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80 FOR BRADY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FESTIVAL
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

80 For Brady is inspired by the true story of four best friends and New England Patriots fans who take a life-changing trip to Super Bowl LI to see their hero Tom Brady play, and the chaos that ensues as they navigate the wilds of the biggest sporting event in the country.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

80 for Brady is a perfect movie to watch with a best friend, family member and sports fan. What I love about this movie is that it successfully connects the importance of being courageous, while trusting those closest to you to overcome your biggest obstacles in both sports and in life. Also, what else would you expect from Tom Brady (producer), but an inspiring movie about the power of attitude and belief to pull off miracles.

The story follows four best friends, Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field) and Maura (Rita Moreno) who, for 16 straight years, loyally followed Tom Brady's career. After watching the Patriots' 2017 AFC Playoff win, Lou asks her friends to join her for an unforgettable adventure - "Let's go to the Super Bowl LI."

The movie is hilarious with scenes of dancing, funny sports superstitions and includes live action and original sound from the Super Bowl LI experience. Several scenes include live audio of player commentary on the field that you've likely never heard before. One of my favorite scenes is when Lou finally has the chance to talk to Tom Brady in an emotional speech, which inspires us to never give up. The game brings us back to the greatest comeback, both in Patriots history, and in Tom Brady's incredible sports career. The love of football connects us as Americans and the true story of four loyal women, who followed Tom's career for 16 years to finally make it to the Super Bowl, is inspiring for us all - even if you're not a Tom Brady fan. To see Lou, Trish, Betty and Maura having a great time attending exclusive parties, dancing with Gugu's (Billy Porter) dance crew, eating in Guy Fieri's spicy hot wing contest and gambling with high rollers really brings one hilarious scene to another. This film shows that both your age and life challenges can't stop you if you believe you've still got it. I can't wait to have the chance to go to a Super Bowl myself someday with my best friends and family. What an adventure.

The message of the movie is about the importance of friendship and courage to overcome obstacles and embrace the unknown together. The film reminds us to trust in our loved ones; never let fear stop us; and live life to the fullest.

I give 80 For Brady 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters beginning February 3, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

80 for Brady is a hilarious movie. It has amazing acting and an amazing cast. Funny moments are around every corner with its hysterical plot.

The storyline follows four women all around age 80 who all idolize legendary football quarterback, Tom Brady. After Lou (Lily Tomlin) wins tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl, the girls are off on a crazy trip to Houston. Along with her best friends Betty (Sally Field), Trish (Jane Fonda) and Maura (Rita Moreno) they fly to Houston to watch their favorite team, the Patriots, on the trip of their lives. Nothing goes as planned and when Betty loses the tickets during a hot wings contest, the girls don't know how they'll ever make it into the game.

Along with an all-star cast, this movie has hilarious jokes throughout. All of the shenanigans the girls get into are unbelievably crazy and insanely fun to watch. I love when Betty signs up for Guy Fieri's hot wings contest because she ends up winning and, after it's over, she tells them that her taste buds aren't very good so she can barely taste anything. The scenes from the Super Bowl are amazingly. Everything seems so real, like you're actually there watching it. My favorite character is Betty because she's so sweet and wants to do something exciting for once in her life. The funniest scene is when Maura is kind of out of it and stumbles into a poker game and wins lots of money thinking she can buy more tickets after Betty loses them, but after she cashes out she finds out it was a charity game.

The message of 80 for Brady is that you're never too old to have fun. These women are all over 75 and think they're destined for a life of sitting at home until this one great adventure. Parents should know that there are a couple of things to be wary of. They accidentally take some drugs at a party and there's some profanity.

I give 80 for Brady 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters February 3, 2023.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The film, 80 for Brady, directed by Kyle Marvin, is amusing, engaging and fresh. This film equally balances the elements of comedy and drama while still maintaining real life situations and grounded characters. Not only does this film include familiar celebrities, such as actress Rita Moreno, this film is produced by 7-time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady.

The story follows best friends in their 80's, Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field), Moura (Rita Moreno) and Lou (Lily Tomlin) as their yearly tradition of watching the Super Bowl finally arrives. They decide to attend it live this time, encouraged by the quarterback of the friend group, Lou, who is dead set on this adventure after discovering there's a possibility of her cancer returning. Throughout her time battling chemo, Lou gains the strength and courage to fight it by following the resilient and brave story of Tom Brady--watching his games weekly becomes something for her to look forward to, a sentimental tradition. So whether it means breaking out of retirement homes or joining a spicy wings contest, these four ladies are destined to step foot inside that stadium, no matter what obstacles are in their way.

My favorite character is Betty, who evolves from the beginning to end in an engaging way. Betty is known as the problem solver, not comfortable with confrontation and constantly changing her own wants and needs to benefit others, especially her husband. She doesn't know what it is like to make decisions without needing validation. Their goal to attend the Super Bowl is finally Betty's opportunity to experience that freedom and delivers many hilarious moments. Going from editing essays at home to partying all night long with college students has to be the greatest character development! My favorite aspect of 80 for Brady is how scenes jump from the perspective of Lou to that of Tom Brady. At times of difficulty, Lou often looks at her Tom Brady bobble head figurine, or speaks to herself as if she asking Tom questions about her dilemma. The perspective then switches to Tom expressing his opinion on how to help the situation. Throughout the film, Tom and Lou are not aware of each other until the end, but the instant cuts from Tom to Lou immerse viewers in their conversations.

This film provides a significant message: It is never too late to discover the wonders and experiences of life you may have missed. Happiness has no age limit--it is never too late to discover new interests and act on them.

I give 80 for Brady 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters February 3, 2023. Enjoy!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR 80 FOR BRADY


CUPCAKE GUYS, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8 TO 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
THE ROKU CHANNEL

Description:

When former NFL teammates Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo decided to dip their toes into entrepreneurship, they knew they wanted to go about it differently. The former Pro Bowlers saw the hands-off, detached approach some athletes take in their investments and recognized they needed to be more attentive about the steps they took to ensure success. Prior to being cupcake guys, Griffin and Orakpo played for the Tennessee Titans as safety and linebacker respectively. It was in Tennessee that the men ate and fell in love with Gigi's cupcakes which was based in Nashville and was the largest cupcake franchise brand in the country. After finishing in the league, Griffin opened a franchise of Gigi's Cupcakes in Austin, alongside Orakpo and their longtime friend Bryan Hynson. The Cupcake Guys shows how our cast goes from Football stars to Cupcake Kings.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

From the Pro Bowl to the mixing bowl, Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo adjust to an unexpected chapter in their lives. As someone who is interested in baking and the process of owning a business, watching this series was an enlightening experience that sparked even more interest in these topics.

The Cupcake Guys is a creative new TV series with a combined focus on baking, business, football and family life. The Cupcake Guys follows Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo as they navigate the ups and downs of their business, Gigi's Cupcakes, with their close friend Bryan Hynson, after retirement from the NFL. Aside from focusing on cupcake-making and the business aspects of it, the series also shows the personal lives of each of the characters, including their relationships with family and friends. Each of the six episodes has a primary business focus and a primary personal focus for the three main characters. This provides a good balance and generally kept me engaged.

This TV series is so much fun and perfect for a family binge-night. The Cupcake Guys has consistently interesting storylines, with some being geared towards adults; some towards teens; and some towards kids. This is accomplished by including elements of humor for all ages and conflicts that everyone can relate to. For example, Michael Griffin's daughter, Mya, wants to play football at her school but worries a bit about how the boys on the team might react with her being the quarterback and only girl on the team. Many kids are probably able to relate to this in some way, whether it be the aspect of youth sports or feeling alone within a group of people. With all of this being said, the series can be a bit slow moving at times, with the same point getting too much screen time. However, The Cupcake Guys is still entertaining and I would be very interested in a second season. One of the best parts is when they show the actual making of the cupcakes and how the business works behind the scenes. As someone who is interested in baking and the process of owning a business, watching this series was an enlightening experience that sparked even more interest in these topics.

The Cupcake Guys has many important messages that address various business and family conflicts. The series focuses on teamwork and cooperation. However, with many different workers, there are often disagreements about business opportunities or personal situations. The Cupcake Guys also emphasizes equality among races and genders and highlights the importance of parents maintaining an even distribution of time spent on business and time spent with family. There is some very minor inappropriate language.

I give The Cupcake Guys 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can stream The Cupcake Guys on the Roku channel for free beginning January 18, 2023.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CUPCAKE GUYS, THE


MISSING
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
STAGE 6 FILMS

Description:

From the minds behind Searching comes Missing, a thrilling roller-coaster mystery that makes you wonder how well you know those closest to you. When her mother disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend, June's search for answers is hindered by international red tape. Stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find her before it's too late. But as she digs deeper, her digital sleuthing raises more questions than answers...and when June unravels secrets about her mom, she discovers that she never really knew her at all.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Missing is absolutely breathtaking. There are many suspense films, but the way this one is made is so new and different. It's a new era of filmmaking because we never see a real shot; it all takes place on a computer.

The storyline follows Junes' (Storm Reid) mom, Grace (Nia Long) who goes on a trip to Colombia and mysteriously goes missing.

This film has a lot of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat, plus I cried because there is a very touching mother and daughter relationship.

This film will most likely become a fan favorite because it has a really good cast and the story line is amazing. I saw some of them coming but I was still shocked at things that happen. It is also super funny. There is a lot of Gen Z slang and different inside jokes that Gen Zers understand. The best part is how the characters look and act in their respective ways. We see a side of different people but we really don't know if it's really them or just an act until the end. There is also a lot of suspense and I got scared a lot. It's also crazy seeing how much Storm has grown up and it's really cool seeing her appear in more mature and darker roles. She is a great actress who is not afraid to take risks.

The message of this film is that everyone can know absolutely everything about you from the internet so really look at what you say and post. This movie definitely is on the more dangerous and darker side because it addresses kidnapping and there are parts where we see some hostages and some inappropriate behavior and words such as someone getting shot and other physical violence.

I give Missing 4.5/5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Missing comes out in theatres January 20, 2023.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST!* Film Critic, age 13


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MISSING


LIVING
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY CLASSICAL

Description:

Living is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Living illustrates that films are not just a source of entertainment. They can make us examine social awareness, consciousness and our values. This film tells a heartbreaking story about a bureaucrat who learns he has a terminal illness and is then galvanized to make a difference in his life and in those around him.

Mr. Williams (Bill Nighy) is a civil servant in 1950s London whose life is one of dull routine. Once he is notified that he has roughly six months remaining, he realizes that he no longer knows how to enjoy life and has become trapped in a meaningless existence. He attaches himself to others to observe life and thus makes changes from his friendship with his subordinate, Ms. Harris (Aimee Lou Wood) who notably adds spark to the movie and his life. He enjoys her appetite for life and remembers what it is to be alive. This realization motivates him to return to work and make important changes. His colleagues in the Public Works Department notice his dramatic change and he sets an example for his team to follow.

Living is a historical drama with splendid costuming and detailing in all the various sets used throughout the film. Every minute detail under director Oliver Hermanus provides the viewer immersion into this period piece. Costume designer Sandy Powell, along with the various artists who work on hair and make-up support the depth of this story. Bill Nighy gives a compelling performance as a man who resurrects his life and I particularly enjoyed his singing in this movie. The cast is very good in this film and it was a pleasure to watch him interact with all of the various actors as they portray various work stereotypes.

The film's message is that it is never too late to change the direction of your life and to influence those around you. Mr. Williams remembers not to push things under the rug and not to shy away from responsibility. It is an important message and reminder to us all to live life to the fullest. There are no scenes that younger viewers cannot watch, but the seriousness of the film and topic does not lend itself to younger viewers.

I give Living 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie is available in select theaters January 17, 2023.

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LIVING


NUISANCE BEAR

Running Time:
14 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

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

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
THE NEW YORKER

Description:

Nuisance Bear is a Canadian short documentary film, directed by Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden and released in 2021. The film is a portrait of the polar bears in and around the town of Churchill, Manitoba.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Nuisance Bear has glorious cinematography and superb storytelling that drive home its important message of peaceful coexistence with nature. It's a terrific film for all those who love the great outdoors, as well as for budding filmmakers.

Nuisance Bear follows a polar bear migrating across the town of Churchill in the Canadian province of Manitoba. People congregate to take pictures and videos, and the bear begins to clash with the locals. That is when the bear's journey takes a dramatic turn, and "nuisance bear" removal forces enter the scene.

Nuisance Bear is a documentarian's documentary. With no voiceover or speaking at all, the New Yorker team behind the film lets the images and captured video do the talking. And it's supremely effective. I especially love the way the wildlife forces' pickup truck is shot like it's the predator, not the bear; it approaches menacingly with high beams on and then veers to the side as the bear makes its escape. It's absolutely scintillating. In many scenes, there isn't even any background music, so all you hear is the soft stepping of the bear and the rumbling engines of the wildlife forces. Hat's off to directors Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden for creating such a masterful piece of visual storytelling.

Nuisance Bear promotes respecting nature and ensuring you don't disrupt other beings endemic to your area. The film helps us realize that people are the real nuisance, not the bears.

I give Nuisance Bear 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. The film is available to watch on the New Yorker YouTube channel now.

by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR NUISANCE BEAR


A MAN CALLED OTTO
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES12 TO 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Based on the # 1 New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove, A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grump who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife. Otto is ready to end it all, but his plans are interrupted when a lively young family moves in next door, and he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol. She challenges him to see life differently, leading to an unlikely friendship that turns his world around. A heartwarming and funny story about love, loss, and life, A Man Called Otto shows that family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I thoroughly enjoyed A Man Called Otto. Tom Hank's portrayal of an aging man whose love of his life was taken way too young haunts his character Otto, but thanks to the persistent love of his new neighbors he emerges from his shell as he finds a new extended family.

The storyline follows Otto, a grumpy old man who thinks of himself as the quintessential rule enforces in his neighborhood and elsewhere. The film is filled with flashbacks which reveal the backstory of Otto's life and how he came to become the grumpy old dude he is.

The character, Otto, is played so well by Tom Hanks that you semi-hate him for his persnickety personality, yet as the story evolves and we learn about the tragic events of his past, the "what and why" become clear. When new neighbors move in across the street, the wife (Mariana Trevino) is persistent in not letting Otto escape her kindness, whether it means bringing him wonderful Mexican food, which Otto begrudgingly loves, or inviting him to spend time with her children. The tragedy of Otto's love story, which began and ended with his lively and beautiful wife, it is, no less, still a love story. It makes you ache for poor Otto who truly found his soul mate and lost her way too soon. He is bent on taking his own life, but constantly drawn away by his neighbors Marisol and her hubby.

Directed by Marc Forster, the film is beautifully produced with eloquent shots of the landscape of suburban Pennsylvania and sets that show middle class America in its simplest form. My favorite scene is a toss-up between the one with Otto and his neighbor buddy, during friendlier times when they compete for who has the coolest car and when he teaches Marisol how to drive; the speech he gives her about how she is not an idiot is awe-inspiring and afterwards, she loses all fear and drives like a warrior.

What I love most about this film is character. So many mass market films, particularly comic based ones, lack depth of character and this one delivers it in Otto, but also in Marisol and Anita, even Malcolm and Jimmy. Everyone evolves here and becomes more substantial than they are at first glance. Be forewarned that there are suicide attempts shown and some profanity.

I give A Man Called Otto 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It's rare to find a film with such substance. We laughed and cried, then did it again and again. By Julie S, KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I didn't love A Man Called Otto as much as I thought I would. It has a lot of funny parts even though it is a really sad movie. The funny parts are where they include different Latinx things and different things we say and do. As a Latinx myself, I had a good laugh, but my eyes did water up.

First we meet Otto (Tom Hanks), who is a grumpy old man that loves to follow the rules and fights with everyone. Everything is annoying to him and he really doesn't like people. He'd much rather be alone; he tries to do something many times and, along the way, he meets many people. We see a lot of flashbacks with Otto and his late wife.

This move is sad and, the way they use dark colors to really make the mood, makes it sadder. Tom Hanks excels in his portrayal of Otto. This film really addresses equality and how much things have changed. There is a LGBTQ+ character in it and Mack Bayda portrays him very well. The costumes are really cool thanks to Mariana Trevi�o. Not only that, but she brings a Latin feel to the film like in all the different Latino food that is featured.

The film's message is that just because someone else's life ends, yours doesn't have to. There are so many beautiful and wonderful people on this earth. The one thing parents should be aware of is that there is some self- harm and suicide.

I give A Man Called Otto 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters January 13, 2023.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR A MAN CALLED OTTO


I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

A joyous, emotional, heartbreaking celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest female R&B pop vocalists of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Loved this film. Naomi Ackie knocks it out of the part with her portrayal of Whitney and brings you right into the center of Whitney's lives, loves, hopes, dreams and foibles. I watched this with a friend and, since both of us were long time fans of Ms. Houston, we were a bit anxious that it would take jabs at her faults (we all have them). It doesn't, rather it really shows her innocence as she makes it big in the complicated world of music stardom. Stanley Tucci, as her agent also plays Clive Davis to a T! We love Stanley and can easily imagine him as the person behind this super star.

This film is so well produced from its visuals to the audio track to the costumes. I can't speak to the authenticity of her costumes, but as my friend and I walked out of the theater we both said, "I want her costume designer."

As far as the message of this film goes, it really shows the vulnerability of a young women who is taken advantage of by many people as she reaches for stardom, including those who led her into drug abuse. However, there are also a lot of upsides to this, like the love she shows for her daughter and the loving support of her agent, Clive.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. There is some profanity and drug use, so be forewarned. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a new film about the life of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest voices of any generation. It portrays Houston in a new and exciting way that all audiences will love to see.

Raised by famous singer Cissy Houston (Tamara Tunie), Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) had a powerful voice from the time she was little. After being discovered while singing in her mom's place by record executive Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci), Whitney quickly became a huge singer all across America and around the world. This movie follows her life from the beginning to the end and shows what happened behind the cameras, closely following her relationship with her husband, family, and friends.

Naomi Ackie's performance as Whitney Houston is breathtaking. You can tell she studied Houston very closely. Whitney's relationship with her best friend, Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams) is focused on very heavily in this film, and I loved it. There is lots of tension between the actors and it definitely makes the film better in so many ways. Another relationship that is focused on in this film is Houston's relationship with Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders). Ackie and Sanders both put lots of effort into their roles and it pays off. The film I Wanna Dance With Somebody does an astounding job when it comes to Whitney's performances. It feels like you're really there watching her perform. My favorite scene -- and it's really breathtaking to watch it.

The message of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is that fame can change a person's life for good and for bad. Whitney Houston got lots of money and fame from her singing career, but it also messed with her in horrible ways. A few things for parents watching with children to be aware of is that there is lots of swearing in this movie and drugs are used towards the end of the film.

I give I Wanna Dance With Somebody 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters December 23, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY


LAND OF SECRET SUPERPOWERS: VEGETABLES
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-5

Category: FAMILY
EBOOK, AGES 2-5 series

Media:
Book

Distributor:
HAVE IT ALL PRESS

Description:

The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables is health and lifestyle expert Devin Alexander's first book for children. Geared towards toddlers and preschoolers, the delightfully illustrated book entices little ones to open their eyes (and their mouths) to the heroic possibilities of a myriad of delicious vegetables, setting them up to be healthy humans and also help set parents up for peace in the kitchen!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables is an educational and charming children's book that instructs children about vegetables and their benefits while also making healthy eating relatable and fun. I love how each vegetable is used to introduce a new concept related to health. My favorite illustration is a cute carrot checking a kid's vision on an eye chart!

There are two pages dedicated to each vegetable - one a drawing, and one a description with a related cartoon. All 12 of the vegetables are uniquely associated with a different activity or action like tennis, swimming, and healing.

The illustrations are engaging and cater to kids who are learning to read and children who enjoy colorful images. The images are a great way to get kids interested in vegetables they might normally avoid. The language in the book is simple, but there are a few words that preschoolers may not understand, yet allows them to learn new vocabulary such as "fate," "sluggish," and "bask." As we all know, children's books with rhymes are just that much better, and the rhyming phrases in each stanza are fun and memorable. Each page has a different kid featured that your child may relate to. As a tennis lover, I would have enjoyed the beet playing tennis when I was younger. Children love naming inanimate objects, so the alliterative names for each of the vegetables are fun and catchy.

This book caters to children who are just learning to read and pronounce words as well as children who will enjoy a fun bedtime story. If parents want a cute and educational book to read to their kids (or if you kids refuse to eat vegetables) this is great!

I give The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5. It is available wherever books are sold.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables is an engaging and colorful book that teaches toddlers and preschoolers that eating healthy can be fun!

Health and lifestyle expert Devin Alexander's first book for children, The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables, assigns each major vegetable a different persona. For example, Cayenne Carrot has such good vision that she hardly needs a flashlight at night. The rhyming style of writing is perfect for young audiences!

