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BECOMING COUSTEAU
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ENTERTAINMENT - LA

Description:

Adventurer, filmmaker, inventor, author, unlikely celebrity and conservationist: For over four decades, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his explorations under the ocean became synonymous with a love of science and the natural world. As he learned to protect the environment, he brought the whole world with him, sounding alarms more than 50 years ago about the warming seas and our planet's vulnerability. In BECOMING COUSTEAU, from National Geographic Documentary Films, two-time Academy Award�-nominated filmmaker LIZ GARBUS takes an inside look at Cousteau and his life, his iconic films and inventions, and the experiences that made him the 20th century's most unique and renowned environmental voice -- and the man who inspired generations to protect the Earth.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The documentary Becoming Cousteau reveals the life of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his passion for all things under the sea. I loved learning more about this man, who was a dominate figure during my youth who brought fantastic underwater images into our living rooms.

This film shows Cousteau's love for the oceans, as it explores over four decades of his work and how he became a spokesperson for the environment more than 50 years ago.

I loved watching this film and learned more about Jacques Cousteau than I knew previously. It sort of filled in the blanks of the back story of the man who captured our hearts and imaginations years ago. The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, although I wondered why the archival shots at the beginning had not been digitally enhanced. I also found it interesting that even his first dives into the ocean, in 1937, were filmed. Of course, he says several times that he has always been a filmmaker, but still those shots surprised me. He also talks about how he was not a good husband or father and, indeed, six months after his wife died he remarried. Also, he sent his children off to boarding school so he and wife number one could spend their time on the boat pursuing various missions. He was a clever businessman too, which was necessary to keep the funding flowing and we learn how he too on an assignment from British Petroleum to research oil reserves under the ocean in order to finance other projects he and his crew pursued. I remember well his TV series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, which aired from 1968n to 1976 and featured Cousteau along with his two sons and grandson. His wife, who did not appear on screen, was sort of the glue that held things together with the crew during these expositions on their boat, the Calypso. The Cousteau Society still exists and continues to carry out explorations worldwide and helps people understand the fragility of life on Earth - the Water Planet. This beautifully produced documentary directed by Liz Barbus (The Farm: Angola, USAP truly is an ode to a remarkable man who changed the course of history by embracing life beneath the sea.

The message of this film is a reminder to take care of our planet and treasure the undersea world.

I give Becoming Cousteau 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by R. Levy, KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST ENDORSED


DUNE (2021)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

A mythic and emotionally charged hero's journey, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity's greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I absolutely love Dune! It is a thrilling attention-grabbing adventure that creates a connection you would never expect. It opens your mind up to a whole new world that you never knew existed.

This film follows Paul (Timothee Chalamet), the son of the most noble and respected family on their planet, Arrakis. Forces from all over the galaxy, as well as theirs, are fighting for necessary resources, as well as power, in hope of someday finding the one who can stop time.

The director of Dune, Denis Villeneuve has created one of the best films I have ever seen. The camera work and the angles used are extremely insightful and satisfying. For example, when the actors are climbing up the dunes, it's almost as if we are following right behind them. The camera doesn't show us what is at the top until the characters themselves get there. This makes you feel as if you are actually there with them. It creates a suspense that I've never experienced before. Also, the digital and visual effects are out of this world. You fully feel as if you are there with them every moment. Every single sword fight and burst of fire encompasses the entire room and fully transforms your experience. The cast is terrific! For example, the relationship between Paul and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) shows some of the most raw and real love between a mother and son that I've ever seen on screen. They fully embody their characters and their relationship with each other. Furthermore, I love the character Chani (Zendaya), who is mysterious and intriguing. Zendaya's work never fails to impress me, and I love her role here. I also really enjoyed the bond between Paul and Duncan. They have such a strong friendship that feels so genuine, and gives such a positive effect on the audience. The wardrobe, hair and makeup are all top notch. Every costume is so personalized for each character. All the outfits that Rebecca Ferguson wears are so intricate and unique. She has many wardrobe changes, while still staying true to her character. This is something that was cool to see in such an action packed movie. The hair and makeup are also executed extremely well. They are simple, but intense and give you the feeling that these characters do not live on earth, but they still feel human at the same time. The eye makeup that most of the characters wear, is natural looking and yet created an alien-esc look.

The message of this film is that if you can conquer your fear, then you can conquer anything. This film does include violent scenes, including blood, stabbings and bombs.

I give Dune 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Dune releases in theaters October 22, 2021.

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

I love Dune. This film is almost like an introduction to a great story. When at the end Zendaya's character says, "This is only the beginning," the foreshadowing tells me that there will hopefully be a sequel.

Dune is an exceptional film directed by Denis Villeneuve and adapted from the original sci-fi novel, written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965. Fans of the 1984 version directed by David Lynch - and newcomers to Dune -- will be fascinated to see Villeneuve's incarnation. I absolutely love the cast, cinematography, CGI, makeup and many other aspects of this film.

The film takes place on an unfamiliar desert planet, Arrakis - the world of Arrakis is breathtaking. I love the culture of the planet, such as the languages they speak, the homes the characters live in, and, of course, the makeup and costumes have a huge effect on the aesthetic of this planet. The story centers on a young man named Paul Atreides (Timoth�e Chalamet) who has an important role: His family is responsible for mining a very valuable and powerful spice, which is the most precious element on Arrakis. As the story unfolds, it's easy to be captivated and mesmerized into the illusion that you as the audience are with the characters on Arrakis. At times, though, I felt I was almost missing parts of the story. Since this is an adaptation from a book, a lot of information has to be left out, and I left the theater wanting to know more about Arrakis. I also felt that the beginning is a bit slow and most of the action in this film takes place near the end, although that isn't a huge issue for me.

Now let's talk about the acting and this great ensemble cast with Timoth�e Chalamet in the lead role and his peers: Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Issac and many others. I've been a huge fan of Timoth�e Chalamet for a long time and this is one of his best performances to date. I love his character - you can really see how at the beginning of the movie he is a vulnerable yet strong boy who eventually stands his ground and knows his place. I also love Zendaya's performance; throughout the entire movie I was waiting to see her appearance. I also love Jason Momoa's character, another one of my favorites. Finally, Oscar Issac and Rebecca Ferguson work really well together and deliver very engaging performances.

The costumes are very detailed and intricate which bring out fascinating elements of the planet. And the cinematography (by Greig Fraser) and visual storytelling is so beautifully done and goes in perfect sync with the production design. It's important to acknowledge Hans Zimmer who composed all the music since his score brings the sci-fi storytelling to life.

The message of the film is we all have a purpose, we should find our own voice and destinies and true empathy is as powerful as blood lineage in our world.

I give Dune 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Dune opens in theaters, October 22, 2021 and I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX if you can.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DUNE (2021)


CAT DADDIES
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
101 STUDIOS

Description:

David Giovanni is living on the streets of New York, determined to stay together with his beloved cat Lucky. When he's finally granted a spot in a transitional housing facility that accepts cats, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating medical diagnosis puts his future together with Lucky in doubt. David's journey is interspersed with portraits of other "cat dads" from all over the country and some who struggle to navigate the unprecedented events of 2020 with their little furry friends. They include a group of firefighters, a stunt man, a truck driver, a Bay Area tech worker, a schoolteacher whose cat becomes a viral sensation, and an actor/Instagram influencer. These men couldn't be more different, but they share an unconditional love of their beloved pets. Cat Daddies is a refreshing and timely exploration of modern masculinity and the unlikely bond between man and cat.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like the documentary Cat Daddies because it documents different cat adoptions or rescues, especially by men, and each one of their stories is a heartwarming story that touches you. I liked seeing each one of these men and their cats bond and their journey.

This documentary is about different men or "cat dads" rescuing or adopting kittens from the streets. The film takes place in different states including California, New York, South Carolina and Arizona. You will enjoy different stories of an actor who adopts four cats and becomes an influencer by posting about his cats on social media, a fireman who adopts a cat that now is part of their crew and more. This film also documents the journey of a homeless man named David who suffers from cancer, and his cat Lucky. David became so selfless that it takes him a lot of thinking to go take care of his cancer in order to not leave Lucky unattended. Cats, like dogs, are good companions and can be supportive animals as well. Cats can feel when you are sad and they express their love in different ways from dogs, but that doesn't mean the love they offer is less. We often see movies or stories of men and their dogs, but have you ever watched a heartwarming movie or film about men and their cats? Well, this is your chance! My favorite story is David's. His love for his cat, Lucky, is bigger than himself. Before David admits himself to the hospital to take care of his tumor, he makes sure Lucky is in good hands. He misses Lucky terribly while he's at the hospital. This film is a reminder that if you are looking to adopt a pet, remember there are plenty of adorable cats and dogs in shelters waiting for a warm, cozy and loving home. Why go to pet stores and buy a pet when you can rescue them? At the end of your journey you will ask yourself, "Who rescued whom?"

The message of this film is about how men express their masculinity as they melt with love and compassion over cats.

I give Cat Daddies 5 out of 5 stars and recommended for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is playing now at select film festivals, so look for it. By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CAT DADDIES


SUPERMAN & LOIS: COMPLETE SEASON 1

Running Time:
450 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
WARNER BRO. HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

After years of facing supervillains, monsters, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, the world's most famous superhero (Tyler Hoechlin) and comic books' most famous journalist (Elizabeth Tulloch) come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever - dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today's society.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Superman & Lois: Complete Season 1 is a unique take on Superman because it focuses on his life as both a husband and father. There are action sequences like we expect to see from a Superman show. Like a lot of other interpretations, the tone is very light and has a bright and hopeful nature, but it does have some high stakes, because it ventures into a new aspect of the superhero.

The story follows Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechilin) and famous journalist Lois Lane ( Bitsie Tulloch) facing a big challenge, which is dealing with the stress, pressures and complexities that come from being working parents in today's society. This is complicated by Superman's already daunting job of being a superhero and Lois knowing his big secret.

In Superman & Lois, Clark and Lois return to Smallville where Clark grew up. The first season is about the family dynamics of raising two very different twins, Jordan (Alex Garfin) and Jonathan (Jordan Elsass). Jordan is moody and temperamental; Jonathan is happy and popular. The family experiences another change when the boys discover their father's secretary identity and again, when one of the boys develops his own superpowers. This all happens as an ominous stranger comes to town. Superman & Lois incorporates everything you would expect from a Superman show. The main difference is adding marriage and kids - the family element. This allows Clark to become more human in a way because he struggles with family issues like we all experience. I can see a bit of my own family in their conflicts. This brings out more of Superman's human qualities; we see the man just as much as we see the superhero. The show's CGI is more improved compared to other Arrowverse shows. For example, Superman has an improved suit, which looks good against the CGI. Also, the dynamics between the characters seems true. There is a natural flow to their dialogue, making them believable and more relatable.

The message of the show is that, even though Superman may have all these superpowers, they can't help him with everything. Despite being Superman, Clark Kent still struggles with the being a "man" and balancing his family life with his superhero persona. Plus the fact that, no matter how different or how many issues a family may have, at the end of the day they still love and support each other.

Superman & Lois: The Complete Season 1 gets 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Superman & Lois: The Complete Season 1 releases on DVD October, 19 2021.

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

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SUPERMAN & LOIS: COMPLETE SEASON 1


UNDER WRAPS 2021
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
TV, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

Friends Marshall, Gilbert, and Amy accidentally revive and release a mummy from its sarcophagus in the days leading up to Halloween. At first terrified, they quickly learn that the Mummy who they affectionately name 'Harold' is actually very sweet and in dire need of assistance.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel's new Under Wraps movie! It's got everything - action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!

This storyline follows three friends, Marshall, Gilbert and Amy, who mysteriously find a mummy in their neighbor's basement. Accidently bringing it to life, they discover he is a kind mummy. Most films describe mummies as horrid, brain-eating, dead monsters. But this movie is special because, its mummy is not like the others. He is a kindhearted, affectionate and friendly mummy, ready to help his friends with anything that may come next. Upon finding out that their new friend Harold, the mummy, will turn to dust if not put back in his sarcophagus by midnight on Halloween, the three friends do everything to save their new mummy friend.

You'll love the main characters. Marshall (Malachi Bartoh) is a sci-fi, monster enthusiast. Gilbert (Christian J. Simon) is a scared, yet honest friend. He is always trying to help his friends and embraces people for whom they really are throughout the movie. Amy (Sophia Hammons) wants to solve mysteries and get the inside scoop. She dreams of becoming an investigative journalist. Even though she's the new kid in town, she is bold and is not afraid to stand up for what is right. Malachi Barton connects with his character, Marshall, in a believable way. Christian J. Simon's Gilbert is very funny; Christian is funny in real life as well. He makes giving a solid, amazing, thorough performance look easy. Sophia Hammons gives a dynamic, well thought out performance and shows the variety of ways she can connect with different emotions while portraying Amy. The costume for Harold is well thought out, with incredible special effects. He looks and seems like an actual mummy. My favorite character is Amy because she is very brave, incredibly smart and she is not afraid to speak her mind.

This message is to embrace people's differences and to not judge a book by its cover. When Harold is brought back to life after thousands of years, people seem to fear him - when he's really trying to help them out. You discover that all Harold wants is a friend and our three friends learn to accept him for who he is on the inside, beyond his wrapped-up-mummy-outside.

I give Under Wraps 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Under Wraps is available now on Disney Channel and Disney plus. This is a movie you don't want to miss!

By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR UNDER WRAPS 2021


NO TIME TO DIE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
MGM STUDIOS

Description:

In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

No Time to Die certainly kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire two hours and forty three minutes. This movie has a combination of danger, romance, sadness, humor and a lot of action and violence, but most importantly, it shocks the audience by revealing a secret hidden from James Bond.

No Time to Die is about agent 007, James Bond (Daniel Craig) who, after a peaceful five years of retirement, comes back to complete a mission, rescuing a Russian scientist who created a powerful weapon out of DNA. During Bond's mission rescuing this scientist, he finds out his number 007 has been assigned to another agent, a woman. He also finds out his wife's secrets and he meets Safin (Rami Malek), a villain who uses the Russian scientist to create dangerous technology. My favorite part is when the female 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) tries to compete with Bond on the rescue mission.

This film has a lot of dangerous action. The majority of the scenes include explosives that will make the audience jump out of their seats. The stunts are amazing. The wardrobe is very classy and elegant. The female roles are very important in this movie. Bond's wife is Madeleine (L�a Seydoux) who, at a young age had to fire a gun in order to protect herself. Paloma (Ana de Armas) is a Cuban agent who helped Bond with his mission. Nomi is very proud of her number 007 and does not want to give it back to Bond. Watching these women in action is amusing as well.

The moral of this film is to trust the ones you love. James Bond didn't trust his wife and he lost five years of his life without her that he can never recover ever again. Be forewarned that this movie has a lot of gory scenes and violence, but it does have a PG-13 rating.

O give No Time To Die 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 and 18, plus adults.

This film opens in theatres October 8, 2021. What are your thoughts about agent 007 being a woman? Drop your comments below and stay tuned for more reviews.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR NO TIME TO DIE


JUST BEYOND
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
11-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 11-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Inspired by the writings of R.L. Stine, "Just Beyond" is an eight-episode anthology series that tells astonishing and thought-provoking stories of a reality just beyond the one we know. Each episode introduces viewers to a new cast of characters who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world of witches, aliens, ghosts and parallel universes. Stine, prolific author of young-adult horror fiction, including the "Goosebumps" and "Fear Street" series, has been scaring readers worldwide for over 35 years. The show's creators referenced his popular page-turners while developing their new series of hair-raising stories. Episodes acknowledge teenage struggles, such as bullying, peer pressure and anxiety, through supernatural storylines that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Just Beyond is so thrilling! It has the just right amount of scary, unusual and supernatural. All of the storylines are so different and keep you wanting more.

Just Beyond has eight episodes running about 30 minutes, each with a unique storyline. Episodes include "Parents Are From Mars, Kids Are From Venus," "Which Witch," "My Monster," "We've Got Spirits, Yes We Do," "Standing Up for Yourself" and "The Treehouse."

This live action anthology series is loosely based on the graphic novel series by R.L. Stine, also titled "Just Beyond," so fans of the series, or any R.L. Stine story should love the show. The costume design, especially for "Which Witch" and "My Monster" are incredible; Luna's outfits are perfect for her character and the monster looks super realistic. And sometimes, the costumes even give references to past R.L. Stine work. The music is very fitting as it is eerie and gives you the chills as you listen. The cinematography really adds to the storyline, as there are so many unique angles and points of view. This show has some very talented young actors, such as McKenna Grace, who plays Veronica, Lexi Underwood as Ella, Cedric Joe plays Sam, Gabriel Bateman as Jack and Megan Scott who plays Olivia. I loved all the episodes, but my favorite is "Leave Them Kids Alone," because it just could happen.

The messages vary from episode to episode, but what stands out are: embracing uniqueness, not letting fear get the better of you and it matters more about what's inside than outside. Some of the episodes contain scary parts that young kids might find frightening.

I give Just Beyond 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. This show begins streaming on Disney+ October 13, 2021.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR JUST BEYOND


LANGUAGE ARTS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
KAIROS PRODUCTIONS

Description:

A student project abruptly forces an emotionally stunted high school English teacher to confront his demons--past and present--taking him on a powerful journey of connection and redemption. Based on the novel, starring Ashley Zukerman, Sarah Shahi, Elliott Smith and Lincoln Lambert.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

Language Arts is a powerful film about a difficult subject that draws you in as the characters develop and face challenges. It's emotional to see some of the challenges the characters face. It is even more difficult to see how children without challenges treat those with them.< p>The storyline follows a student that wants to do a project on how people with limited or no language skills are able to tell their own stories. Her English teacher, who grew up in a flawed family, has an autistic child. During this powerful movie he relives his life, the good and the bad, on a path that will bring him to a much better place.

We are introduced to people who have dementia, are autistic and those who have other challenges. The characters are full and rich. I don't believe the nun, with dementia, would have just been lead to a new room and quickly left there alone. The actor who plays Dana, who went to school with the teacher, delivers a great performance. However, I don't believe he would ever have been left unattended, given how challenged he is. The teacher and Charlie's child, Cody both give believable performances. Although the actors portray the characters well, I don't believe they would be as easily handled as the movie shows. The end of the film pulls everything together very well, particularly for Cody's divorced parents.

