, and they chose to confine him to a car with James Marsden. At the point at which the road trip begins, it feels as though you see every moment on the journey ahead coming far before you're supposed to. When Sonic and his pal arrive at their destination, they reach a visually exciting climax, but no payoff can make up for the bland route that is taken to get there. These games are not the most modern and this adaptation does its best to rectify that with countless references to current trends and popular culture to middling results. Even so, Sonic the Hedgehog struggles to keep its finger on the pulse of the culture.

I give this film 2 out of 5 stars and an age recommendation of 4 to 12 for some peril and crude humor. Sonic the Hedgehog is not the disaster many expected, nor the surprise sensation nobody saw coming; it's just fine, and I was hoping for more than that from this film. Fans of this character will relish getting to see him on the big screen, but I'm not sure I can confidently recommend this to those who are not die-hard Sonic fans. Sonic the Hedgehog releases in theaters February 14, 2020

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I've never played Sonic the video game and was never a really big fan of the character but I really like this movie. It is very well done and great for the whole family. I like the animation and I love the acting. The story is very human and has very little to do with video games. It is about friendship and friends that become a family.

Sonic the Hedgehog is about a blue hedgehog that ends up on earth and he's trying not to be discovered. He lost a ring that helps him transport to places. When humans find Sonic, he has to run away (something he does well because he moves at super sonic speeds). Sonic feels lonely and wants a friend. When he meets Tom, a police officer (James Marsden), they develop a great "bromance," but they have to face Mr. Robotnik who is obsessed with everything fast and wants to experiment with Sonic. In their journey, both learn they don't have to run away from their problems.

I love all the characters! Dr. Robotnik is so funny and pleasing to watch. He is played by Jim Carrey, who is one of my new favorite actors. His performance is amazing and he is definitely a fascinating villain. He is graceful, entertaining and full of life. I also love the character Sonic; even though it is an animated character he really looks realistic. I could really see all the details in Sonic and I felt like he was pretty much a stuffed animal, opposed to a virtual digital character. Sonic is played by Ben Schwartz, an amazing voice actor who gives the character a great personality.

It's so amazing to see a character that was made about 30 years ago continuing to fill children's hearts with joy. I think Sonic is 100% absolutely adorable and all the characters are so fun to watch. There are a lot of action scenes and wonderful colors in the film as well. The music adds so much energy; it is catchy and upbeat. Finally, I like all the jokes and they definitely made me laugh. To add to that, I love how Sonic gives everyone their own special nickname. That gives the movie its own special touch and I guess I'll nick name this film "Blue Speedy Furry with Heart."

I give Sonic the Hedgehog five out of five stars and recommended it for ages 4 to 13. The message of this film is that friends in our lives bring us the most joy and they are the family we chose. Another message is that humans will always be more important than technology. Dr. Robotnik keeps trying to make technology a greater power than humans, but Sonic and everyone prove that our simple life and connections are what really matter. Sonic the Hedgehog opens February 14, 2020. Look for it!

Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really love this movie! Sonic the Hedgehog's team has created a movie based on the SEGA video game of the same name. There are amazing special effects from the beginning to the end. I love how it includes parts from the SEGA game, such as Sonic running in vertical loops and his spin attacks. I felt as if I was watching a live version of the actual game!

Sonic the Hedgehog is about a blue, fast and funny hedgehog named Sonic (Ben Schwartz) who has to escape his home in another world and ends up on Earth. He accidentally causes a power outage and has to hide out in Green Hill, Montana. The government tries to hunt him down and hires Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to capture him. Sonic meets a cop named Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) or Donut Lord, as Sonic calls him, and Tom agrees to help Sonic, find his rings and defeat Dr. Ivo Robotnik, who wants to use Sonic's power to take over the world.