The illustrations by Michele Pederson add character and vibrancy to the storytelling by Alexander, and they gave me a shot of nostalgia -- as I read The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables, I remembered all the fun picture books I used to love! Alexander is a New York Times bestselling author, and part of that stems from her knowledge of her audience. Although this is her first book for children, she hits the mark perfectly. It is such a smart idea to make vegetables into little characters and give them superpowers, so toddlers and preschoolers will be interested!

The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables obviously promotes eating healthy, but also asks "why" before doing so, and helps us understand how each vegetable we eat can help us.

( give The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8.The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables releases January 24, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!, age 16

The most appealing thing about the book The Land Of Secret Superpower is the hook, and how it makes me want to read more. I particularly enjoyed the part when they list the powers each vegetable gives you.

The book The Land Of Secret Superpowers is about the benefits of eating healthy. It starts with a group of kids who are friends with vegetables. The story is told by a narrator outside of the story who talks about the vegetables, and the things they do for you.

The structure of the book is awesome. It held my attention from start to end with all the interesting facts. It's an awesome way to encourage kids to eat healthy foods. The book, which gives vegetables different names to call them, explains how different vegetables benefit your body and mind. For example, Scarlet Sweet Potato gives kids more endurance which means lots more time to play outside. Beets make you jump high which is good for sports. Avocados make you move fast, which is good for things like track. Mushrooms can help improve your mood; so if you're sad, eat some. Spinach makes you super strong, so you can lift heavy stuff. All these great benefits you can get from eating vegetables are great, and there are even more benefits from lots of other vegetables, so make sure you eat your vegetables and eat healthy. The facts throughout the book are pretty accurate; all the "superpowers" they can give you are true. The vocabulary is good for the target age group. One special feature is the amount of color and all the various types. The book is laid out well for preschoolers and is easy to read.

The message of the book is to encourage kids to make healthier food choices. Many kids do not eat healthy foods these days, and this book shows the benefits of healthier foods.

I give The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5. It is available wherever books are sold.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST!, age 10

I really enjoyed the children's book, The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables. It's full of helpful, interesting information that can benefit your body and mind through your diet.

The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables is about the numerous foods, especially vegetables, that your body positively reacts to. Each vegetable targets a certain part of the body. For instance, tomatoes boost height, while spinach increases strength. Each kid incorporated has a story relating to a particular vegetable.

I love that this book incorporates rhyme and alliteration. This exposes children to new language styles that will be used in school and beyond. My favorite parts of the book are the drawings, which express how the kids in the book are having a blast with the help of vegetables. Along with entertaining imagery, this book provides important information about healthy food choices. Ever wondered why you felt energized after eating a certain type of food? You probably ate mushrooms! The way the author, Devin Alexander, balances all these key points in this children's book is very impressive and astonishing. Parents might benefit from reading this book too - less forcing your kid to eat vegetables. Devin Alexander is known for her culinary work; she is a celebrity chef and has been a New York Times bestselling cookbook author three times.

The message of this book is that vegetables can really make positive changes in your body, and give you your own "superpowers!" Knowing this, kids can be genuinely excited to eat a healthier diet. It's a fantastic, unique way to encourage kids to eat things that they may not normally want to.

I give The Land of Secret Superpowers: Vegetables 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. It is available wherever books are sold online and in stores beginning January 24, 2023.

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

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LAND OF SECRET SUPERPOWERS: VEGETABLES


MATILDA THE MUSICAL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

An adaptation of the Tony and Olivier award-winning musical. Matilda tells the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand to change her story with miraculous results.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Matilda the Musical is full of nostalgia and catchy songs, giving a new generation the chance to experience Matilda and her magic. Besides, who doesn't enjoy being a little naughty sometimes?

Matilda the Musical is the retelling of the classic 1996 film, Matilda. Matilda (Alisha Weir) is a young girl with a brilliant mind and a vivid imagination. After meeting a kindhearted and loving teacher named Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch), Matilda finally gets to go to school and get relief from her neglectful parents. It isn't all sunshine and rainbows, however, as she soon finds herself fighting back against the merciless principal of the school, Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson.)

Matilda the Musical is a musical whose songs will stick in your head all day. The casting for this musical is perfect for the characters and the story, especially in the roles for Alisha Weir and Lashana Lynch. They are both able to convey the delicate and innocent personalities that are Matilda and Miss Honey. When they are on screen together, the only thing the audience thinks about is how they want everything to work out for them. Matilda and Miss Honey are the definition of lovable characters. The process of Matilda developing telekinesis seems somewhat rushed, though -- it is such an important factor to the original story, and it might feel random or as though it came out of nowhere for some. We don't see Matilda building up her skills, so that is rather abrupt. The choreography, by Ellen Kane, is intricate and advanced. One of the concluding songs, Revolting Children, led by Hortensia (Meesha Garbett) and Bruce (Charlie Hodson-Prior) has choreography that has already become a fan favorite. The moves--combined with the talented dancers--capture everyone's attention.

The message of Matilda the Musical is that if there is something in your life that you believe is detrimental, or not adding value, it's okay to move on. Matilda the Musical shows the audience that you don't have to feel bad for choosing something better for your life.

I give Matilda the Musical 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Matilda the Musical comes out on Netflix in the U.S. and in cinemas in Ireland and the U.K. on December 25, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MATILDA THE MUSICAL


WILDCAT
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

Wildcat follows the emotional and inspiring story of a young veteran (Harry Turner) on his journey into the Amazon. Once there, he meets a young woman (Samantha Zwicker) running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, and his life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery, and healing.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Prepare to be inspired by a new documentary, Wildcat, directed and produced by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, which leaves viewers in a whirlwind of emotions and can turn your heart from empty to full at the drop of a dime. This is a film that you are not going to want to miss.

Struggling with depression and PTSD as a result from his time spent as a British soldier in Afghanistan, young Harry Turner attempts to escape his world in order to restore peace to his troubled life. That escape lands him deep within the Peruvian Amazon where he teams up with American scientist Samantha Zwicker, and together they work diligently to save injured and orphaned wildlife at Hoja Nueva Rehabilitation Center. The film focuses mainly on the duo's efforts to rehabilitate and "re-wild" orphaned ocelots, and their work seems to put purpose back into their lives. Harry continues with his mental struggles throughout the film and, although his efforts at Hoja Nueva are helping him overcome these challenges, the film highlights for us that these struggles may never truly be defeated.

There is so much to love and appreciate in Wildcat. The cinematography is terrific as it takes us to one of the most remote and biodiverse places on our globe, allowing viewers to get close up views of some incredible species of animals. The story demonstrates that beauty can indeed be woven into the lives of those who have dark days. And since I absolutely love cats and our family has been involved in cat rescue for many decades, I commend Harry and Samantha for their efforts in wildcat conservation and highlighting for us how difficult yet rewarding this line of work can be.

Wildcat is a true masterpiece. There are so many important thoughts to take with you after watching the film, and yet the film's most important message is about hope and courage. Mental illness is a life threatening disease, but, with some hope and a whole lot of courage, someone suffering from this condition can learn to cope with their disorder. There is certainly also the message about the importance of conservation and the willingness to volunteer in order to protect and restore our fragile ecosystems. We need more wildlife warriors and this film just may be a call to action for those conservation minded people. Parents need to be aware of some adult language throughout the film and at times some of the scenes display some very dark moments for Harry.

I give Wildcat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12-18. Adults will also absolutely love this film. Wildcat releases on December 30, 2022, on Prime Video.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR WILDCAT


AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their home.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Avatar: The Way of Water is a breathtaking adventure film that is just as magical, and show stopping as its predecessor and completely blew me away. The film gives the audience a magical experience into the world of Pandora.

Avatar: The Way of Water takes place 14 years after Avatar and follows the lives of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their four children. When a familiar threat comes back to take over Pandora, Jake and his family leave their home to explore different regions of Pandora preparing to fight to protect both their family and their world.

Avatar: The Way of Water is unlike anything I've ever seen before. The visuals and imagery far surpassed my expectations and made the movie incomparable to any other sci-fi film. The underwater scenes are my favorite and the interaction between the sea creatures and the Na'vi help make the ocean almost like a character in the story. Although the special effects and imagery are incredible, the plot is a little predictable. Using some popular themes and overused tropes, makes the plot not very original. The first movie, Avatar, came out nearly 13 years ago, and it might be advisable to watch or rewatch the first film in order to fully understand this sequel. The film is also quite long, with a run time of 3 hours and 12 minutes, and there are many scenes that I wish were shorter to cut down the run time. The acting is phenomenal, with Sam Worthington giving an exceptionally heartwarming performance. I love all the new additions to the cast and found the adaptations of the reef Na'vi a smart touch that makes the world of Pandora even more realistic. James Cameron (director) is without a doubt an incredible storyteller, and his ability to create the world of Pandora is amazing.

Avatar: The Way of Water promotes friendship and the importance of family; most of all it promotes respect. We see this through Jake Sully's relationship with his kids, but most importantly through showing the lack of respect that the "sky people" have for Pandora and the negative effects that has on the planet. Parents may want to know that there are a lot of fight scenes, many of which involve weapons and blood and also some profanity.

I give Avatar: Way of Water 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It will be released in theaters December 16, 2022.

By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Fans have been waiting since 2009 to see the sequel to Avatar; eager to see what new adventures await. Audiences are in for a treat, because Avatar: The Way of Water is full of adventures that makes the wait worth it.

Avatar: The Way of Water follows Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their family as they settle in Pandora. This period of peace doesn't last long due to the return of a familiar enemy of Jake's. The family now has to move to a different region where they have to learn to fit in, and learn the way of water. As disaster and surprise continues to strike, Jake is given the task of defeating his enemies in order to save himself, his family, and his people.

Avatar: The Way of Water is a dynamic, engaging story perfect for a night at the movies. It is a long movie, running three hours and twelve minutes' some scenes where Jake and his family are learning the ways of the Metkayina feel too long and they overpower the villain subplot. However, the scenes aren't anti-climactic, so they held my attention. The CGI in Avatar: The Way of Water stands out from the minute the film begins. The characters have high quality, unique features, and the underwater scenes and animals are astonishing. The ground-breaking new CGI techniques used give it a fantastical tone that is distinct from other films. I love the representation of a sibling bond. Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li) and even Spider (Jake Champion) don't always get along. However, when it comes down to a life or death situation, protecting one another is always the most important. These relationships have the power to make the audience laugh and cry.

Avatar: The Way of Water carries the message that family is everything, whether they are related by blood or not. Jake clearly cares about his biological children and is willing to do anything for them. But even with Kiri, Spider and both the Na'vi and Metkayina people, you see his protective nature and the protective nature the family has over each other.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Avatar: The Way of Water releases in theaters December 16, 2022, so make sure you check it out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Avatar: The Way of Water is an action-packed sci-fi film that I thoroughly enjoyed. You don't have to be an Avatar fan to be entertained the whole time while watching this movie. This movie is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and is definitely a film you want to see on the big screen.

The storyline follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who has found a home with the forest clan on the moon Pandora. He lives there happily with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their four children until he realizes he and his family are in danger of being attacked by the humans, led by an old enemy, Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang). In order to protect his family and the lives of his people, they must leave their home and learn to live life away from the forest.

The CGI in this film is honestly one of the key factors that make this movie so engaging. The majority of the CG character animation is filmed with new motion-capture techniques using live actors, so the characters and various settings look so realistic. I especially like the vibrant colors of the underwater scenes. Watching the fighting scenes in 3D made me feel like I was part of the battle. The emotions the actors convey in this film are another component that makes this movie so good. When the scenes are intense, you can see the different emotions on their faces and in their body language. Whether it is anger, sadness, or determination, the emotions in the characters' voices help you get into what is happening. My favorite character is Lo'ak (Britain Dalton) because he is very relatable. He portrays normal teenage behavior, but also loves his family very much. Even though he gets into his share of trouble, when things go wrong, he tries his best to fix it in every way he can.

The message of Avatar: The Way of Water is that family is everywhere you go. Even though Jake and his family have to leave their home to stay out of trouble, they stick together. They help each other when times are tough and they always look out for each other, and sometimes have to risk their own life. Parents should be aware that this movie includes violence and some inappropriate language.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters December 16, 2022.

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

If you can believe it, Avatar: The Way of Water, the movie a decade in the making, tops the visual masterpiece of the original, Avatar. Be warned that this movie is a commitment as it is over three hours long!

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), the human transformed into a Na'vi person, and his wife Ney'tiri (Zoe Salda�a) are back and now have four kids. With the unexpected return of the wicked Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who is brought back as a Na'vi impersonator along with his crew, the Sully's are forced to flee the forest and explore what other places on Pandora, their home planet, have to offer.

Since this is the sequel to the mega-hit film, Avatar, I recommend watching the first film before viewing this one, as there are many important references and details that are key to following this film. The storyline leaves us with some more questions than answers; however it sets up moviegoers for the next installments. Viewing it on a big screen, especially in 3D - which I recommend - makes you feel like you're right beside the characters in the world of Pandora. Speaking of Pandora, the world building is absolutely remarkable. It expands our view of this amazing foreign planet. And as the name suggests, it focuses on the islands, oceans and reefs of Pandora. The aquatic plants and animals are majestic and gorgeously iridescent. The reefs and oceans are eye popping and staggering. Everything is so glowy and vivacious. If you thought the animation of the original film was awe-inspiring, wait until you watch this one! The animation is hyper-realistic. When looking closely, you can see the ultra-detailed textures of the characters and settings. The movement almost looks like it is from a cut scene of a video-game (it's honestly the best way I can describe it). Stephen Lang's performance as the Colonel is so powerful, and makes you hate his guts even more than you did in the first film. Sam Worthington as Jake and Zoe Salda�a as Ney'tiri seem to have developed even better chemistry than in the first movie.

The message of this movie is to always fight to protect loved ones. This movie also has strong messages about the bonds with family and friends. Be forewarned that there is violence and violence involving animals.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters on December 16, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I absolutely love Avatar: The Way of Water by James Cameron. It is suck a heartfelt and family film.

The story line starts back in Pandora following Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri's (Zoe Salda�a) family - two boys and two girls, who are quite wonderful kids. We also see that some people have been turned into avatars. We also see that the "air people" are coming to Pandora to completely destroy it and make a new world for humans, since Earth is dying. You will have to watch it to find out what actually happens.

Although the film is very long, at over three hours, it's absolutely worth it. It is a very emotional movie and definitely will make you cry. The CGI is absolutely unbelievable and you actually think that the avatars are real, because they look so realistic. I cannot believe that Avatar is finally back on the big screen with this long-anticipated sequel. I have watched the first film many times and can honestly tell you that this film is even better than the first one. The characters in this film are absolutely amazing and the actors portray them so well. For example Zoe Saldana portrays the mom in a believable way; she really shows how much she loves her kids. She is definitely a loving mom because, even in the worst battles she decides to risk her life so her kids can have one. I also cannot believe that Susan Sarandon's portrayal of a 17-year-old, since she's 70. The plot has a lot of ups and downs and what puts you at the edge of your seat is all the fight scenes and battles they face as a family -- and they still stick together. The special effects are out of this world; I truly can't believe that they actually filmed the mob underwater -- that's actually crazy cool. It definitely left me wanting more with its cliffhanger ending.

The message of this movie is about how family sticks together, no matter what happens or who tries to come between you and your family. You should be aware that there is a lot of rough behavior, fighting and a lot of blood. We see people going underwater for a long time, so a kid might be tempted to try it on his or her own. The avatars aren't fully clothed, but you don't see anybody fully nude.

I give Avatar: The Way of Water 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters December 16, 2022.

By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER


SONIC PRIME
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-12

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 8-12 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

It's the Sonic you know and love until an incredible twist thrusts Sonic into a new adventure featuring a reinvented cast and Sonic like you've never seen him before, where the fate of the multiverse rests in his gloved hands. Sonic's adventure is about more than a race to save the universe from the evil machinations of his longtime nemesis Dr. Eggman and his army of badnik robots, it's a race to save his friends, friends that he took for granted.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Sonic Prime is an entertaining eight episode series with a lot of adventures, including traveling through different universes and meeting different versions of Sonic's friends. If you are a Sonic the Hedgehog fan or are looking for an enjoyable show to watch, check this out.

This series is about Sonic (Deven Mack Jr.), Tails (Ashleigh Ball), Amy Rose (Shannon Chan-Kent) and Knuckles (Adam Nurada) as they fight crime together to keep the town safe. As they are fighting Doctor Eggman (Brian Drummond), Sonic accidentally gets sent to a new universe, one where no one talks and no one knows who Sonic is, even though Sonic knows everyone there. Even in the new universe, it is up to Sonic to keep a new city safe.

I like how in almost every episode Sonic ends up in a new universe, every one of which is different. There is a universe where there are cavemen; a universe where there are pirates; and more. My favorite episode is episode seven, "It Takes One to No Place," because it's the most entertaining episode, ending with a great cliffhanger leading to the next episode. It made me want to continue watching more episodes. Watch out because you might not want to stop! My favorite character is Sonic, because he learns from his mistakes and he perseveres. These are great characteristics for anyone to have and it's why Sonic succeeds so much. Also Sonic is a really funny character and I like that.

The message of Sonic Prime is that mistakes can be fixed; you just have to fix them the right way. In the beginning, Sonic makes the mistake of not listening to people around him and he ends up in a parallel universe. He has to work with what he gets along the way and he fights to make it back to his universe. This show is very kid-friendly.

I give Sonic Prime 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Sonic Prime is available now on Netflix. Be sure to check it out!

Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Video game fanatics, does Netflix have a treat for you. If you value nostalgia in the form of binge spree TV series, sit back and prepare to catch some as Sonic rings in this new adventure-filled, action-packed, family-fun animated series. It's back to the 90s with as Sonic and some of Sega's most memorable console characters returning in the new series Sonic Prime where they travel about multiple universes trying to protect their home.

Sonic Prime takes viewers on a thrilling ride as they watch Sonic (Deven Mack) and his friends' trusted companions warp in and out of new universes to protect their home from the iniquitous Dr. Eggman (Brian Drummond). Sonic must advance through the Shattervierse into new terrifying dimensions to locate pieces of the shard of the Paradox Crystal. Prepare to be astonished as Sonic encounters various versions of his friends and new enemies, including Tails (Ashleigh Ball), Knuckles (Adam Nurada), Big the Cat (Iam Hanlin, Amy Rose (Shannon Chan-Kent) and Rogue (Kamuzi Evans). Sonic is determined to gather all the missing shards, so Tails can put them together and save them.

This eight-episode arcade-inspired remake is "to the brim" with speed and action. Sonic is known for his incomparable speed, ability to curl into a ball and use himself as a weapon, and his lionhearted personality. This CGI animated series does not neglect to include these notable unforgettable qualities in every episode. There are some genuinely magical otherworldly moments in this series; one being the sound effects. Memorable moments such as Sonic traveling to new universes or collecting his golden rings are amplified by high-quality sound effects. Some mind-blowing action moments accommodate the nature of this series as well. This is a fast-paced series; the camera work and animation bring this production together in a delightful way.

Sonic Prime offers a message of resilience and friendship. This series depicts the dedication of friends and the power of unity and Sonic and his friends make a great effort to save their world and protect others. While this series makes your head spin faster than Sonic himself, some people may be disappointed by the ending. If you despise cliffhangers, brace yourself.

I give Sonic Prime 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus loyal Sonic fans. This animated series is designed with game lovers in mind. Sonic Prime releases on Netflix on December 15, 2022.

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SONIC PRIME


FANTASY FOOTBALL
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NICKELODEON ONLINE

Description:

In this hilarious and heartwarming father-daughter sports fantasy, everything changes when Callie A. Coleman (Marsai Martin) discovers she can magically control her father, Bobby's (Omari Hardwick) performance on the football field. When Callie plays as her dad, a running back for the Atlanta Falcons, in EA SPORTS Madden NFL 23, Bobby is transformed from a fumblitis-plagued journeyman to a star running back bound for superstardom alongside his daughter and wife Keisha (Kelly Rowland). With the NFL Playoffs looming and the pressures of Callie's new commitment to her friends on the robotics team mounting, the two must forge ahead to keep the magic a secret as they juggle the highs and lows of their newfound success, all as they rediscover what it really means to be a family.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Fantasy Football is a film that has the potential to become a favorite. Since American football is one of the most popular sports in the world, what could be better than to combine a seasoned cast with beloved sport in a new movie?

The storyline follows Bobby Coleman (Omari Hardwick), an NFL running back constantly hit with misfortune on the field. As his life fills with questions, he and his daughter Callie (Marsai Martin) argue and Callie's discovers she can control Bobby's playing through a video game. You have to watch the film to find out if Bobby is able to use this to his advantage, or if it creates more trouble for everyone.

Fantasy Football is a comical, family friendly movie. Bobby's big problem is that he cannot keep the football in his hands long enough to land himself a starting spot or make a positive impact on any team. Although actual NFL players may not be in the exact same circumstance as Bobby, this movie nicely represents what their real experiences may be like. For me, it was fascinating to see what the life of a professional athlete might look like. The actors express multiple emotions, and their ability to drop hilarious lines and make faces that catch the audience's attention is what makes this so much fun. The dynamics and banter between Bobby and Anderson (Rome Flynn) helps carry the movie, and make it one that I would watch more than once. Led by Sekinah Brown, the costume designs display dedication and attention to detail. The uniforms that Bobby and the players wear look identical to actual Atlanta Falcons' uniforms.