Much of the movie is very "beige." The scene where Charlie and his wife visit a doctor is the perfect example. Not only is the office beige, but Charlie and his wife's clothing match the colors of the wall. Cody's room is very "beige." Even the kitchen, where the nuns bake bread, have little color. The end of the film is the only place, for the most part, where there is color that pops. Given how heavy the material is, a little color may help. The way they tie the Palmer method of writing throughout the film is amazing! The costumes are accurate for the time, but again, adding some color might help. The only scene, besides the ending that has color is when Charlie is bartending and his wife is with him in a colorful outfit. How the characters act makes for great visual effects, from the nun making a collage of Cody's work with crunchy noodles and paper. What the characters do very much impacts how you see each one and makes them very believable.

Mrs. Braxton (Jane Ryan) plays a teacher of that time to perfection. The Charles (Elliot Smith) character is incredibly well developed from his dysfunctional and traumatic childhood, due to trauma suffered over the assault of Dana (Lincoln Lambert) and Charles' (Ashley Zukerman mother (not credited) not telling him that Dana survived. Dana gives a stellar performance and we discover he lived and had a rich life, and wrote his mother many letters, which leads right back to the Palmer method of writing.

There is also a point when Charles' mother-in-law sums her daughter up so succinctly it is a true gem of a line, "My daughter, let's hope out lasts the truth, otherwise known as denial. There are some real gems throughout the movie.

The director's skill shows throughout the film. The background music fits in well and is wonderful. The costumes needed some help, as they were very bland. My favorite scene is where Charlie's wife's parents visit to talk about home renovations. It meant a lot to see Charlie visit Dana's mother and finally learn the truth. The movie is well done and ventures into areas few have dared to go. For those who have not been in contact with people with these kinds of challenges, it important they see the full spectrum of humanity. The characters are rich and developed. It is a powerful movie with a great message. Although depressing in many ways, it is an excellent film with a positive message at the end.

The message is that everyone has a voice, although they may show it in different ways!< p>I give Language Arts 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 through 18, plus adults. This is a film that offers many viewers a whole new perspective.

By Evie K., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

An emotionally compelling film, with impeccable performances and superb cinematography, Language Arts provides viewers with a glimpse into the lives of parents of children with disabilities as well as the children themselves.

Language Arts follows a man on his life journey. As a student, he befriends Dana, an autistic boy who is part of a program at his school. Dana is bullied by other students every day and, after an especially horrid incident involving a pen and a pantsing, Dana's life is in danger. The film fast-forwards and the young man is now an English teacher with an autistic son named Cody and a strained marriage. Over the duration of the film, life comes full circle for him as he reconnects with his past and comes to terms with the struggles he faces through his student's photography project.

The film's director, Cornelia "Corrie" Dury�e, is part of the disabled community herself, as she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia and severe multiple chemical sensitivity. Her youngest son, who makes a cameo in the film, has ASD. Four actors in the film also have ASD, including Mickey Rowe , who is an incredible actor with great depth of emotion and, evidently, personal experience that fuels his conviction to the role. Lincoln Lambert plays Dana, and his portrayal of an autistic student is very compelling. The cinematography accents the turmoil faced by the characters, with many crisp and evocative close-ups, and music accents every poignant moment. Some of the cuts between years and ages of characters make the film tough to understand at the start, but the story unrolls as it develops in a magnificent fashion.

Language Arts promotes accepting each other for who they are; making friends with those that are different from you; and working together, which can help people overcome what may seem like an insuperable hurdle. The film does contain some profanity, portrayals of fights, and various instances of ableism. There are also some graphic scenes where Dana is violently bullied.

I give Language Arts 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. The film will resonate with parents of disabled children. It is available now on VOD.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Kid Reporter, age 15

Language Arts is an emotional film that covers a wide variety of heavy, yet entertaining topics. This film has talented actors, great sets, relatable storylines, strong characters and fabulous cinematography. The creativity of this film is so cool, although it is sometimes a little bit confusing.

The storyline follows Charles Marlow (Ashley Zukerman) as he deals with family issues and connects with differently abled people throughout his life. As some young autistic patients start sparking memories of his childhood, we travel back to those times with him. As we visit his past, we see young Charles Marlow (Elliott Smith) and Dana McGucken (Lincoln Lambert) in elementary school, meeting and marrying Allison Forche-Marlow (Sarah Shahi) and then dealing with his disabled son, Cody Marlow (Kieran Walton). We get even more backstory about young Charles as kid and observe his life with his constantly arguing parents.

Language Arts has many fantastic elements; one of them being the incredibly well-chosen actors. The emotional story leads to deeply developed characters, which requires talented actors to pull off. Each actor portrays their character very well. Some of the best performances are from Elliott Smith as young Charles Marlow and Sarah Shahi as Allison Forche-Marlow. Young Charles Marlow deals with many challenging situations, including distant parents and bullying. Elliott Smith captures his character so well that I believe he is Charles. Sarah Shahi clearly connects with her character, Allison. She shines a light on Allison's real desires and personality, despite her actions telling a different story. Most importantly, the storyline is relatable and written strong enough to give actors the opportunity to shine. Each character has its own subplot so that every character is important. Learning about the secondary characters' backgrounds and deepest desires through the subplots adds to the film. The sets are another standout part. I particularly liked the set in the art studio which features beautiful artwork. The camerawork is also outstanding, using a variety of angles to draw you into the scenes. I love the creativity of the film jumping back and forth in time, allowing us to see the characters when they were younger, which helps us understand their current point of view. Yet that gets confusing at times. Sometimes it's difficult to know if I'm watching something from the past, present or future and that makes the storyline hard to follow. However, once you get accustomed to those time changes, which includes change of wardrobe and period-specific sets, the film is easier to follow.

The message of this film is to treat people with disabilities with the same respect as anyone else. There are other important themes that are shown such as being kind and living life to its fullest. Language Arts does address heavy topics, contains some profanity and is a sad story in many ways.

I give Language Arts 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Language Arts now on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LANGUAGE ARTS


GHOST AND MOLY MCGEE, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-16

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 6-16 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY CHANNEL

Description:

Tween optimist Molly McGee lives to make the world a better place, fix what has gone wrong, and spread joy. Meanwhile, cantankerous ghost Scratch lives to make the world a worse place, break what has gone right, and spread misery. When a curse from Scratch backfires, he finds himself forever bound to Molly. Despite that, Scratch and Molly form an unlikely friendship that guides each of them through the ups and downs of their respective worlds.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Ghost and Molly Mcgee is a fun show about the supernatural. With so many things that don't exist in the real world, this show makes you see into the world of the supernatural.

This show is about Molly Mcgee (Ashly Burch) and The Ghost whose name is Scratch (Dana Snyder). When Molly moves into a new house that is haunted by Scratch, Molly instantly befriends him and, in an attempt to get her off his back, he curses her so that she will be haunted forever - but, that ends up being a curse for him. To find out what happens to this hilarious duo watch this show!

One cool thing about this show is that, when the ghost does his haunting thing, the whole screen turns sideways and the colors go crazy, which makes it so entertaining to watch. Another thing I like about this show is the ghost council. The head ghosts hands out assignments and each ghost gets a scare report where they have to show a certain amount of scares during a certain period of time. The whole show is animated and has a very different style of animation. Most animated shows I watch try to look 3D and as realistic as possible, but this one is closer to 2D and it intentionally looks more like a cartoon. That has a more kid-friendly feel, especially with the scary ghost scenes.

The message is that unlikely friendships can work out.

I give The Ghost and Molly Mcgee 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16. I think younger kids might find the ghost scenes a little scary. This begins streaming October 1, 2021 on Hulu TV Live.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR GHOST AND MOLY MCGEE, THE


JUSTIN BIEBER: OUR WORLD
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

Justin Bieber: Our World takes viewers backstage, onstage, and into the private world of the musical icon as he prepares for his unprecedented concert, "T-Mobile Presents New Year's Eve Live with Justin Bieber." After a three-year hiatus from a full performance, and with concert venues shut down due to the pandemic, Bieber delivers an electrifying show to close out 2020 on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests--and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. The film follows Bieber and his close-knit team in the month leading up to the show, as they rehearse and construct a monumental stage while adhering to strict health and safety protocols. The film also captures personal, self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Justin Bieber: Our World is one of the most immersive Belieber experiences out there - the film takes you backstage, onstage and into the private world of Justin Bieber in a beautifully produced 96 minute documentary. It's certainly not a film to miss!

Viewers step into the shoes of Bieber and his team as they prepare for a record-breaking New Year's Eve 2020 concert after a three-year hiatus. Due to pandemic protocols, Bieber plans to deliver his performance on top of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests and millions of fans watching via live stream. But setting the whole event up is certainly no easy task. Rehearsing, building a massive stage and light setup, and dealing with technology make the experience more than slightly stressful for the crew. The film also captures personal self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey through his own "vlog camera." A good part of the film is composed of Bieber performing his songs.

The production quality of Justin Bieber: Our World is quite high, with candid perspectives captured in an organized fashion and organic cuts between songs and scenes. The genuine companionship and love Bieber's crew has for him (and vice versa) shows on screen. It's certainly heartwarming to see the small, sweet moments, like how Bieber's choreographer is welcomed back on set after his quarantine.

Justin Bieber: Our World promotes teamwork, perseverance, patience and the importance of family.

I give Justin Bieber: Our World 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Justin Bieber: Our World premieres on Prime Video on October 6, 2021. Check it out!

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Last year was a year like no other. Humans across the globe had to adapt while taking a pause due to the pandemic and its lockdowns. For many of us, that was a difficult task. Many events came to a screeching halt including family and friend get togethers, holiday gatherings, and any entertainment outside the home. Life was as abnormal as it gets! We look forward to these events within our lives as they are what keep us laughing, smiling and connected to others. We had to get real creative in staying connected with love ones and that's exactly what world superstar, Justin Bieber did in 2020 while ringing in the new year. Together with his dedicated team of music professionals, Bieber found a creative way to stay connected and share his talents with the world on a very special evening considering the strict guidelines of the pandemic.

Justin Bieber: Our World, is a new 90 minute documentary which highlights the recording of Bieber's special evening and the days leading up to the New Year's Eve concert. The film takes us behind-the-scenes and gives fans a look at the many efforts put forth by the Bieber team to produce an amazing show while following strict COVID health and safety procedures. The film documents a 30 day overview of the hard work and obstacles involved in the production of an event during this uncertain time. With little public entertainment going on during the pandemic, Bieber's creative team found the perfect way to deliver this artist's talents to fans globally in celebration of the New Year. Approximately 200 fans were able to view Bieber's return to the stage from their socially distant balconies, while others around the world were able to watch a live stream of the concert from their homes. Above the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, this music artist did not disappoint his fans with his gift of 21 hits shared with the world.

There are many positive thoughts worth sharing about this film. First, I have a great deal of respect for Justin Bieber and his journey. He entered the industry as a child and dug his heels in to get where he is today. He has overcome many obstacles in his life, including performing for a world overcome by COVID, which is evident in this film. The film highlights so many of the moving parts that are put into play to produce entertainment. I appreciated seeing how all the various teams of professionals came together in order to put create such an amazing show. Most notable in this documentary are the choreography and dancers. A big "thumbs up" for Nick DeMoura, the lead choreographer on the Bieber Team, who created masterpiece dance routines for this concert. The dancers stole the show! As I'm more than a casual fan, I had hoped that this documentary would reflect more on the personal life of Bieber, rather than the film being almost entirely about this concert. There's no doubt that Justin Bieber was born with a true gift and he's a very talented individual, so whatever he is able of sharing with his fans - we'll take it!

The message in Justin Bieber: Our World is the importance of teamwork and loyalty. Bieber's team has been together since he became a super star and it is obvious that they have formed connections that are much more than professional. They work together through challenges and hard times, but always find ways to laugh and to build on their friendships. The message is also about commitment and mutual respect. These are two qualities which are desperately needed within this industry. Justin Bieber makes it very well known through his words and actions in the film that he values his team.

I give Justin Bieber: Our World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults and all Bieber fans will especially enjoy this documentary. Justin Bieber: Our World is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR JUSTIN BIEBER: OUR WORLD


VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
COLUMBIA PICTURES

Description:

Eddie Brock struggles to adjust to his new life as the host of the alien symbiote Venom, which grants him super-human abilities in order to be a lethal vigilante. Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady, who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I like Venom: Let There Be Carnage because it is based on one of my favorite Marvel characters, Venom. I like that Carnage is a product of Venom, so watching these monsters clashing with each other is phenomenal.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is about a journalist named Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) who has a dark black, Spiderman looking devil named Venom that lives inside his body. Most of the movie shows Eddie and Venom not getting along, because Eddie is sick and tired of having Venom inside his body and Venom wants to be free to eat people. Venom is very clumsy and destructive and Eddie is frustrated because his apartment is a mess. An assassin named Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) knows Eddie and asks to speak to him before his death sentence is carried out. Eddie visits Cletus in prison, but Cletus antagonizes Eddie with his past and Venom comes out of Eddie's body to choke Cletus. Cletus bites Eddie's hand and tastes Venom's blood. So guess what happens? You have to watch the film to find out.

This film has amazing CGI graphics. The graphics look so real and the buildings falling apart when Venom climbs between them look real as well. The fighting scenes between these two titans are so incredible that it makes you want to see more. I expected there to be more encounters between Venom and Carnage and was disappointed that there weren't more. The movie has a good combination of comedy and action. The music is appealing in every scene. My favorite part is, of course, the battle between Venom and Carnage in the church. Carnage is huge compared to Venom and looks more powerful than him because Carnage has multiple extremities which Venom does not have.

The moral of this film is to never underestimate yourself no matter your size or strength. You do not know if you can win the war if you don't go to battle.

I give Venom: Let There Be Carnage 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This movie is available in theatres Friday, October 1, 2021. Remember, like all Marvel movies, you have to wait until after the credits. By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

There are several things in this film that fall short for me. Its lack of development of Kasady and the way it seems quite biased towards Venom. It's important to note that I haven't seen the original Venom, but I had a pretty easy time understanding the characters and the important plot details. As far as I can tell, the first movie didn't have much of an impact on the story of this film.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the sequel to Venom (2018) and it continues the story of Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote Venom (Tom Hardy). In an attempt to restore his journalism career, Eddie interviews the serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) right before he receives the death penalty. However, Kasady ends up becoming the host of a new symbiote, named Carnage and escapes. Now Eddie and Venom must stop Kasady and Carnage.

My biggest issue with this film is its pacing. The film is 90 minutes long, and it feels like it ends before the climax really starts. If I could make a suggestion, I would have preferred that they spent more time developing Kasady, as well as his childhood love interest, Shriek (Naomie Harris). We see small glimpses of their history with each other, but we never really learn why they're so attached. Considering that Kasady's main motive is to be with Shriek, she definitely should have been more developed; she doesn't really feel like a character her, she feels more like a plot device. Another thing that bothered me about this movie is the way it treats Eddie and Venom. Venom is an interesting character, because he starts as a villain and morphs into an antihero over time, and the movie hints at this duality. However, the movie seems very biased towards Venom. When Eddie calls out Venom for causing problems for the both of them, Eddie later has to apologize to Venom. Meanwhile, Venom is never held accountable for the fact that he does cause a lot of problems. Eddie was completely in the right in that situation. The film wants us to believe Venom is super funny and edgy, but he acts like a spoiled child for most of the film and I felt bad for Eddie the entire time.

The message of this film is that it's important for people to work together and communicate, so they can come to an understanding. I also would like to warn people that it is quite a violent and loud movie with a lot of action scenes.

I give Venom: Let There Be Carnage 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. It releases in theaters October 1, 2021. By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

Time to sink our teeth into the new wild ride of Venom: Let There Be Carnage! This film differs little from the first film, but still delivers entertaining action with its stellar CGI. A complex plot is crucial for a blockbuster action film of this caliber, and unfortunately this sequel spirals out of control and ends up a large mess. Most of the dialogue between Venom and Eddie is extremely hard to understand because of the depth and pace of Venom's voice; so watching with subtitles on is ideal. Venom: Let There Be Carnage begins with the iconic duo of Venom and Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as they both learn to live with each other and solve their own problems. When Eddie continues to interview serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), he ends up solving a murder case tied to Celetus's name. This seals Cletus's fate as he is now sentenced to death. Allowing his seemingly "final words" with Eddie, he gains the offspring of Venom, giving Celetus the ability to team up with the psychotic beast Carnage! Venom and Carnage go toe to toe for the battle of a lifetime.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage has a plethora of carnage, just not in the way we want to see. The sequel is borderline pleasurable, however has no remarkable improvements or differences from its predecessor. Carnage, in his original comics, is brutal. He is an insane symbiote who doesn't kill because he needs to; it's because he wants to. Before the release of the film, there was early debate whether a PG-13 rating could handle him, or truly embrace him by having an R rating. Comic book fans will notice how significantly diluted the character is, making him feel out of place and simply inaccurate. Another consistent problem is the humor and dialogue. The first film had a known struggle of embarrassing dialogue and the sequel tries to overcorrect that issue, but results in numerous jokes not landing, with no audience reaction.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is as PG-13 a film could be without being rated R. As you can expect with these characters, there is plenty of graphic and intense violence with multiple instances of cursing. Multiple scenes are extremely vigorous and can not be handled by younger viewers. Beneath the mayhem lies themes of friendship, family, and love. One of the main morals is that, despite all obstacles, teamwork always prevails.

I give Venom: Let There Be Carnage 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. You can find Venom: Let There Be Carnage at your local theater now.

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE


ADDAMS FAMILY 2, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 6 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
MGM STUDIOS

Description:

The Addams Family Everyone's favorite spooky family is back in the animated comedy sequel, The Addams Family 2. In this all new movie we find Morticia and Gomez distraught that their children are growing up, skipping family dinners, and totally consumed with "scream time." To reclaim their bond they decide to cram Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and the crew into their haunted camper and hit the road for one last miserable family vacation. Their adventure across America takes them out of their element and into hilarious run-ins with their iconic cousin, It, as well as many new kooky characters. What could possibly go wrong?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

It's time to take a road trip with our favorite creepy family just in time for Halloween! In the follow up to the 2019 film, the Addams family brings the same amazing family values and fun in The Addams Family 2, which takes us on a new spooktacular adventure, complete with explosions, practical jokes, sibling rivalries and fun. This film is just as entertaining as the first one.

The Addams Family 2 focuses on Wednesday Addams (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is feeling misplaced and not very "Addamsy," so she is slowly pulling away from her family. To get his family closer, her father, Gomez Addams (Oscar Isaac) takes everyone on a road trip in a haunted RV. At the same time, the family is being followed by a creepy man, Mr. Mustela (Wallace Shawn), who is threatening to break up the family after it is discovered that Wednesday may not be an Addams. Gomez and Morticia Addams (Charlize Theron) have to find different ways to protect the family, which initiates a series of wacky adventures on this road trip.