The lead characters are Sonic, Tom Wachowski and Dr. Ivo Robotnik. It is very clever that the movie takes place in Green Hill, Montana, since the first level of the actual SEGA game is called Green Hill Zone. My favorite character is Sonic because he is funny. I love how he is made to have lives, just like he does in the SEGA game. One of my favorite scenes is when Dr. Ivo Robotnik has a virtual reality screen behind him and it shows a dinosaur running after him. Jim Carrey uses his flexibility to lower his head to make it look like the dinosaur bit it off. The movie is filled with special effects, such as explosions and lightning when Sonic runs. Sonic's CGI perfectly match his character in the video game. This is something the producer went back to correct before releasing the film. The music ties into what happens for each part of the movie; however, I was a little disappointed that the song Super Sonic used in the trailer is not in the movie.

The main message of Sonic the Hedgehog is that you should consider home wherever people that care the most about you are. There isn't much to be forewarned about besides Dr. Ivo Robotnik uses some minor foul language.

I rate Sonic the Hedgehog 5 out of 5 rings and recommend it for kids ages 6 to 18. Adults, especially gamers, will also love this movie. Since it's based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game by SEGA, it may remind them of their own childhood. It's a great action-packed, family movie. Catch Sonic the Hedgehog in theaters starting February 14, 2020. Be sure to stay for the credits.

Reviewed by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SONIC THE HEDGEHOG


HOPE RANCH

Running Time:
85 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
VOD, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

A young girl and her mother are in danger of losing their ranch after the death of her military father. With a little help from their majestic white horse, they hatch a plan to save the ranch and learn to never lose hope.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I personally enjoyed Hope Ranch. This inspirational family drama kept me engaged, yet I wished that the storyline was a little more complex. I also wished the father (Jon Schneider) had a little more screen time. We don't quite get invested in him before he is gone.

The storyline is about a mother and daughter who go through a strong testing of their faith when the father goes off for a final duty in battle and does not return. The mother has to deal with the possible foreclosure of their ranch property and her daughter's faith is temporarily shattered after her dad is killed in battle.

The production quality of this film is outstanding. The picture resolution and sound are clear, the cinematography is beautiful. The subtle color scheme works well for a mid-western ranch in a mountainous region.

The message of "keeping the faith" is very straightforward and appropriate for its target audience. There are no deeper or entangled themes that might confuse the viewer. The subject of potentially losing one's home and losing a loved one in war is very relatable to many people and a very realistic storyline.

I give Hope Ranch 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 14, plus adults. Hope Ranch is available on VOD March 3 and DVD March 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Kimberly M., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I really enjoyed Hope Ranch. It has a wonderful storyline and involves horses, which I love.

Hope Ranch is about a girl and her mother trying to save their ranch after her father dies at war. It's well structured and easy to follow and also deep at the same time.

It is live action with lots of beautiful landscapes. The camera explores lots of interesting angles. The protagonist, Grace (Grace Van Dien) loves her home, her family and her horse, Faith. But, she loses her faith after her father dies, which makes her horse's name ironic. The costumes are suitable to the story. The sets are either at the farm or the church. The music is very dark and emotional, enhancing the feeling that something is about to happen.

The message of this film is that even in the worst, darkest time of your life, if you have hope and faith, everything will turn out all right in the end. The only negative behavior is that Grace yells at her mother a few too many times.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Hope Ranch comes out on VOD March 3 and DVD March 10, 2020. Look for it. Reviewed by Kayenta C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Although the message of this film is quite uplifting and can help any person, it is directed at a Christian audience with its faith-based focus. I found the plot a bit slow in developing and the topic of the arguments between the characters pretty repetitive.

The storyline entails a mother Rebecca (Marisa Brown), a father Mike (John Schneider), and their teenage daughter Grace (Grace Van Dien), who move to a large, countryside ranch. Everything goes downhill when Grace's father is deployed in the military and passes away in battle. After this, she and her mom struggle to pay the mortgage and must do anything to save the farm, including hold on to hope, have faith and believe that not all is lost. Grace is a very emotionally driven character. She cares so much about the ranch and will do anything she can to make sure that she and her mom can keep it and continue to live a full life together.

What really stands out most to me in Hope Ranch is the music. The tempo and instruments in every scene tie everything together in an emotionally expressive way. The music helps the viewers to connect deeply with the storyline and the situations that the characters are experiencing. This film definitely promotes the admired social behavior of helping others in need and sticking together in times of difficulty, which is an effective choice, as it helps other people in desperate situations.