The message of Fantasy Football is that nothing worth having comes easy. Bobby has had the worst luck in the NFL, after not breaking the rushing record, but all of his struggles become worth it when he finally gets his opportunity to shine.

I give Fantasy Football 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Fantasy Football is available now on Paramount+. Make sure you check this out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FANTASY FOOTBALL


SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY'S
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

Nothing compares to the magic and excitement of the holidays in New York City, where the streets blaze with lights, windows dazzle, and a special box from Tiffany could change the course of a person's life -- or several lives. Rachel and Gary (Zoey Deutch, Ray Nicholson) are happy enough, but not quite ready for that big commitment. Ethan and Vanessa (Kendrick Sampson, Shay Mitchell), the perfect picture, are just about to make it official. When a simple mix-up of gifts causes all of their paths to cross, it sets off a series of twists and unexpected discoveries that lead them to where they're truly meant to be. Because love-like life-is full of surprises, in the holiday romance Something from Tiffany's.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

On a cold winter night, Something from Tiffany's will melt your heart and have you dreaming of blue boxes with sparkly surprises.

Love isn't always perfect, like a Tiffany's diamond. Rachel Meyer's (Zoey Deutch) life suddenly changes on Christmas day when she receives a surprising gift from her boyfriend, Gary (Ray Nicholson), and he is just as surprised as she. That same morning Ethan Greene (Kendrick Sampson) watches his future fiance Vanessa (Shay Mitchell) open a gift box only to discover the engagement ring he purchased has turned into earrings. This unintentional gift exchange sets off a series of humorous and heartfelt events encouraging Rachel and Ethan to find their true happiness and love.

I love how well this movie quietly integrates the magic of New York City during the holidays to highlight romance and self-discovery. Zoey Deutch's strong performance as Rachel has you rooting for her to set boundaries and find a healthy, loving relationship. And Kendrick Sampson's performance as Ethan Greene exudes a warm and charismatic personality which makes him the perfect choice for the right girl. The chemistry between the key characters creates effortless attraction, making you forget the complications in this romantic comedy. Ray Nicholson as Gary, Shay Mitchell as Vanessa, and Leah Jeffries as Daisy all play supporting roles with depth and honesty to the reality that love isn't always easy. Director Daryl Wein keeps the romantic moments authentic and light-hearted.

We often hear "everything happens for a reason" and in Something from Tiffany's, this is a huge understatement. Taking the risk to find love and cherishing the love between friends and family are themes celebrated throughout the film. Plus, it reminds us to follow our dreams and not fear failure.

I rate Something from Tiffany's 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Something from Tiffany's premieres on Prime Video December 9, 2022.

By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY'S


LITTLE FOOT 3
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-8

Category: FAMILY
FEATUREM, AGES 5-8 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WOW NOW ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Say it isn't so! Little Foot has a foot odor problem! Will King Arthur defeat Little Foot's crawly, stinky, creepy foot cooties just in time for the Yeti Snow Party? Join the adventure and find out in Little Foot 3!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

I found Little Foot 3 entertaining, especially for its target age. It is a funny and heartfelt story about a Yeti named Little Foot who has a foot odor problem. He embarks on a journey to cure it in time for the Yeti Snow Party. This film is all about how you should never give up. I really enjoyed the animation of this film and the vibrant colors for the characters. It is amazing that the film's 14 voices are all made by five voice actors. I give Little Foot 3 - 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It releases on DVD and VOD December 6, 2022. By Elizabeth V., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Little Foot 3 is a fun, family-friendly mystery - full of adventure and definitely grabs your attention.

Little Foot 3 follows Little Foot the Sasquatch who goes into space with his snowman friend. While he's there, he visits Santa, who reveals to him that he's suffering from something called shadow toes. This is when your feet have a terrible odor, making you, and every room you enter smell. Throughout the film we follow Little Foot as he undertakes a journey to end his shadow toes.

Something that I really enjoy about the movie is its adventurous storyline. Little Foot's expedition is a constant process. He is always meeting fun new characters, some of which are helpful, and some -- not so much. Either way, it's entertaining to see Little Foot interact with all these different personalities. Additionally, the picture quality stands out. All the colors are very vibrant and fun. However, I will say that the audio track isn't always in synch with the characters' lip movement. At times it's very noticeable and can be quite distracting. This takes away from enjoying the film, because viewers are distracted. Lastly the storyline has a lot of creativity. They take already well-established characters like Snow White and Santa Claus, and put their own twist on them, by giving them different personalities or traits.

The message of the film is to never lose hope in finding a solution.

Little Foot 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 8. You can watch Little Foot 3 on DVD and VOD beginning December 6, 2022.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Little Foot 3 is one that I think younger kids would enjoy. The storyline is very unique, maybe a little repetitive. However, it is a funny story with many different and diverse characters.

This storyline is about a Yeti named Little Foot (Simon Hill) who has a foot odor problem. He treks all over the galaxy in search of King Arthur (Kelsey Painter) who can cure his sickness. He needs his foot to be odor free for the Yeti Snow Party. On his way he meets many characters in faraway parts of the galaxy including Santa (KJ Schrock) and Mr. Fox (John Thompson) from Robin Hood. It is a standalone sequel to Little Foot 1 and 2.

Little Foot 3 has a very impressive cast of voice actors. One thing that is so amazing is that there are only five voice actors, yet there are 14 voice parts! However, until I watched the credits I had no idea some actors voice multiple characters. The storyline is quite repetitive; every scene mostly involves Little Foot meeting someone and finding out where King Arthur is. There is one character that simply made me laugh every time -- Misty the Snowman; he never speaks and only makes sounds. Yet somehow Little Foot understands every sound he makes. The animation style is very unique; it uses a blurred background and the animated characters have very big heads.

The message of this film is to never give up and keep on searching as you may find what you are looking for.

Little Foot 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. Little Foot 3 releases on DVD and VOD December 6 2022.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LITTLE FOOT 3


ELVIS THE PIG
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURES, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

A young girl learns she may have to sell her beloved pet pig Elvis to a local farmer to save the family farm. Unbeknownst to her, the farmer is planning a pig roast and not a forever home. The whole family bands together to save Elvis, uniting to reclaim their farm, proving that love is worth more than money.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Elvis the Pig has a wonderful message and gives a child plenty of issues they can relate to. The story is well written and delivered.

The story follows a family that has to move from their farm to the city due to financial stress and a young girl's beloved pet, Elvis the pig, has to be left behind. The farmer who buys the pig only wants it for food. With sheer determination, the girl tries to save Elvis from that terrible fate, and it motivates her whole family to join her adventure, ultimately proving that family relationships are worth more than anything. I found Elvis the Pig appealing in many ways and the message is evergreen. A favorite scene is the one at the market scene when Elvis hears the air horn and rushes towards it, wreaking havoc on the market, which is quite comedic. The ending is also very funny when the two antagonists are in the pile of waste. There are some scenes that are less than appealing, such as the negotiation of moving to the city and when the two antagonists first show up to buy the pig for food. It is very atypical for introducing villains.

The structure of the story is divided into very simple pieces -- girl gets the news of their move; she tries to convince her father to take Elvis with them; she takes matters into her own hands; finally, everyone joins in and, with their help she accomplishes her goal. The characters are well developed, especially the father as he changes from moving to the city and back to the farm, in spite of the hardships he has to deal with. I can understand the father, as the head of the household, does what he does. The young girl is the heroine of the story, as she remains undeterred in reaching her goal of saving Elvis. We are empathetic with her as it's hard to say goodbye to a pet or anything we've been attached to for a long time. The locations are very realistic, from farm to city. The easy-to-follow storyline is very suitable for its target audience, including the humor. In a good way, it emphasizes the importance of family bonding and the importance of determination. Although the father wants to move to the city, in the end he decides to stay at the farm for his daughter.

The message of the film is that sometimes, family love is more than anything.

I give Elvis the Pig 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It releases on DVD and VOD December 6, 2022

By Tom W., KIDS FIRST! .

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

How far would you go to save something you love? Many people have been faced with a dilemma such as this and, no matter how old you are, your love for something can run so deep that your heart involuntarily leads the way. Elvis the Pig is a film that allows viewers to appreciate the concept of deep love for family, even if that member is not human.

This drama film is about a young girl named Riley (Aggie Bell) and her beloved pet pig, Elvis, who live a great life on the farm they love until the family is forced to sell their home due to financial hardship. Riley's life is soon turned upside down when she learns that her best friend Elvis will not be moving to the city with their family. A local farmer makes a deal with the family to give Elvis a good home but his intentions are deceitful as his real plan for Elvis is to host a pig roast with Riley's best friend as the main course. Riley and her older sister, Nylee (Camryn Macdonald) make it their mission to find their missing family member and reunite him at the farm.

What I really like most about this film is the dedication the family has for one another and their willingness to bond together when they need each other the most. Riley and Nylee don't appear to have a close sister bond, but when Elvis's life is in danger, Nylee is not going to let her sister's best friend fall victim to a horrible fate. The film is very relatable as many families have pets which seem to be the glue holding families together. Elvis the Pig is a bit slow to get going and some of the scenes tend to be drawn out, but overall the storyline is enjoyable and it is a wonderful family movie. The set location of the family farm with its variety of animals is a dream come true for many kids and the talking animals give the film a special touch.

You don't have to be a big animal lover to connect to this film's message. Elvis the Pig is about love, friendship and special bonds. Love runs deep, no matter if that love is between family, friends, or pets; many people will go to great lengths to protect those bonds. Elvis isn't your "usual" pet, but one thing is for certain, he has won the hearts of his family and their lives would not be the same without him in it.

I give Elvis the Pig 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Elvis the Pig releases on December 6, 2022 on DVD and video on demand.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Elvis The Pig is such an exciting film; it keeps you on your toes and puts you in a good mood as you watch the show. Elvis' constant remarks lighten the mood of the film.

The film is about Elvis, a funny character with a good sense of humor that he portrays even in difficult moments. We witness quite a bizarre relationship between a young girl named Riley and Elvis the pig who are best friends. However, Riley's family struggles financially and has to sell their family farm and leave Elvis behind. Little does the family know that the new owner has plans to roasting a pig (Elvis), but this leads to new adventures and a better understanding between all the family members.

The theme of the film revolves around family and friendship. I enjoyed seeing the quality time that the family spends together and how they are able to put aside their differences and come together solve the issue at hand. The story is really beautiful and demonstrates how unity can help overcome our difficult moments. Elvis captured my attention from the start, especially with his humorous comments. He motivated me to continue watching the film. What really stands out in this film is how involved the animals are and how they are personified they are in communicating their thoughts. It gives you an insight of how you will imagine animals talking. I particularly enjoyed the voice of Elvis, by Ryan Coates, which is brilliantly done. From the beginning of the film, through the end, you are drawn to Elvis' comments.

The message assures kids that things always work out regardless of the situation you find yourself in. It also showcases the importance of family relationship. Lastly, it reminds you that "a man's best friend" doesn't only apply to dogs, but can be any pet.

I give Elvis The Pig 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It releases December 6, 2022 on DVD and VOD.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIFRST! Film Critic, age 16

Elvis The Pig is an incredible film, full of life lessons that will influence audiences. I loved this beautiful story from beginning to end.

The storyline follows a little girl named Riley (Aggie Bell) who is unsatisfied with moving to another city and being away from her best friend, little Elvis, a pig. Something wrong happen and she and her sister help to rescue the pig from the hands of two silly bad guys.

The story is well written. I especially enjoyed the characters and their development during the film. They are special. My favorite parts are when the bad guys appear. Their scenes are so funny, because every time they plan to do something bad, they fail in a funny way. I also like the part when the parents are watching old family videos and they are emotional. I was emotional too during those scenes. The scene transitions are good and everything happens naturally. I love everything in this film. Congratulations to the production team!

The film's message is that love is above everything and, with teamwork, we can do things easier.

I give Elvis The Pig 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on DVD and VOD December 6, 2022.

By Anna Clara B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED ELVIS THE PIG


DISENCHANTED
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

It's been fifteen years since Giselle and Robert wed, but Giselle has grown disillusioned with life in the city. They decide to move their growing family to the sleepy suburban community of Monroeville in search of a more fairy tale life - unfortunately, it isn't the quick fix she hoped for. Suburbia has a whole new set of rules and a local queen bee, Malvina Monroe, who makes Giselle feel more out of place than ever. Frustrated that her happily ever after hasn't been easy to find, she turns to the magic of Andalasia for help, accidentally transforming the entire town into a real-life fairy tale, placing her family's future happiness in jeopardy. Now, Giselle is in a race against time to reverse the spell and determine what happily ever after truly means to her and her family.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Disenchanted is a magical combination of part musical, part fairy tale and part adventure. The acting, singing and animated segments make the film truly shine as a worthy sequel to Disney's beloved Enchanted.

Disenchanted follows Giselle (Amy Adams) and her family as they move from New York City to suburban Monroeville to find a new "happily ever after." However, they are met with many challenges, specifically Giselle's daughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) has trouble fitting in at her new school. When Giselle makes a wish to try to solve all of their problems, it backfires, and they are left in a fairytale mess once again. Who knew that Malvina (Maya Rudolph) had the potential to be an evil queen? Will Andalasia disappear altogether? Or will Giselle find a way to save both worlds?

Featuring the entire original cast, Disenchanted is an excellent sequel. Although it includes all the same core pieces as Enchanted, it is more than a rewritten version. There's more music, with plenty of songs spread throughout the entire film. These upbeat and intense songs grabbed my attention; the ballads help tell the story and the softer pieces bring out the character's emotions. The dancing and animation help bring out the best in each song. One thing I noticed is that the songs are slightly repetitive. Sometimes, the song you're listening to sounds very similar to one you heard just a few minutes ago, which detracts from the musical aspect a bit. However, the singers are very talented. Specifically, Idina Menzel brings a lot to the table whenever she sings. The acting is also incredible. Amy Adams, Gabriella Baldacchino and Patrick Dempsey (as Giselle's husband, Robert) create a relatable family dynamic. The switching back and forth, between animation and live-action, is so cool. It makes the distinction clear between Andalasia and Monroeville, which could otherwise be a very confusing transition.

The message of Disenchanted is that you should be careful what you wish for. It may seem like there are so many problems that need to be fixed, but sometimes people need to solve them for themselves. Giselle wants to help Morgan fit into her new home, but her wanting to do that is unclear and causes more problems than before. Disenchanted also emphasizes the importance of family. Note that there is some very minor inappropriate language and some violence.

I give Disenchanted 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. You can watch Disenchanted on Disney+ now.


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED DISENCHANTED


COLOR QUEST AR
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-8

Category: EDUC/INSTR (Educational/Instructional)
APP, AGES 5-8 series

Media:
App

Distributor:
ST. BEDE SCHOOL

Description:

Color, learn, and discover fun characters that come to life in your exciting augmented reality quest for health! Stayhealthy's new educational app includes fruits, vegetables, and a magical look into the human body with engaging new characters every month! Color your favorite character, press the magic button, read a fun health fact, and see your new creation come to life and dance in front of you in augmented reality (AR). Keep on coloring to unlock all the characters to win badges, play bonus games, and become the ultimate Magic Health Master in this coloring adventure!

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

coming soon

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Color Quest AR is a fantastic, interactive new app that I highly recommend. It is the ultimate creativity app, with a combination of digital drawing, coloring and augmented reality features that blew my mind.

In Color Quest AR, you can choose one of three fun characters available for free, or purchase any of other themed characters for a fee. Then, you proceed to the coloring screen, where you choose between various colors and brush sizes and use your finger to color in your chosen character. Once satisfied with your character, head on over to the augmented reality feature, where you can look through the screen and watch your personalized character come to life in front of you, no matter where you are!

There are apps for digital coloring; there are apps for augmented reality. But this one-of-a-kind app allows you to pursue both interests in a single app. My jaw dropped when I first saw my personally-colored character appear in front of me. I am so impressed by how real it truly seems. Your character just pops up in front of you, wherever you are. Another detail of the app that stands out is the wide variety of color options. There are six main colors, with five shades within each color option. In addition, there are four brush sizes. This allows you to color smaller areas without going outside of the lines, and use the brush more efficiently in larger areas. Even the eraser feature has different thicknesses, making it easier to make deletions. Color Quest AR has so many additional features that I can't even begin to name them all. An important one to call attention to is the educational aspect. While the character is being loaded into augmented reality, a health fact pops up. These involve animals, parts of the body and many fun facts. This helps hold your attention during the time the loading circle spins. There is also a music video with the app's characters, and background music options to immerse yourself in. If you look in the menu, you can even click to find a playlist that'll spark your creativity and motivate you as well.

Color Quest AR excels at developing creativity, problem-solving skills and patience while also being educational and tons of fun. It is totally child-safe. One thing I will note is that there are optional in-app purchases. While the app can still be enjoyed and used without these paid features, be sure that your child doesn't accidentally buy something without permission.

I give Color Quest AR 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. Color Quest AR is available now anywhere you get your apps.


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED COLOR QUEST AR


SPIRITED
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

Each Christmas Eve, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) selects one dark soul to be reformed by a visit from three spirits. But this season, he picked the wrong Scrooge. Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds) turns the tables on his ghostly host until Present finds himself reexamining his own past, present and future. For the first time, "A Christmas Carol" is told from the perspective of the ghosts in this hilarious musical twist on the classic Dickens tale. From Director Sean Anders ("Daddy's Home," "Instant Family"), written by Sean Anders and John Morris, with original songs by Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ("La La Land") and production numbers choreographed by Chloe Arnold ("The Late Late Show with James Corden"), this modern retelling is a sweet and spicy holiday treat.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Spirited is a fresh new take on Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, paired with beautiful visuals and comedy. The film is incredibly entertaining, but misses the mark a bit in regards to the music and storyline.

Spirited follows the story of the Spirit of Christmas Present (Will Ferrel), on his mission to reform Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds) and his heartless ways. With the help of Past (Sunita Mani) and Future (Tracy Morgan), the spirits hatch a plan to teach Briggs about the error of his ways. Through a series of events, Briggs turns the tables on the Spirit of Christmas Present and together they re-examine their past in order to live the lives they always dreamed of.

Spirited is a fun and upbeat film, but the music leaves much to be desired. Ferrel and Reynolds are excellent comedic actors and every scene that they are in together is super entertaining and funny. Although they are great actors, neither of them is particularly musically inclined, so unfortunately, many of their songs and musical numbers fall flat. However, one musical number that I really enjoyed was the "Good Afternoon" scene as it is filled with great choreography and energy, which makes it really fun to watch. The concept of the film is so clever and refreshing, but its downfall is that the plot has a lot of holes in it. There are a lot of plot-lines that are introduced, but never followed up on, which leaves the audience hanging with questions regarding the storyline. Plus, the consequences that Clint Briggs has to his "cancel culture" concept lack impact. Spirited has a lot of jokes relating to current pop culture and news, which makes it lose its timeless quality, as many of the jokes may be funny today but will not make sense for future viewers. It also has a lot of curse words and adult jokes, which makes it a little less family-friendly. The visuals in the film are all beautiful, especially in the scenes with the Spirits and their office and also in the "transitions."

Spirited addresses the negative impacts of social media and finding yourself. The scenes regarding social media and cyberbullying are very impactful, especially for teenagers and younger audiences. Parents should be aware that the film has a lot of curse words and adult jokes, which may be inappropriate for younger viewers.

I give Spirited 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available now in select theaters and will be available on Apple TV+ beginning November 18, 2022.


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SPIRITED


CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
RA VISION PRODUCTIONS

Description:

Podcast host Laura Ross and her longtime friend and producer Paul are challenged to re-examine their personal and professional relationships when a listener submits the daily "Christmas Challenge" that promotes togetherness to their ambitious "Modernly Independent" podcast.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Christmas Challenge is the perfect holiday romance film to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy. With a humorous and engaging script and great performances, you'll love watching the dynamic between Laura and Paul evolve in this heartwarming film.

The Christmas Challenge follows two enterprising media professionals. Podcast host Laura Ross (Jennica Schwartzman) and her close friend and producer Paul (Zack Gold) are challenged to re-examine their personal and professional relationships when well-wishing friends pose as listeners and submit the daily "Christmas Challenge" that promotes togetherness to their ambitious "Modernly Independent" podcast. And when corporate representative Michale (Galadriel Stineman) enters the foray to assess their podcast, matters grow even more complex.

The writing by Ryan Schwartzman is one of the best parts of the film. With its natural dialogue and banter between Laura and Paul and the well thought-out plot, The Christmas Challenge doesn't miss a beat. Jennica Schwartzman steals the show as Laura; she captures the angst of a woman both desperate to be independent and desiring companionship with delicacy. And you have to love Zack Gold; as he plays Paul, the "nice guy" trope -- he's 100% invested in winning over Laura at all times and that wishful glint in his eye adds so much to the film. Overall, a wonderfully made film!