The movie follows Wednesday as she learns about who she is, however, the main character is the entire Addams family: Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley (Javon "Wanna" Walton), Uncle Fester, (Nick Kroll), Cousin It (Snoop Dogg) and Grandma (Bette Milder). I love how the storyline focuses on family and how the Addams family will fight tooth and nail together to stay a family. The audience will not have a problem connecting with the characters as they all have a strong presence in this sequel and are well-developed. The audience will be spooked by the protective, yet, funny role, played by the family's butler, Lurch (Director, Conrad Vernon). This film is hilarious. My favorite part is when Wednesday uses a voodoo doll to help Pugsley impress a group of girls by dancing and then tosses him into the Niagara Falls in true Addams' fashion. The music keeps the film energetic and. of course, wouldn't be complete without a concert performance by Cousin It.

The message of The Addams Family 2 is to love and accept each other and it reminds us that family goes beyond genetics. Throughout the film, different characters try to force others to change qualities they dislike about them instead of accepting them as they are, and perhaps just working on themselves.

The Addams Family gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. The Addams Family 2 creeps into theatres and On Demand October 1, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED ADDAMS FAMILY 2, THE


DEAR EVAN HANSEN
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 11-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - THEATRICAL DIVISION

Description:

The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway phenomenon becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social-media age.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The film musical Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky, is phenomenal and breathtaking. I really enjoyed watching this, because it is a true original, outstanding musical that speaks directly to the heart. Dear Evan Hansen is something extraordinary; it is not like any musical I have watched before and it has a really powerful message as it engages with the real world in ways that most musicals don't.

Evan Hansen is an anxious, isolated high-school student who's aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social media age. He soon embarks on a journey of self-discovery when a letter he wrote for his therapy writing exercise falls into the hands of a grieving couple whose son took his own life. Evan is tossed in the tumult of a fractured, grieving family. Connor's parents believe Evan was his best friend. But the reality is far different. Evan plays along with the charade, gaining the fame, adulation and love that he's always dreamed of - all at the expense of Connor's memory.

My favourite actor is Evan's mother Heidi (Julianne Moore). Heidi is a single mom, working late-night nursing shifts to afford college for Evan. She desperately wants the best for him, even when he doesn't notice her efforts. The film's best scenes revolve around her; the first occurring when Cynthia and Larry offer to cover Evan's tuition. She's proud. And you can see the gears shifting inside of Heidi's head before she declines. The film offers sympathy to all its characters by offering them the chance to sing their feelings out and make a case as to why they matter.

The message of this film applies to teens trying to overcome social anxieties, reminding them that it's okay to be anxious and depressed, and that being medicated for those things, if necessary, is normal and healthy. However, don't change yourself just to fit into society; stand up for yourself. If something happens and you are caught up in the situation, be confident in yourself, no matter what. A note of caution: this film does address suicide, has some strong language and some suggestive references.

I give Dear Evan Hansen 4 out of 5 stars and recommend this film for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theatres now.

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

Dear Evan Hanson is one of the most relatable films released this year. It paints the perfect picture of how many people have felt about emerging from the pandemic and how they have coped with it.

The storyline follows a high school senior named Evan Hanson (Ben Platt) and his transition between a traumatic summer to his last year of high school. He starts the year with an odd series of events that affect the rest of his year and his life.

Ben Platt has always been one of my favorite actors to watch. He plays such a vulnerable, emotional and relatable character that many young adults can relate to. He gives a raw performance showing what social anxiety and depression may look like in a high school setting. This film is adapted from the Tony Award-winning musical by the same name, but the musical numbers don't show up a lot. There is more dialogue, which I enjoyed. I cried more than three times during this film, which shows you how much the film's message affected me. Like Ben Platt we see other emotional performances from Colton Ryan (Connor Murphy) and Cynthia Murphy (Amy Adams). Larry Murphy (Danny Pino) represents society in the way that many are ignorant to the signs and severity of mental health issues of those around us. The opening scene's musical number Waving Through a Window is the best introduction to a main character I have seen. Through lyrics and non-verbal cues the actors send a message that made me think of my own health and question the society that young adults are dealing with today.

The message of this film is that it is okay to know that you are not okay. Anyone, at any point in time, may be going through a tough time; take care of yourself, and maybe even write a letter to yourself like Evan does in this film. You should be aware that the film does mention suicide and other mental health issues that may be an issue for some viewers.

I give Dear Evan Hanson 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theatres now.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED DEAR EVAN HANSEN


CROODS, THE: FAMILY TREE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-14

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 6-14 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
HULU, LLC

Description:

It continues the evolving story of the Croods and Bettermans as they learn to live together on the most idle farm in prehistory.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

DreamWorks Animation's The Croods: Family Tree is an amazing and hilarious show. With all the characters from the newest movie, this show is sure to get you laughing.

This show is about the prehistoric Croods living with the Bettermans. While the kids get along, the adults have their fair share of mishaps as they learn how to live together on a farm. In one episode they try to capture the punch monkeys; in another they get Dawns Grr back.

This show is so fun to watch because of its humor. No matter how many mishaps the make, they are always back for more and that makes this show engaging. It has an amazing group of voice actors. Tran reprises her role as Dawn; A.J. Locascio reprises his role as Thunk from Dawn of the Croods. The new voice cast features Amy Landecker as Ugga, Kiff VandenHeuvel as Grug, Ally Dixon as Eep, Artemis Pebdani as Gran, Darin Brooks as Guy, Matthew Waterson as Phil, and Amy Rosoff as Hope. All the voice talent excels at making the Croods sound prehistoric and the Bettermans sound "evolved," as Hope would put it. Another great thing is the design of the farm they live on. It looks so amazing, like something you would want to live in, but if you look closer it is made out of things that were found in prehistoric times. The wall, the house and "The System" are made from bamboo and vines. The house is in a tree; so they live in a tree house. It also credits them with making a lot of things like windows, which are similar to TV and showers.

The message of this show is anyone can get along, no matter how different they are.

I give The Croods: Family Tree 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults can watch it with their kids on movie night. This is available on September 23th, 2021 on Hulu and Peacock.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Criticv, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED CROODS, THE: FAMILY TREE


MY LITTLE PONY: A NEW GENERATION
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-11

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 6-14 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

The unimaginable has happened... Equestria has lost its magic! Earth Ponies, Unicorns, and Pegasi are no longer friends and now live separated by species. But idealistic Earth Pony Sunny (Vanessa Hudgens) is determined to find a way to bring enchantment and unity back to their world. Teaming up with open-hearted Unicorn Izzy (Kimiko Glenn), the pair travel to faraway lands where they encounter the likes of charismatic and brave Pegasi Pipp (Sofia Carson) and Zipp (Liza Koshy) and the ever-responsible fellow Earth Pony Hitch (James Marsden). Their mission is full of misadventures, but these new best friends each possess their own unique and special gifts that may be just what this ponyverse needs to restore magic and prove that even little ponies can make a big difference.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

My Little Pony: A New Generation is a continuation of the My Little Pony series. It will remind you of the original, but it's more modern. It is very entertaining and interesting. If you have watched the My Little Pony series before, you will enjoy this.

The storyline follows Sunny (Vanessa Hudgens) who is an Earth pony and she meets a unicorn named Izzy (Kimiko Glenn). Unicorns, Earth ponies and Pegasi aren't friends anymore and it is unlikely to see them together. Sunny and Izzy realize that all the ponies don't have any magic and they need to find out why. They travel all through Equestria to find out how to get magic back for everyone.

The songs in this film are very catchy and creative. My favorite song is "Glowin' Up'' performed by Sofia Carson, because it is upbeat, sets the mood and is a good song all around. The storyline is fun and shows us how the times are much more different than it was with the original ponies. My favorite character is Sunny, because she doesn't believe what others want her to believe and she never gives up. She grew up with people always telling her that the other ponies were bad, but she knows how to see the good in them, so she thinks differently. Also, when times get tough Sunny never gives up.

The message of My Little Pony: A New Generation is friendship is magic. If you have been a My Little Pony fan since earlier shows, this message will pop right into your head. This is a great film to watch with the family. is an awesome film to watch.

I rate My Little Pony: A New Generation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 11. You can watch this film on Netflix starting September 24, 2021. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

My Little Pony: A New Generation is a new upbeat, vibrant and adventure-filled movie. If you've seen previous My Little Pony shows or movies, you will be pleasantly surprised with this new one. With all different types of ponies coming together, and saving the day with the power of friendship, you will be entertained the whole time.

My Little Pony: A New Generation is about a young Earth pony named Sunny (Vanessa Hudgens) who is set on bringing back the friendship, magic and unity between the Earth ponies, the unicorns, and the Pegasi. Teaming up with a unicorn named Izzy (Kimiko Glenn), which is frowned upon by Sunny's best friend and sheriff Hitch (James Marsden), Sunny goes on a quest to get the divided crystals that would bring Equestria back to the way it used to be. Along the way she makes new friends, and faces new challenges.

My favorite thing about this movie is the music. Beautiful harmony is one of my favorite things, and every song in this movie has that element. My favorite song is "Fit Right In" performed by Vanessa Hudgens, Kimiko Glenn, James Marsden, Liza Koshy and Sofia Carson. The different parts that everyone sings and the visuals that accompany it make it a stand-out scene that audiences will remember. The whole vibe of this song matches the tone of the movie extremely well. My Little Pony: A New Generation is a movie targeted towards younger audiences, so naturally they aren't going to explicitly refer to the more mature morals. However, within the plot of the film, it's evident that one of the messages is that it doesn't matter who you are, where you're from or what you look like, you shouldn't be judged by someone before they get to know you. Everyone should be included, and treated with kindness. The Earth ponies, Unicorns and Pegasi were taught to be afraid of each other. But, once they meet and hear the other sides of their stories, they become friends and realize that it doesn't matter what anyone else says, they make their own decisions about the others. My favorite characters in this show are Sunny and Hitch. They're definitely an example of a dynamic duo. Even though they are different, with Hitch being professional and overprotective and Sunny being adventurous and a risk-taker, they make a great team.

The message of My Little Pony: A New Generation is something that all of the ponies can agree on no matter where they're from - friendship is magic. No matter what they are told about each other, they will always come together for friendship.

I rate My Little Pony: A New Generation 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. No matter how different the ponies look, you will feel the nostalgia from the relationships between them. My Little Pony: A New Generation comes out on Netflix September 24, 2021. Make sure you check it out!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED MY LITTLE PONY: A NEW GENERATION


ALPINIST, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Description:

Marc-Andr� Leclerc climbs alone, far from the limelight. The free-spirited 23-year-old makes some of the boldest solo ascents in history. With no cameras and no margin for error, Leclerc's approach is the essence of solo adventure.

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Alpinist is a fascinating documentary that shows rare footage of beautiful landscapes and will either inspire you to chase your dreams or make you afraid of heights. Whichever way you take it, the movie is well worth the watch.

The Alpinist follows the 23-year-old mountain climber, Marc-Andre Leclerc, who is a pioneer of solo climbing and has broken countless records. In the documentary, you see all his astonishing climbs and travels around the world and meet the meaningful people who are in Marc-Andre's life.

There are many remarkable factors about the movie. The first thing to mention is the cinematography which is mind blowing! The angles and the positions of the camera capture the climbing so perfectly that you feel as if you are climbing right along with Marc-Andre. You feel so connected to Marc-Andre that you feel like you've known him forever. Kudos to directors Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen and their crew. The way they captured this incredible footage is remarkable, because as you watch the film, you learn how elusive Marc-Andre Leclerc can be.

The messages of this film are to follow your passions and to have courage, while also understanding the risks of what you are doing. There is some profanity, some wounds are shown, and the use of drugs. If you are afraid of heights, I would definitely not recommend this.

I give The Alpinist 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters September 10, 2021. Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED ALPINIST, THE


EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

Description:

An intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world's largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn't long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I liked the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye because it is a heartwarming story that opened me up to a whole other world that I was unaware of. It taught me about others' way of life and how their beliefs can make them the person that they are.

This movie follows the lives of Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield). They both dedicated their lives to Christianity and made a living from it. They found each other young and grew together. However, as their work continued to evolve Jim began to forget why this all started. Whereas Tammy made plenty of mistakes, but always remembers who she is.

Something that I enjoyed about this film is how honest and real it is. It shows the reality of the lives of these two people and doesn't sugar coat anything. Another thing that stands out is the acting. Jessica Chastain makes her character extremely believable. Additionally, this film takes place in a completely different time period, and she really taps into that. Furthermore, the characters' ages are constantly changing as the decades go by. Tammy always looks and acts exactly as she was supposed to be during each time period. Lastly, the sets and costume designs are executed extremely well. Everything matches the time period perfectly, and made me believe I was actually living during that time.

The message of this film is to always stay true to yourself and your beliefs. This film does contain some romantic content.

I give The Eyes of Tammy Faye 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 as well as adults. The Eyes of Tammy Faye releases in theaters September 17, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, THE


PLAYING WITH SHARKS: THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 8 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Pioneering scuba diver Valerie Taylor, who has dedicated her life to exposing the myth surrounding our fear of sharks.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Many of us are completely mesmerized by Earth's oceans and find the species inhabiting these bodies of water very fascinating. What lies beneath the ocean's surface is both exciting and frightening at the same time. Species ranging from small macro-molecules to gigantic creatures that lurk within these waters offer us fear of the unknown. Valerie Taylor, a famed underwater filmmaker and shark researcher, has made a life for herself stepping into that unknown. Valerie's life story as a pioneer of close-up encounters with the most frightening of all ocean creatures has been made into a riveting new documentary film, Playing with Sharks. Within this film Taylor gives proof to the world that there is no need to fear some of our oceans most misunderstood creatures - sharks.

Playing with Sharks is a fascinating tribute to Australia's Valerie Taylor, who has spent more than 70 years diving into oceans around the world capturing footage of a variety of shark species, including that of the Great White. As part of National Geographic's 9th Annual Shark Fest, this documentary chronicles the life of a woman who has gone from champion spearfisher to shark protector. Valerie's early days as a marine hunter was halted following a personal revelation that depletion of massive numbers of marine animals will undoubtedly change the habitats she loves most. Realizing that there are only 10% of sharks left in the world, it was an easy decision for Taylor to retire her spear and shoot these apex predators using only her camera. In what seemed to be the highlight of Valerie's career when her shark footage was used in the making of Steven Spielberg's 1975 thriller, Jaws, but it actually brought unintended consequences for these marine creatures. The movie Jaws unexpectedly triggered a heightened fear and complete dislike for sharks. In a race to quickly fix the tarnished perception of sharks, Valerie Taylor became a powerful voice for their protection.

Sally Aitkins, Emmy-nominated director and writer of Playing with Sharks, has moved mountains with this documentary! Through remastered footage of Valerie Taylor's life journey, Aitkins shines a bright light on this living legend. The flashbacks to Taylor's earlier professional years is a great touch to the film and allows viewers to experience just how passionate Valerie is about marine life and her determination to protect it. The many marine professionals who share their experiences with Valerie also add a great deal to this film. The footage shared in this documentary serves as the evidence needed to move us from fear to respect for these amazing creatures who call the ocean their home.

Playing with Sharks has many messages, but the most important one is the need for mutual respect for all forms of life with which we share our world. We live in a world driven by greed and disrespect for other living things and, because of this, not everyone understands that we all depend on each other for survival. When removing one link to a chain, the chain falls apart. We must find a way to better understand nature in order to appreciate it. In her lifelong commitment to conservation, Valerie Taylor has done just that - she has exposed the truth about sharks and has created an audience of believers that these creatures have for years been misunderstood.

I give Playing with Sharks 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults would especially enjoy this documentary. Playing With Sharks begins streaming on Disney+ July 23, 2021. This is a must see film for all marine lovers.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED PLAYING WITH SHARKS: THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY


DO, RE &MI
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-8

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 2-8 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

Join birdie friends Do, Re and Mi in the musical world of Beebopsburgh, an island where instruments grow in the Falsetto Forest and a giant Music Mountain towers above all their adventures. Discover the sounds and melodies, move to the beat and see how music helps solve any problem. Featuring an original song each episode.

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Do, Re & Mi is a fun and educational show with many fun characters that make it so enlightening. With so much fun it's hard not to get into a show like this.

This show follows three little birdies, Do (Luke Youngblood), Re (Jackie Tohn) and Mi (Kristen Bell). They go on lots of adventures together such as trying out for a singing job or getting a new guitar and getting lost. With lots of fun messages and characters this show will appeal to a variety of kids. Each episode is about 23 minutes long and split into two stories.

This web series has lots of fun things to point out, starting with the theme song introducing all the main characters and introducing some inspirational messages. It will have your preschooler repeating the song around the house all day. There are also lots of other songs, hence the title Do, Re & Mi. Each episode has at least two, if not more songs and two different problems that the three birdies try to solve. There is a cool little animation that happens every episode. The animation is clear and sharp and is really fun since it's based on birds. Lots of bird terms are toyed with, such as humamazing, absohootly and high wing which make for a fun addition, since the whole show is about birds. We also learn some music terms such as tempo (speed of the song) and dynamics (volume of the song).

The message of the show is about being yourself and never stop singing.

I give Do, Re & Mi 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, plus adults who will enjoy watching it with their little kids and can join them in singing along. This launches on Amazon Prime Video September 17, 2021. Be sure to check it out.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED DO, RE &MI


MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON STUDIOS

Description:

Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat, a full decade before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned separate-but-equal legislation, Pauli Murray was already knee-deep fighting for social justice. A pioneering attorney, activist, priest and dedicated memoirist, Murray shaped landmark litigation--and consciousness-- around race and gender equity. As an African American youth raised in the segregated South--who was also wrestling with broader notions of gender identity--Pauli understood, intrinsically, what it was to exist beyond previously accepted categories and cultural norms. Both Pauli's personal path and tireless advocacy foreshadowed some of the most politically consequential issues of our time. Told largely in Pauli's own words, My Name is Pauli Murray is a candid recounting of that unique and extraordinary journey.

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The documentary My Name is Pauli Murray is a missing piece of history that has not been taught in our classrooms. It amplifies the life of an African American female whose struggles pushed her to create everlasting change in our modern society.

My Name is Pauli Murray shares the life of Pauli Murray, an African American queer woman, who shattered the status quo by fighting for women's and civil rights. She was a student, lawyer, minister and a heroine in many aspects. This documentary sheds light on all of her societal triumphs and personal defeats.