The message of this movie is that you should never give up or lose hope, and that if you persevere through tough times, it will only make you stronger than ever before. It is definitely successful in portraying its message.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find Hope Ranch on VOD on March 3, 2020 and on DVD March 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Hope Ranch is an inspiring tale of loss and the power to overcome the obstacles life throws your way. Though the scriptwriting is a little clich�, the cinematography makes up for it. Hope Ranch impresses with its high quality production. The cast lacks a bit, apart from Marisa Brown.

Hope Ranch is about a girl, Grace (Grace Van Dien), struggling with the passing of her father and, in turn, acts out against her mother. Grace's mother, Rebecca (Marisa Brown), is trying to pay off their debt so they can keep their family farm, all while getting her daughter under control. As tension rises, both mother and daughter begin to lose hope - including hope for Grace's horse, Faith, to not be sold off to pay their rising debt.

This film starts off slowly and picks up pace slightly. When it comes to the storyline, despite Grace Van Dien's expertise, it's a challenge to make Grace's character come to life. The dialogue between Chris and Grace is, at times, embarrassing to watch, due to some awkward lines. These two are positioned to be the film's power couple, but they are also meant to be best friends. Many scenes between Chris and Grace are uncomfortable to the viewer. Although the screenplay doesn't excel at the romance in the film, it successfully delivers other messages quite well, especially when Rebecca is slowly breaking down from the pressure of holding the farm and her family together. The portrayal of feeling genuine pain is truly astonishing. I give Marisa Brown credit for holding this film together, particularly in this scene.

The message of this film is to never give up hope. No matter what is going on in your life, you will find a way through it. Whether it is with God or with your friends, that time will surely come to pass.

I give this film 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13. You can find this motivational film on VOD March 3 and DVD March 10, 2020.

Reviewed by Joshitha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HOPE RANCH


I GOT YOU A PRESENT!
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-5

Category: FAMILY
E-BOOK, AGES 2-5 series

Media:
Book

Distributor:
REIMAGINE PR

Description:

A quest for the perfect birthday present leads to ever grander (and ever more imperfect) gift ideas from our hero, a duck. "I wanted to get you the greatest present ever,!" our narrator tells us. But somehow, none of the best ideas seem to pan out. First, there was the pair of hand-knitted birthday socks (have you ever tried knitting birthday socks?). Then, the ten-scoop ice cream cone (a disaster to carry), the magic kit (it disappeared, just like magic!), the apple juice-fueled jet pack (still a few kinks to work out) and the dinosaur (I couldn't find one anywhere). And now, time has run out, and our narrator still has nothing to give. Or, maybe there is something after all. Something that contains all those awesome gifts in one. Something that can be enjoyed again and again, just by turning the pages.

In their debut picture book, Emmy Award-winning children's television writers Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan have taken a metafiction approach (speaking directly to "you"). Cale Atkinson's is the illustrator. Though a book about finding the perfect birthday present is itself the perfect birthday present, it's also a simple a good read year round because it offers character education lesson on perseverance. There is also a live show.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I really enjoyed this book. The illustrations are engaging and brightly colored, which will attract young children. The story itself is a fun read with a lovely message. Also, the character is very likable.

The story is about a quest for the perfect birthday present. The main character does not know what to get a friend for his birthday explores various options and why they are not suitable. The character finally comes up with a clever solution. The story flows very well and the ending is lovely. It makes sense and is very appropriate for preschool and early elementary age children. A young child could be asked questions about birthday gifts and what to get for friends and family. One could even ask them which gift idea they liked the best.

This is an e-book with visual appealing the illustrations. They really make the book. It is primarily entertaining but also has a message about birthday celebrations with people who are special to you. It might make kids start thinking about what they want for their birthday. (how fun is that?) My only concern is the vocabulary. I am not an expert in this, but I would pass it on to someone who is, because there are some words that might not be the most suitable for the target age.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

See adult comments

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KIDS FIRST ALL STAR I GOT YOU A PRESENT!