The Christmas Challenge promotes togetherness and love. For those who are especially focused on their work and intent on being independent, this film is a reminder that it's perfectly okay to: (a) succumb to your feelings and (b) spend time with those you love.

I give The Christmas Challenge 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Christmas Challenge on streaming platforms starting November 22, 2022.


 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE, THE


DEVOTION
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Devotion, an aerial war epic based on the bestselling book of the same name, tells the inspirational true story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots who helped turn the tide in the most brutal battle in the Korean War: Jesse Brown, the first Black aviator in Navy history and his fellow fighter pilot and friend, Tom Hudner. Their heroic sacrifices and enduring friendship would ultimately make them the Navy's most celebrated wingmen.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Devotion is an epically inspirational, heartbreaking and high stakes, action-packed war movie based on actual events. It's an emotional roller coaster that will fly you high into the sky and then crash you down into the ground.

Devotion is based on the inspiring true story of the first African American aviator in the U.S. Navy, Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and his friendship with another aviator, Tom Hudner (Glen Powell). It follows them as they help change the course of the Korean War.

This movie is based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, written by Adam Makos. The cinematography is profoundly marvelous. The scenes of the pilots flying are intense as you feel the pilots' bravery and the dangerous situations they find themselves in. I highly recommend watching this movie on the biggest screen possible to appreciate the film's full effects. This movie takes place in the 1950s and the sets, locations, props and costumes perfectly capture the era, making you feel as if you are transported back in time. Jonathan Majors (Jesse), Glen Powell (Tom) and Christina Jackson (Daisy) have the best performances. Jonathan Majors' embodiment of Jesse is truly so realistic and believable. Glen Powell seems to have a knack for playing airmen, and once again executes his role wonderfully. Christina Jackson is such a strong mother and wife in this movie, and she and Jonathan Majors have so much chemistry that they really create a real family dynamic.

The message of Devotion is to never give up, even when the odds are against you. This movie has violence, war and death, as well as tobacco and alcohol consumption. It also has profanity.

I give Devotion 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters November 23, 2022.


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED DEVOTION


STRANGE WORLD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

Walt Disney Animation Studios' original action-packed adventure Strange World introduces a legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog and a slew of ravenous creatures. The voice cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade, a family man who finds himself out of his element on an unpredictable mission; Dennis Quaid as Searcher's larger-than-life explorer father, Jaeger; Jaboukie Young-White as Searcher's 16-year-old son, Ethan, who longs for adventure; Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade, an accomplished pilot and Searcher's partner in all things; and Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal, Avalonia's fearless leader who spearheads the exploration into the strange world.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Strange World certainly is strange! This sci-fi adventure is full of surprises, highlights the dynamics of a modern family, and is filled with diverse characters and strong messages.

Strange World follows the Clades - Jaeger and Searcher - legendary explorers of the city of Avalonia who could tackle any challenge and adventure. However, when Jaeger goes on a mission and doesn't return, Searcher stops exploring the outside world and finds an energy source called "pando" that greatly affects Avalonia. But when pando suddenly starts dying, Searcher must go on an important mission to fix the problem and explore the untraveled and "strange" lands.

My favorite part about this movie is the production quality. The world building of the "strange world" is so detailed - it's phenomenal. The new and weird creatures that they discover look like they could be straight out of Dr. Seuss or Avatar, and they fit right in. All of the places they discover are so exotic. This movie also intentionally focuses on representing a diverse and inclusive set of characters and shows us what the world is actually like. My favorite voice performances are by Jake Gyllenhaal (Searcher), Gabrielle Union (Meridian) and Dennis Quaid (Jaeger). Jake Gyllenhaal is perfectly cast as Searcher, the protective and caring dad and husband. Gabrielle Union portrays her character, Meridian, as a wise and admirable role model. Dennis Quaid's voice really fits the big and booming Jaeger Clade. The first half of the storyline is strong. However, closer to the end, there is a big plot twist that younger kids may find confusing as it is a bit complex.

The message of the movie is to remind parents not to put too many job and profession expectations on their kids and allow them to make their own choices. It also has environmental messages about respecting and caring for the Earth and its resources.

I give Strange World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters on November 23, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED STRANGE WORLD


FABELMANS, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

The Fabelmans is a 2022 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written and produced by Tony Kushner and Spielberg. It is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg's adolescence and first years as a director, told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy, with Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch in supporting roles. It is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg's real-life parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments below

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Fabelmans is a touching and mesmerizing film that celebrates the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg while recounting his origins as a filmmaker. The film provides an absolutely emotional experience--it's mainly about the vicissitudes of family interaction while paying homage to cinema.

As a kid, Sam Fabelman learns an important lesson from his father, one of the basic principles of filmmaking: retinal persistence. Like magic, films are a simple succession of still images, which give the illusion of movement. When Sammy attends his first movie projection, the event turns into a life-changing experience. The story follows his life while he discovers his passion for movie-making supported by his family: his dad Burt (Paul Dano), his mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), his three sisters, and his uncle Ben (Seth Rogen). His father is an electrical engineer, his mother a concept piano player--and this fusion of technicality with art certainly shaped his craft. The family's dynamic is beautiful yet cloudy at times; a source material turned into melodrama, perfect for great storytelling.

I love the humanity that The Fabelmans displays. And I loved the way the film shows and captures Sam's life overall, in the sense that it doesn't just feel like you are watching a story. As the audience I can really understand and feel the emotions Sam is feeling. Characters are the core of the storyline and the relationships between them. Despite that the Fabelmans are not a perfect family, they stand out in their unity and the bond between them. The relationship between Sam and his mom, masterfully performed by Michelle Williams, is mesmerizing to watch. There's a complicity that is put to the test, generating wonderful conflict. Williams' scenes are like study material for an actor. And yet every cast member is great at their craft in this film. The camera moves fluidly from the family dinners, to the action scenes contained in Sam's early films, through the corners of the houses where the family moved and the places that hide the deepest family secrets. Janusz Kaminski's photography brings the era alive visually and has the perfect warmth, and the score of John Williams stays in our hearts. The Fabelmans deserves Oscar nominations.

My favorite scenes are Sam experimenting and reproducing the train crash he watched in his first movie experience and Mitzi watching herself in her son's family movie. My favorite quote: "Guilt is a waste of an emotion" which I consider profoundly meaningful in terms of what this movie is telling its audience. The message of the film is to be able to find balance in adversity. Families are not perfect, but true bond should prevail. The Fabelmans is rated PG-13 due to mature thematic elements and brief violence and drug use.

I give The Fabelmans 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for audiences 13 to 18, plus adults. The Fabelmans opens in theaters November 23, 2022.

By Zo� C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR FABELMANS, THE


LIMITLESS WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

A different way we can live better for longer: regenerating damage, maximizing strength, building resilience, shocking the body, supercharging memory and confronting mortality.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

This six episode docu-series is entertaining to watch, and, at times, educational - in a very fun way. Limitless With Chris Hemsworth tests the limits of the human body and finds what may lead to a longer life.

Limitless With Chris Hemsworth follows -- you guessed it -- Chris Hemsworth, occasionally with his friends and family, on a six-episode journey to find ways to boost longevity and quality of life.

It's fascinating to see some unexpected ways we could achieve longevity and a better life. Of course, not all of these actions can and/or should be imitated by the average person, but there are ways that you can modify what's in the episodes and apply it to your own life. Examples include fasting for one day a month or turning the shower on cold for the last 30 seconds or spending time in a sauna - these practices can help lead to a longer life. Some of the episodes include Stress-Proof, Memory, and Strength. My favorite episode is Acceptance, where Chris gets to experience firsthand what it's like to be old and how to accept that. I really found it interesting to watch Chris Hemsworth outside of the MCU and be just himself. It adds something more personal and makes the audience feel connected to him in a new way.

The message of Limitless With Chris Hemsworth is to accept aging because it's a part of life, and yet there are ways to make life healthier and longer lasting. There are some very risky things done in this show that should not be done without expert supervision.

I give Limitless With Chris Hemsworth 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This series comes out on Disney+ November 16, 2022.


 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR LIMITLESS WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH


BLUE'S BIG CITY ADVENTURES
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NICKELODEON

Description:

Blue's Big City Adventure follows Josh (Josh Dela Cruz), who gets the opportunity of a lifetime to audition for Rainbow Puppy's (Brianna Bryan) Broadway musical, and Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) as they skidoo to New York City where they meet new friends and discover the magic of music, dance and following one's dreams. The entire "Blue's Clues" crew is reunited for this special movie event, with the beloved animated friends and all three hosts--Josh, Steve (Steve Burns) and Joe (Donovan Patton)--together for the first time in the Big Apple.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Blue's Clues & You cast takes a bite out of the "Big Apple" to follow their dreams in their new hit movie musical, Blue's Big City Adventures! This film has something for the entire family -- from big dreams, superb dance numbers, multi-talented guests appearances -- all while still managing to fit in Blue's clues to help along the way. While watching this magical film, you feel the joy and entertainment you always get from the Blue's Clues franchise!

Blue's Big City Adventures follows Blue's Clues & You host, Josh, (Joshua Dela Cruz), as he heads to New York for a dream audition for Rainbow Puppy, (Brianna Bryan), who is following her own dream of creating her first Broadway musical. As Josh and Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) start on the adventure of a lifetime to the big city, Josh realizes he left his handy-dandy notebook with the audition information and now has to uncover clues to help him get to the audition before three o'clock.

I love how well this film highlights all the incredible things that make New York, New York. From the busyness, its famous pretzels, Times Square jumbotrons, street performances, taxis and even, being known as the place where dreams are made true. This film is the perfect tour guide to New York. There are sensational cameos such as B.D. Wong, who helps Rainbow Puppy cast for her musical. The camera angles and the music are special features and contribute to keeping the storyline interesting and flowing, especially for younger viewers. Fun Fact: Joshua Dela Cruz's real-life story is very similar to his character Josh's in this film, in that he moved from Dubai to America to fulfill his dreams of being on Broadway the way Josh travels from Storybook World to New York to be on Broadway.

Of course, keeping with the Blue's Clues' theme of teaching life's lessons, Blue's Clues Big City Adventures, is packed with different messages. The biggest takeaway is how you should never give up on your dreams, otherwise, how will you know if you can make them a reality? Josh faces different obstacles while trying to pursue his "big break," including being nervous and losing his handy-dandy notebook, but he stays focus on his goal and ready to show what he can do.

I give Blue's Big City Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults who will love it too. This is truly the perfect movie for a family. Blue's Big City Adventures is available on Paramount+ beginning November 18, 2022

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BLUE'S BIG CITY ADVENTURES


SALVATORE: SHOEMAKER OF DREAMS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Salvatore: Shoemaker Of Dreams is a portrait of a man whose vision, passion, and craftsmanship made him "shoemaker to the stars," an architect of Hollywood magic, and an enduring cultural, fashion, and artistic influence.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a striking documentary that's inspiring and innovative. It welcomes you into a creative world that shaped multiple aspects of life today.

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams follows the life of Salvatore Ferragamo, the incredible shoemaker with insane intellectual talent. By the age of 16 he was off to America where his career exploded as he built a huge reputation in the film business. Although he provided shoes for some of the biggest icons in history, life wasn't always the easiest for him. However, Salvatore Ferragamo remains one of the most loving, caring and well-known shoemakers to this day.

I really enjoy the storyline of this film; it's not only extremely inspiring, but educational as well. It shows viewers how you can do anything that you put your mind to. I also appreciate the fact that it includes interviews with people who know Ferragamo and understand his culture. It really emphasizes the importance of his childhood and how that shaped him. Additionally, the structure of the film is really helpful. Using actual video clips from Ferragamo's life, plus close friends and family members that explain his history is a really nice feature. This allows us to view Ferragamo on a more personal level. Plus, the quality of the more dated clips still have great sound and picture quality, which gives it a modern feeling, while remaining authentic to the time period. I also enjoyed the soundtrack and background music. The music is subtle and really makes a difference. In most of the montages, there is light piano playing in the background which elevates the film and really sets the mood/tone.

The message of Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is to always follow your heart, passions and dreams.

I give Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams in select theaters now.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SALVATORE: SHOEMAKER OF DREAMS


SANTA CLAUSES, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Scott Calvin is back! After being Santa Claus for nearly thirty years, he's as jolly as ever. But as Christmas declines in popularity, so does his Santa magic. Scott struggles to keep up with the demands of the job, as well as being there for his family. Upon discovering there is a way to retire from his post, Scott considers stepping down as Santa Claus and finding a worthy successor so that he can become a better father and husband.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Hang up the stockings; get out the cookies and milk, and say ho-ho-ho to The Santa Clauses! This is the perfect show to say hello to Christmas and the winter season. It proves that perseverance is everything and family matters most. This is a great way to bring up past Christmas classics, The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3.

The show starts off with Santa himself, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) and his elf, Noel (Devin Bright), giving presents to loving children all over the world, but something goes wrong: Santa's magic starts malfunctioning. Almost a whole year goes by after the catastrophe and the magic is back to normal, but during a present delivery, another incident happens - something really bad. After all that mess, Scott realizes that he has to do the two things he has dreaded all 28 years of his career -- find a new Santa and retire. Scott tries to find a new Santa within his first son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and his other son, Buddy (Austin Kane), but neither seem interested, and it leaves Scott heartbroken and stressed over finding the perfect new Santa Claus.

The thought of Christmas and snow and everything that makes winter the "holiday season" absolutely delights me, which is why this show is perfect. My favorite parts are the amazing special effects used to enhance the magic of Christmas. I love when Scott and Noel are flying above all of the houses with the reindeer -- even if it is just a lot of greenscreen and wiring. It gives the perfect image of Santa Claus trying to make every child in the world happy and believe in the magic of Christmas. I also love how the director, Jason Winer, keeps the original characters, since we all like them. Scott "Santa Claus" Calvin is still the enjoyable, ambitious character he once was 28 years ago, and Charlie is still the spontaneous, kind young man he has been and always will be.

The message of this show is that family will always come first, no matter the situation. Scott Calvin has proven again and again that, even when Christmas is in danger, he always makes room for his family.

I give The Santa Clauses 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ November 16, 2022.

By Ari P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Santa Clauses is a perfect series to watch with your family during the holiday season. I loved its spin on classic songs and its message about taking time for family.

The story follows Santa Claus (Tim Allen) making serious decisions for the future of the holiday season when he feels his magic starting to fade away. Mrs Claus (Elizabeth Michell), who has been living in the North Pole for almost 30 years, sees an opportunity to start a normal life, back in the city around normal people, with her family including her two children, Cal (Austin Kane) and Sandra Calvin-Claus (Elizabeth Allan- Dick).

This series has a modern spin to classic songs, vivid colors, great humor and realistic special effects, which all combine to bring a classic holiday story to life in a refreshing new way. One of my favorite scenes is when Santa, with his big belly, tries to get into a house - watch and see the secrets of being Santa! Kids around the world love and believe in Santa Claus. One girl in particular, Grace Choksi (Rupali Redd) insists on telling her father, Simon Choksi (Kal Penn) that Santa Claus is real and has always helped her decorate the house during the most magical day of the year. On one Christmas Eve, Grace receives a present from Santa Claus, which makes her Father research the truth about the existence of Santa Claus. Kal Penn, a businessman, with lots of interesting ideas, wants to find ways to make his business successful and sees an opportunity when he looks at the sky and watches Santa flying across the sky on his sleigh. For our beloved Santa, understanding that it is time to find a replacement isn't easy but he certainly has fun watching the Elves take the challenge to help him. I can't wait to watch the next episode of The Santa Clauses!

The message of this series is that magic is real if you believe in it and, if it is time to take a break and focus on your life, health and family, don't think twice.

I give The Santa Clauses 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available at Disney+ beginning November 16, 2022.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SANTA CLAUSES, THE


CHRISTMAS STORY CHRISTMAS, A
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-18 series

Media:
Web Series

Distributor:
HBO MAX

Description:

Follows the now-adult Ralphie as he returns to the house on Cleveland Street to give his kids a magical Christmas like the one he had as a child, reconnecting with childhood friends, and reconciling the passing of his Old Man. Peter Billingsley returns to the role that has made kids of all ages anticipate Christmas morning like no other.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A Christmas Story Christmas is the highly anticipated and long-awaited follow-up to the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. It's full of new and old faces and, of course, plenty of hilarious scenes. This movie certainly gets you ready for the holiday season.

Peter Billingsley returns as Ralphie in A Christmas Story Christmas. He's back and all grown up, and tries to give his kids a magical Christmas, just like the ones he had when he was younger. But with an unexpected loss, he must do it by himself. Can he live up to his dad's standards and give his kids the perfect Christmas?

As the title suggests, this movie is the sequel to A Christmas Story, nearly 40 years in the making! It isn't necessary to watch the original movie to make sense of this one; however, there are references to the original movie that may be a bit confusing for those who haven't viewed it. Also, A Christmas Story is one of my favorite Christmas movies and is a joy to watch, so I do recommend it before watching this one if possible. One of my favorite parts of this movie is the fact that most of the original cast members play their same characters. Flick (Scott Schwartz), Schwartz (R.D. Robb), Randy (Ian Petrella), and even Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) all make an appearance. It is surreal (in a good way) to see what these former childhood actors now look like all grown up. I've never searched for their current appearances, so they are all a pleasant surprise. I also love how the sequel stays true to the original movie with all the sets, transitions and personalities of the characters. The narration is even similar to the first movie. Peter Billingsley, on top of just acting in this movie, also co-wrote and produced it. Kudos to him for all the work he did to bring us this movie. Speaking of some of the actors, my favorite performances are from Peter Billingsley (Ralphie), Julie Hagerty (Ralphie's mom) and Erinn Hayes (Sandy). Peter Billingsley keeps all his mannerisms and quirks from Ralphie even in his adult years, which makes this movie feel familiar and comedic. Julie Hagerty replaces Melinda Dillon as Ralphie's mom, and she fills her shoes so well. Erinn Hayes plays the newly introduced character Sandy and fits right in. She makes me feel as if she has been there forever because of the amusing interactions she has with other characters. The actors have so much chemistry, no doubt due to the fact that most of them have known each other for so long.

The primary message of A Christmas Story Christmas is that sometimes, it's the thought (and effort) that counts. This movie also deals with the loss of loved ones. There is some mild profanity and consumption of alcohol.

I give A Christmas Story Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Fans of original movie will enjoy this movie as well as those who are unfamiliar with the original. It comes on HBO Max November 17, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

A Christmas Story is a must-watch and part of many families' holiday traditions. Holiday memes, ads, cards and messages are riddled with the film's iconic quotes and scenes (remember the LEG LAMP?). For diehard fans of this Christmas classic comes the long awaited sequel, full of the adventure and comedy like what made the first movie so memorable. Can Ralphie Parker honor his dad, create holiday magic and achieve his dream of becoming a writer - all before Christmas day? A Christmas Story Christmas is a hilarious and touching continuation of the life of the character we know and love which will pull at your heartstrings this festive season.

A Christmas Story Christmas follows a grown-up Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) as he tries to navigate the adult struggles of Christmas after his father passes. Ralphie and his family - his wife (Erinn Hayes), daughter (Julianna Layne) and son (River Drosche) head to Indiana from Chicago to console Ralphie's mother (Julie Hagerty) and spread some holiday cheer. What Ralphie doesn't know is that filling his late father's shoes is no small task. Frantically shopping for presents and buying the biggest tree imaginable, Ralphie tries to create the best Christmas for his family, all while trying to meet his Christmas writing deadline. Yuletide joy and Christmas spirit are ever present throughout this exciting film.

The true magic in this movie is in how sentimental and relatable it is for families who have lost a loved one, but still have the audience cackling with laughter. I don't think I have ever heard so many giggles in one theater. Layne, as Ralphie's young daughter, contributes many funny moments, displaying expert comedic timing, being sarcastic, adorable and relevant all at once - a huge feat for such a young actress. Another hilarious element of this film is the relationship between Ralphie's mother and his wife. These two actresses perfectly capture the beauty and awkwardness of in-laws. Their petty remarks had the audience rolling on the floor laughing. A Christmas Story Christmas is definitely a feel-good classic in the making.

The key message of this film is that when people show up for each other, there can be magic. Ralphie is only one hero of this story. Each Parker family member comes through in times of need, and that is what makes their Christmas so memorable and full of light. Without the support of family, such happiness and prosperity is far less likely.

I give A Christmas Story Christmas 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 18 to 18, plus adults. You can see A Christmas Story Christmas on HBO Max beginning November 17, 2022.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CHRISTMAS STORY CHRISTMAS, A


TRANSFORMERS: EARTHSPARK
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NICKELODEON

Description:

A new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family who adopts them.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the series Transformers: Earthspark! It is an action-packed adventure with heartwarming friendships and strong family bonds that I enjoyed with my whole family.