As an African American female, I felt a great sense of sadness after watching this documentary. This film shows that the society I currently live in is a direct result of Pauli Murray's impact and yet, I never learned about her in school. Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen, producers and directors of the documentary RBG bring to live the legacy of a woman unknown to most people. There are little questions the audience has about her life after the film's completion. One aspect I did not like is how the film breaks her life into phases of her career paths. This set-up hampers us from seeing the connection between her personal life and her careers. However, that may be due to my curiosity about knowing more about her and her life. My favorite part of this film is the repetition of the quote, "She was ahead of her time." Pauli Murray refused to move to the back of a segregated bus 15 years before Rosa Parks did. Many people think that certain historical events, radical ideals, and justice comes with a timeframe when, in actuality it does not. That is what this film teaches us.

The message of this film is that you are not ahead of your time; it's just that the world may not be ready for you. Yet, soon enough, they will be. This film does contain violent scenes showing racial injustice.

I give My Name is Pauli Murray 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. My Name is Pauli Murray opens in theatres September 17 and streams on Prime Video October 1, 2021.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

My Name is Pauli Murray is a documentary about Pauli Murray, a civil rights activist, women's rights activists, lawyer and poet and non-binary advocate for LGBTQ rights. It goes into detail about Pauli's life, as well as the many great things Pauli accomplished and the impact they left on the future. This film is very informative and overall a well-structured documentary. It was an enjoyable viewing experience.

It was really interesting to learn about Pauli Murray, because before watching this film, I had no idea who they were. And Pauli was definitely a person who deserves to be remembered--not just for their legacy and cultural impact but also for who they were as a person. My Name is Pauli Murray does take time to discuss Pauli's personal life and hardships, and that is one way in which this film makes Pauli relatable to people of this generation. I was particularly interested in the discussions of gender identity and presentation. It was heartbreaking to hear about Pauli's difficulties being non-binary, because nowadays we do have words to describe what Pauli felt.

I also really enjoyed the editing and presentation of this documentary. Not only was this film extremely educational and thought provoking, but it was also fun to watch. There were many instances where quotes from Pauli would appear on screen to drive the point of a specific section, which was very effective. My Name is Pauli Murray has a unique visual style, and the pacing is excellent.

I definitely think My Name is Pauli Murray is crucial viewing for anyone who is interested in civil rights and gender equality. The film tells a very inspirational story about an unsung hero who was before their time and who deserves to be heard. However, it should be known that this film includes graphic depictions, as well as descriptions, of racist hate crimes. There are many moments that showcase photos and footage of these events, and this could be potentially triggering.

I give My Name is Pauli Murray 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. This film comes out in theaters September 17, 2021 and will be released on Prime Video on October 1, 2021.

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY


NIGHTBOOKS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
NETFLIX

Description:

A young boy named Alex becomes the prisoner of a witch to avoid certain death, he convinces her to let him tell her a scary story every night. Upon meeting the witch's servant, Yazmin, the two must use their wits to escape her apartment, a magical labyrinth filled with various dangers, before the witch kills them both.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Nightbooks is very entertaining, but has some slow moments. It's perfect for people who love a scary movie, but may regret watching it at night (like me!). It has the just right amount of scary moments to give you a thrill, but also doesn't keep you up at night.

Nightbooks follows the story of a boy named Alex (Winslow Fegley) who loves to write scary stories. While trying to find the boiler room in his apartment complex, he is lured into a witch's (Krysten Ritter) house, who steals children. He meets Yasmin, who is also stuck there. Can they make it out before they face certain doom? Watch the movie to find out.

This film is based on the book by the same title, so fans of the book should love the movie. The set has so much attention to detail and the costume design, especially for Natacha the witch, is immaculate because all of her outfits perfectly express her personality. The special effects, specifically for the monsters, are so realistic that it gave me chills. My favorite character is Lenore the "sometimes" invisible cat because she has such a mind of her own.

The message is to never lose hope and always be yourself. Just because people think you are different doesn't mean that you are bad. There is some bad language and some scary parts that young kids find scary.

I give Nightbooks 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases September 15, 2021 on Netflix.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED NIGHTBOOKS


EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURES, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a 2021 biographical coming-of-age musical comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Butterell (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Tom MacRae based on the stage musical of the same name, in turn adapted from the BBC Three documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. Despite obstacles, 16-year-old Jamie has the courage to fabulously follow his unconventional dream in this inspiring true story turned musical sensation.

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is the new musical film of the year! With music to get you on your feet and comedy that will make your stomach hurt, Everybody's Talking About Jamie is one to watch.

Based on true events, the story follows Jamie New (Max Hardwood) , a sixteen-year-old boy with the passion to become a drag queen, and he gets help from a former drag queen. With his best friend, Pritti Pasha (Lauren Petal), he attempts to prove wrong the people who doubt him, including school bully Dean Paxton and his own father. Although his father has chosen to cut him out his life, his loving mother is always there to help.

Jamie New is a huge character. He has an answer for everything and always has some glitter to spare. As he attempts to become a drag queen he is more confident than ever. Hugo/Miss Loco Channel (Richard E. Grant) is a former drag queen who attempts to help Jamie as he sees him as the next generation and the future of drag. Pritti Pasha is definitely the brains of the duo. She is a high achiever and would never break the rules. The rest of the cast are incredible and every single character stands out.

The music in this film is from the original stage musical. My favourite song is the opening song, "And you don't even know it." It serves as an introduction to some of the characters and is an upbeat dance number that will have you dancing and singing along just like the rest of the soundtrack. My favourite part of the film is when Jamie realizes that all he wants is to be a drag queen and becomes Hugo's trainee. As a result he starts saving for his very first drag queen dress - his mum already bought him the shoes.

The message of the film is to be who you want to be. Don't let others pull you down from what you want to do, especially if it makes you happy. You should be aware that this film does contain very strong language.

I give Everybody's Talking About Jamie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Everybody's Talking About Jamie steps out of the darkness and into the spotlight on September 17, 2021 on Amazon Prime.

By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12The film follows Jamie New (Max Harwood), a gay 16-year-old boy from Sheffield, England, whose secret dream is to become a drag queen. His mom, Margaret (Sarah Lancashire), as well as his best friend and fellow outcast Pritti Pasha (Lauren Patel) support him, but his absentee father (Ralph Ineson), homophobic bully Dean Paxton (Samuel Bottomley) and future-focused career's teacher Ms. Hedge (Sharon Horgan) all seem to be against Jamie. Mentored by former drag queen and current shopkeeper Hugo Battersby (Richard E. Grant), a.k.a. Loco Chanelle, Jamie embarks on a journey to discover his true identity, tearing down boundaries and burying toxic relationships along the way.

Max Harwood brings viewers along on his emotion-packed hero's journey; he certainly steals the show. Besides Harwood, though, Lancashire's portrayal of Margaret captures all of the motherly emotion that a sentimental coming-of-age story needs. The care between the two is palpable. Jonathan Buttrell makes his silver-screen directorial debut with this film, and his technique of capturing emotion is superb. Unfortunately, lighting, camera angles and focal choices leads to some distraction in some compelling moments. The score of the film, as with the musical version, is superb, but the sheer number of songs and usage of varied background tracks causes the film to drag as it nears the end. Nevertheless, the music is undoubtedly the highest point of the film.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie promotes acceptance, following your dreams and never being afraid to take a risk. There is some mild profanity in the film.

I give Everybody's Talking About Jamie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Everybody's Talking About Jamie is available on Amazon Prime Video beginning September 17, 2021. Go check it out!

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is the empowering spectacle everyone needs! With its amazing songs, incredible dresses and an iconic protagonist, the film will have you wanting to dance along at your nearest cabaret.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is based on the true story of Jamie New (Max Harwood) and adapted from the West End musical of the same name. Jamie was always taught to be conventional, to choose a "realistic" career and be basic like everyone else. On his sixteenth birthday, he realizes that's not who he is, and decides to become a drag queen. The film has mind-blowing choreography with top-tier songs that pay homage to the musical.

This movie is a real Broadway show in your living room. The elaborate dance numbers with large groups of people, neon lights, phenomenal singing and fabulous drag dresses leave little to be desired. Jamie finds his way into the world with glamour and by making a statement. He encourages audiences globally to be yourself. Being a drag queen in the small town of Sheffield, England was very different. Jamie grows into the stunning personality of Fifi la True with the support of his amazing mother and friends. The film itself really proves how much effort the filmmakers put into their work. The movie shows the real truth of what it was like to be a drag queen in the past. Richard E. Grant is the best mentor Jamie could ever have. He explains his life in the 1980s reminding Jamie about the epic beginning of drag culture. He is so amazing; his fluid movements and the way he speaks just make you want to be his friend. Richard really worked hard on not making his character a parody of a drag queen, but reflect the beauty of a queen. He shows he has what it takes to be called Loco Chanelle, on and off the stage. The movie also has amazing cameos like the iconic queen Bianca Del Rio and Layton Williams, the star of Everybody's Talking About Jamie on West End.

The moral of this film is to always be yourself. Jamie never gave up on his dream of being a drag queen and most of all, he never gives up on being himself. He put in the effort of becoming an amazing queen, and working on himself. He always shines and never cares what others think.

I give Everybody's Talking About Jamie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 plus adults. It is available in theaters September 17, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE


COME FROM AWAY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
ENTERTAINMENT ONE
Click to purchase directly from the producer

Description:

Come from Away is a 2021 American-Canadian musical film comprising a live stage recording of Irene Sankoff and David Hein's 2017 musical of the same name, which tells the true story of 7,000 passengers who were stranded in a small town in Newfoundland, where they were housed and welcomed, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The film, produced in response to the shutdown of Broadway caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, was directed by Christopher Ashley and filmed in May 2021 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, featuring members of the Broadway cast.

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch.

Twenty years ago, on September 11, two planes crashed into the world famous twin towers in New York City, after they were high jacked. American air space was closed and all planes in the air were forced to land; thirty-eight of them were diverted to and stranded in Newfoundland, Canada. This story follows the passengers and crew from one of the planes as they come to terms with life in their new surroundings, while forming new relationships and bonding with the locals. This is the filmed version of the award-winning Broadway musical, filmed live on stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, which tells the story of those 7,000 stranded passenger.

Throughout this film, twelve cast members each play a number of roles and it is very hard to single people out at times. All the characters are based on key individuals involved in the plane diversion. Some cast members who really stood out to me include: Jenn Colella who plays one of the pilots and a townsperson, Annette. She plays sets the bar very high for anyone who might play these roles in the future. Her amazing solos and riffs will knock your socks off. Sharon Wheatly plays Diane and Jim Walton plays Nick, two people who meet on one of the planes and, throughout their time in Newfoundland, start to feel a connection. Sharon and Jim are both very talented and share and amazing duet, "Stop the World." The remaining cast members each bring something different to this amazing production in their own unique way, from comedy to heart-break. My favourite song is the opening song "Welcome to the Rock." I love that it's an upbeat dance number that introduces you to the cast and the characters they play. I don't think I could choose a favourite part of the musical as all of it is just so interesting, moving and inspirational.

The message of this film is to remember how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away or changed forever. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this tragic event over the past 20 years.

I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It premieres September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.

By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Come From Away is an amazing filmed version of the Broadway musical. With all the singing and dancing, this show is sure to get you up and dancing.

This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days.

This musical is different from most because there is no main character; every character is equally important. Also, all the actors play two roles, often both a passenger and a helpful Newfoundlander. The costume changes are incredible as they often do them while on stage, but that is so small that you might not notice it. Another cool thing is that in the back of the stage there is a door that some people walk through and then it shuts again, which I found intriguing. Some of my favorite characters are Kevin and Kevin, who are dating and Bonnie, who takes care of animals. One of my favorite scenes is when people are walking on chairs and others keep moving the chairs and the stage rotates so it looks like they are moving. It has so much music. I continued listening to it right after I finished watching the film and listened to it while I was writing this review.

The message of this show is twofold. First, that you can make the best of any situation and second, when you can help others, try to help.

I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It is available on Apple TV+ now.

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


This title is available for purchase from ENTERTAINMENT ONE

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR COME FROM AWAY


MEERKAT MANOR: RISE OF THE DYNASTY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 8-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
BBC WORLDWIDE AMERICAS

Description:

Continuing the dramatic tale of survival revolving around three families of meerkats who are descendants of the legendary meerkat matriarch, Flower.

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Many of us live in areas where Mother Nature brings a variety of seasons which exposes us to a wide array of ecosystems. Because we're used to this variety, we have become incredibly curious about areas of the globe whose ecosystems are perhaps not as vast; one area in particular is the desert. With its harshly hot and dry climate, we know that anything able to withstand such brutal weather has to be an amazing creature and that's one reason we have completely fallen for the South African meerkat. The documentary series Meerkat Manor has entertained us for over 15 years and has brought the wondrous secrets of the Kalahari Desert right into our homes. The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.

Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty follows three families of the most charismatic desert mammals and showcases their family dynamics. In the spotlight of this series is Swift, the granddaughter of the original Meerkat Manor Whisker family matriarch, Flower. We've waited 12 years to catch up on what the Whiskers, Hakuna Mata and Ubuntu families have been up to and there are many surprises within this series as some things have changed. The new series continues to show us just how difficult life in the desert can be, yet with the perfect family dynamics and role assignments, animals can overcome these challenges. Just like in our own lives, people compete for space, food, and other resources, the meerkat families are no different. These episodes highlight that, despite the fact that the meerkats share a common bloodline, individual survival and the survival of their family is their main concern.

There are a lot of great things about this series, but my favorite part is the character led story telling by narrator Bill Nighy. The series humanizes the meerkats and gives each their own entertaining personalities. There are heroes, villains, babysitters, a Romeo and Juliet pair, and so much more. These personalities are hilarious and interesting to watch. The cinematography is also fantastic with its capturing of some of the most harsh weather conditions on Earth. I especially enjoyed the scenes where the camera was placed deep within the meerkat burrows. Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty is a captivating series about the natural world and I appreciate its educational value.

The message of this series is about teamwork. Of course, family, culture and perseverance are worth mentioning here also; however, if this species didn't have a system of working together, they could not thrive within their harsh ecosystem. Each meerkat has a specific role to support its family. They work cohesively in a variety of ways to assure the success of their family. Whether their role is one filled with drama or with entertainment, one thing is for certain - these desert dwellers are sure to tug at your heartstrings.

I give Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults, especially animal lovers and nature enthusiasts, will also love this series. Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty is available now on BBC American and AMC+. Episodes 7 and 8 are coming out on September 4 and September 9, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR MEERKAT MANOR: RISE OF THE DYNASTY


STAR FOREST

Running Time:
47 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-8

Category: FAMILY
AUDIO CD FOR AGES 5-8 series

Media:
AUDIO

Distributor:
SILVER COMMET STUDIOS

Description:

The band is virtual. The music is real. Created by two parents during a pandemic -an Emmy award winning children's producer and writer and a rock-n-roll composer and engineer, this musical collaboration is a love letter to their children who that couldn't agree on music that was enjoyable for the whole family. Discover Star Forest's first album - enchanting, radical songs that tug on your heart and ignite your imagination. A mix of rich bodied melodies, dreamy ballads, toe tappers, and pirate rappers, Star Forest is something the whole family can vibe with. It's road trip music. It's fanciful. It's inspiring. It's kind. It's cinematic. It's something for everyone.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

The CD Star Forest is a pandemic-produced fairy tale and it shows what amazing things you can do when you have time on your hands. Nicely produced tracks and vocal performances help the process along. However, the story and overall direction is a bit muddy, without a clear understanding of its intended audience and keeping their attention with tried and true tricks of the children's music trade. Hopefully we won't have to wait for another pandemic for another album. It's a reminder to fully commit to your target audience!

The music in Star Forest is well-produced and covers a variety of styles. However, it feels a little too hip for the room for their intended age range. I don't think the lyrics are engaging enough for the youngsters to follow. The structure of the individual songs is good, but the continuity from song to song is not cohesive and the style is overthought; not flowing. Some of the songs, with a little tweaking, could play for adult audiences in an esoteric sort of way, but they are not all encompassing for a children's audience. They are a little all over the map. I got lost as to where the story was going while wearing my child-audience hat. This would not work with a live audience. It is just a bit too unfocused for its intended age group. There are some really good performances throughout the album - the kids, ensemble, backgrounds are all good.

I don't believe kids walk away from listening to Star Forrest looking to change the world.

I give Star Forest 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. Reviewed by John Wood, KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Outstanding! I love it! Definitely will listen to it again and/or share with my friends. I like Star Forest simply because I like the music. It's not a genre of music that anyone would find too loud or too boring. I can imagine listening to this music around a campfire - eating s'mores and singing and dancing to it. This album has a wide range of styles that can really fit any purpose or any person. That's really what I find most appealing about it.

I like that there are backup voices. These voices create a beautiful echo that makes the music sound richer and more beautiful. These sounds can vary between barely noticeable and quite noticeable; both ways are very pretty and add to the music.

Since the band is virtual, I don't really have comments about the musicians. I will say that there are times when the quality of the singing isn't spectacular, but I still really liked it. The songs are very well constructed instrumentally. The backup singers stand out for me. When a voice or an instrument repeats a string of words, it came across quite beautifully. I really liked it. There are no bad words; the vocabulary is certainly kid-friendly. I didn't find myself singing along afterward, however there is one line from the third song of the album, "Wildewood" that stuck in my head, "When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, we're gonna dance the night away." I really loved the instrumental parts - the instruments sound great in all the songs. I can't comment on the recording quality because I don't know much about that. What I do know is that I love this album and that's what counts!

I give Star Forest 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 12.

By Alma Kliper, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I really enjoyed Star Forest. The singers have great pitch and rhythm, which pairs very well with the music. The lyrics of each song, as well as the album as a whole, are creative and appealing. Sometimes the lyrics form a story; other times they are more just an addition to the wonderful music.

The variety of the different rhythms, tunes and genres are well chosen so that there is something that will be enjoyed by every listener! The musicians are very engaging. They make understanding the story in the songs easy. The singer that stands out the most has an incredible run in a high register. It is the most impressive embellishment any musician adds to this album. Kids will be awestruck and possibly inspired to mirror it themselves! The music is very easy for kids to understand. The vocabulary is basic and most kids will be able to easily listen and follow along with the story. Even if the lyrics are a bit challenging for some, the music is still worth listening to. After listening to the album, I noticed that the songs are repeating themselves in my head, because of their catchy and creative elements.

I give Star Forest 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10.

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Suggested Retail Price

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED STAR FOREST


WHAT IF?
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 10-15 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Think about every decision or choice you've ever made and now, wonder, "what if I did that differently?" Marvel Studio answers these mind-boggling questions with its new hit animated series, What If... ? Every major plot line that occurred throughout the history of the MCU is twisted and turned to show different outcomes of various realities. Every Marvel film has a similar, typical way of story-telling, yet What If... ? has a new authentic narrator-type style that is extremely refreshing to longtime fans. However, the episodes fall a bit short recreating the nostalgic feeling from each film, resulting in many jokes feeling out of place and simply not landing.