TO THE BEAT! BACK 2 SCHOOL

Running Time:
92 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
VOD, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

Sisterhood is tested, rivalries heat up and new bonds are formed when students go back to their performing arts school to compete for an all-expense paid summer scholarship program to a prestigious Conservatory of Fine Arts.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

To The Beat! Back 2 School is very entertaining and witty. Most typical teens will enjoy this film because they can easily relate to the story, as it presents situations that most high school student may face in real life.

The film is a high-school comedy with typical ingredients such as the nerdy students, the pretty student, the funny student and a common target. Its appeal because of its catchy plot, a variety of attractive and talented performers from varied racial backgrounds, and their (mostly) well-chosen wardrobe and background music.

The beginning of the film has some flow problems, but it quickly recovers about fifteen minutes into the film. Keep in mind that this is a sequel to To The Beat!, which I recommend watching first to know who is who and avoid confusion. In watching this, I found knowing the characters a little challenging. After I realized who is who, I could focus on the plot. The characters, settings, most costumes, soundtrack, plot, and selected talented cast makes this film appealing for any teenager. I enjoyed some of the jokes and funny behavior from some of the characters.

As to conflicts, it gets complicated because both the main and supporting characters have some form of internal conflict he or she is facing and must solve in order to grow. I like seeing a film making these internal conflicts part of the plot and trying to wrap up everything at the end of the film. The film drew me in by addressing these conflicts and showing how the characters come to terms with overcoming their obstacles. I also found alluring the use of clean humor and well-timed sarcasm.

I enjoyed most visuals, although some scenes are so dark it is difficult to see what's going on, like the ones in the dance practice room. The acting is pretty basic and could benefit from a bit more work from the secondary characters. The big plus for me is the inclusion of kids from multiple racial backgrounds, without making that a big deal. I also appreciate that the film does not go into any gender-related issues. The film is definitely entertaining, plus it touches on family and friendship values.

The message of this film is to about finding yourself. You should be aware that there is some inappropriate language, scenes where hatred is displayed and some inappropriate clothing.

I give To The Beat! Back 2 School 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18 plus adults. The message of this film is available Digital and DVD May 10, 2020 so don't miss it.. Be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Carolina S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewers

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

To The Beat! Back 2 School is a hilarious and entertaining new feature film! This film is so fun and there is never a dull moment. If you are looking for an engaging drama-packed movie, this is the one for you.

Tensions at Valley Performing Arts grow high when the twins, Mackie and Mia, return from spring break. The students are put to the test when offered the opportunity to audition for one of three scholarships to the Triad Conservatory of Fine Arts in New York City. Between the huge scholarship, Mia's new boyfriend and Mackie's newfound friend in her longtime rival, Avery, things are bound to heat up.

There are a bunch of incredible aspects to this film. One of my personal favorites is the writing. Susan Bernhardt and Jillian Clare crafted an incredible story that has plenty of plot twists and turns to make it engaging to watch. The actors are extremely believable in their roles at Valley Performing Arts. Sydney Bourne, who plays Cassidy, is insanely talented. I love when actors and actresses that play villains can make me genuinely dislike their character enough to stir emotion within me, and Sydney Bourne was able to do just that. One small problem I found with To The Beat! Back 2 School is that since I hadn't watched the first movie, the first few minutes were a little bit confusing, due to my lack of background knowledge. I really enjoyed how the soundtrack for the movie keeps the scenes lively and energetic. Another thing I thought kept the movie lively was the stellar choreography. Every dance scene is visually appealing and kept my eyes glued to the screen.

To The Beat! Back 2 School shows us that people can change and we should not to judge a book by its cover. Making instantaneous assumptions about a person doesn't tell you much about them. In order to understand a person, you should get to know them first. Another valuable message is taught is about respecting other people for who they are, as a person and not based off of their talent.

I give To The Beat! Back 2 School 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend for kids ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Make sure to check out this film March 10th, 2020 on VOD and DVD. Trust me, you won't want to miss it!

Reviewed by Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED TO THE BEAT! BACK 2 SCHOOL


FINDING GRACE

Running Time:
107 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
VOD, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

A troubled teenage girl is forced to provide community service in a retirement home. As she develops a friendship with one of the residents and becomes closer to her father, she discovers the power of family, hope and faith.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Finding Grace is a heart-warming film that presents the need of God in our lives through common, real-life situations. This film demonstrates the best way to handle even the most difficult moments in our lives through the sometimes direct, sometimes indirect connection to God. It shows that, even in the darkest moments, anyone can experience hope through God.