Fans familiar with the Transformers franchise will enjoy the familiar characters and meet some new ones. Anyone new to Transformers will quickly become acquainted with their history while discovering the first bots born on Earth along with a brother and sister duo, Robby Malto (Sydney Mikayla) and Mo (Zion Broadnax), who share a unique bond. Robby and Mo recently moved from Philly to small town Witwicky where their mom, Dot Malto (Benni Latham) has taken a job as a park ranger and they have left their friends behind. When Robby, frustrated with his new life, decides to bike back to Philly, his sister Mo, who is never left out of his adventures, follows along. A strange encounter with Autobots and some unusual spiderbots has them tumbling off a bridge and discovering a secret cave. Their curiosity and sense of adventure lead them to forming a bond with the first earthborn bots, Twitch (Kathreen Khavari) and Thrash (Zeno Robinson) who they are emotionally connected to. Through some humorous activities and harrowing adventures Twitch and Trash become the vehicle bots that suit their personalities and are part of the Malto Family.

The production quality is superb with vivid animation and crisp colors; the images are so realistic. For example, the texture of Mo's hair looks real. The voice acting is excellent with each character distinct and believable. Robby is voiced by a female but sounds like a teen boy and when Mo and Robby take a tumble their grunts and groans sound believable. And of course, the action is exciting and explosive! When the Transformers click into action the battles are fast and furious. The sound effects really enrich the story and propel the action. The Autobots whirl and rev into their Transformer selves. In terms of the storyline, the amazing bond that Robby and Mo share is special, and the strength and determination of Mo is truly inspiring. It's so great to see a female protagonist take the lead. Another strong female character is Skywarp (Nicole Dubuc); she is smart, self-assured and fierce. There are old school favorites from previous films in the franchise like Optimus Prime (Alan Tudyk), Mr. Malto (Jon Jon Briones) and Bumblebee (Danny Pud) who I love seeing here.

The message in these episodes revolve around togetherness and learning to fit in. These episodes are sure to be great fun with the classic struggles with the Autobot Decepticons Transformers robots, the togetherness of the human Malto Family, and the first Transformers robots to be born on Earth - the Terrans, who are learning how they fit in.

I give Transformer: Earthspark 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Transformers: Earthspark premieres on Paramount + Friday, November 11, 2022.

Madeleine H. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR TRANSFORMERS: EARTHSPARK


PAY DAY, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Set in a post-pandemic world, The Pay Day follows a broke and frustrated IT technician (Kyla Frye) who is charged by a crime boss (Simon Callow) to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth millions on the black market. As if the dangerous pitfalls of her mission weren't enough, the sting gets more complicated when a charming con artist (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission attempting to swipe the loot for himself.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A supremely well-shot entertainer, The Pay Day is a perfectly pleasant film for those looking for a heist film, even though there are some stilted dialogues and scenes that drag.

The film follows a frustrated and recently-fired IT technician (Kyla Frye) who is charged by a crime boss (Simon Callow) to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth $500 million on the black market. Like all good heist films, it's about people who feel neglected in society. Frye's character is being evicted, and she feels that the whole world is against her. This opportunity to steal data is her chance to make it big. When a suave conman (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission to steal the loot for himself, matters grow even more complicated.

The cinematography in The Pay Day as well as the casting are two of the high points. Frye's portrayal of a harried, desperate programmer looking for a way to make some cash is equally stirring and entertaining... though the film does focus on the latter more, due to the writing. This heist film sometimes wants to be a comedy and other times a romantic film, which makes it feel a little disjointed and somewhat like a series of sketches. For example, random flirting between Benjamin and Frye occupies 20 minutes of the film while Frye tries to extract files from a computer -- whose, we don't know yet. Speaking of random things, there are a bunch of odd elements in the film that seem either implausible or infantile to the point of being ridiculous, like a scene where a character survives a shot to the heart and another with a stilted and suggestive exchange about pomegranates. It's largely the writing that makes the first half of the film drag, save for some scenes that really hit it out of the park. There are also tons of stereotypes thrown in, and some will make you cringe. For example a crime boss lounging with his cronies in a dimly lit bar; Pink Panther-esque background music; the typical green zeroes and ones speeding across the screen of a computer being hacked; and a scene where the protagonist sprints through sterile white walkways of every generic office complex.

The Pay Day promotes resourcefulness and resilience. There are some sexually suggestive scenes and discussions of smoking and alcohol.

I give The Pay Day 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Pay Day releases in theaters on November 14, 2022.

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


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED PAY DAY, THE


JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS HIDDEN ADVENTURES
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Based on the show Camp Cretaceous, Hidden Adventure is an interactive special series where the campers survive more danger put against them on Isla Nublar. After a big storm, food is scarce -- and hungry dinos are everywhere. It's up to you to help the Camp Fam survive in this thrilling interactive special.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Hidden Adventures is an interactive episode that gets you involved and keeps you more entertained by deciding what happens next. It's fun to be able to choose what the characters do and what leads up to that because it's not something you can do with a regular movie or show.

This interactive episode is about Darius (Paul-Mik�l Williams), Kenji (Ryan Potter), Brooklyn (Jenna Ortega), Yasmine (Kausar Mohammed), Ben (Sean Giambrone), Sammy (Raini Rodriguez) who are struggling in the aftermath of a huge storm that happened on the island. They have no food, no shelter and, to make matters worse, the dinosaurs have no food so the dinosaurs are out of control. The kids learn that someone has hidden food somewhere on the island and we have to make decisions for them to keep them safe and direct them to the food.

This is a great episode to watch. Something that I like about this show is the teamwork and the communication between the group. Even in such a dire situation, they communicate and run their decisions with each other before making it. I also like how, even if things take a wrong turn, you can always undo your answer and try again. My favorite character is Darius because we are Darius's thoughts and we make the decisions for him when he doesn't know what to choose and when the others don't know as well. Something that confuses me in the show is that, in the series before this, the group leaves the island - so how did they get back on the island? Regardless, I was entertained the whole time and the concept is just a great idea.

The message of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Hidden Adventures is that if you argue you won't get anything done; you need to compromise and work together. At times in the episode you see the group get into arguments about what to do next, and that's where your choices come in. You help them decide and you help stop their conflict. This show is totally family-friendly.

I give Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Hidden Adventures 4.5 out 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 12. You can watch this on Netflix starting November 15, 2022. Be sure to check it out!


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS HIDDEN ADVENTURES


BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

Description:

In Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M'Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T'Challa's death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. Introducing Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The beautifully crafted film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is heart wrenching, but also showcases the power of identity, culture, family and pride. The costumes are intricate and gorgeous; the music is moving; and the acting is just spectacular. I felt captivated during every moment of the film, and the nearly realistic world of Wakanda made me feel like I was there myself, even though it is futuristic and fictional.

The storyline follows Princess Shuri (Letita Wright) and the Wakandan army as they fight to protect Wakanda from a new force that threatens to attack their home. After the heartbreaking passing of King T'Challah (Chadwick Boseman), Shuri and her mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are left with the weight of the country on their shoulders. They must band together with Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), General Okoye (Danai Gurira), and young scientist Riri (Domonique Thorne) as they constantly battle to save the only home they know from an otherworldly army, which threatens the secrets of Wakanda's renowned Vibranium. Will they win this excruciating battle, or will Wakanda fall?

Letita Wright, as the protagonist, Princess Shuri, performs beautifully. Her acting choices and authentic emotion are captivating. While this film is dark and somber, there is still enough comedy to keep you chuckling, just at the moment when a little happiness feels most necessary. The music in this film is perfectly aligned with every sequence in the story - powerful in battle scenes; sorrowful at moments of loss; and uplifting in moments of triumph. Without the music, viewers would not be so easily transported into Marvel's Wakandan world. The intricate and bedazzled costuming is gorgeous, displaying the marvelous variety of design from diverse cultures around the world. And last, but most certainly not least, the visual effects and CGI are spectacular. The beauty of Wakanda's futuristic world and technology is so real that you can almost touch it.

There are many messages in this film, but two stand out to me the most. First, always trust your heart; it will lead you in the right direction no matter how many paths there are to stray from. Second, no one is ever truly gone, they will live for as long as their memory lives inside you. These messages are uplifting for everyone who needs comfort. Although there is violence in this movie, there is not much gore. The use of a variety of weapons makes this film more appropriate for older children and teens.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters November 11, 2022.

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the greatly anticipated sequel to Black Panther. This powerful and epic movie is action packed -- introducing new worlds, new characters and new conflicts.

Following the unexpected death of King T'Challa, also known as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) takes control of Wakanda, and with being the most powerful nation on the planet comes its challenges. But when vibranium, one of the most precious and powerful metals in the world, is found outside of Wakanda, tensions rise and a new, unknown enemy appears. What will happen to the rest of the world on the brink of war? Watch to find out.

This film is based on the first movie, Black Panther. The storyline is separate enough that it isn't necessary to watch the original to enjoy this, but I highly recommend watching it because it is a terrific film. The tragic and unexpected loss of Chadwick Boseman, who played the Black Panther, was devastating to the Black Panther franchise, so the writers had to get creative to continue the franchise. Also, they honor Chadwick Boseman is a very lovely way. I like how the Back Panther franchise has a bit more freedom to explore new places rather than stay so closely connected to the Avengers and other Marvel franchises or series. It is very engaging to explore a new world. The costumes and sets are extravagant and immaculate, and it is super interesting to dive deeper into Wakanda and Talokan, a new world introduced in this move. I found the plot and performances a bit darker and gloomier than the original film. The strongest acting comes from Letitia Wright (Shuri), Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Dominique Thorne (Riri) and Tenoch Huerta (Namor). All of the emotion for the returning cast members, especially towards King T'Challla's death, comes from a very genuine place, because the cast and crew were so close to Chadwick Boseman; this makes the acting all the more realistic and alive. Dominique Thorne's character, Riri, is introduced in this film and positions her upcoming show, Ironheart. Tenoch Huerta really captivates the audience with his character and hints at his possible further journeys into his kingdom and relationship with Wakanda. This movie also feature's Rihanna's first solo single in five years called Lift Me Up, and it is an absolutely beautiful song.

The messages of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are to fight to protect the things you love and to be your own person. Parents should be aware that this movie contains violence and intense action scenes.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Marvel and Black Panther fans will love this movie. It releases in theaters November 11, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever provides an emotional and thrilling experience for all MCU fans, yet continues to set up the future while focusing on the past. There has never been such a tribute film like Wakanda Forever within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel handles such a sensitive topic incredibly well by honoring Chadwick Boseman thoroughly, but still providing a classic Marvel adventure that all fans will enjoy. Wakanda Forever is beautifully shot. It arguably may have the best cinematography seen throughout the MCU, and possibly out of all superhero films in general.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever immediately addresses the largest question every fan has when entering the theatre. How will they cover the loss of Chadwick Boseman? The story starts off answering that question, while not going too in-depth (which is very respectful). In a world now struggling without a Black Panther, vibranium is discovered outside of Wakanda. This threatens the resources of vibranium for the people of Talokan (an underwater city of fish-like people). The King of Talokan, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), gives a threatening ultimatum to the Wakandans. They can either help the people of Talokan, or fight for what's right. The emotional depth this film goes into really defines the line between acting and showing human emotion. For the cast, they lost a family member when Chadwick passed away; on screen, they aren't acting. The actors behind the characters are also grieving for a man they loved. The audience can easily see this when watching the stellar performance from Angela Bassett, due to the theatre going absolutely silent and getting filled with goose bumps. Angela's feelings are absolutely raw. Her performance will hypnotize audiences, through thick and thin. It is genuinely one of the first times that it has been thought that a Marvel performance could win a major award.

Wakanda Forever teaches the moral that grief isn't beneficial until you move past it. As a result, the film has large themes of family, love and perseverance. Unlike other Marvel films, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is actually light with cursing and gore. Obviously the film still packs a punch with the average boatload of action, yet doesn't go to crazy lengths to emphasize the violence behind the story. This allows the audience to focus more on what the film is indirectly teaching rather than what is being shown directly on screen.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sprinting its way into theatres on November 11, 2022. So make sure to check it out!

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The highly anticipated sequel to the hit Marvel movie Black Panther is finally here. Each actor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pulls their weight and produces captivating scenes, each proving critical to the story. This heart-wrenching, high-quality film is definitely one I will remember.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follows the Wakandans as they try to move forward after the sudden death of King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are both thrown into new roles during their grieving process. When a new power threatens their nation, the country has to come together with the help of their warriors, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) in order to fight back.

Watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in the theater was a surreal experience. Throughout the entire movie, when there weren't periods of laughter, there was complete silence. You could hear a pin drop in the room, which shows how invested the audience is in the story. The writers, Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler (also the director), along with the rest of the cast and crew were given a task that some would find impossible. Not only did they have to create a beautiful sequel that would entertain and surpass the audience's expectations, but also tell a complete story without their lead man, Chadwick Boseman. Despite this setback, the writers crafted a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Like all Marvel movies, this film is action-packed with highly engaging fight scenes. This doesn't mean that the moments between the Wakandans and the Talokans aren't jaw-dropping and intense. This empire led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is determined to get what they want - no matter what, and they make great antagonists. The set and costume design of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is amazing. All of the major and smaller details come together to portray Wakanda's powerful kingdom and African culture. One of the most impressive aspects of this film is the way the actors use their real grief to fuel the moving scenes we see in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I want to especially give credit to Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett who both deliver monologues that bring tears to the audience's eyes.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever conveys a multitude of themes. One of the strongest themes is: even when you face loss, there is always a reason to live. The entire kingdom of Wakanda faces an unimaginable loss. This is especially true for Shuri and Ramonda. However, they know they have to honor the ones they lost by moving forward with life and protecting their country.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever leaves you fulfilled and yearning for more. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in theaters November 11, 2022. This is an experience you do not want to miss.

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 15

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a complicated, somber return to the world of Wakanda, packed with layers of intention, plenty of action and a whole lot of emotion. All of that amounts to a movie that--as rousing and thrilling and affecting as it is--can't help but buckle under the weight of its ambition.

In the time since the first film, Chadwick Boseman, who played the titular Black Panther a.k.a Prince T'Challa tragically passed away from cancer in 2020. This real-life loss heavily influences the plot of this fictional movie. Wakanda is in mourning, they've not just lost a king, but a guiding light, and their most powerful protector. The nation is already in a precarious place, having opened up their borders and making the unprecedented choice to share their knowledge and technology with the rest of the world, but losing T'Challa and all he represented puts them at great risk. T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) mourn a loved one while gathering their ranks and preparing for battle against the mythic Namor (Tenoch Huerta). He resides in the underwater world of Talokan which has thousands of sea-dwelling creatures like him primed for battle. He comes to Wakanda with an ultimatum that could result in all-out war between the two empires.

If the first Black Panther was a coming of age story, a prince becoming a king, and the burdens he must carry to rule, this, too, is a coming of age story, but rather about that king's little sister soldiering on in the midst of suffering to lead and protect a people when they need it most. Wakanda Forever isn't simply a meditation on loss and grief, but, at points, an active engagement with the process of grieving, how far it can reach and how deep it can cut. From the shock of losing someone to the acceptance that they're never really gone, a foundational part of the fictional Wakandan culture is that the ones we love live on. And that part of the movie is something truly beautiful that ties into both the fictional world that Director Ryan Coogler has created on-screen and the off-screen passing of Chadwick Boseman.

Coogler hasn't lost his ability as an image maker. He understands the weight of every moment that acknowledges Boseman's impact and the void he leaves behind. His tomb ascending into a Wakandan cruiser--with the Black Panther insignia scrawled into it-- or the silence when we see glimpses of him, pieced together from the first film. No one gets the connection we had to the character and actor who played him better than Coogler does--it's remarkable the depth of feeling he is able to draw from his actors and the narrative regarding that idea. It will satisfy both fans of MCU and of Chadwick Boseman--honoring the legacy of Chadwick Boseman and looking at Marvel's future. It's definitely worth seeing if you're a fan of either. I laughed, I cheered, I was emotionally wrecked at times. Even with my quibbles, I can't argue it played me like a fiddle. It never fully balances the two narrative pillars of paying tribute to Boseman and advancing the plot of a larger universe with Namor and a whole new mythology, but it sure tries to.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. When it comes down to it, it's a labor of love to a fallen star taken much too soon, and the fact that this exists on those terms makes it all worth it. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters November 11, 2022.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is full of action-packed scenes, phenomenal cameos, plot twists and a tribute truly fit for a king! Kudos to Director Ryan Coogler for creating a sequel that's not just a film, but an entire experience. Audiences should definitely pack tissues, and be prepared to be entertained as this film takes you on a journey through Wakanda and new worlds, as if you were there.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the follow-up to Black Panther and takes place a year after King T'Challa's a.k.a. Black Panther's (Chadwick Boseman) unexpected death. This film is the perfect example of art imitating life as Boseman's life is included in the storyline. The film follows Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) and her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) as they try to cope with the loss of King T'Challa and continue to rule and protect Wakanda from outside threats. Meanwhile, Wakanda's precious and valuable resource, Vibranium, has been detected outside the country and new enemies arise. With the absence of Black Panther, Princess Shuri and Queen Ramonda must now figure out how to protect their people and the metal from getting into the wrong hands.

The main characters are Princess Shuri, Queen Ramonda, General Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and M'Baku (Winston Duke). They are joined by breakout star Riri Williams a.k.a. Ironheart (Dominque Thorne). Marvel fans will love Riri Williams' wittiness and fierceness. Newcomer, Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejia), also joins the cast as the villain and king of the underwater kingdom of Talokan. Prepare to be amazed by the different aspects of the film that combine to create one of Marvel's best films yet. Some of my favorite parts in the film, of course, are the tributes to Chadwick Boseman.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever highlights the importance of family, heritage, identity, protection, grief and mental health. The overall theme is being true to who you are, protecting what's most important to you and taking care of yourself. Parents should be aware of mild language, slight violence, and scenes that may be triggering due to life experiences or young viewers' maturity levels.

I give Black Panther: Wakanda Forever 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it in theaters November 11, 2022. Be sure to arrive on time and to stay for the post-credit scenes so you get the full experience.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER


FAMILY MATTERS CHRISTMAS, A
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-12

Category: HOLIDAY
FEATURE, AGES 8-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

Christmas is anything but ordinary when three bickering siblings from a newly blended household cannot see eye to eye. The youngest one, while completing his annual science project, accidentally calls upon the spirit of Christmas. They wake up to find themselves having switched bodies, unable to change back until they learn to spend the holidays together as a loving family.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A Family Matters Christmas is a fun, enjoyable film that really puts you in the Christmas spirit. It teaches an important lesson, while delivering a cute and interesting storyline.

A Family Matters Christmas follows the lives of three siblings living in a newly blended household. They are all struggling to adapt to their new family, especially during the holidays and this causes them to fight all of the time. However, when the youngest sibling Aiden, (Randy Vince Iii) starts to read fairy tales about Christmas legends who haunt siblings who can't get along, he realizes that they need to stop the bickering. Unfortunately, it's a little too late and their household is greeted with a special elf who causes all three of them to swap bodies. Now, the siblings must learn to tolerate and help each other, or else they will be stuck inside these different identities forever.

This film is truly an enjoyable viewing experience. The cinematographic quality of this film really stands out -- the camera work is very clear, and the colors jump. I really enjoyed the plot; the concept of the characters swapping bodies is really cute, and definitely creates a fun twist for a Christmas movie. It's really interesting to see how they all work things out in the end. Plus, all three actors portray multiple personas in different bodies exceptionally well, as they show us how their switched character might react to a particular situation. Additionally, the message of the film is really strong. It really emphasizes the importance of family, particularly around Christmas time, and reminds viewers how valuable our families are. This is an important highlight, especially for younger audiences, because it's something that can sometimes be forgotten.

The message of A Family Matters Christmas is that family is very valuable, and you should always hold to them.

I give A Family Matters Christmas 3.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It releases on VOD and DVD November 8, 2022.

By Mikella G, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16

A Family Matters Christmas is all about family and love; it's the perfect movie to get you ready for the holiday season.

The storyline for A Family Matters Christmas is told by a grandma to her grandchildren. The story follows a boy named Aiden (Randy Vince III) and his sister Emily (Cheyenne Cummings) who are having a hard time getting along with their new step-brother, Brandon (Chase X Drewery). Ayden conducts a science experiment gone wrong and ends up summoning a Christmas spirit who makes him and his siblings switch places. They now must figure out how to walk in each other's shoes, and how to switch back.

The plot of this film may seem kind of basic, but there are a lot of twists that turn the basic story into something more. I really love the cinematography -- at the beginning, behind the opening credits, are some beautiful shots of the city which are just stunning. All the acting is outstanding and so is the script. I love the character of Grandma (Jo Marie Payton), because she's really sassy; I love the way she teaches her grandchildren to be nicer to each other. Another great character is Aunt Tracy (Tamieka Chavis), who is quite feisty as well and has a very powerful personality. I especially love the character Alternis (Stephen Fischer), the Christmas spirit, because his eccentric and loud personality is very exciting and fun. My favorite part of the film is when the kids first change places and don't know how to behave in each other's bodies.

The message of A Family Matters Christmas is that family is important, whether you are related by blood or not. Throughout the film, Brandon has a hard time learning to love his new siblings, but the body switch really helps him realize what family means.