After the events of Loki, we are not dealing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. We are dealing with the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse! The Watcher (Jeffery Wright) is our all-seeing tour guide, showing us various different realities in which time and events play out extremely differently from what we know. Each episode explores stories generated from the simplest of choices. These subtle choices could result in a new superhero being born, a foe becoming a friend or even a murder.

DC Comics has been the leader in superhero animation for a while now, but with What If... ? that title might be in jeopardy. The animation in this new series is extremely unique. The broad color scheme is very eye pleasing and ties into the 3D art extremely well, providing a tranquil flow. Witnessing characters written by different writers from previous films can be very noticeable at times. With new content added to stories we already know and love, certain characters feel out of place because of the writers recreating their personalities.

Marvel content over recent years has been very intense. Unlike its predecessors, What If... ? is more lighthearted and not driven by a serious tone. Throughout the series, action and mild cursing frequently occur. Each episode is radically different from other episodes due to the lack of continuity of the story. As a result, there are new morals and lessons included in every episode. A prominent moral lesson throughout the show is that you can be whatever you want, despite the obstacles. The show explores themes such as perseverance, trust and family.

Marvel Studio's What If... ? is a major hit across the multiverse with its narrator-type journey, yet fails at multiple attempts to recreate the authenticity of previous Marvel films. I give What If... ? 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. A new episode of What If... ? streams every Wednesday starting August 11, 2021 on Disney+. Make sure to check it out!

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED WHAT IF?


SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

Marvel Studios' "Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings" stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. The film also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi's friend Katy and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, as well as Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the most mystical and beautiful movie in history! The music, the special effects and the acting all take you to another world. The film leaves you wanting a Morris of your own.

The storyline follows a young man named Shang-Chi (Simu Liu). His father is a one thousand-year-old man and conqueror nicknamed The Mandarin (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), who has only ever used the infamous and all-powerful Ten Rings for evil. When the Mandarin is set to unleash infinite evil on the universe, Shang-Chi has to stop his father.

This movie is a cinematic experience. The fighting and choreography are out of this world. The long slow motion shots make the audience feel as if they are in a video game. Simu steals the show; every fight scene is flawless with his fluid movements and it proves just how hard he worked on his character for this film. Every audience falls in love with Shang-Chi; he's funny, with perfect comedic timing and he knows the balance between peace and violence. He encapsulates what the majority of young adults feel - like not being able to find their place in the world. The movie makes fans feel as if they've known Shang for years. It has wonderful flashbacks, which give the audience glimpses of his past, his pain and how his fears have shaped who he is. The film gives a wonderful all-around scope of this character that feels like a friend we've known all our life. It makes fans excited to see Shang-Chi again. Shang and his sister Xu Xialing are an iconic duo. They're both powerful and, while there's some tension due to their past, they put everything aside and let love shine through. Xialing is a role model, officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most powerful women. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is perfect for AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) representation in cinema. It represents Chinese culture powerfully, shows what it's like to be an Asian-American in modern day USA, not to mention that Simu is Marvel Studios' first Asian-American superhero. Simu and Shang-Chi are writing history while also inspiring children and fans all around the world. The film delivers on all grounds; the cameos are shocking and leave you on the edge of your seat. Trying not to shout during the two post credits scenes prove to be a challenge. By the end of the movie, I wanted to sing the song "Hotel California" at the top of my lungs.

This film reminds you to search for who you are and let your past guide you to who you want to be. Ever since his mother died, Shang has been trained by his father to use violence. When he arrives at his mother's village, he learns how to find peace within himself and the world around him. He learns to trust himself and to use the rings for good.

I give Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18 plus adults. It is available only in theaters September 3, 2021.

By Heather Suarez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel's first Asian solo-superhero movie does not disappoint. The dynamic relationships between the characters combined with the incredible actors create a powerful, heart-rending movie about the value of family. In addition, the humorous segments contrast with the intense scenes to make this film so well rounded.

The story begins with Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) living a normal life in San Francisco working as a valet driver with his best friend. Then he is attacked on a bus and forced to confront his past. He explains to his best friend that his father, Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung), is the feared, immortal man who leads the Ten Rings Organization. The Ten Rings are a weapon so powerful that Wenwu was able to conquer all the land and riches that he wanted. Shang-Chi ran away from home at a young age, because he didn't want to be another one of Wenwu's murderous pawns. Now, Wenwu is looking for him and his sister, to bring them back home.

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi's dual personality exceptionally well. Towards the end of the film, Shang-Chi exudes a completely different persona than the one we saw at the beginning of the film. Another prominent actor that I enjoyed is Awkwafina who plays Katy; Katy adds so many hilarious moments that make the film more enjoyable. Of course she is also extremely talented at acting and portrays Katy as a loyal and courageous friend. Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery also adds comedy. Awkwafina, Ben Kingsley and Morris (an adorable, faceless, fluff-ball beast) make an incredible comedy trio. CGI is a major component of this film and has the potential to make or break the entire experience. The CGI does not disappoint. In fact, this has to be some of the best CGI that I've seen in the entire MCU franchise; MCU has killer CGI every single time, so this is a bold statement. Not only are there numerous magical beasts that come to life, but the water itself seem to come alive as well. The Ten Rings also seems to have a mind of its own - speeding off one moment and lightly dancing in the next. It is also incredible to discover how these rings can be used for more than just fighting. The costumes are absolutely gorgeous and, just like the creatures, so unique. Within the village, the warriors' armor is made of dragon scales, which defends them from their ancient nemesis. In the city, the people rock the cyber punk style. And, in San Francisco, the attire is authentic to the 21st century. My favorite part is the ending. I was incredibly pleased with how everything ends. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so you're just going to have to see for yourself.

The message of this film is centered around the power of familial love and the power of finally opening up your heart. The value of family is displayed through the challenges that the characters go through. Their relationships are what keep them strong. The power in opening up your heart is experienced through Shang-Chi. The only thing holding Shang-Chi back from reaching his true potential is the hate and guilt he held deep within his heart. Once he lets all of that go, he is freed.

I give Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters September 3, 2021. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and will most likely go back to watch it again. Go check it out.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS


9/11: INSIDE THE PRESIDENT'S WAR ROOM
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

9/11 from the President's perspective, with exclusive access to information from the one's that had to take decisions during the World Trade Center's attack.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President's War Room was created.

Going minute by minute, hour by hour, 9/11: Inside The President's War Room offers two narratives, following the president's actions, thoughts, and movements, and the developing situation in New York City.

President George W. Bush was interviewed for this film and his impeccable memory of the day and skilled delivery make the documentary even more unique. His impassioned vow to bring Al-Qaeda to justice, his struggle to keep his anger in check, and his helplessness as he was flown around the country to avoid a rumored attack on Air Force One show exactly how novel this crisis was. The film includes high-quality archival footage and the perspectives of individuals like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Ted Olson, as well as the president and vice president's chief of staff. I've never seen a more thoroughly researched and impeccably pieced-together documentary. The many perspectives from all these individuals contribute to a strong narrative that captures you from minute one. Each interview is compelling and the editing cuts between medium shots of the individuals and archival footage, creating an immersive and truly "in the room" experience. The background music complements the film's somber tone.

9/11: Inside The President's War Room is a portrait of resilience, tact, patience and leadership. There is some mild profanity in the film as well as some footage of the Twin Towers collapsing with screams in the background.

I give 9/11: Inside The President's War Room 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. 9/11: Inside The President's War Room is available now on Apple TV+ .

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR 9/11: INSIDE THE PRESIDENT'S WAR ROOM


DOOGIE KAMEALOHA, M.D.
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, 10-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Set in modern-day Hawai'i, Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. - a coming-of-age dramedy inspired by the hit medical series Doogie Howser, M.D. - follows Lahela "Doogie" Kamealoha (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), a 16-year-old prodigy juggling a budding medical career and life as a teenager. With the support of her caring -- and comical -- 'ohana (family) and friends, Lahela is determined to make the most of her teenage years and forge her own path. Guiding Lahela is her career-driven mother Dr. Clara Hannon (Kathleen Rose Perkins) who's also her supervisor at the hospital, her doting father Benny (Jason Scott Lee) who helps keep her connected to what matters most, her free-spirited older brother Kai (Matthew Sato), her gregarious younger brother Brian Patrick (Wes Tian), her best friend Steph (Emma Meisel), her surfer crush Walter (Alex Aiono) and her fellow hospital colleagues, Dr. Lee (Ronny Chieng), Charles (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and Noelani (Mapuana Makia).

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. is a show that our generation so desperately needs. It exemplifies the life of a modern teenager in a positive and truthful light while being totally binge-able.

Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. is a Disney Plus Original Series inspired by the 1989 TV series Doogie Howser. It follows Lahela "Doogie" Kamealoha, a medical prodigy who is only 16 years old. With her life as a doctor and a teenager she struggles to keep up with both lifestyles.

The main character, Lahela (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) is a great character that exhumes girl power. From the show before this she is a modern take on old practices. Plus, she is a person of color and a female who is breaking unforeseen barriers at an early age. Apart from Lahela, Dr. Lee (Ronny Chieng) is one of my favorites. His jokes and comedic timing are always funny. Oftentimes, Disney comedies are very predictable and rarely contain great jokes; however, the humor in this show has modern references that create a wonderful watching experience. Same with the costumes in this show; the wardrobe throughout for Lahela are age appropriate and wearable. The show is based in Hawaii, so the sets at the hospital, the beach and the Kamealoha home are all beautiful with bright, vibrant colors accompanied with the soothing sounds of the ocean. My favorite part of this show is how it reflects the modernity of teenagers throughout the years. Many shows today portray teenagers in an inappropriate and unrealistic light. But this show makes it comfortable for a 17-year-old girl, like me, to be proud to be a teenager.

The message of this show is that it may seem like the world is on your shoulders, but the family around you has plenty of shoulders to help with the weight. This film promotes positive social behavior.

I give Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. This show starts streaming exclusively on Disney+ September 8, 2021, with new episodes every Wednesday.

By Ashleigh Clyde, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DOOGIE KAMEALOHA, M.D.


CULTUREVERSE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-15

Category: FAMILY
PODCAST, AGES 6-18 series

Media:
Web Series

Distributor:
PRX

Description:

"Cultureverse" is an immersive audio drama that celebrates our collective cultural past. It is a place where myths and legends come alive in the modern world. In each episode, an ordinary kid encounters an extraordinary creature, myth, or folk character from their culture, embarking on an exciting journey of self-discovery. "Cultureverse" isn't just an audio adventure, it's a show that celebrates who we are, and where we come from.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Cultureverse is a unique educational podcast with hosts we all love - actresses Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran! Kids will appreciate its high production quality and immersive plot lines.

Each episode of this podcast delves deep into a unique cultural tradition or concept, such as the Czech golems or the Dangsan Tree of South Korea. The podcast teaches these concepts using a simple, but effective storyline - a child learns more about their culture through a real-world scenario (for example, bullying during online classes). For example, one of the episodes centers around Cholito de Suerte, a magical, luck-giving creature in Mexican folklore. A young girl is in the process of rebranding her musical persona and really wants some cool sunglasses. One day, she finds the Cholito de Suerte in her locker, and she remembers that her grandmother said the Cholito is generous and kind to all those who take care of it. After she gives the Cholito food, it spits out lots of coins and she's able to buy her sunglasses (and more) with the money. This cycle continues for a while until the secret of her Cholito is betrayed, after which a unique lesson is taught. The show is based on a beautiful idea and is executed very well.

Cultureverse has no set cast except for the hosts Yara Shahidi and Kelley-Marie Tran. There's a new child voice actor in each episode. The script doesn't differ much between the two hosts; it's natural and maintains a good pace throughout the 20 to 25 minute duration. I really enjoyed Tran's narration a bit more, but since the stories in each episode have such sustained, contained momentum powered by the child voice actors and plotline, it doesn't make much of a difference who is hosting.

Cultureverse promotes cultural appreciation as opposed to cultural appropriation. It encourages kids to learn about different cultures, even providing them with some further reading at the end of each episode.

I give Cultureverse 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse. Go check it out!

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

With a hint of culture and lots of interesting stories, the podcast Cultureverse is a great way to learn more about stories from the past in a fun way. Even though these stories from the past have been modernized to entertain children, some of the plots get a little random and off-topic. However, that doesn't stop this podcast from being a great way to educate your child about different heritages.

Hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse takes myths and legends from different cultures, adds fictional modern characters and a new storyline, which make them more interesting and understandable. Kids will enjoy the exciting characters and the fascinating creatures.

The voice acting and sound effects in this podcast are so extravagant and over-the-top that it feels like the sounds are coming out of the screen and into your room. It's definitely a very creative concept for a podcast, especially because it makes kids want to learn and keep listening. This would be a good added tool in a classroom for a history lesson because, while it sounds like a normal fantasy book, it still keeps the key parts of the original stories or myths. It could also be used at a heritage day or a multicultural festival as added content.

This podcast's message is to keep culture alive through stories, as they are the foundation of our heritage and we should not let them be forgotten.

I give Cultureverse 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I genuinely enjoyed the podcast, Cultureverse and the way it uses different myths and legends to make new and interesting stories.

Cultureverse is an immersive audio drama celebrating our collective cultural past. It is hosted by two hosts, Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi that share lots of different stories about various people going through a multitude of myths and legends. In each episode, a modern day kid encounters a creature, myth or folk character from their culture and embarks on an exciting journey of self-discovery. There are nine episodes available now including The Dangsan Tree, The Water Drabon, Dagda's Harp and more.

A lot of the stories are Chinese or Vietnamese origin. It's amazing how this podcast fabricates these stories using only words, music and sound effects - without any visuals. They are all so engaging with lots of cool things, starting with the voices. All the voice-over actors really excel at portraying their characters. At the end of each episode we learn the names of the voice-over actors. We also learn more about the original myth or legend that each story is based on. On example is the water dragon story, in which David and his sister try to save the town from the drought. This is based on the Chinese legend of the water dragon where a boy saves his town from a drought and gets turned into the water dragon. This is just one example of the many stories featured on the podcast. My favorite part is how the host tells each story with emotion and passion.

The message of this podcast is about how so many things are still influenced by old myths and legends.

I give Cultureverse 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages for 6 to 18, plus adults. Cultureverse is available now online at https://www.trax.fm/cultureverse

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

Are you looking for a new podcast with amazing acting and hosting, creative stories and cultural values? Listen to Cultureverse, a brand new podcast created for tweens and teens to be entertained by fantastical adventures and educated about many cultures. Co-hosted by Kelly Marie Tran and Yara Shahidi, Cultureverse is a must-listen epic-adventure podcast.

Each episode of the podcast features a new character, a new background and a new cultural adventure. The short introduction lets viewers know more about the character and their desires; then Cultureverse dives into the magical adventure. One of my favorite episodes is The Watermelon Prince. Based on a Vietnamese folktale, Mia (Vicky Win) is sucked into a world of magic through none other than a talking watermelon. In the universe of this folktale, Mia meets herself, but as a different person. When she returns from her adventure, she feels as if she's found another part of herself.

Cultureverse is a podcast with many positive aspects. The hosts are warm, welcoming and educational in their pre-story and post-story talks. They are also very talented narrators that make the stories more interesting and enjoyable. All the voice-actors are great; they make each story more fun while creating a vivid picture for the audience. The plot is another strong point. Each episode starts off realistic, so I'm stuck in the mind of a character when the fantastical elements start. It helps that normal kids experience these crazy cultural adventures. If the characters were superheroes or other fantasy creatures, it wouldn't be as relatable. This podcast is a great way to introduce a variety of cultural myths and folktales.

The message of Cultureverse is to learn and explore other cultures' traditions. This theme is clearly conveyed in each and every episode. It's great that passing on these positive messages is a top priority for this podcast.

I give Cultureverse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14. You can find Cultureverse on Trax at ahttps://www.trax.fm/cultureverse.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CULTUREVERSE


CINDERELLA (2021)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
11-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
AMAZON PRIME

Description:

A modern, musical take on the evergreen fairy tale, Cinderella's impeccable sets and wardrobe, as well as its talented cast make this production a one-of-a-kind watch.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

see youth comments

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A modern, musical take on the evergreen fairy tale, Cinderella's impeccable sets and wardrobe, as well as its talented cast make this production a one-of-a-kind watch.

Cinderella follows the story of Ella (Camilla Cabello), a poor orphan who lives with her abusive, restrictive stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and her mean, obnoxious and spoiled stepsisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer). She loves to design dresses and even has her own workplace in her basement, where a crew of merry mice (James Corden, Romesh Ranganathan, James Acaster) watch over her. It is her dream is to open up a dress shop in the town marketplace; however, in her kingdom, women cannot run businesses. When Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine), the unassuming heir apparent, lays eyes on Ella, he falls head over heels in love with her, as does she for him. However, as Cinderella and Prince Robert find themselves and their paths in life, a series of decisions they must take puts their love story in jeopardy. There are lots of subplots and side stories in the film, but that's the main plotline.

Cinderella maintains a steady and engaging pace with just enough action, comedy, romance and drama throughout the nearly two-hour duration. As it's told through a combination of songs and dialogue, it's only logical that the cast is comprised of a mixture of singers, actors, and comedians. Camila Cabello, Billy Porter and Idina Menzel "slay" in the film, as Porter's character (Ella's fairy godparent) would say. Their delivery is clear and, in the case of Cabello and Menzel, though a lot of the film's soundtrack is comprised of remakes (like Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation); it's refreshing to hear their take on the songs. Pierce Brosnan plays the stately, confident, yet flawed and patriarchal King Rowan and Minnie Driver acts as his strong, regal Queen Beatrice. I love the portrayal of strong women in the film. Beatrice, Ella and even Vivian have one thing in common - they are restricted by their society. Vivian had to give up on her passion; Beatrice must sit silently next to her husband for life; and Ella is at risk of losing her dreams. It's certainly unique to see this struggle in a fairy tale film. Shot at Pinewood Studios in the UK, the film's sets are impeccable, and I truly felt I was in a medieval kingdom with the characters.

Cinderella promotes advocating for yourself, pushing against restrictive gender roles, following your dreams, choosing your own destiny and so many more positive messages! There are only one or two uses of mild profanity in this film.

I give Cinderella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend this for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Cinderella releases on Amazon Prime Video September 3, 2021.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Cinderella is the feel-good flick for fans of all ages! Its wonderful soundtrack will have both parents and children singing and dancing. The jokes are spectacular; the casts' diversity is amazing; and the romance will have everyone tearing up.