Finding Grace follows a struggling family facing new challenges when they are already are dealing with so many things. It has many appealing elements including the cast, the settings and the storyline. I loved the beautiful settings near the sea and I love that the cast includes elderly actors as extras, which something is not something found in films these days.

This film would appeal to the whole family or even a teenager who might be experiencing similar feelings as the protagonist. For example, the anger of not having the power to change or control of your own life, just as Alaska expresses in the film. The film flows well and, even though you are unfamiliar with the characters at first, it is easy to follow their internal conflicts as a broken family and as individuals. Things evolve and come to a happy resolution after inner changes and personal growth takes place, through a connection with God. The storyline uses real-life situations, from early youth, through mid-life, that any person might experience in their lifetime. Even though the cast is prominently Caucasian, there is good inclusion of other ethnic groups. I appreciate that the film gives a natural flow of life-like situations and presents a positive resolution.

The message of the film is how important it is to involve God in our lives as our guide and counselor. You should know that some scenes are not quite suited for young audiences, but can be well explained if the viewer is accompanied by an adult. Though it is not an explicit scene, there is one where Mrs. Foster is about to attempt suicide and gets caught by Alaska. The negative part of this scene is that there is no resolution at that moment for the suicide attempt, other than switching the dialogue over Alaska's experience with suicide.

I recommend Finding Grace for ages 16 to 18, plus adults. I do suggest that the whole family make this part of a great family night. I give this 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Carolina S. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewers.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Finding Grace is a sweet, tear jerker! Have tissues on standby because this film delivers all the feels and should not be missed. It truly pulls your heartstrings with the trials and tribulations of this urban family.

This movie is about a girl named Alaska (Paris Warner), who got arrested and is sentenced for one hundred hours of community service at a nursing home. While working there, she meets an elderly lady, Ms. Julianne Foster (Kisha Sharon Oglesby) and forms an unlikely friendship. Alaska soon finds out that working at the nursing home is not as terrible as she thought it would be.

I'm so in love with this film. The acting is superb and it has a very relatable storyline. The character development of Alaska and her father Connor's (Jasen Wade), showing how their relationship changes is outstanding. The blossoming of Alaska's friendship with Ms. Foster is captured beautifully by director Warren Fast.

Throughout the movie, Alaska learns that life is very difficult. However, having family and true friends by your side makes it easier. There are multiple adult topics that are addressed - underage consuming of alcohol, suicide mentions and a suicide attempt are shown.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Finding Grace is available April 21, 2020 on digital and DVD.

Reviewed by Heather Suarez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Suggested Retail Price
      Order FINDING GRACE Now!

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FINDING GRACE


LLAMA LLAMA FAMILY FUN COLLECTION

Running Time:
165 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-10

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 4-10 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their friendly hometown and make childhood memories.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD features the animated friends from Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama book series in 15 stories, including holiday stories for Halloween, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. The friends learn to use their unique talents with some creativity to overcome day to day problems by following grown up advice and helping each other. In "Stage Fright," Luna Giraffe's upcoming dance recital is giving her performance jitters, but Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu are there to offer support, calming breaths and remind her to just have fun. Nelly Gnu is jealous of the attention her baby brother receives in the story "Jealous Nelly." Her new tree-house takes a backseat to babysitting and party planning for the baby. She misses her parents' and friends' attention, but soon realizes that being a big sister is the perfect role for her. The friends accept the challenge to do without their electronic gadgets when Grandma Llama and Mama Llama take them on an overnight campout in "Let's Go Camping." They use their five senses to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature. Upbeat, positive messages about friendship and family make these great for family viewing. Children ages 4 to 8 should enjoy these fun, engaging episodes. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewed by Christine R., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer.

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is a cute, fun, and family-friendly DVD that is based on an award-winning book and TV series. The storyline and adorable personalities of the characters combine to make the viewing experience enjoyable. The characters' companionship is very sweet, and they care a lot about one another. They always have each other's back.