I give A Family Matters Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. This film releases on VOD and DVD November 8, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The "switch-mas" spirit is in the air with the new film, A Family Matters Christmas! It's a fun family film that forces you to think about the true meaning of Christmas and shows just how important it is for family to come together and get along.

A Family Matters Christmas follows siblings, Aiden (Randy Vince III), Emily (Cheyanne Cummings), and their soon-to-be brother, Brandon (Chase X. Drewery), whose parents are looking forward to getting married and spending their first family holiday together. However, the sibling's constant bickering threatens to make Christmas not-so-merry. Aiden creates an experiment to bring his family together, but with a little "help" from the "forgotten Christmas Spirit," Alternis (Stephen Fisher), his spell causes the three siblings to switch bodies. They must work together to learn the true meaning of family to break the spell and switch bodies back before Christmas morning.

The main characters are Aiden, Emily and Brandon. I love how much each sibling changes the other sibling's life, just by switching bodies. My favorite part was seeing the sacrifices each sibling makes for the sibling whose body they took over. It forces each one to experience life as that sibling, and even helps them. For example, since Emily is more outspoken, while she is in Aiden's body, she is able to stand up for him against bullies at school -- something Aiden would never do himself. The "switch" really creates some hilarious moments, like when Brandon is in Emily's body and get a dose of what it is like to be a girl. The film is so entertaining, that you forget it starts off as a story being read about the characters' journey. This is a storyline that some people will say has been made before and, while that's true, what's important is the message behind it; plus it is entertaining.

A Family Matters Christmas shows us that family really does matter and that it's possible to get along if you take the time to get to know one another. While you may not always agree with your siblings or be best friends, it's still good to create some kind of bond with them. Parents should look out for adult drinking and some slightly intimate parts.

I give A Family Matters Christmas 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to18, plus adults. A Family Matters Christmas releases on Digital and DVD November 8, 2022.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FAMILY MATTERS CHRISTMAS, A


HONK

Running Time:
46 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FESTIVAL
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
VIDEO

Distributor:
VISION FILMS

Description:

The power of love shines in this heartwarming tale of f friendship and inspiration between an unlikely duo. Cheryl inadvertently befriends a mourning goose, Honk, while recycling in the local park. As the budding friendship blossoms and Cheryl seeks Honk a new home, he becomes a viral sensation capturing the hearts and minds of millions.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Honk is incredibly sweet and heartwarming documentary. The subjects are interesting and the story is exciting, due to its oddness. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story follows a woman who forms a friendship with a goose during the pandemic and ends up getting over 80K followers on Instagram.

Cheryl's story of meeting this goose during the pandemic is so unexpected and slightly crazy. The idea that she met Honk the good during a time when we were all social distancing and formed a relationship with him is endearing - both of them needed a friend, someone to be with. The cinematography is very good, keeping things exciting while also staying simple. A lot of this film is filmed on a cell phone, which works just fine. I love the locations, especially those at the park. And I like how Cheryl added little hearts on the side of her phone videos - which worked particularly well for attracting attention on social media. Her videos on social media are absolutely adorable. This story is so unusual, and Cheryl's motivations are honest and pure. When someone tells her that he must be a domestic goose, not a wild one, she is concerned about returning him to an appropriate environment and feels that she needs to find his mate. Honk is a character in his own right as well, something not always explored in the usual animal documentaries. Honk is the best "pandemic pal" a girl could ask for. He's safe, he's devoted to her, and he has a charming personality. There are some sad aspects to this documentary, such as when Honk dies two years later which Cheryl tells Honk's social media followers on Instagram, accompanied by sad music and clips of better times.

The message of this film is about the importance of bringing love and hope into people's lives - whether through a human or non-human. If you show love, you get love!

I give Honk 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Bring your tissues because Honk's passing is a reminder to us all how life is eternal. By Sandrine A. and Julie S., KIDS FIRST!

Honk is a heartwarming documentary that follows the friendship between director and editor, Cheryl Allison, and a lovable goose. She successfully shows viewers how her friendship with a goose impacted her life. At a time when everything was uncertain in the world, this goose was the "honk heard 'round the world." He was able to reach out, in spite of social distancing constraints, and spread happiness to others.

This documentary is set during the COVID pandemic, when social distancing regulations were in effect. While on a walk Cheryl notices a goose approaching her. She names him Honk and they become instant friends. Cheryl decides to record her time with Honk and her videos and posts with him go viral on social media. She receives word from her friend, Mary Beth Purdy that Honk is a domestic goose and is in danger. Now Cheryl is on a mission to help save her goose friend from a harmful environment, predators and the new risks that social media has brought to him.

This documentary is touching and beautiful. My favorite scene is when Cheryl goes back to the pond the day after she first meets Honk and records herself calling to him. Honk immediately recognizes her voice and swims to her. She talks to him and he responds with his honking sounds. This shows how attached Honk was to her from the start. The film is a mix of interviews, zoom meetings and videos of Cheryl with Honk. The added footage of her initial recordings with Honk are delightfully entertaining. It gives viewers a better understanding of Cheryl and Honk's friendship and the bond they create with each other as time progresses. The information about animals in the film, by experts Mary Beth Purdy and Kathy Rogers, is insightful and adds depth to the understanding of caring for these types of animals. In addition, the music at the end of the documentary fits well with the theme.

The message of this film is about love and the connections you make with others. Love and a need for companionship is what drove Honk and Cheryl together. It then drove her to protect him. While watching, we also gain a better understanding of what animals need, the importance of protecting animals, and what we can contribute to help keep these animals safe.

I give Honk 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Honk releases November 15, 2022 on digital platforms and DVD.

By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Such a wholesome joy of a film is hard to come by. Honk should be required watching for those who feel like they're losing faith in the goodness of humanity and the beauty of companionship. Beautiful, raw emotion is captured in a mix of videos that were either collected from social media or filmed by the camera team, but beyond the technical bits of the film, the plot is what shines through. Especially for animal-lovers, this is a great watch.

Honk is a remarkable tale of unlikely companionship. Dallas native Cheryl Allison inadvertently befriends a loud, chatty goose she names Honk; she realizes he is mourning the loss of a loved one and their bond grows deeper. As the friendship blossoms, Cheryl seeks to find Honk a new home and he becomes a viral sensation across nations. The beautiful relationship between the two (not owner and pet but two equal friends) is wonderful to watch.

The direction and editing by Cheryl Allison are beautifully-executed. What's really nice is that the subject of the documentary is the same person who directs and edits it; this means that she has been able to choose the most moving portions of footage and cut it together. I also love how the choice of music accentuates the mood of the more emotional scenes; the lyrics from the credits -- "think about where we have been, the joy we shared with friends who cared, all the things we've seen" -- were especially touching as they summarized the theme of the film. I like the contrast between the footage taken by the camera team and how formal and traditional it feels compared to the footage taken by Cheryl, which is more fun and informal.

Honk promotes finding those who support you and, in turn, helping others, whether animal or human, in times of difficulty. The compassion exhibited by Cheryl in this film also serves to push the message that we should care for animals, even those we wouldn't consider domesticated or "pets," because they too have highs and lows in their lives like we do.

I give Honk 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Honk releases November 15, 2022 on digital and DVD.< p>By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED This title is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title HONK


GOODNIGHT OPPY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

The film follows Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover affectionately dubbed Oppy by her creators and scientists at NASA. Oppy was originally expected to live for only 90 days but she ultimately explored Mars for nearly 15 years.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Goodnight Oppy, by Ryan White, is a documentary that brings both excitement and curiosity. I love learning about how the scientists related to Opportunity, nicknamed Oppy, almost as if she/it was their child. I also love that, no matter what went wrong, they never gave up and always thought she would go on. And she did! She outlived her life expectancy by 150 months!

The inspirational true story follows Opportunity, the veteran interplanetary Mars Exploration Rover, affectionately dubbed Oppy by her creators and scientists at NASA. Oppy was originally expected to live for only 90 days but ultimately explored Mars for nearly 15 years. The film follows Oppy's groundbreaking journey on Mars and the remarkable bond forged between a robot and her humans millions of miles away.

Exploring the last 15 years of interplanetary exploration with Opportunity and her twin sister is so interesting. Opportunity and Spirit were identical twins, both 5'2" tall, with human like eyes. I love how the humans associated with them thought of them almost as their children. It takes a long 6 months to get to Mars from Earth. Spirit was launched on July 7, 2003 and Opportunity followed three weeks after that date. I found I it fascinating how, no matter what happened to the rovers, the scientists kept believing that they would work again. My favorite part of their day was the wake up song! It is amazing how Opportunity and Spirit could respond and think for themselves. I enjoyed watching their journey exploring Mars and all the photos they sent back. What stands out most in this documentary is how everyone believes in the two rovers; they never give up.

This inspiring documentary reveals the discoveries that these two rovers gave us about Mars. The film helps audiences understand the incredible amount of work that the scientists and the robots' creators put in to achieve the accomplishments of these two robots. They gave us so much information we never had previously.

I give Goodnight Oppy 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters November 4 on Amazon Prime Video November 23, 2022.

By Sariah R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Goodnight Oppy is a fascinating inside look at the stories of Opportunity and Spirit, with beautiful visuals and a cool soundtrack. This film appealed to me as I love learning about the importance of human resilience.

Goodnight Oppy is a documentary that tells the story behind the team in charge of the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which were launched in 2003. It starts at the beginning of the project with Steve Squyres, the principal scientist of the project, up until the project closed in 2018. The film shows the difficulties and challenges of the nearly 15-year-long mission, whilst showing the collaboration and teamwork of those involved.

It is clear that the director, writers and the whole production group had a lot of respect for the team behind Opportunity and Spirit. The film excels at showcasing the talent and determination of the all the scientists and engineers involved in the project and how hard they worked. The visuals of Mars are incredible and eye opening; it really helped me understand what the scientists saw and how their observations gave us new information about Mars. The juxtaposition between the scenes of the rovers and the scenes of the team show the interaction between the robots and the scientists. The difficulties that the rovers experienced are reflective of those of the team, which helps further connect the team with the rovers. I love all of the interviews with the team members as it gives us a more personal side to the story and is really entertaining. My favorite part is definitely the scenes involving the morning music; it brought a smile to my face every single time. It perfectly represents the unity and the family-like environment in the workroom and helps break up the serious moments.

The documentary showcases the work ethic and intelligence of the team at NASA, showing the audience the importance of resilience, collaboration and determination.

I give Goodnight Oppy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters November 4, 2022 and on Amazon Prime November 23, 2022.

By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED GOODNIGHT OPPY


GRATITUDE REVEALED
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
1 SOUL PRODUCTION

Description:

An epic journey forty years in the making, Gratitude Revealed from acclaimed filmmaker, Louie Schwartzberg, the director of cult hit Fantastic Fungi, takes us on a transformational, cinematic Experience of how to live a more meaningful life full of gratitude through his intimate conversations with everyday people, thought leaders, and personalities revealing gratitude is a proven pathway back from the disconnection we feel in our lives; disconnection from ourselves, our planet, and each other.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A thought-provoking piece, Gratitude Revealed shows promise in its concept and features gorgeous footage, but falters to keep viewers engaged in the film past the midway mark.

Composed of stunning nature footage and high-profile interviews, Gratitude Revealed shows us how to live a more meaningful life full of thankfulness through filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg's conversations with everyday people and eminent personalities. Featured are chats with figures like Norman Lear, Deepak Chopra, Jack Kornfield and more. The film makes the point that we need a pathway back from the disconnection we feel in our lives, within ourselves, and with others.

The thought behind this film is remarkable. However, the substance of the film is revealed painfully slowly, and some of the insights are rather obvious. It is unfortunate that the film lacks momentum and vibrancy beyond cinematography, as this makes it a difficult watch for young viewers accustomed to a faster pace of cinema. If it was the intent of the filmmaker to slow down viewers caught in the rat race of life, he certainly achieved it... almost too well. The camera work and editing in Gratitude Revealed are the highest points of the film, along with the cachet of the big names Schwartzberg speaks with. I especially love the way the interviews are framed. I feel that some of the interviews are way too long and tedious. It sometimes feels as if the nature shots are being used to compensate for the repetition of certain points. This leads to Gratitude Revealed feeling less like a documentary and more like an experimental film.

Gratitude Revealed promotes finding joy in the small things in life and just "being." It's a beautiful message that is perfect for the Thanksgiving season.

I give Gratitude Revealed 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gratitude Revealed releases on VOD November 1, 2022.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED GRATITUDE REVEALED


SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

Best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on opposing sides of an epic battle when they're swept away into an enchanted school where aspiring heroes and villains are trained to protect the balance between Good and Evil.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

What is 'good' and what is 'evil'? Or is there no real difference? The School for Good and Evil explores these boundaries amid fast-paced action, constant comedy and incredible visuals. It is an amazing adaptation of a truly incredible book.

Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) are best friends, despite having completely different personalities. Sophie loves dresses and flowers and has the style of a princess. Agatha is friendly but prefers darker color clothing and has a less sunny personality. When the two of them hear the supposed myth of The School for Good and Evil, Agatha laughs but Sophie sees an opportunity to change her life and fulfill her dead mother's wishes. They are taken to the school, but when they're placed in the wrong schools, Agatha in The School for Good and Sophie in the School for Evil, they're thrown into a world of surprises.

This film is an adaptation of the first book in The School for Good and Evil series, written by Soman Chainani. I'm a huge fan of the series, so I was extremely excited when I saw the first trailer for the film. The School for Good and Evil lives up to my every expectation. The casting is spot on; the appearances and personalities of all the characters match the book's descriptions. In addition, the ideas of what people often think of as "good" are contrasted throughout the film. Every detail, however small, perfectly matches the school. At the School for Good the students wear dresses or armor to represent princesses and princes. Its environment is bright, colorful and happy and its classes teach make-up and wish-granting. In contrast, the School for Evil's environment is dark, gloomy and suspenseful and its classes include uglification and possession of powers. This contrast is important for plot elements later in the film and also creates an interesting environment for the social aspects of the story. There is comedy throughout The School for Good and Evil that helps maintain an intriguing social storyline. The actors play a big part in executing the script's comedy. Sofia Wylie uses Agatha's personality to pull off her character's funny moments. Another element worth mentioning is the beautiful sets and locations. The School for Good and Evil is a magnificent building with spectacular landscapes in the background including a moat, mountains and rivers. The sets of the indoor halls and classrooms match the exterior, providing a perfect background for the story.

The message of The School for Good and Evil is that every person has good and evil in them, and it is up to you to decide how you want yourself to be represented. By the end of the film, certain characters begin to realize that "good" or "evil" doesn't have to define them. Friendship is emphasized by the film's two protagonists, who ride an emotional rollercoaster throughout the film. There is one scene in which minor inappropriate language is used. There are also scary and intense moments.

I give The School for Good and Evil 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The School for Good and Evil on Netflix beginning October 19, 2022.


 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, THE


BOONIE BEARS, THE: MONSTER PLAN 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WOW NOW ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

The second of eight installments in the Boonie Bears: Monster Plan series. This film will be available on DVD, DISH, InDemand, and Comcast on 11/1. AVod platforms, such as The Roku Channel and TubiTV to follow. We are also releasing Boonie Bears: Forrest Frenzy - all 16 films - on AVOD platforms starting in November.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 has funny jokes and focuses a lot on physical comparisons.

The Boonie Bears are a group of animals including bears, a monkey, a skunk, a raccoon and a wild cat. The animals all work together to overcome their weaknesses as they try to defeat an evil villain who is trying to steal their strengths. If one villain isn't enough, the animals are also being threatened by poachers. Each animal in the forest utilizes its unique strength or overcomes a perceived weakness such as being scared, stinky or not strong to help the friends along the way.

The quality of the animation is strong and vibrant. The animals live in a beautiful pine tree forest. Vick (Paul "Maxx" Rinehart) and Bramble (Joseph S. Lambert) are up against the Doctor Rex Vector and his hamster assistant, Mr. Pete. The crazy scientist and his assistant are trying to take their strength away by using a power absorbing gadget. Each animal in the forest utilizes its unique strength or overcomes a perceived weakness in their many encounters with the evil doctor. As they work to defeat Doctor Rex Vector and Mr. Pete, the animals build their confidence. I feel that the storyline lack cohesiveness as it jumps from one mission to the next, which might be difficult for younger children to follow.

The message of the show is that everyone has weaknesses and strengths. My one issue with the show is that it may draw too much attention to self-worth by utilizing negative self-worth language and calling characters things such as "stupid" and "fat." The intent of the message is good, but its execution could be better.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 gets 2 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It releases November 1, 2022 on DVD and many streaming networks.

By Angels G., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I enjoyed the film Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 a lot, mainly because it is Funny, Has Great Animation, Wonderful Characters, And Is Suitable For Young Kids, plus it could also entertain older kids. This film really held my attention.

The storyline follows two bears, Briar (Ricky Jay Glen) and his brother Bramble (Justin J. Wheeler). Briar, Bramble and their friends run into many problems with their arch nemesis Rex Vector, who wants to steal their powers and use them to destroy them. So Briar, Bramble and all their friends jump in to solve their problems with Rex Vector and others.

This film is really great. I really found the characters and humor outstanding and perfect for its target age group. All the characters have outstanding personalities; each with a terrific sense of humor. They are also thoughtful and kind to their friends, as well as people or animals around them. The humor in this film is also commendable; there are many things that made me laugh or smile. Even when something bad is happening it always finds a way to make me laugh. However, apart from all these positive things is one not so good thing - the sound. The characters' voices have issues with the sound quality, but the film was still very interesting. I also love the life lessons of this film - they are very heartfelt and real.

This film's life lesson is an inspiring reminder that no matter what happens to you, you are unstoppable as long as you have someone there for you. I relate to this because I have found the importance of support from a friend or family member in my life and believe that you can do anything and maybe even everything with the right support.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. This film can entertain people young and maybe even old. It will be available on most streaming platforms and DVD November 1, 2022. Be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 is an exciting and kid-friendly film, with beautiful animation and color, but it lacks some cohesiveness in its storyline.

The storyline follows Bramble (Joseph S. Lambert) and his friends on a fun adventure in the forest, on their quest to defeat the evil Doctor Rex and his sidekick Mister Pete. The evil duo devises a plan to steal some of Bramble and his friends' animal abilities in order to create a robotic monster. The gang uses teamwork and friendship to prevent Doctor Rex and Mister Pete from stealing all of their abilities and ruining their home.

The animation is, by far, my favorite part of the film. The animators' creation of the forest filled with beautiful creatures and plants is superb. The animals are especially well done and beautifully detailed. At first, I was a somewhat put off by the voices, but once I got over my shock, I found them very entertaining. Some of the voices are difficult to understand, particularly the skunk. I couldn't make out what it was saying at times. The storyline picks up at the end and I wish there was a recap at the beginning to give us a bit more context, since it left me with a few questions regarding the plot. Bonnie Bears: Monster Plan 2 is split into five parts, all with different plots. I wanted to better understand what took place in the episode prior to this one.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 promotes friendship, teamwork, kindness and resilience. It also highlights the importance of fighting for those you love and how important it is to overcome your fears if you are to obtain your goals.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 gets 3 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 4 to 10. It will be released on November 1, 2022, on DVD and many streaming networks.

By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 is one of the cutest children's movies I have ever seen! It's all about nature and saving the day. It also shows the importance of friendship and perseverance. This is definitely a children's movie favorite for me.

The storyline follows a bear named Briar who needs to save his friends from the evil Rex Vector and his hamster, Mr. Pete. Once Vector and Mr. Pete realizes the group has escaped, they start to work on another project that they think will be their greatest one yet. Briar, his partner Bramble (Joseph S. Lambert), and his human best friend Vick know that they need to save the day and they have a few adventures along the way.

My favorite part of this film is the funny voices used by the actors for their characters. I love how the bears' voices are all just so cute and adorable and Dr. Vector's voice is perfect for a young villain. I also love the setting of this film. It seems so peaceful and quiet when there isn't an evil scientist trying to rule all the animals. It's set in a park with all kinds of monkeys, skunks and other cute animals. The only thing I didn't exactly capture from the film is the emotions from the characters. Neither Rex Vector nor Mr. Pete show as much enthusiasm as I hoped for. For example, when Rex Vector laughs maniacally about a gadget of his working, he doesn't seem so excited. Also, once Mr. Pete answers a question Briar asks him, there is a small amount remaining of "unsureness" in his answer. Otherwise, I absolutely adore this film.

The message of this film is that you have to persevere in order to succeed. If the characters didn't persevere through the different challenges throughout the movie, they never would have stopped Doctor Rex Vector. They also would not have made it through the other challenges along the way.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 10. It is available on DVD and many streaming channels beginning November 11, 2022.

By Ari P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 is a fun, comedic film that's perfect for a kid's first action movie. Colorful animation brings out the best in the plotlines. Each character is funny, relatable, and helps to highlight the important messages and educational aspects.