Cinderella takes the classic beloved fairytale and gives it a modern twist. Cinderella (Camila Cabello) dreams of opening her own fashion boutique, but that dream is frequently criticized by her stepmother Vivian (Indina Menzel). Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is a royal rebel, refusing to marry, if not for love. He proposes to host a ball, to which all maidens are invited. Cinderella never stops dreaming of opening her own store and, when presented with an opportunity to go to a royal ball to find a job for designing, she accepts the invitation.

This movie is comedy, romance, girl power and music at its finest. We usually are served Cinderella films that take place in present day; however, Cinderella gives audiences a tale presented in medieval times, only modernized. The film manages to fit in multiple jokes and as many comedic one-liners as possible. Never missing a beat, every character gives audiences multiple laughs. The girl power in the movie is so inspiring. Cinderella faces hardships over her dreams, just like her step mother, sisters and Queen Breatrice, who wants to be independent. Then there is Princess Gwen, who has innovative ideas about how to run the country, but can't because she's a woman. The women stand strong, follow their hearts and, if romance rolls around, then that's great too. The romance in the movie is absolutely beautiful; two people want to love each other, but struggle against the status quo; Cinderella, who fiercely wants to open up her own store; Robert, who doesn't quite fit in with the royal court. The best scene in the whole film is the dance scene at the ball. The entire party has amazing choreography and rock songs, including a beautiful duet by the Prince and soon-to-be Princess. The soundtrack is filled with classic songs from Ed Sheeran, Queen, Janet Jackson and more, along with original songs. It's so fun to see these iconic characters singing and dancing to such iconic songs.

The lesson Cinderella learns and teaches audiences globally, is to always believe in yourself. She goes the distance, proving her worth to herself and those around her, that women can do amazing things just like men, such as opening a business.

I give Cinderella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 16. It is available on Amazon Prime beginning September 3, 2021.

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

Cinderella may be a commonly told story, but this filmed musical is anything but common. This live action film takes a classic fairy tale and rewrites it as an amusing, witty and modern retelling of a fiery young woman setting out to achieve her dreams. Out of the countless variations of the "Cinderella" story, the 2021 release of Cinderella by Kay Cannon is by far the most unique and empowering that I have seen.

In this version, Cinderella (Camila Cabello) still has her eyes set on freedom and a life away from her dreadful stepmother (Idina Menzel). However, in modern fashion, she also dreams of becoming a business woman and owning her own dress shop. Following her ambitions, she stumbles across Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine). While the two quickly fall in love, Cinderella is unwilling to sacrifice her own dreams to live a life just as stuck as she was under the control of her stepmother. Despite living in a land with outdated beliefs against women, with the help of her fairy Godmother, or Fab G (Billy Porter), Cinderella is determined to make a name for herself and create a successful business.

In her acting debut, singer Camila Cabello is impressively charming and nails the wit of her Cinderella, making her a perfect candidate for the rebooted character. Menzel and Porter, both Tony award-winners, wonderfully add a unique and interesting take on their characters. Menzel is magnificent, creating a new backstory for Vivian the stepmother, a once idealistic mother who learned from her mistakes. Porter brings a completely different, yet inspiring angle to the fairy godmother, sporting a striking orange gown and a spirited attitude in this role. The music is just as great as the actors, featuring both original and covered songs. The soundtrack is full of varying styles from rap, to powerful musical ballads, to Queen's "Somebody to Love." My favorite part of this movie is the diversity of the storyline. Not only do audiences get to see Cinderella follow her dreams, but also we see the growth of characters such as the stepmother, Prince Robert, the little sister of the Prince, Gwen (Tallulah Greive) and even the King (Pierce Brosnan) and Queen (Minnie Driver).

This rendition of Cinderella offers a bold message to audiences about feminism and the idea that women do not need to fall in love to find fulfillment as they can be whatever they set their mind to. Parents should be aware that this film contains some adult humor. I rate Cinderella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. This film opens in theaters September 3, 2021.

By Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CINDERELLA (2021)


BOSS BABY: THE FAMILY BUSINESS, THE (DIGITAL/DVD)
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURES, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DREAMWORKS - LA

Description:

The Templeton brothers have become adults and drifted away from each other, but a new boss baby with a cutting-edge approach is about to bring them together again - and inspire a new family business.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

movie reviews,by kids for kids,comedy,animation,Tom McGrath,Jeff Hermann,Alec Baldwin,James Marsden,Amy Sedaris,Ariana Greenblatt,Eva Longoria,Jimmy Kimmel,Lisa Kurow,Jeff Goldblum,James McGrath,Reyn Doi

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Boss Baby is back in business...family business. With new adventures and new characters, but the same shenanigans, this is a film you won't want to miss. If you enjoyed the first movie you will enjoy this sequel too.

The Boss Baby: Family Business is about grown-up Tim (James Marsden) with his two kids and a grown-up Ted (Alec Baldwin) who is a big-time CEO. They come across a magical formula that transforms them into babies for 48 hours. They join Tim's secret-agent daughter and go undercover to prevent an evil genius from turning all toddlers into horrible brats.

At the end of the last film, we got a cliffhanger that leads viewers into the plot of this film. We see a baby in a suit, which helps build the audience's excitement about what this sequel has in store. The plot of The Boss Baby: Family Business is fun and exciting because it focuses on a couple of different things at once. Tim and Ted are rebuilding their brotherly bond and working together to stop world domination. Tim is figuring out his relationship with his daughter Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt) and the whole family is learning to recognize how important it is to come together. It's a story that is heartwarming and funny at the same time. My favorite character in this film is Baby Tina (Amy Sedaris) because she is straightforward, keeps everyone on task and reminds everyone what is important. We know that Tim and Ted don't always get along and can get sidetracked, but Baby Tina is there to make sure they get the job done.

The message of The Boss Baby: Family Business is that family is everything and to remember the good times. It is definitely family-friendly.

The Boss Baby: Family Business is an amazing film to watch. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases on digital August 31 and on Blu-ray September 14, 2021. Go check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The highly anticipated sequel to The Boss Baby is finally here. The Boss Baby: Family Business is a hilarious movie that has a very special dynamic to it. With new characters and relatable plots, this film can easily become a fan favorite.

The Boss Baby: Family Business is about brothers Tim and Ted Templeton (James Marsden, Alec Baldwin), who are all grown up. Tim now has a family and is a stay-at-home dad; which is seen as nothing in comparison to his little brother Ted, who is a big-shot CEO. When they both end up drinking a serum that turns them into babies for 48 hours, they join forces with Baby Tina (Amy Sedaris) for one more mission with Baby Corp to stop an evil scientist from world domination.

The animation in The Boss Baby: Family Business is very high quality, which will impress audiences immediately. The babies and kids in the film don't look like real people, but they don't look like cartoons either. It's a perfect combination that fits each of the personalities, which are all different. When I hear Baby Tina and read her character description, she looks exactly like how I envisioned her. The addition of new characters in The Boss Baby: Family Business is an aspect that makes the plot more entertaining. For instance, Tim's daughter Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt) plays a huge role in this sequel. Tabitha is a very smart and down-to-earth young girl; however, her relationship with her father is becoming strained. It provides a new female character that kids can look up to; also creating a relatable storyline for fathers and daughters that may be trying to build a better relationship. The new characters are just really refreshing to see because they all bring something different to the film.

The message of The Boss Baby: Family Business is that you can always rely on family in the end. Although Ted and Tim grew apart as they got older, when they need each other most, they are able to work together and lean on each other.

The Boss Baby: Family Business is a movie that surpassed my expectations. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. It's perfect for a family movie night. The Boss Baby: Family Business releases on digital August 31, 2021 and on DVD September 14, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR BOSS BABY: THE FAMILY BUSINESS, THE (DIGITAL/DVD)


LOST LEONARDO, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

The Lost Leonardo is the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million. From the moment the painting is bought for $1175 at a shady New Orleans auction house, and the restorer discovers masterful Renaissance brushstrokes under the heavy varnish of its cheap restoration, the Salvator Mundi's fate is determined by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. As its price soars, so do the questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci? Unravelling the hidden agendas of the richest men and the most powerful art institutions in the world, The Lost Leonardo reveals how vested interests in the Salvator Mundi are of such tremendous power that truth becomes secondary.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Lost Leonardo is an interesting documentary about a lost Leonardo DaVinci painting of Christ. Based on the title I expected to watch a story about a lost and found painting and where it is today. Instead, I discovered a documentary that taught me about the strength of one's beliefs, art restoration practices, economics, politics and possible fraud.

The Lost Leonardo begins with an art sleeper hunter (an art speculator who scours the market for undervalued art), Ben Lewis, finding a painting in New Orleans. Ben reaches out to his art world contacts, which eventually leads him to Dianne Mundi. Dianne Mundi is married to a well known art conservator and Dianne is known for her art restoration. Dianne restores the painting, and she begins to believe it is a lost original Leonardo DaVinci. A group of art experts meet at the National Museum and agree that the painting is authentic. What follows next is a convoluted story about the true nature of the painting and how people's beliefs about the painting allow it to be capitalized on and possibly politicalized more than once.

The film is filled with art experts, journalists and even federal agencies. The film catches your attention because it has multiple layers. For example, just when you think viewing the painting as either authentic or a good copy is problematic, other reasons for thinking one way or the other are shared. Because of the prestige of the individuals calling the painting a true DaVinci, it commands a high selling price. The film gives a lesson in how prices of items can be inflated. Also, how easy it is to hide one's money in art since the laws aren't as restrictive with art purchases as they are with other things. Last, it explores what a piece of lost art can mean to a person or a group of people, and possibly to a country and the cost they will pay to have it.

The message of the film is that people can convince themselves of anything, even if those beliefs come at a high cost. Throughout history various beliefs have kept people together and apart.

I give The Lost Leonardo 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. The dialogue and themes are a bit much for younger kids to follow, but a teen might enjoy it with the company of adults that can explain certain terms used in the film. The film is available in select theaters now.

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

The Lost Leonardo recounts one of the most expansive and expensive stories the art world has ever seen. This documentary has a knack of looking at this painting's recent history from a different angle every 20 minutes or so, revealing a whole different facet of the fervor surrounding this single piece of art and how the conversation around it became about so much more than the painting itself.

This odyssey of art and commerce begins in a warehouse, where a painting called the Salvator Mundi from one of the masters of the field, Leonardo Da Vinci, was thought to have been lost to time and languishes before being discovered by two art dealers who look for paintings that are worth more than they seem. Little did they know, they just stumbled upon their greatest find in that respect. They purchased the painting for 10,000 dollars and had it restored, in hopes that the work was that of Da Vinci's. The restorer's work supported that conclusion and, with that, a whole new journey with it begins. It ends up selling for hundreds of millions of dollars after it travels the world and comes into contact with everyone from the general public, to art critics, to experts, to Russian billionaires, to wily art dealers and world leaders.

Director Andreas Koefoed seems to understand the potential of what he has at his fingertips here - betrayal, treachery, power, greed - it's a winning concoction. For all the goodwill it earns in the riveting way it unfolds, The Lost Leonardo lacks a stylistic backbone to hold the whole thing together. It relies heavily on one-on-one interviews with experts, critics, and those that played in Salvator Mundi's discovery, restoration and sale. Those interviews bear no intimacy to them, which works in giving objectivity to the events documented, but their implementation grows tiresome. Koefoed has little else up his sleeve to tell this story and, for one about art and one of the most prolific pieces in a long time the world over, that's more than disappointing. This film about Salvator Mundi lacks imagination and creativity and is quite staid, which distracts from the gold mine Keofoed has here. Mundi's story certainly is anything but boring; so it's unfortunate that it is told that way.

I give The Lost Leonardo 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Nothing in the movie is objectionable, beyond some nudity shown in the artwork. If you've got an interest in the business of art or the work of Da Vinci, this one's for you. But more than that, the directions this story takes are so unpredictable that I think it makes this documentary easy to recommend to anybody. The Lost Leonardo comes out in theaters August 27, 2021.< p> By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED LOST LEONARDO, THE


SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD, THE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISCOVERY PLUS

Description:

Based on Amanda Ripley's New York Times bestseller, The Smartest Kids in the World, chronicles a year abroad with four American teenagers, who study in countries that dramatically outperform the United States in education. We travel with them as they adjust from their local high schools in Wyoming, Orlando, Maine and The Bronx to high schools in Finland, South Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands The film gives voice to students, hearing first-hand their discoveries and insight about how to reform U.S. high school education.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Smartest Kids in the World and highly recommend it for everyone, especially students. Documentaries don't usually interest me that much, but this movie, based on the New York Times bestseller by Amanda Ripley, captivated me with its themes and landscapes.

The Smartest Kids in the World is a full-length documentary directed by Tracy Droz Tragos following four different U.S. students (Simone, Jaxon, Brittany and Sadie) as they travel for a year to different countries as exchange students. It focuses on different methods used in each country that makes students perform higher on tests. We learn what we should be doing differently in the United States and what other countries are doing great in terms of education.

Along with a storyline that captivates you and shows that it's not always that easy to adapt to new places, this film, while showing the hard work of the students, also has many fun and relaxing parts that balance out the kids' time while abroad. There are lots of beautiful landscape shots and calm music. All of this adds to the peaceful feeling you get from the movie, even though school can sometimes be quite the opposite of that. I really enjoyed seeing all of the students' journeys and, although they aren't acting, their on-camera appearances show the insights they gain along with their stories, accomplishments and comparisons of life abroad to life at home. One thing that is lacking is that it falls short in giving specific ideas of how to improve U.S. education. It does show what our schools are doing wrong it only touches on how to improve education in our country.

The message in this film is that the U.S. is often thought of as a perfect country, but in lots of areas, including education, this is not true. The students in this film found that the schools in other countries actually offer a range of more challenging, hands on, more choice-driven, even less stressful education - all of which contribute to higher test scores, higher education levels and higher graduation rates. We would benefit from looking beyond our boundaries to see how we can improve our educational system.

I give The Smartest Kids in the World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It begins streaming exclusively on Discovery+ August 19, 2021.

Rosemary K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I enjoyed watching the film, The Smartest Kids In The World because it shows teenagers traveling to different colleges and high schools to figure out what education platform is better. Its view on education in the USA is a bit discouraging.

Inspired by the book by the same name, this documentary follows a group of teens that go to non-behavioral schools. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos, it follows four American teenagers that travel to four different countries for one school year in search of a better education for themselves.

We see how the kids have to learn new languages to get into these various schools and to make friends. All of their traveling about to find a better education is inspiring. I found it discouraging that the kids had to go outside the US in search of better schools when it seems that they should have been able to get good education in their own country. They traveled long distances and experienced many hardships in order to find a good school that would challenge their minds academically. We see that Pennsylvania schools don't offer the best educational experiences. One student, Tracy Droz Tragos expressed the difference between rich and poor schools. Some students attended school in Switzerland, others attended schools in South Korea and elsewhere. The main characters are both interesting and disappointing. They are taking their future into their own hands and charging out into the world. During their adventures they are learning from one another, which is inspiring. The film doesn't show us how change can happen in US schools, but it points out how desperately it is needed.

This film captures the integrity and bravery among these teens. Our younger generation needs to learn more about the difference between learning in the USA verses learning abroad. I rate The Smartest Kids In The World 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It begins streaming exclusively on Discovery+ August 19, 2021.

By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD, THE


REMINISCENCE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae's disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Reminiscence is an overly long film with a lot of loose ends. The movie strives to be a romance and yet the love story is weak. While the film has some strong points, they're simply not strong enough to hold the film afloat.

The storyline follows Nick (Hugh Jackman), a man desperately in love with Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). After she vanishes, Nick uses technology known as the Reminiscence, which lets users revisit memories that they've forgotten. Nick uses the memory technology to locate where and why Mae has left. Slowly the truth unravels only to reveal dirty secrets.

The movie definitely has its upsides. One of the film's strongest points is the friendship between Nick and officer Watts. The two go way back, and it's even confirmed by Watts that she's in love with Nick. Watts does everything possible to prevent Nick from burning a memory in his brain from using Reminiscence too often. However, they have a falling out and their argument is never really resolved, ending in an uncompleted arc. The whole world is flooded; it is unclear as to why. It appears as though there has been a war - one in which both Nick and Watts are veterans of. The war is only mentioned; it's never really addressed in depth, which leaves many loose ends. The war is the reason for the international flood and sinking of London, but there's no description or overview of the war. Throughout the film, there are glimpses of memories of Mae and Nick together. These memories end up being repeated over and over, which can't help but feel repetitive. Nick's love for Mae is supposed to feel unending, but it feels limited by these few memories.

The lesson Nick learns is to believe in love. He goes the distance to learn the truth about Mae, refusing to believe that their relationship was one-sided. He goes against his closest friend and hardcore evidence to find the truth, even subjecting himself to the Reminiscence forever.

I give Reminiscence 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 16 to 18 plus adults. It is available on HBO Max August 20, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED REMINISCENCE


NOTORIOUS NICK
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
15-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
GRINDSTONE HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Nick Newell, a one-armed MMA fighter gets a rare chance to fight for the lightweight championship. He strives to win for himself and all the other people in the world with physical challenges. The film is based on an inspiring true story of a young man who became known as "Notorious Nick." KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S., comments, "This film is absolutely amazing. Hopefully the way it approaches disability in an empowering perspective will encourage more studios to do the same. Instead of Nick always being knocked down and seeing the negativity of his disability, he learns his strengths, never giving up, working to find a way to perform at his full capacity."

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Notorious Nick will have you on the edge of your seat, cheering and screaming at the top of your lungs! This film delivers on all aspects; it leaves you teary-eyed and motivated to get out of your comfort zone. This is the perfect family film.

Notorious Nick tells the true story of Nick Newell (Cody Christian), who is a one-handed MMA fighter. Nick starts off as a wrestler and faces multiple challenges, but pulls through, becoming a world renowned MMA fighter, known as Notorious Nick. With the support of his family, best friend and coach, Nick proves that sky's the limit.

This film is absolutely amazing. Hopefully the way it approaches disability in an empowering perspective will encourage more studios to do the same. Instead of Nick always being knocked down and seeing the negativity of his disability, he learns his strengths, never giving up, working to find a way to perform at his full capacity. He holds his own against famous mixed martial artists. He also encourages a boy with a similar disability to change his attitude. He believes in himself, even when he is the only one who does. His mother is a great role model, inspiring other parents by always pushing Nick to succeed. The sheer determination between this mother and son duo empowers everyone. Nick learns how to fight inside the ring and out, even when he has to fight for his right to compete in the Light Weight Championships. He has to prove that - every competition where he has fought was legitimate, and he never backs down - determined to prove himself to the board and his opponent. Stay for the end credits for a chance to meet the real-life Notorious Nick and his coach. He talks about his journey and about how he's only just getting started.