The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is collection of episodes about a group of animal companions that go on a lot of adventures, meet new friends and solve problems along the way. In one episode, Llama Llama's friend, Luna the Giraffe, struggles with bad stage fright. She has a dance recital the next day. Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have to help her, or she won't be able to perform without becoming nervous on stage. In another episode, Llama Llama and two of his friends, Gilroy Goat and Euclid Sheep, plan a sleepover together. What they don't know is that strange things will happen just as they are about to go to sleep. But maybe the friends' imaginations will wander too far.

Some of the lead characters are Mama Llama (Jennifer Garner) and Llama Llama (Shayle Simons). They are an adorable mother-son duo, and they love each other very much. What really stands out in this collection is the incredibly detailed and expressive animation. The vibrant colors and homey scenery go hand in hand to create a wholesome, fun show for children and their families to watch. It really is a great choice for teaching good lessons to young minds.

The message of the DVD Llama Llama Family Fun Collection is that you should always be willing to help your friends, and that problems can be solved through the effort of a team. It is definitely successful in communicating its message through the close-knit friend group, and how they stick together and help each other face their fears. The message is definitely positive and uplifting, and can teach young children that companionship is an important life skill to have. There really isn't anything to worry about when children are watching this series. There is no bad language at all, and there isn't any negative behavior that young children may attempt to imitate.

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 3 to 10. The Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD is available now.

Reviewed by Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like the Llama Llama Family Fun Collection DVD because every episode has a different main idea with an interesting story to tell. The animated characters each have their own thoughts about things and how to approach a situation. The only part I didn't really like is that the characters sometimes talk too slow and you want to make them talk faster, but it probably makes it easier for little kids to understand.

The Llama Llama Family Collection has 15 episodes and is based on the book series written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. The animated collection is about a llama and his friends who have awesome adventures together. Each episode has a moral to the story. For example, in one of the episodes, Luna (a giraffe, voiced by Vania Gill) is very scared to go on stage to perform a solo in front of an audience. Then Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu get a dance machine and it really helps Luna lose her fear of performing in front of an audience. Another story tells about Llama Llama, Euclid and Gilroy Goat having a sleepover, where they experience new and different things while at a friend's house. I know when I go to a sleepover, I find myself trying a new food or doing any activity that I wouldn't necessarily have done at my house.

I didn't recognize the voices of any of the characters, although after looking at who does the voices, I recognize Jennifer Garner, who voices Mama Llama. I like Luna's personality, but my favorite character is Euclid (Brendon Sunderland). He's smart, but in a funny way. I like when the group of friends take swimming lessons with Mama Llama in Eleanor Elephant's (Kathleen Barr) pool. Even though Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) isn't a great swimmer, his friends are supportive. And it is cute seeing Llama Llama's grandpa (David Hoole) learn to swim, too.

The message of the film is to be nice to others. It's important to help your friends, rather than make fun of them or bring them down. When I see someone making fun of someone, I try to stand up for them. It is nice to watch a film where a group of friends support one another.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 9. This DVD is available now, so go look for it!

Reviewed by Cadence G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR LLAMA LLAMA FAMILY FUN COLLECTION


SONIC BOOM: SEASON 1, VOL 2 (2 DISCS)

Running Time:
290 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-8

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 5-8 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

It's a Sonic you haven t seen before an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I am quite aware of Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game character, but have never watched any of his shows. I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this action-packed Season One, Volume 2 DVD. There is a lot of action as Sonic and his friends outwit Sonic's arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman. I like that there isn't just the typical "good wins over evil." It is expected that good will win, but it is fun to watch too. Some of the humor is a bit dry if you are an adult watching the show. But, it is appropriate for children ages 5 through 12. I like that it shows teamwork and friendship, and all of the action makes it very entertaining to watch. The characters are very likable; my favorites are Sonic and Amy. I like that the characters are unique and each brings something to the show. Of course, Dr. Eggman is not a favorite of mine, but he also makes the series entertaining, especially since Sonic and his pals usually outwit him. I give this 4 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value. This DVD would make a great gift for a Sonic fan, since it is a Limited Edition Gift Set that includes Knuckles and Tails figurines. Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Reviewer

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is nearly five hours of laugh-out-loud, animated fun, featuring your favorite hedgehog. The physical humor and amusing adventures will keep kids entertained for hours on end.