The storyline follows a group of animals including bears, skunks and squirrels who navigate through life in the forest with various enemies and problems along the way.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 has colorful and vibrant animation. The settings are realistic, yet creative and bright. One example that stands out is s the hunter's pit. Some of the animals get stuck in a poacher's trap, and we see various angles from inside the hole. The attention to detail is incredible. There are little worms on the ground, weeds growing out of the sides of the walls and even indents in the dirt. Although these tiny details don't affect the plot, it makes situations seem so much more realistic and truly engages viewers. In addition, each character has its own unique features and physical characteristics that are emphasized in the animation. These characters also have very fun personalities. Each trait helps develop an important theme or subtly teach a lesson. The comedy is perfect for the intended audience; little kids will laugh their heads off while watching. It's cool that there are so many smaller, individual conflicts and plotlines that take place throughout the film. However, sometimes having multiple plotlines makes it difficult to stay engaged, follow the main plot, and keep watching.

The message of Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 is that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Many of the characters wish to be stronger or smarter, but they realize that, just because they aren't smarter or stronger, doesn't mean that they aren't talented in other ways. There are also other themes such as teamwork, kindness and friendship that are built upon throughout the film.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 2 to 8. You can watch Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 2 on DVD and many streaming services beginning November 1, 2022.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED BOONIE BEARS, THE: MONSTER PLAN 2


BLACK ADAM
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods--and imprisoned just as quickly--Black Adam is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

See youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Black Adam is an action-packed movie filled with insane fight scenes and unexpected plot twists. The CGI looks virtually flawless, and the world-building is so detailed.

In the story, Teth Adam (Dwayne Johnson) is bestowed with unusual and strong powers by The Rock of Eternity in ancient Kahndaq. However, he uses these powers for revenge and gets imprisoned for nearly 5 millennia. Once freed Teth Adam (a.k.a. Black Adam) is met by the newer heroes of the Justice Society. What will Teth Adam do and can the Justice Society stop him?

This movie is intertwined with the origin story of Shazam, but it's not necessary to see it prior to watching Black Adam. It's also based on the comic characters originated by DC. I love the introduction of new characters and new worlds that are most likely relatively unknown to and unexplored by most people. In this movie, you'll find a few familiar faces along with the new ones, which makes it feel very fresh. Some of those characters include Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge). Speaking of characters, my favorite performances come from Dwayne Johnson (Black Adam), Sarah Shahi (Isis), and Marwan Kenzari (Sabbac). Dwayne Johnson has a more serious role in this movie, and yet he balances it with his impeccable comedic timing. Sarah Shahi is such a caring and brave person in her role as Isis and inspires us to speak up for all of the injustice in the world. I can't reveal too much about Marwan Kenzari's character, but I think he is the perfect fit and will definitely keep you on your toes.

The message of Black Adam is to remember that there is a difference between a hero and a protector, and between justice and vengeance. There is violence and some scary scenes that may not be suitable for young children.

I give Black Adam 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters October 21, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Black Adam is a very funny and interesting movie. I like seeing Dwayne Johnson as a DC antihero for the first time in his career.

Black Adam takes place in ancient Kahndaq where a boy was almost killed for being a hero but saved by the power of the gods. Five thousand years have passed, and Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson) wakes up to find himself in a modern age of Kahndaq where Teth helps the oppressed people in a very dark way. A new team of heroes is also introduced in this DC Universe: the Justice Society, which includes Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge). Together they must team up and defeat Sabbac (Marwan Kenzari), a powerful demonic villain who wants to unleash hell on Earth. I would have liked to see a little backstory on these new characters, though, instead of them just showing up with these abilities that audiences have not seen before in the DC extended universe.

Black Adam includes outstanding performances from Dwayne Johnson, Marwan Kenzari, Joseph Gatt, Jennifer Holland, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Shahi, and Aldis Hodge. There is just the right amount of humor throughout the movie without taking away from the seriousness of the threat of the evil that is present. The director, Jaume Collet- Serra, brought the same dark Teth-Adam from the comics to the big screen. Teth is kind of good but in a very bad way as he kills to stop people. The graphics and CGI are impressive -- the fight sequences were especially action-packed and showed the true power of Black Adam. Costume designs are very interesting, and the background music is fitting to each scene. My favorite part of the story when Black Adam learns the word "sarcastic," and he starts using it and being sarcastic himself.

The moral of this movie is to learn to work together with someone, even if you don't like that person. Instead, focus on the main priority. For example, Black Adam and Hawkman did not want to work together but soon realized they had to, as there was no other choice for them to succeed in their mission.

I give Black Adam 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. For the amount of violence, I am amazed this film is rated PG-13. Black Adam comes out in theaters October 21, 2022, in a theatre near you. Don't forget to stay during the credits to see a "Super" mid-credit scene.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

If you love action-packed superhero movies then Black Adam is the film for you. It has all of that and much more.

The storyline of Black Adam starts with Teth Adam who has been given a gift from the gods right before his execution, becoming Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson). He uses these powers to overthrow the evil leader of ancient Kahndaq and becomes known as the champion. What is believed that one day the champion will come back to save Kahndaq. In the present, Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) and her brother, Karim (Mohammed Amer), uncover Black Adam's tomb where he has been imprisoned for 5000 years. Kahndaq is in need of a warrior, but a group of heroes called The Justice Society believes that Black Adam is not who he seems to be.

The film's strongest point is definitely the setting. Kahndaq is brought to life in this film so vividly. The buildings, the people, the scenery -- everything fits together perfectly. I love Black Adam's backstory and how well thought out everything about his character is. The movie has so much action and excitement it's hard to not watch. The acting is great, too. I especially love the character of Karim -- he's such a nice guy and some of my favorite scenes include his character. My favorite scene is when he's singing in the car by himself as his sister goes in to explore a cave and he stayed behind. Then his sister comes running out screaming because they are in danger and he has no idea what's going on.

The message of Black Adam is that family is everything. Between Adriana and her brother, or Adriana and her son, and even in Black Adam's own past we see this message play out. This movie has a lot of violence and a bit of bad language that parents should watch out for.

I give Black Adam 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theatres October 21, 2022.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED BLACK ADAM


GHOSTER
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
GRINDSTONE HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

When a mysterious letter appears on the day they are being evicted, Elizabeth and her father can't believe their luck to discover they've inherited Echoville Manor, a sprawling, thirty-seven room estate. Upon arriving, Elizabeth finds that the mansion is inhabited by the world's cutest spirit, Ghoster, who has been trapped within a mirrored prison there for fifty years. Together, they must uncover the secrets to Echoville to free Ghoster before the nefarious Yuto captures her soul as well in his quest for immortality.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

SEE YOUTH COMMENTS

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Ghoster is a spooky family film with twists, puzzles, and some comedy mixed in that is perfect for an autumn night. This exciting film invites you into a world of ghosts, dragons and legends that is both entertaining and filled with surprises. I was drawn into the magic, the unbreakable family ties, and the collaborative efforts of the characters as they race against time.

In Ghoster, Elizabeth (Sophie Proctor) learns she's the heir to Echoville Manor. Yuto, a wicked ghost dragon, is trying to fulfill a task that intertwines with the lives of Elizabeth, and those around her. When she and her father (J.R. Brown) arrive, she encounters Ghoster,(David Henrie), who implores her and her new friend, Mateo, (Josh Escayg), to help him find the light knife and destroy Yuto. They must work together or risk losing everything they care about.

My favorite scene is when Elizabeth and the rest of the "scare squad" forge a plan to scare away the bankers who want to take possession of Echoville Manor. The scenes are both suspenseful and humorous. The reactions and facial expressions of the characters to the hauntings are delightfully entertaining. However, some of the scare tactics didn't seem as though they would really scare anyone. Elizabeth and her father share a bond that is unbreakable, even in several trying situations. The actors work together to make this bond believable and touching. Elizabeth (Proctor) and Mateo (Escayg) also forge a great friendship and work well together in the film. The setting of Echoville Manor is well decorated to portray an older estate. The old furniture and details of many of other furnishings, like the mirrors throughout the manor, showcase the age well. The CGI is meticulous in detail, such as the spikes on Yuto which are very detailed. The background music and sound effects really capture the moods, especially the suspenseful ones. Some of the storyline is predictable but there are enough twists in the plot to keep the viewer entertained.< p>The message in this film is that it sometimes takes courage to do what is right and to conquer your fears. Elizabeth is nervous about the challenges she faces to defeat Yuto. However, she knows it is the right thing to do to help Ghoster, so she faces it head on with the help of her family and friends. Parents should be aware there are some scenes which may be scary for young viewers.

I give Ghoster 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18. Ghoster releases on Digital, VOD and DVD October 11, 2022.


 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED GHOSTER


FALCONER, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-17

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
GRAVITAS VENTURES

Description:

"The Falconer" centers around two best friends, Tariq (Rami Zahar), the son of a poor beekeeper, and Cai (Rupert Fennessy), a Westerner with a passion for endangered animals, living in Oman the summer before he is set to go off to college. They work together at a dilapidated zoo, blissfully separated from many of the troubles of the outside world. Their care-free friendship is challenged when Tariq promises to help his sister, Alia (Noor Al Huda), escape from an abusive marriage. Cai's worldview is pitted against Tariq's daring plan to steal animals from the zoo and sell them on the black market to help empower Alia to leave her marriage. They are forced to wrestle with morally complex choices that reveal the vast distance between their worlds.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

From different worlds, separated by unique lifestyles, two friends model for viewers that no matter what divides us, we have a universal language that helps to form a strong bond. The Falconer, an award-winning adventure drama, is a one-of-a-kind film sure to wow its audience. It's the first international movie in history to be filmed entirely in this Middle Eastern town which alone sets this film apart from others.

Based on real life events, The Falconer highlights the friendship of two teenage boys living in a tiny Oman village and separated by other cultures outside of their small world. Tariq, an Omani teenager, the son of a poor beekeeper, is somewhat of the underdog within the relationship as his friend Cai, the son of Westerners, was born into an affluent world. Their passion for animals and the zoo that they work at solidifies their relationship and keeps them happy and shut off from the rest of the world, until their cultural difference becomes the wedge that will drive their friendship apart. Tariq's sister, forced into an arranged marriage, is being abused by her new husband and decides divorce is her only means to survive. Money -- which their family does not have -- is the only thing that can help her escape her marriage. The boys struggle with their moral conscience, but find that they can help Tariq's sister by stealing the zoo animals and selling them on the black market; however a line is crossed when Tariq decides to sell Cai's prize possession, the falcon he stole himself and dreams of one day setting free.

There is much symbolism in this film, which I find highly engaging. The falcon, for instance, is trapped in a captive life, much like many people who are born within a potentially hostile culture. This magnificent creature symbolizes the tension between a society that you are born into and the freedom that lives within you. This symbolism is deep-rooted and very authentic. What I also love about The Falconer is witnessing such breathtaking landscapes throughout the film. Some scenes are slow at times, but this allows viewers to take in the beauty that surrounds the actors and give us such an appreciation for Oman's landscapes and geography. Hats off to the cinematographers that capture such perfect footage. And a big two thumbs up for directors Adam Sjoberg and Seanne Winslow for creating such a timely, humanistic film.

The messages in The Falconer are about close relationships and cultural differences. Friendships are indeed critical while going through life, but those close bonds have limits and will always be second to family. Family is deep-rooted and sometimes complicated. We tend to only understand the culture we live in, and yet we must learn to respect our cultural differences with others. Parents should know there is some adult language in this film.

I give The Falconer 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Falconer is available now on a variety of streaming platforms.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FALCONER, THE


LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Based on the best-selling book series by Bernard Waber, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, starring Academy Award-winner Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Shawn Mendes, is a live-action/CGI musical comedy that brings this beloved character to a new, global audience. When the Primm family (Wu, Scoot McNairy, Winslow Fegley) moves to New York City, their young son Josh struggles to adapt to his new school and new friends. All of that changes when he discovers Lyle - a singing crocodile (Mendes) who loves baths, caviar and great music-living in the attic of his new home. The two become fast friends, but when Lyle's existence is threatened by evil neighbor Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman), the Primms must band together with Lyle's charismatic owner, Hector P. Valenti (Bardem), to show the world that family can come from the most unexpected places and there's nothing wrong with a big singing crocodile with an even bigger personality.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is an outrageous musical movie that the whole family will adore, especially those who have read the Lyle the Crocodile books.

This film is based on the beloved books about the super adorable singing crocodile, Lyle (Shawn Mendes) who lives in New York City. Lyle can't talk, but he can certainly sing, and the first to discover that is an unemployed and undiscovered actor and magician Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem). After a failed attempt at becoming famous, Valenti leaves and Lyle is found by a young boy Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley), and they become best friends. But what will Josh's parents and crazy neighbor do if they find out? Watch to see

I love Lyle's character design. The CGI is realistic, yet cartoonish, and his face is so cute. I really enjoy his big size and chubby body as the animation makes his movements clumsy and unstable. My favorite parts of the movie are the original songs - "Top of the World," "Take A Look At Us Now," "Rip Up The Recipe," "Carried Away," and "Heartbeat" - and their respective scenes. Kudos to Shawn Mendes and the song-writing team for creating such fitting songs. Shawn Mendes, Constance Wu and Brett Gelman deliver my favorite performances. Shawn Mendes, as always, has an absolutely outstanding, beautiful and breathtaking voice, and I couldn't wait for him to start singing again in each scene. Constance Wu, as Mrs. Primm, is such a perfect fit for the loving and caring motherly figure. Brett Gelmen shows just how fitting the name Mr. Grumps is for his character.

The messages of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile are that joy can be found even when things seem hectic and overwhelming, and that friendship can be found in unexpected ways and places. This movie is great for the whole family. There are some scenes that may be a bit frightening to younger children.

I give Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Fans of the book will definitely enjoy this movie. It releases in theaters October 7, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is a fabulous musical film about overcoming your fears, to accept something new while pushing the traditional boundaries of what we call family.

The storyline follows a boy, Josh (Winslow Fegley), moving to New York City with his parents and being uncomfortable with new challenges like an unfamiliar home, crowded New York City and meeting new friends at a new school. Josh is a kind soul, but he's frequently afraid and lacks confidence. However he had no idea how much his life would change in a matter of days after his family's move to the new city.

This movie is funny; the music is contagious; and the love and care of one another is beautiful. The special effects and scenes of the film are incredible! What I love about the film is how Lyle the Crocodile (Shawn Mendes), with his special talent changes the lives of the main characters in the film. It starts with Hector (Javier Barden), a struggling showman who never gives up on Lyle's talent or his own and, after some bumps, learns the importance of friendship and family. Josh and Lyle become friends in a very awkward way and from then on never want to be separated from each other. Josh's Mom (Constance Wu) and Dad (Scoot McNairy) can't believe their eyes when they see Lyle for the first time, and their hearts open wide for the big creature. My favorite scene is when Josh and Lyle sing, without any fear, to the whole city. The trust between them is honest and cute. As in almost every film, a bad guy (and his pet) are around. In this case, Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman) - a very not fun and unhappy neighbor and his cat, Loretta, who almost destroy the show of a lifetime and a beautiful family. You must see it!

The message of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is "Trust and believe your family and closest friends; they are always looking out for you and your success."

I give Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters beginning October 7, 2022.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE


MONSTER HIGH: THE MOVIE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

Follows a half human and half werewolf, as she finally finds a place where she fits, but, when a devious plan to destroy Monster High threatens to reveal her identity, she must learn to embrace her true monster heart and save the day.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Musicals are always a hit or miss for me -- they either invoke an uncontrollable cringe response, or completely engulf me in magical melodies. Monster High: The Movie is the latter. Imagine a colossal witch caldron filled with teen drama, hidden secrets, a monster with a vendetta, and true friendship. This film brews a mystical potion, enchanting the audience from beginning to end.

Unable to find her place in the "normal" world, Clawdeen Wolf (Miia Harris) applies to Monster High, a hidden school for monsters. There's only one problem, Clawdeen is half wolf and half human, and Monster High is strictly for full-blooded monsters. Armed with a deadly secret, Clawdeen attends Monster High determined to keep her skeleton in the closet. When her humanness begins to present itself, Clawdeen fears she will be shunned, or worse. Clawdeen will stop at nothing to rid herself of human half. With the help of true friends Frankie Stein (Ceci Balagot) and Draculaura (Nayah Damasen), Clawdeen finds comfort in being her true self.

Monster High: The Movie transports viewers into a fantasy adventure world. This film captures the essence of a typical high school, but is way more exciting. You cannot watch this movie without secretly wishing you could enroll as a student. Eager to find her place in the world, Clawdeen Wolf settles into her new high school and quickly makes friends with roommates Frankie Stein, who is also struggling to fit in. They later befriend a third dorm partner, Draculaura, only after realizing she too has a secret she does not want revealed. The trio has a mission to help Calwdeen rid herself of any humanness, and uncover a devious plan to destroy Monster High. The director, Todd Holland, uses well-choreographed dance scenes and catchy songs to tell a story of acceptance and perseverance. Monster High: The Movie models its characters after the infamous Mattel Monster High dolls. The characters' costumes capture the essence of these dolls; bringing a favorite toy to life. My favorite scene is when Frankie Stein, who is only 15 days old, struggles to understand what a "high five" is. I also love the scene where Draculaura magically makes a hideous pimple appear on the nose of the Monster High mean girl, Cleo De Nile (Jy Prishjulnik).

Self-acceptance is a strong message in this film. Many students in Monster High struggle to embrace their true selves. In the real world, teens grapple with fitting in, bullying, parental disappointment, academic pressures and identity issues. Monster High: The Movie highlights the everyday emotional battles of young people and does it in a way that empowers teens to love who they are, no matter how different. You should be aware that there is an LGBTQ+ marriage and same-sex kissing scene. Also, note that the movie is full of magic, sorcery, evil monsters and witchcraft.

I give Monster High: The Movie gets 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 19, plus adults. This is a fun family-friendly film that everyone can enjoy. It releases on both Nickelodeon and Paramount+ on October 6, 2022.

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MONSTER HIGH: THE MOVIE


BLUE'S CLUES & YOU! RAINBOW PUPPY ADVENTURES

Running Time:
60 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-8

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 2-8 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
NICKELODEON

Description:


KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Nickelodeon kids show Blue's Clues & You is back for yet another adventure with Rainbow Puppy. This DVD is full of captivating and fun episodes for younger children. Rainbow Puppy had such a positive attitude that it makes every episode so enjoyable to watch. If you are a Blue's Clue's fan or just a person ready for some adventure, you should check this out.

This DVD follows Rainbow Puppy (Brianna Bryan) as we watch her through multiple adventures with Blue (Traci Paige Johnson) and Josh (Joshua Dela Cruz) from "skidoo" to "skidoo" finding different clues to get answers to things. While she grew up in the Blue's Clues world, she's made it Broadway BIG in New York City! With a vibrant personality to match her colorful fur, she has a song in her heart and is always singing, dancing, and is positively bubbling with talent!

This is a great show for young children. The music in the show is one of the key factors that keeps the audience entertained. With catchy beats and lyrics, you will be singing along with them in no time. "Mail Time" and the theme song are definitely songs that get stuck in your head. I like all the different colorful places that they travel like Clue Lagoon and the colorful house they live in. This aspect could be something that audiences find appealing. My favorite character is Rainbow Puppy because she brings so much positivity and creativity to the show.

The message of this DVD is that life can be an adventure if you let it be an adventure. Blue, Josh, Rainbow Puppy and the other characters show that if you use your imagination and your creativity you can create your own adventures. This show is completely family-friendly.

I give Blue's Clues & You: Rainbow Puppy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8. The DVD releases October 4, 2022. Be sure to check it out!


Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED BLUE'S CLUES & YOU! RAINBOW PUPPY ADVENTURES


CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

The year - 1290. In the Medieval English village of Stonebridge, Lady Catherine (known as Birdy) is the youngest child of Lord Rollo and the Lady Aislinn. Her playground is Stonebridge Manor, a house that, like the family, has seen better days. Financially destitute and utterly greedy, Rollo sees his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man for money and land. But Birdy, like all the great teen heroines, is spirited, clever, and adventurous, and ready to put off any suitor that comes calling in increasingly ingenious ways. Her imagination, defiance, and deep belief in her own right to independence put her on a collision course with her parents. When the vilest suitor of all arrives, they are presented with the ultimate test of love for their daughter.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Lena Dunham's newest film Catherine Called Birdy tackles gender norms in the Middle Ages with tact and humor, making it a great introduction to medieval comedy for those of appropriate age to handle the gore and thematic elements.

Catherine Called Birdy, as you might expect, follows the 14-year-old Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), whose nickname is Birdy. She's a tomboy to the nth degree, playing with her best friend, a goatherd, rolling in mud and dirt and scorning all that the Middle Ages would deem "ladylike" comportment. Her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), is deeply financially destitute and utterly greedy, so he aims to use his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man for money and land. What ensues is comedy gold, but also empowering, as Lady Catherine fights back against the repressive expectations for women of the time.

Lena Dunham's direction and Bella Ramsey's performance really add to this film. Dunham crafts every scene to be perfectly shot and cut, and the young Ramsey shows her talent as Lady Catherine, standing up to injustice and sexism with superb dialogue delivery and emoting throughout the film. I also love how the writers have crafted Lord Rollo's role; besides fueling the main conflict of Catherine Called Birdy, his character flaws make him perhaps the most complex character of the whole film. Andrew Scott works magic as Lord Rollo, especially in the final scenes of the film where the message is hammered in.