The moral of this film is to never give up; fight for what you believe in; and believe in yourself. Nick always fights against bullies, discrimination, opponents and negativity. With his disability, he learns to compete in the ring, to be considered just as great as his competition. He proves himself worthy to everyone and to himself. Be forewarned that there is profanity and depictions of alcohol use.

I give Notorious Nick 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters August 6, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR NOTORIOUS NICK


DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT: SEASON 2
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 10-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

The second season of Diary of a Future President returns to Disney+ with all ten episodes available for binge-worthy streaming. Continuing the origin story of Cuban American and future leader Elena Ca�ero-Reed as she enters the seventh grade and recounted through excerpts from 13-year-old Elena's diary, this coming-of-age series follows Elena through the ups and downs of middle school which sets her on the path to becoming the President of the United States.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Diary Of A Future President: Season 2 is very different from other Disney Channel shows. It has a very inspiring message which makes it a show that I would want to keep watching to find out what happens next.

The storyline follows young Elena (Tess Romero) finding her way through middle school as she starts 7th grade and begins a journey to becoming the president. Her brother Bobby (Charlie Bushnell) is having some problems with starting high school and managing his crush. Their mother Gabi (Selenis Levya) is dating Sam Faber (Micheal Weaver) and has just decided to have him move in. All in all, there is lots of fun new changes in the second season.

Season 2 has lots of fun things to talk about. First is the theme song at the beginning of every episode. I love the way it starts as her middle school diary and ends as the president's book. It kind of shows her journey. Second, there are lots of relatable new things in this season, such as having a crush that doesn't feel the same way you do and having your friend get a girl or boy friend and not having time for you. Third, there are lots of cool sets such as Elena's bedroom. The way that the bathroom is in between Bobby and Elena's room is so cool. One of the sets is at the school and added this season is a theater which is a fun set. Fourth, this show uses lots of fun camera angles to enhance the viewing experience. Last, this show and its cast have been nominated for five different awards in 2020 and 2021. Most notable is winning a Gracie Allen Award for Best Actress in a supporting Role to Selenis Layva.

The message of this TV show is to always include others, be yourself even when that is hard, and always be honest.

Diary Of A Future President: Season 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. This premieres August 18, 2021 on Disney+. So be sure to check it out.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT: SEASON 2


CHARLIE'S COLORFORMS CITY: FANTASTICK ADVENTURES

Running Time:
90 minutes
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
2-6

Category: FAMILY
DVD, AGES 2-6 series

Media:
DVD

Distributor:
N CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Once upon a time, there was... Charlie! A friend like no other! Charlie is YOUR silly, creative playmate and best friend. He is SOOOOO excited to take YOU on adventures with him. Charlie created Colorforms City out of his imagination so that he can tell the best stories possible... like a knight trying to save a balloon, adventuring to the other end of the rainbow, or Charlie's epic quest to solve a mystery. Come along with Charlie and his friends as they solve problems using creativity, ingenuity, and the shapes Charlie sees all around him.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

In Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures Charlie and his friends create stories and imagine doing different things around their city such as being a mechanic and solving mysteries. Charlie invites the audience to use their imagination to create the story along the way. This DVD is educational and promotes problem-solving while simultaneously teaching children about shapes and colors.

I find this show appealing as an adult, because even though the questions Charlie prompts the audience with are simple, it is still fun to participate in an interactive show. I think children will enjoy this show because they will feel immersed creating the story along with Charlie. The city where Charlie lives is funky and vibrant, which will keep the children engaged and interested.

The episodes are easy to follow. Each one begins with Charlie introducing the audience, followed by the main theme song. After that, Charlie invites the audience to join him in creating a story. Usually throughout, Charlie asks the audience to create something with him to help fix a problem that arises in the story. In the end, all the loose ends are tied up perfectly and Charlie proposes that the audience continue the story on their own. The characters, especially Charlie, are very likable. We are inclined to relate to Charlie and feel empathy towards him. The vocabulary is very suitable for the intended age group. The concepts are also easy to follow. For example, when Charlie talks about shapes, it is not expected that children know what each shape is. Charlie prompts the audience by asking what is the best shape to create a particular animal and then explains why or why not each shape would or wouldn't work. It also teaches children what colors are associated with what feeling. For example, when Charlie says "paint me blue" and is sad, the viewer understands that blue is often associated with feeling gloomy. The visual quality is very inviting and cheerful. The DVD allows one to access specific episodes they want to watch. It also is equipped with subtitles, but I only saw them available in English. The most important benefit of the show is giving children the confidence to make their own decisions and use their imagination to help create their own story. Charlie's Colorforms City does allow for children to problem-solve when they need to use their imagination to create the remainder of the story.

I give Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures 5 out of 5 stars because it encourages children to use their imagination, is interactive and visually appealing. It is significant that children continue to use their imagination and Charlie promotes just that. In each episode, Charlie asks the audience to create something with him to help fix a problem that arises in the story. In the end, even though all the loose ends are tied up, Charlie proposes that the audience continue the story on their own. This further encourages the children to think on their own. The vibrancy of the series will easily draw children in, as well as all the funky shapes of the city. The main takeaway for both children and adult viewers is to remind them that they have the power to tell and create their own story. I recommend it for ages 4 to 10, plus adults.

By Tor F., KIDS FIRST!

KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Are you ready for a colorful, playful and interactive adventure that's both fun and educational for the whole family? Then you've got to watch the amazing Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures. In this educational animated series, you'll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your critical thinking skills. So, buckle up and get ready for new and exciting adventures that are better than ever!

Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is all about exploring Colorforms City with Charlie and his two best friends, Red and Violet. In this series, you go on eight whimsical, interactive, storytelling adventures in Colorforms City while learning about different colors, shapes and sizes. Every story Charlie and his friends create is an adventure, so you never know what's coming next because Charlie is always shaking things up! Whether Charlie's a mechanic or a chef - you're in for a real treat.

This cast is filled with so many talented actors throughout the series. Jacob Soley plays Charlie, your creative, fun companion. He connects with his character in such a way that you all will be best friends instantly. Tyler Barish plays one of Charlie's best friends, Red. He is engaging and really connects with his character. Saara Chaudry plays Violet who delivers a dynamic performance. She is my favorite character because she always looks on the bright side of things. My favorite episode is "Mystery Charlie" because someone is stealing all the color from Colorforms City! Charlie and his friends have to work together using their problem solving and critical thinking skills to solve the mystery and save the day. Oh! And I just love the animation and music. The theme song is so catchy! When you hear it you can't help but jump to your feet and dance.

The intent of this DVD is to motivate kids to learn more about colors, shapes and sizes. With Charlie's imagination leading the way, you'll be inspired to create colorful and magical stories, while developing your problem solving skills. Charlie also teaches friendship skills such as being kind, respectful, supportive and being an active listener.

I highly recommend Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures for ages 2 to 6 and give it 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is available now so, jump to it because you've got a great story to create!

By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a new DVD where we get to revisit our good friend Charlie who is back and more creative than ever. With new stories and new adventures, young kids will feel like they are a part of the journey too!

Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is about a young boy named Charlie (Jacob Soley) who loves to go on adventures and create stories. He lives in a very vibrant and fun place called Colorforms City, where everyone is friendly and works together. In this DVD, Charlie does things he's never done before, like becoming a cowboy and having his own restaurant. Kids will learn so much as they join Charlie on his colorful journeys!

Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures is a show that will teach kids valuable lessons. I've seen previous episodes of Charlie's Colorforms City, but this new DVD has a uniqueness of its own. The main thing that sets this DVD from previous ones is the new storylines. We all know that Charlie is very fond of stories and in the episode "Sick Charlie" we see a plethora of stories in a short amount of time. That's because Charlie has a case of "story sneezing." Yup, that means every time Charlie sneezes, he is transported into another story. This is something Charlie has never experienced before, which can be a welcome adventure for fans of the show. It definitely shows off his out-of-this-world imagination. Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventure is geared towards younger audiences. Kids who are just starting school may even be watching this show, which is perfect if they want to have more practice learning about shapes, colors and using their minds to entertain themselves. Because the characters and the objects are two-dimensional, it's simpler for young kids to understand. Audiences will never be overwhelmed when watching this DVD; they'll only want more.

The message of this show is that you don't have to wait to be creative. You can be creative anytime, anyplace. No matter where Charlie is, he's thinking ingeniously and wondering what he can do next. This is very family-friendly and is perfect for parents to watch together with their young children.

I rate Charlie's Colorforms City: Fantastick Adventures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 6. The DVD is available now, so make sure you check it out!

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

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CHARLIE'S COLORFORMS CITY: FANTASTICK ADVENTURES


FREE GUY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES

Description:

When a bank teller discovers he's actually a background player in an open-world video game, he decides to become the hero of his own story -- one that he can rewrite himself. In a world where there's no limits, he's determined to save the day his way before it's too late, and maybe find a little romance with the coder who conceived him. Free Guy is a 2021 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn and a story by Lieberman. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who discovers he is actually a non-player character in an open-world video game and decides to become the hero of the story and save his friends from getting deleted by the game's creator (Taika Waititi); Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Joe Keery also star.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The hilarious film, Free Guy, written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, might fool you into thinking it is a comedy, but in the end, has a touching moral behind all of the laughs. What makes us human? Our physical bodies or the way we learn and love? By the end of the film, we all come to the same conclusion. In the meantime, the story will keep you at the edge of your seat and sometimes bent over with laughter.

Free Guy follows a protagonist named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), an optimist and great friend who brings cheer to Free City. When Guy meets Molotov Girl (Jodie Corner) his whole world changes and he begins to question his daily routines and expectations. He realizes that he can be so much more. At the same time, the world is about to get in Guy's way. Outside of Free City, there is a battle ongoing between the company Soonami and game designers MIllie (Jodie Corner) and Keys (Joe Keery) to win back their game. What will Guy do when he realizes there is a threat to Free City? Will he take charge?

This film is full of star power. Ryan Reynolds plays Guy with the perfect mix of hilarity and emotions. He is easy to root for. Jodie Comer who plays both Molotov Girl and Millie and Joe Keerey as Keys make the perfect team to battle against Antoine (Taika Waititi). They are smart and creative and beautifully emotive. The special effects and CGI in this film are incredible. They are absolutely essential to the storytelling and are executed flawlessly by a massive team of artists. Each costume is unique and elevates every character. All of the bad guys/sunglass people have colorful and intricate skins that make them look strong and scary. The visuals and story are tied together with music that ranges from energizing to emotional, at times even creating intense suspense. There is a mix of well-known rap/hip-hop songs and newly composed music. During the big finale, the booming high intensity music makes my heart race.

The message of this film is that our life is defined by our relationships and the small moments that we spend creating them. We choose our path in life and no one can decide what it is except for us. As Guy's best friend Buddy says, "Even if I am not real, this moment is real." By choosing to be connected to those around us, we are living. The film does have a lot of violence including robberies, guns, bombs and explosions, but it's in a video game style. There is some mild profanity. It is not likely that kids would imitate the violent behavior due to the gaming quality of the behavior.

I give Free Guy 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is a moving and hilarious film. I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This is a great movie with families with older children. This film opens in theaters August 13, 2021.

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

Free Guy is a movie with a very interesting concept and actors that execute it perfectly. The movie is humorous and had me and the people I was with, laughing the entire time. But, once you get to the bottom of it, you'll realize there's a lot more to Free Guy than the humor.

Free Guy is about a video game character named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who discovers that he's just a background player in a game called Free City. When he finds a pair of sunglasses that changes his status in the game, he becomes all anyone can talk about. Even Millie (Jolie Comer), also known as Molotov Girl in Free City, is starting to fall for him. With all the fuss about Guy, Keys (Joe Keery) and Millie realize they can use him to their advantage to expose Antoine (Taika Waititi). However, since their secret is hidden within the game, they are going to need a little help.

Free Guy has a lot of star power, which is one factor that will attract a lot of people. Many celebrities with very big fan bases make cameo appearances in this film. Towards the end of the film, Free Guy takes another opportunity to appeal to different audiences. For example, in the final battle scene, Guy uses different weapons that crossover with franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars. The characters in Free Guy are likeable and some are also relatable. My favorite character is Antoine. He is a lot funnier than most antagonists and he is the character that actually lightens the mood of the film. The way he banters with people and bosses everyone around makes him a character you want more from. The special effects in Free Guy are also a prominent component of the film. Free City is a game that was redesigned by Antoine to be repetitive, with a lot of damage taking place in everyday life. Every day there is another car being blown up, or a bank being robbed. Most of the time, it's both. So, major props to everyone in special effects, because it must have taken a lot of effort and time to make it look so realistic.

The message of Free Guy is that you need to make sure you enjoy the simple things in life. For a regular person, life can be pretty repetitive if you let it. So when you do something out of the ordinary, make sure you recognize and appreciate it. Free Guy executes the double meaning subtly through the characters and their actions, which is very clever. This movie does include heavy use of profanity, which sometimes can be gratuitous, so parents should be aware of that.

Free Guy is a unique film that will appeal to a lot of people, especially gamers. I rate Free Guy 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Free Guy releases in theatres August 13, 2021. Make sure you check it out!

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

Be the main character of your story and head to your local theater to see the new hit action-comedy of the year, Free Guy! Free Guy flies in with a boatload of action and hilarious surprises that will leave you speechless. The film makes the plot understandable to a wide variety of ages, because typically, the world of video games is mainly understood by teenagers. Although the film is live-action, a mix of video game graphic design is integrated to really bring the concept of the story to life.

Free Guy takes place in a video game called Free City. Within Free City, players can do practically whatever they want. Similar to real life, nobody ever thinks about the background characters. This is where the audience is introduced to our main character Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy is an NPC (non-player character) with the same routine and mannerisms every single day. One day, he decides to step out of the background to be his own person. When he learns his world is coming to an end, he must fight in desperation of love to save the reality he knows.

Ryan Reynolds is historically known for bringing various silly characters to life with his iconic comedic energy - a snail that wants to be fast, a caveman who wants to be revolutionary, or even a plain superhero that loves chimichangas. Ryan does it once again with his role in Free Guy. His childlike wonder soars in the film not only making you laugh hysterically, but keeping you intrigued the entire ride. In a film that takes place mainly in a video game, of course you need to make it look realistic. The visual effects department delivers a polished CGI that correctly captures the essence of modern day video games. Free Guy is no doubt one of the greatest films to correctly capture the world of digital gaming. Ryan Reynolds is the perfect lead to not only make you cry with laughter, but also immerse the audience in a world that you can't get enough of.

Free Guy has an extremely straightforward message that applies to everyone - be the main character of your story. Step out of the background, don't let anyone control you, because this isn't their story, it's yours. Since we are dealing with a video game where you can do anything you want, you can definitely guess that violence and cursing frequently occur during the movie. The film also includes themes of friendship, love and courage.

I give Free Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. You can find Free Guy at your local theater on August 13, 2021. Make sure to check it out!

by Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED FREE GUY


PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
5-12

Category: FESTIVAL
FEATURE, AGES 5-12 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

When the PAW Patrol's biggest rival, Mayor Humdinger, becomes Mayor of nearby Adventure City and starts wreaking havoc, Ryder and everyone's favorite heroic pups kick into high gear to face the challenge head-on. While one of the pups must face his past in Adventure City, the team finds help from a new ally, the savvy dachshund Liberty. Together, armed with exciting new gadgets and gear, the PAW Patrol fights to save the citizens of Adventure City and stop Mayor Humdinger from destroying the bustling metropolis.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Suited up and ready for an all-new adventure, your favorite group of heroic pups, led by a boy named Ryder, are back in Paw Patrol: The Movie! This film has all the same things you've come to love about the PAW Patrol TV series with a new action-packed adventure and new-found friends. This family fun film is sure to capture the hearts of new and original PAW Patrol fans.

The film follows the PAW Patrol as they head to Adventure City to save its citizens from Mayor Humdinger's (Ron Pardo) dangerous plans and what he calls adding "adventure" back to the city. During their trip to Adventure City, the team goes on a series of high-risk adventures that becomes one of their biggest challenges yet and really tests the pups as they learn what it means to be true heroes. We even get to learn about Chase's (Ian Armitage) backstory and how he met Ryder (Will Brisbin), which really ties in well with the new storyline.

The main characters Mayor Humdinger, Chase, Ryder and new-comer Liberty (Marsai Martin) are joined by the rest of the PAW Patrol team. My favorite character is Liberty because she's an adventurous, brave and smart pup that is always willing to help. Plus, I love how she stands up for herself and even "roasts" a mean pup that was disrespecting her. Each of the team members has special skills, gadgets and vehicles that help them on their missions. My favorite vehicle is Zuma's, because it can be used as a boat, submarine or even a raft. The team receives upgrades to some of their gadgets including a new pup treat dispenser that I would definitely love to fill with snacks.

The message of this film is that being a hero doesn't always mean being the strongest or the bravest. It's okay to rely on others sometimes to help you get the job done. Chase learns this when he goes through different moments where he does not feel like a hero or worries that people will think he is a scared little puppy and not a hero, because he is nervous about returning to Adventure City. He eventually has to trust himself and his friends along the way.

This is a "PAWsome" film. I give Paw Patrol: The Movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Paw Patrol: The Movie unleashes in theaters and on Paramount+ August 20, 2021.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE


RESPECT
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
13-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE FILM, AGES 13-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
MGM STUDIOS

Description:

Following the rise of Aretha Franklin's career from a young child singing in her father's church's choir to her international superstardom, "Respect" is the remarkable true story of the music icon's journey to find her voice and become the Queen of Soul.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The Queen has arrived! Respect will have viewers singing and dancing to Ms. Aretha Franklin's songs as well as appreciate seeing her pathway to become The Queen of Soul. With amazing performances and storytelling, this biopic is epic and is sure to give viewers something to sing about and inspiration to follow their own dreams.

Respect tells the story about how Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson) got her start by singing in her father's, C.L. Franklin's (Forest Whitaker) choir and weekend parties, to becoming one of the most iconic voices in music history. Along the way, we learn about the trials and tribulations Ms. Franklin had to overcome to become "Aretha" - the woman, artist and icon. Hudson delivers Ms. Franklin's story in a way that allows you to connect on so many levels to Franklin's life experiences.

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson really stays true to her own acting and singing talents in this film and proves just why Ms. Franklin handpicked Hudson to tell her story! I love how Ms. Hudson does not try to overact to portray Aretha Franklin or mimic her voice, which surprisingly really works out well. My favorite part is when young Aretha and her mother, Barbara Franklin (Audra McDonald), are talking and playing the piano together and actually singing their conversation. It is very touching. Of course, the music in the film is spot on, since most of it is Aretha Franklin's. The costumes are incredible and very fashionable. Hudson's gowns were truly fit for a Queen. The film uses different cinematographic color techniques to represent different time periods, which make you feel as if you are watching actual footage of Aretha Franklin in her time verses Jennifer Hudson playing her in present day.