The DVDs include 26 action-packed episodes, and if you get the limited edition gift set, you'll also get two action figures--either Sonic with Dr. Eggman or Knuckles with Tails. In every episode, Sonic and his friends protect their village from the evil Dr. Eggman. Of course, no matter how crazy the situation, Sonic and friends are able to save the day in the end.

There are some really funny storylines, like when Sonic and Knuckles spill nacho cheese on Amy's couch while house-sitting. They try cleaning it up with grape soda, which just makes it worse! Their next idea is to try to win a new couch by going on a game show, but they fail and one of Dr. Eggman's missiles ends up exploding the couch anyway. In another episode, it's hilarious when Sonic grabs the last chili dog that Dr. Eggman wanted, so to be nice Sonic goes all the way to the warehouse to bring his nemesis a chili dog. But Dr. Eggman wanted extra relish, so he throws a tantrum by trying to destroy the whole town by shooting it with lasers and attacking it with robots. Of course this is nothing Sonic and friends can't handle. One of the best jokes is when the boys compete against the girls in a survivor challenge. The girls decide the losers will have to do everyone's laundry, but Sonic says, "That's not fair for us boys - we don't even wear pants!"

The message of this series is that friends are stronger together. There's probably not a lot of content that parents will object to, but there is some cartoon violence that kids might be tempted to copy. The only thing that's a problem for me is that there is one episode out of the 26 that's only available with Spanish audio, no English at all. Unfortunately I can't understand what they're saying in the episode, "Fire in a Crowded Workshop."

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 12, and adults might enjoy watching with their kids as well. Sonic Boom: Season 1 Volume 2 is available on DVD February 2020.

Reviewed by Will C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I like this DVD because it is very entertaining. Each story line is funny; it has a lot of action and delivers a lot of adrenaline.

The Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2 DVD, is over four hours of action, fun and entertainment. The package comes with two DVDs, which include 26 episodes. What is nice is the gift set comes with two toys, Knuckles and Tails. Sonic (Roger Craig Smith) is a blue hedgehog that has a sidekick, Tails, who helps him in his adventures. Sonic's friends - Knuckles (Sebastian Desjours), Amy (Cindy Robinson) and Sticks (Nika Futterman) - help him attack his arch nemesis Dr. Eggman (Mike Pollock). Each episode has a different story line. The episodes do not follow a sequence, which it means that each episode is always a different adventure and that's what makes it so entertaining.

The graphics are amazing and the colors are very bright. The voice-overs are funny and they fit each character. The music is okay. I especially like the theme song, which is very catchy. My favorite episode is "Bro Down Showdown," because it's extremely funny. It is about how Amy had to leave for a little bit, so Sonic and Knuckles ask her if they can stay at her house while she is gone. Amy says yes, but there is one rule - no foolish things in her house. So the first thing they do is eat nachos and spill on the couch. Conveniently a commercial comes on saying, "if you win the best bros contest you win a brand new couch." They immediately enter the contest. It turns out Dr. Eggman is spying on them. He arrives and starts bickering with Sonic about a bogus little thing. A guy working there sees them fighting and pairs them up, even though Knuckles is going to be Sonic's buddy. Knuckels finds a new partner and tries to win the couch. This is my favorite episode because this all happens, just because they spilled a nacho.

The moral to the stories is about "teamwork making the dream work," because in each episode Sonic is helped by his sidekick and best friend, to either defeat Dr. Eggman or to enjoy their different adventures.

I give Sonic Boom, Season 1, Volume 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, but adults can watch it with their kids and may find it amusing too. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Reviewed by Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Suggested Retail Price
      This title is available for purchase from Amazon.com

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SONIC BOOM: SEASON 1, VOL 2 (2 DISCS)


Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-15

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8-15 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

The continuing adventures of Seabrook High students Addison and Zed, whose budding romance is threatened by the arrival of werewolves.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

coming soon

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2



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