Catherine Called Birdy promotes standing up to rules you feel are unjust. There are some violent (but not graphic) and disturbing scenes, including a difficult childbirth.

I give Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.

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

Catherine Called Birdy is absolutely hilarious! The film is light hearted and funny, with a star-studded cast. There is not a dull moment in this medieval comedy.

Catherine Called Birdy follows Catherine (Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old Lady in medieval England. Catherine navigates life, dodges her father's suitors, and tries to find her place in the world as a woman. The film is based on the book of the same name.

This film is as hilarious as it is sweet. Catherine and her family are witty and messy. Catherine is a strong young girl, ready to make the best out of her situation. She loves her family and her friends, which makes audiences love her. Meanwhile, her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), is the funniest man in England. He's funny and crude, his comedic timing is on point. Each character has their own kind of humor, which adds to their dynamic. The best scenes are when the entire family is together and each one tries to lie through their teeth and diffuse the problems that Catherine has created. The costumes and wardrobe are another factor that makes this film a success. Each dress and accessory is elaborate and glamorous, effortlessly beautiful. Every Lord and Lady, members of nobility, has robes and layered dresses, showing their status as the elite rich. The wedding outfits are exquisite. The soundtrack is extremely creative. Modern songs are included with genres ranging from pop to rock. These tunes aren't overused and fit perfectly into the story and add more emotion.

The moral of the film is to make the best of every situation. Catherine watches the man she loves marry another woman; she fights with her best friend; her mother has several stillbirths - yet she still has a positive outlook on life. She's determined to have ownership on her life and never conform to the roles laid out for her.

I give Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

When you're just 13 years old and forced to grow up, life can be hard, but you have to make it through. Set in England's medieval era, this movie takes you through a year in the life of teenager who has to use her wits to get out of tough and almost impossible situations.

Catherine Called Birdy follows Catherine, aka Birdy (Bella Ramsey), who is being forced to marry a rich man, because her family doesn't have money. Birdy doesn't want to leave her home, get married or have to act like a lady. While dealing with puberty, betrayal and wanting to live the way she wants, Birdy has to find a way to change her father's mind before it's too late.

The main character is, of course, Birdy. I love the relationship Birdy has with her family, as well as her community. She's young and just wants to have fun, not fall in love, be formal, or have children yet. I love how she uses her voice throughout the film. My favorite part of the film is seeing the relationship Birdy has with her town and, even when she is playing in mud fights, or casually having fun with her friends. This film is based on the novel of the same name by Karen Cushman. It's a great adaptation of the novel and the costumes and setting really fit the era in which it is set. The storytelling method used for this film is creative, in that they feel like journal entries. While I agree it isn't the best for young viewers, it still has a good message behind it and will offer more mature audiences certain life lessons.

This film really drives home how you have to fight for what you want in life, and that it's okay for children to take their time growing up. Catherine just wants to have fun and live, not worry about making decisions that adults have to make, such as getting married and having children. She stands up for herself and doesn't give up, until her voice is heard. Parents need to be aware that it covers topics such as sexuality and abuse, plus has scenes addressing puberty, other adult behaviors and drinking.

I give Catherine Called Birdy 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.

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

"Boredom is for the dull-witted"-- and the heroine in Catherine Called Birdy is anything but dull-witted! This timeless coming-of-age story which takes place in 13th Century England is witty and engaging. Catherine Called Birdy is relatable to modern audiences and kept me guessing while entertained.

Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), known around the manor as Birdy, is a clever and stubborn 14-year-old girl who valiantly fights against medieval traditions for her independence. Her father, Lord Rollo of Stonebridge (Andrew Scott) seeks to find a foolish young man who will trade his fortune for a title by marrying off his only daughter. Fortunately, Birdy is not foolish and her rebellion proves to be entertaining as we see that her truest passion lies in avoiding chores, causing mischief at home and in her village, as well as routing her various suitors on her own personal crusade.

The incredibly clever screenplay, written by Lena Denham, is based on the book of the same name by Karen Cushman. Bella Ramsey, as Birdy, has wonderful comedic timing and utilizes the witty dialogue to capture the audience, while confusing her various suitors. I enjoyed watching Birdy's cleverness and frustration in overcoming social norms and assumptions from that time. All teenagers can relate to parent's expectations and interference while struggling against them. Lena Denham also directs the film and you can tell that it is certainly a labor of love. The scenes in the countryside and manor are quite beautiful and the cinematography, under the guidance of Laurie Rose, truly adds to the story and film. The set decorator Stella Fox, along with costume designer Julian Day, complete the audience's immersion into the manor and village of Stonebridge.

The message of this film is that you should not be burdened by the expectations of others - even if they come from those you love or feel an obligation to. Under pressure, Birdy doesn't fly the coop, but instead she stays and fights for her future and her independence.

I rate Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film opens in select theaters September 23, 2022 and on Prime Video October 7, 2022. Don't miss this relatable and enchanting tale.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY


FOR TOMORROW
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

Follow the journey of grassroots innovators dedicated to fighting some of today's most pressing sustainability issues. Through actions, big and small, everyday change-makers are tackling local problems and inspiring their communities with ingenuity, resilience and vision. Whether it's a solar-powered car built from recycled materials by a self-taught engineer to combat air pollution or a line of cleaning products made from food waste by someone with no chemistry training, grassroots solutions are setting the planet on a more sustainable path. But for a real breakthrough, governments, global institutions and the private sector must recognize these innovators and actively seek out their ideas. From the streets of Baku to a farming community in the Andes and the mountains of Northern India, our documentary follows five innovators on their quest for real, actionable change. Their journey to innovation is never simple-how do you keep going when even your husband doesn't believe in your idea?-but the power of their vision keeps them going. Is the world ready to finally listen to them and change the way it handles and solves global problems?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

One of my favorite documentaries of the past year, For Tomorrow is an uplifting, inspiring and thought-provoking portrait of human resilience and innovation. With immaculate cinematography and compelling storytelling, young minds will be nourished by this wonderful film. Even the K-pop group BTS thinks so.

"Minds on the margin are not marginal minds." This line perfectly sums up For Tomorrow, which, yes, was promoted by the Korean pop band BTS. Following five grassroots innovators from across the world, this documentary, narrated by Daisy Ridley, strives to go beyond labs, think tanks, and name brands to show the real people making change happen. One, a disability rights activist in Baku, Azerbaijan, fights for the construction of elevators in metro stations to make public transport more accessible for the 620,000 disabled Azerbaijanis. Another change-maker is an inventor in Sierra Leone, working to bring electricity to rural areas and get more solar cars on the roads.

An Tran's direction elevates this already incredible film, as she creates mini-portraits of each of the innovators featured in the film, showing what their daily lives look like and how they tackle the challenges they face every day, whether that's mountains of trash outside or water scarcity. The cinematography is just WOW; it's clear that production was clearly highly valued. For Tomorrow was produced in association with the acclaimed platform fortomorrow.org and the UN Development Programme; the UN could not have made a better filmed or edited documentary to promote their site. I love how For Tomorrow both intertwines, but also separates, the stories of each change-maker. This makes the film easy to follow and constantly engaging.

ForTomorrow promotes finding unique solutions in, at-times, dire situations and empowers others. The world's biggest problems won't be solved with just one person's effort -- collaboration is the key.

I give ForTomorrow 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. For Tomorrow is available Amazon Prime Video September 16, 2022.

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR FOR TOMORROW


HOCUS POCUS 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Lock up your children and grab some salt just in case! Just in time for Halloween, the wicked Sanderson sisters are back in Hocus Pocus 2, the live-action, comedy sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. The musical performances in this film are to die for.

Hocus Pocus 2 follows the Sanderson sisters -- Winifred "Winnie" (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy), as they seek revenge on the town that cast them away ... again. It's been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they have a spell to settle. Three high-school students accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern-day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow's Eve.

This film is perfect to get you in the Halloween spirit. In this sequel, we finally learn the origin of the Sanderson sisters, which helps us understand why they are who they are, why the sisters were banned from Salem as youngsters, and why they became involved in witchcraft. I love that the original actors who played the sisters reprised their roles here. With this film taking place 29 years later, it makes for hilarious moments watching the sisters get familiar with the "new town," such as watching them search for new beauty products to become younger and having young fans wanting to take selfies with them. The Sanderson's spell-bounding rendition and performance of "One Way of Another" (Hocus Pocus 2 Version) they sing to the residents at the festival is entertaining and original.

Hocus Pocus 2 is about friendship, sisterhood, and forgiveness. Many of their issues are resolved once the trio realizes what is most important to them and stop holding grudges. Even the high school teenagers have to realize they are better together than apart. This film also highlights the importance of reading labels and ALL of the instructions and spells; otherwise, you may miss an important warning. Parents should be aware of the reference to virgins that have to light the Black Flame Candle (but with a hilarious "parent-like" definition), which will probably have kids asking more questions.

Hocus Pocus 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. I recommend watching the original film, since this one has plenty of references to Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus 2 premieres September 30, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.

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

An exciting, heartwarming and nostalgic adventure, this film brings back old memories of day-one fans, and will captivate and capture a new audience as well through its wild fun journey.

Hocus Pocus 2 returns to Salem, Massachusetts where it all began. It follows the original film, after years have passed with the Sanderson Sisters being nothing but a spooky story. However, not everyone believes that they are just a myth, particularly Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy(Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie(Lilia Buckigham), who are three teenage girls that have always had a fascination with magic and witches. On Halloween they find themselves doing their yearly spell rituals, expecting nothing from them, when they accidentally find themselves bringing back the iconic Sanderson Sisters. The girls now must find a way to stop the child-hungry sisters from finding a way to stay alive forever.

The execution of this film is outstanding. Although it is a sequel, this movie truly lives up to the original. It continues the story with a modern twist, and still has that same nostalgic feeling. Years have passed, but watching this movie takes you right back, and the Sanderson Sisters weave their way back to the top. It's evident that Director Anne Fletcher fully understands the nostalgic feeling of this sequel, which we see in every aspect of the film. Another thing that really stands are the costumes. The time put into each and every detail is magnificent and all the accessories and outfits are so personal to each character; that is something that I personally really appreciate and adore! Lastly, I truly enjoy the constant comedic moments. This movie really gives the audience a good laugh. They really take into account the difference of a new generation watching this and play a lot with that aspect in the script.

The message of Hocus Pocus 2 is that "in the end, nothing is worth it if you don't have those you love most there with you."

Hocus Pocus 2 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Hocus Pocus 2 now on Disney Plus+.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED HOCUS POCUS 2


SIDNEY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

From producer Oprah Winfrey and directed by Academy Award nominee Reginald Hudlin, this revealing documentary honors the legendary Sidney Poitier and his legacy as an iconic actor, filmmaker and activist at the center of Hollywood and the Civil Rights Movement. Featuring candid interviews with Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Robert Redford, Lenny Kravitz, Barbra Streisand, Spike Lee and many more, the film is also produced by Derik Murray, in close collaboration with the Poitier family.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Sidney is an inspiring documentary that will ensure generations to come to love and appreciate the impact of Oscar award-winning actor, Mr. Sidney Poitier. The techniques used to tell his story, the events shared and the contributions to the film will keep viewers engaged. Described by producer Oprah Winfrey as one of the most extraordinary people she's ever met, Mr. Poitier would be proud of this documentary about his life.

Sidney reflects on the life and legacy of iconic actor, filmmaker, and activist, Sidney Poitier. Born and raised in the Bahamas, the film shows life for him once he arrived in the USA as a colored man and how he rose to become an icon and the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, despite racism and other obstacles. The documentary creatively tells Poitier's story in his own words from interviews from Ms. Winfrey's personal collection. Anecdotes from his family and heavy hitters such as Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Halle Berry, and Oprah Winfrey herself included.

This film is truly a celebration of Mr. Poitier's legacy, the contributions he made, and a life well-lived. I love how the interview clips from the younger Poitier seamlessly blend together with the elder Poitier picking up the story. My favorite part of the documentary is the clip from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner when he says, "You think of yourself as a colored man. And I think of myself as a man," because it perfectly summarizes how he felt about himself and how he demanded other people to look at him. For me, this is what enabled him to break so many barriers and pave the way for other actors, including myself. The film does not hold back and includes some of Mr. Poitier's not-so-proud moments, which really help show the different sides of his complex life.

This film is about perseverance and being confident in who you are despite how the world sees you. I love that Mr. Poitier understood that he was not identified by his color and made sure everyone else knew it too, on and off-screen, even demanding scripts be rewritten to make his character stronger.

I rate Sidney 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Sidney on Apple TV+ starting September 23, 2022.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SIDNEY


UNDER WRAPS 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

While Amy is preparing for her father's Halloween-themed wedding, she, Gilbert and Marshall discover that Harold and Rose may be in danger. An evil mummy is unexpectedly awakened and out for revenge.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

As a horror film enthusiast, I must admit, I fancy a well-executed spooky comedy. If you are anything like me, Under Wraps 2 is a film to watch. This film really gives viewers just the right balance of Halloween fright, mummy madness, gut-busting humor, and friendship feels. If eerie films, impromptu dance scenes and happy endings are your thing, don't deprive yourself of watching this scary, family-friendly fun film.

Chaperoned by a kooky and delightful friend, Buzzy (Melanie Brook), best friends Marshall (Malachi Barton), Gilbert (Christian J. Simon), and Amy (Sophia Hammons) prepare to attend the Halloween-inspired wedding of Amy's father (Claude Knowlton) and his adoring fiance (Anotion Cayonne). Marshall, Gilbert and Amy are soon met with unexpected chaos when they crack a mystery museum burglary. The mystery reveals their best mummy friend, Harold (Phil Wright) and his doting mummy bride Rose (Rryla McIntosh) are in grave danger. These pals will do anything to rescue their ancient companions from harm.

This spooktacular live action film follows the trio as they race against the clock to save their mummy besties from the spine-chilling, evil mummy named Sobek (T.J. Storm) who was accidentally resurrected, by a naive museum guard, Larry (Jordan Conley). Sobek wants nothing more than to destroy Harold and run away with Rose, and with the help of a hypnotized Larry, he might just get away with it. The director of this film, Alex Zamm hooks viewers in from the beginning. His ability to make horror films fun to watch speaks to his creative genius. The comedic timing of the characters such as Larry and Beuller, the jeweler (Adam Wiley), gives the film a light-hearted element. There are several times throughout the film that viewers experience unanticipated twists that seem to fit perfectly. Under Wraps 2 has remarkable camera work that gives you the illusion that you're in the film with the actors. Also, the sound effects are so stellar you feel like you're watching the movie in surround sound. I would be remiss if I did not mention the realistic special effects. The mummy masks and costumes are detailed and frighteningly realistic. My favorite scene in Under Wraps 2 is when Harold and Rose order an astronomical amount of room service and end up in a synchronized dance battle at the town's Halloween fair. As a close second, there is a scene where a party of people experience a messy chocolate fountain mishap -- that is hilarious.

Subtly, diversity and inclusion are cleverly wrapped in the fiber of this film, which is overflowing with empowering messages. Under Wraps 2 reminds us of the power of friendship as these besties show us how real friends will go to any length to help one another, even when it means facing your deepest fears. It also reminds us that "love is love" and to never judge others, simply because they are different. You should be aware that there is an LGBTQ+ marriage and same-sex kissing scene.

Under Wraps 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This is a family fun movie that everyone can enjoy. Under Wraps 2 released on Disney Channel September 25 and will be released on Disney+ September 30, 2002.


 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR UNDER WRAPS 2


BOONIE BEARS, THE: MONSTER PLAN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WOW NOW ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

The crazy scientist, Doctor Rex Vector, and his hamster assistant, Mister Pete, return to Pine Tree Mountain with Vector's new, evil invention: a robo-monster complete with animal abilities. But first, Vector needs to collect these skills. He comes up with a power absorbing gadget, which he often disguises, in order to trap and steal abilities from the innocent animals. Vick, Briar and Bramble, along with other animal friends, must stand up against this "monster plan" of Vector's. It's going to be a fierce fight between wild animals and poaching villains.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Entertaining, kid-friendly, and adventurous are just the words to describe the animated film, Boonie Bears: Monster Plan! From adorable characters to an amazing animation style, young kids are sure to love watching.

Dr. Rex Victor, the evil and crazy scientist, and his hamster assistant are back in Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 3 with a new, evil invention: a robo-monster with animal abilities. They are wreaking havoc on Pine Tree Mountain with their "monster plan" and it's up to the bear brothers, Briar (Rick Jay Glen) and Bramble (Justin J. Wheeler) to stop them. With Dr. Victor trying to create a perfect monster, the Boonie Bears stand up against him, which sends the characters into endless adventures.

This is a great film that's sure to keep young viewers entertained. Boonie Bears: Monster Plan is the third installment of the Boonie Bears: Monster Plan movie series. This is the most popular Chinese kid's television show and it's cool that it not only has been adapted into a film franchise but also is translated into English for non-Chinese speakers to watch and enjoy. I love the animation style as well as the voice acting which is very soft and cute, just like you would expect from a kids' show. My favorite part of this film is when Briar, Bramble and Logger Vick help save Dr. Rex Victor by dressing up as him and distracting the Badger from chasing Victor.

There are multiple messages of Boonie Bears: Monster Plan. The film shows how important friendships are and that they are something worth saving, because a friend is someone who is there for you and always cares for your well-being. It also highlights the importance of teamwork and how, when you work together, you can accomplish more, whether it's to help someone or to accomplish a joint project.

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and, since it is very kiddy, I recommend it for ages 5 to 12. You can watch Boonie Bears: Monster Plan on digital platforms and DVD starting October 4, 2022.

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

What do you get when you combine a mad scientist, a crazed hamster sidekick, a pack of brave bears, and a forest full of animal friends? You get a lighthearted, adorable, funny animated comedy. Boonie Bears: Monster Plan is quirky and fun to watch.

The storyline follows Doctor Rex Vector and his dedicated hamster comrade, Mister Pete, as they set out on a vicious mission to create a robot monster. The wicked duo has a brilliant idea to steal the animal abilities from the forest animals and give their powers to the robo-monster. Led by the bears, Briar and Bramble, the animals join forces to prevent Doctor Rex Vector from stealing their special skills and taking over the forest they call home.

As a lover of animated films, I must admit that this cast presents some of the most unique and comical voices. For example, you might expect the bears would have deep baritone voices. Ironically, the bear characters in this film have high-pitched, squeaky voices; this makes them fun to watch. The storyline follows bear best friends, Briar (Rick Jay Glen) and Bramble (Justin J. Wheeler), as they team up with the other animals to defeat the evil scientist. This dynamic duo makes an excellent team and is incredibly entertaining to watch. They are best pals, but they are more like brothers. It is as if one bear always knows what the other is thinking without them having to say anything. Their connection ultimately helps save the day. My favorite part of the film is when the animals have an intense fight scene with Doctor Rex Vector, Mister Pete, and a weapon that fires jelly and ice. Despite a determined Doctor Rex Vector and Mister Pete, they are no match for the forest animals. The fight between the forest animals and the wicked villains kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

This film empowers viewers to never accept defeat. Doctor Rex Vector is relentless in his mission to steal the forest animals' special skills, but they persevere and never give up. The story reminds us that, sometimes, the only way to be victorious is to work with others. The animals alone are not strong enough to fight Doctor Vector and Mister Pete, but together they are a mighty force.

I give Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 9; it is perfect for family movie night. Boonie Bears: Monster Plan releases on VOD and DVD October 4, 2022.

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Boonie Bears: Monster Plan is a fun and upbeat romp through the forest! There are lots of fun forest friends and many loveable characters to get to know in this wildly popular animated series. You don't need to have watched the previous episodes to fall in love with these furry friends and join their adventures saving their home.

The story follows bear pals Briar and Bramble, along with their animal friends, who must stand together to defeat the "Monster Plan" of crazy scientist Doctor Rex Vector and his hamster assistant Mister Pete. Rex Vector returns to Pine Tree Mountain with his newest invention, a robo-monster, made with various animal abilities. Mister Pete is sent on a mission by his master to steal the best abilities from different animals and the Boonie Bears have their work cut out for them to defeat Rex Vector's technological wizardry and save their friends.

The animation in Boonie Bears: Monster Plan is really superb. I love the detail and the movement of all the various characters, as well as the beautiful forest backgrounds. There is so much detail and movement in all of the character's facial expressions. The forest scenes are so beautifully depicted that you can see each leaf and appreciate the depth of field. The voice actors in this series each take on multiple roles and really bring each character to life through dialogue and all their funny sounds. The music directors Kate Qin and Zhiping Li bring in a fun and upbeat tempo to the series as well.

The message of this series is that you can choose to do the right thing and follow your instincts. It is important to pay attention and learn your lessons while supporting your friends. However, friendship can be complicated and it is interesting to watch the forest friendships evolve.

I rate Boonie Bears: Monster Plan 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. These new episodes will be released on October 4, 2022.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED BOONIE BEARS, THE: MONSTER PLAN



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