The message of this film is you have to own your voice. Don't let others determine how you follow your dreams, what they should look like or what they should be. Ms. Franklin spent a lot of time doing what everyone else wanted her to do and it wasn't until she started listening to herself and demanding respect, that she started making hit records. It was only then that she was able to become The Queen of Soul. Parents should be aware that there are scenes with drinking, violence and suggestive behavior.

Respect is a must-see film filled with inspiration and women empowerment. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can find Respect in theaters August 13, 2021.

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR RESPECT


VIVO
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

Vivo follows a one-of-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest "honey bear") who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively square with his beloved owner Andr�s. Though they may not speak the same language, Vivo and Andr�s are the perfect duo through their common love of music. But when tragedy strikes shortly after Andr�s receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval, inviting her old partner to her farewell concert with the hope of reconnecting, it's up to Vivo to deliver a message that Andr�s never could: A love letter to Marta, written long ago, in the form of a song. Yet in order to get to Marta, who lives a world apart, Vivo will need the help of Gabi - an energetic tween who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum to fulfill his owner's wishes.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Vivo is an awesome film to watch. It showcases the love between animals and humans, as well as their love for music. There are great messages; the concept of the movie is entertaining; and every song is fun to listen to. You will be tapping your feet to the beat as you follow this film's adventures.

Vivo is about a kinkajou named Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda) who lives with his friend Andr�s (Juan de Marcos Gonz�lez) in Cuba. Andr�s and Vivo can't directly talk to each other, because one is human and the other is an animal; but, when they sing together they connect. Vivo soon learns that when Andr�s was younger, he had a love interest named Marta (Gloria Estefan). Unfortunately, when Andr�s was going to tell her how he felt, she got an opportunity to follow her dream as a singer and he didn't want to interfere with her decision. He wrote her a song and didn't get to give it to her, so now Vivo is determined to give it to Marta before it's too late.

The songs in Vivo are fun and made me want to listen to them over and over again. My favorite song is "My Own Drum" performed by Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) because it is upbeat and describes how Gabi feels. I like how the writers, Quiara Alegria Hudes and Kirk DeMicco portray Vivo's character development. In the beginning of the film Vivo doesn't want to go to Miami for Marta, but when he realizes how much it means to Andr�s and remembers all the things Andr�s has done for him, he has a change of heart. My favorite character is Vivo because he is loving and daring. Vivo looks out for Andr�s and takes care of him and does anything he can to help him. He travels all the way from Cuba to Miami and overcomes many challenging obstacles along the way.

The message of Vivo is that, even when times are tough, you have to have hope and do what is best. This film is completely family-friendly.

I give Vivo 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Vivo on Netflix beginning August 6, 2021. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

As its name suggests, Vivo is a vivid animated film full of life, color, music and emotion. Directed by Kirk DeMicco and Brandon Jeffords, Vivo is the first-ever musical for Sony with a Latino theme, and the story is certainly very relevant and aims to be significant for the Latino community. Vivo features all-new songs written and performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda which are powerful, emotive and contribute nicely to the storytelling.

Vivo is about the way we connect with others through music. In a very old-fashioned Cuba, a kinkajou named Vivo is voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda. A kinkajou is a mammal that looks like a monkey but is a rainforest "honey bear." Vivo and his owner Andr�s enjoy making music and performing together. When Andr�s receives an invitation from his friend, famous singer Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), to attend her farewell show in Miami, Vivo is in charge to deliver the message to reconnect their friendship.

Vivo connects with our inner and pure childhood emotions and the characters in this story are lovable and relatable. For example, with the help of a young girl, Gabi, our protagonist Vivo is able to make the journey to Miami. Gabi, an aspiring musician, is a girl with talent and ambition, but rebellious and spontaneous. Gabi is a very special character representing the effervescent tween years where not everything fits in the molds of society. The animation in Vivo is gorgeous: the characters are colorful and vibrant. The attention to detail in the architecture and landscapes of Cuba is breathtaking. The presence of nature is also key to the story. As Vivo and Gaby navigate their way to Miami, they travel through the Everglades and encounter the wildlife at its fullest.

Vivo demonstrates a nice balance between traditions and everyday life and new adventures and discovering life out of our boundaries. Another great success is how the film resonates with a multigenerational audience, connecting youngsters and older members of the family effectively making it a perfect experience that unites the whole family. Vivo shows us the power of music in making connections between us and how music helps us to achieve goals.

I give Vivo 5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for all 8 to 18, plus adults. Vivo opens in theaters and Netflix on August 6, 2021.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Vivo it is a heartwarming movie that has happy moments, funny moments and tragedy. I like the storyline, the graphics and the catchy songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Vivo is a computer animated film about a kinkajou monkey played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who knows how to play instruments and performs at one of the Habana's plazas (Cuba) with his master, Andres Hernandez, an old musician. Andres (Juan De Marcos) had a female singing partner once, Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), who he was in love with, but she moved to Miami, Florida, to become a star. Marta is performing one last time, because she is retiring. So she invites Andres to perform with her for the last time as a duo. Marta doesn't know Andres is in love with her and that Andres wrote her a song when she left Cuba. Tragedy happens and it is upon Vivo to deliver the news and the song to Marta

This movie has beautiful computer animated scenes. The backgrounds simulate the city of Habana in Cuba, Key West and the Florida Everglades. The scenes are very colorful and bright. The songs are very catchy and appealing. Besides being the main character's voice, Lin-Manuel Miranda also wrote 11 songs for this film. He offered Cuban legend Gloria Estefan a part in this movie and she had the opportunity to create her character, which is a mix of Celia Cruz, another Cuban legend, and Mrs. Estefan's mother, who she describes as a diva. This film has a stellar cast including Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Rosa, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) as the snake Lutador and Leslie David Baker (The Office).

The story reminds us to always express your love to the person you love, because it might become too late to do it. Always open your heart to the person you love; let them know your feelings before it is too late. My favorite part is when Vivo delivers the letter to Marta. It provided closure for his beloved partner, Andres.

I give Vivo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. This film is also a great asset for the Cuban community, especially now during Cuba's troubling times. Vivo is in theaters now and begins streaming on Netflix on August 6, 2021.

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR VIVO


QUEEN OF THE BEACH
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
UNDER THE MILKY WAY

Description:

While on vacation in Goa, India, Canadian filmmaker Chris McDonell turns his camera on Shilpa Poojar, a 9-year-old beach hawker hustling tourists to buy clothes and jewelry from her seaside shop. Funny, charming and skilled beyond her years, she is a migrant worker from the unique Banjara people and the primary breadwinner for her family. Forging a connection in this chance encounter, Chris returns 3 times over the next 7 years to capture Shilpa's story of sacrifice and survival and help her achieve her childhood dream of going to school - a relentless effort that will test them both along the way.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

A gritty, honest portrayal of a child laborer's life and her journey to achieve her dreams, Queen of the Beach is a touching documentary film highlighting a global issue in an emotionally-sensitive, thorough, and unique way.

Christopher McDonell is a Canadian filmmaker on a month-long project in India, following some missionaries from his church on their trip. He makes a quick stop at Anjuna Beach in Goa, where he meets nine-year-old Shilpa, a child laborer who is the sole breadwinner in her family. Tenacious and witty, Shilpa instantly forms a bond with McDonell and he returns three times over the next seven years as Shilpa's "brother," visiting her village and learning more about her tribe, the Banjaras', way of life. He makes it his mission to help Shilpa realize her childhood dream of attending school in her small village in Karnataka; over the course of the film, both Shilpa and Chris must overcome several obstacles to reach this goal.

This is one of the most engaging documentaries that I've come across; Shilpa and her friends are vibrant, sweet individuals with layered personalities. Her smile lights up the screen and there's never a dull moment; McDonell's sprightly narration ensures that the pace of the film never drops even when they face some dead-end challenges. Since McDonell poses deep, personal, and tough questions to Shilpa, her friends, and her family, viewers come away from the film feeling like they really know her and her world. Even though the film was shot over the course of seven years, footage taken in 2009 does not feel drastically different from footage taken in 2015; the production quality of this documentary is spectacular throughout the 100 minute duration.

Queen of the Beach is all about making your dreams come true and never giving up even when life throws you a curveball. One thing to watch out for in the film: some mentions of pedophilic activity that occur on the beach at night, and McDonell catches some of this on film. Thematically, this film is for teenage audiences and older as it deals with child labor.

I give Queen of the Beach 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Queen of the Beach premieres August 15 (Indian Independence Day) both on digital and on demand from Under the Milky Way Productions.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR QUEEN OF THE BEACH


JUNGLE CRUISE
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
8-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 8-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
DISNEY+

Description:

Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney's JUNGLE CRUISE, a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank's questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila--his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities--possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate--and mankind's--hangs in the balance.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Take a trip to the Amazon Rainforest in Disney's new, beautifully produced film Jungle Cruise. Starring such talented actors as Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, the film is inspired by the famous theme park ride and liberally incorporates details from it as well, like the boat captain's terrible puns and a reference to the "back side of water." It's a great family film!

Set in 1916, Jungle Cruise opens in London, during a meeting of scientists. McGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) is presenting to the crowd as his sister, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), goes about her mission to collect a precious artifact from the archives. She ropes her brother, a rare gay character in the Disney universe, into the adventure she's been chasing since her childhood, determined to journey into the Amazon to an area called L�grimas de Cristal and find a magical healing tree called the Tears of the Moon. Lily hates the rough-around-the-edges, scam artist Frank (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) as soon as she sees him, but she grudgingly agrees to employ him as their skipper down the Amazon, with the conniving German aristocrat Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) nipping at their heels. Many adventures follow and the characters, as different as they may seem, grow close as a chosen family. There's also a pretty unusual supernatural backstory.

As with any Disney film, the production quality of Jungle Cruise is incredibly high; each and every small detail in regards to the graphics and overall look of the film has been addressed thoroughly. This film's previously-mentioned punchy one-liners delivered by Dwayne Johnson allude to this film's origins in the theme park ride. The Rock undoubtedly, unquestionably puts on the best performance of the film, and his chemistry with Emily Blunt's character is what truly carries the film through some slow moments when the script seems to lose purpose. Viewers begin to forget the overall goal of the mission as plots and relationships mix. However, this problem only shows up in the last third of the film. Another major star in the film is Jack Whitehall. His character is especially significant given that it's one of the few instances where you can see an LGBTQ+ character on screen, and his struggles coming out in a rigid, heteronormative society are beautifully represented in a heart-to-heart with Frank. In summary, the cast and production quality take this film to a new level, while the script tends to bog it down.

Jungle Cruise promotes teamwork, grit, the victory of good over evil, and, my favorite message, that no matter how different we are, there's always something we can unite over. We're always stronger together.

I give Jungle Cruise 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Jungle Cruise premieres on July 30, 2021, in US theaters and for a fee on Disney+.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I love how the Jungle Cruise makes the magic of the riverboat attraction from Disneyworld come alive. The humor and adventurous nature of the movie held my attention throughout the film. Movies with bold and funny female leads have always been my favorite.

In the Jungle Cruise, Lilly Houghton (Emily Blunt) searches for an Amazon legend called the Moon's Tears. Her goal is to find the legend in order to advance modern medicine. Lilly's fearlessness takes her to the Amazon River, where she meets and hires the comical skipper, Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), to take her on her quest. They soon realize that they are not alone in their pursuit of the Tears. Together they face the dangers of the Amazon River and encounter the supernatural.

The academic world did not support Lilly's pursuit of the Moon's Tears and she could not find funding or support. Her perseverance leads her on an adventure that she never envisioned. Although her strong willpower may be challenging to handle, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) and Frank accept her for whom she is. We also learn that Lilly's brother rejected the calling of many females because he had other interests, and Lilly was the only person who embraced him for being himself. I applaud director Jaume Collet-Serra for creating a high-energy, action-adventure film with a fun twist. The talented cast with Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson and Jack Whitehall are all superb. The music by James Newton Howard helps brings accentuate the action of the film. The Amazon River scenes and supernatural characters are very realistic looking, thanks to the camera work by Flavio Martinez Labiano and art direction by David Lazan.

The messages of this film are about determination and acceptance.

I give Jungle Cruise 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Jungle Cruise premieres in theaters and on Disney+ July 30, 2021.

By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED JUNGLE CRUISE


JOEY AND ELLA
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
7-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 7-18 series

Media:
Video and DVD

Distributor:
GRINDSTONE HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Description:

A mysterious diamond causes a baby kangaroo named Joey to grow quickly and gain the power of speech. When two bumbling thieves try to retrieve the magical gem, a teen and her new boyfriend try to get Joey to safety before it's too late.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

I love Joey and Ella! It is an adventurous comedy that is perfect for the whole family. This movie has it all - boy meets girl, girl likes boy, a mysterious jewel heist, an adorable kangaroo and a reminder of the importance of protecting our planet. So, buckle up and get ready for an action packed, fun filled family adventure that will inspire you.

This modern-day movie opens with two criminals stealing and then losing the Mazinski Diamond, which is a rare alien diamond. This unique gem is unknowingly swiped by a baby kangaroo from a traveling circus. Ella, a young girl who just moved to her grandfather's countryside house, discovers a cute kangaroo, Joey, hiding out in her grandfather's barn. Quickly, Ella discovers that the Mazinski diamond is not only rare, but magical. The diamond's magic allows Joey to grow rapidly and gives him the amazing power to speak! Word gets out that Joey has the Mazinski Diamond and soon everyone is on the chase for this special kangaroo. Ella and her new friend from school, Luke, have to work together to save Joey.

This cast is filled with many talented actors - Jennifer Michele (Ella), Angela Tran (Joey) and Jude Manley (Luke). Each one really connects with their character and delivers strong performances throughout the movie. My favorite part is when Joey and Ella meet for the first time in the barn, because it is such a heartwarming and sweet moment. You can really feel the bond between the two of them. And, I absolutely love the animation for Joey. It is so realistic. You think that he is a real kangaroo throughout the movie.

The intent of this film is to spread awareness about the effects of climate change and encourage us to work together in our communities to protect our planet. Climate change has negatively impacted Australia where there are many wildfires and droughts that put the kangaroo population at risk. This movie inspires us all to help keep our environment and animals safe by playing an active role.

I recommend Joey and Ella for ages 7 to 18. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. It releases on DVD and Digital July 27, 2021. So, hop to it! This is a movie you don't want to miss. ELLA OUT!

By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR JOEY AND ELLA


SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 13 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Description:

An ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage welcomes tenacious loner Snake Eyes after he saves the life of their heir apparent. Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach him the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing him something he's been longing for: a home. However, when secrets from Snake Eyes' past are revealed, his honor and allegiance get tested -- even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Snake Eyes: G. I. Origins is the thrilling adventure of a lifetime and the perfect origin story to such a beloved character. With motorcycles, swords and a mystical gem - you will be a part of an incredible mission.

The movie is a spin-off around the character of Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). Holding onto the trauma of his father being murdered, Snake Eyes is on the hunt for his father's killer. He trains with the Arashikage clan to become a top ninja. Meanwhile, he makes a deal with some unlikely allies to find his dad's murderer.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is an action-packed movie and is not to be missed. The fight scenes are incredibly filmed, using long one-take shots to capture the film's actors fighting with swords. The cinematography is iconic, with some night scenes shot with bright neon lights and others with a calming, peaceful, bright light. It's so cool to watch modern-day ninjas on motorcycles fighting one another on the streets. This film is perfect for fans all around the world that enjoy amazing battle sequences, especially for G.I. Joe fans. Familiar faces are shown like the Baroness and Kenta. We also see a teaser for Snake Eyes' most popular villain, which leaves the movie open for a very exciting sequel. The film is a wonderful origin story, telling the tale of Snake Eyes, showing just how he became affiliated with the Joes and where he's off to next, while sprinkling in some major plot twists.

The moral of the story is to trust yourself and always do the right thing. Many times Snake Eyes is tempted to kill his father's killer and throughout the film he learns the meaning of honor - to others and yourself - and makes a surprising choice. He also learns how to find inner peace with many of the things he's done and moves on to the next chapter of his life.

I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 plus adults. It is available only in theaters July 23, 2021.

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

I like Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins because it has a lot of action. I enjoy watching extreme martial art fight scenes. I like the cool Snake Eyes armor and helmet.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is an origin story for the classic animated series, G.I. Joe. Snake Eyes (Henry Golden) is one of the agents that worked for G.I. Joe, otherwise known as Government Issued Joe. He is known for having the arch nemesis Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji). Throughout the movie we see why these two iconic characters have a sworn hatred for each other. Snake Eyes travels to Japan to join a clan that teaches him how to be a ninja warrior. This Japanese clan provides him a home and a family - two things Snake Eyes was longing for. After he learns the Japanese clan's past and his loyalty is tested, is when the fun and extreme action begins.

My favorite part is when Snake Eyes does the second challenge, because of the special effects. The graphics and digital effects are very good. The snakes look so real. The CGI effects of Snake Eyes' outfit are amazing. The costumes are very accurate in terms of showing where the characters are from. The character's outfits are very traditional Japanese clothing, but nothing can top the infamous Snake Eyes costume. The film incorporates subtitles whenever characters speak in Japanese. The subtitles are made to seem like words from a comic book, which is a clever callback to the animated series. The music is really upbeat when there is a lot of action and works for those scenes exceptionally well. Some very talented actors appear in this film, such as one of my favorite actresses from Money Heist, Ursula Corbero who plays Baroness and Samara Weaving who plays Scarlett, also Haruka Abe as Akiko, Tahehiro Hira as Kenta and Iko Uwais as Hard Master.

The moral of this movie is to have a pure heart. Snake Eyes struggles with opening his heart to people. However when he becomes an honest man and pours his heart out, it actually saves his life. Being loyal and having honor is what makes you pure of heart. You should know that there is a lot of violence and strong language, however there isn't any gore, blood or seeing the characters getting injured.

I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins opens in theatres July 23, 2021.

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

When you're looking for an action movie, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is the one. It's another good, typical Marvel superhero-action film that doesn't fail to impress you with its intensity and execution.

Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) wants nothing more than to take revenge on the man that killed his father. After a desperate search to find him, he eventually gives up and ends up taking his anger out on others in fistfights. One day, Snake Eyes is met with a man named Kenta (Takehiro Hira) who claims he has the location of his father's killer. They make a deal - the killer's location for a jewel that holds the power of the sun.

Out of all aspects, the graphics exceeded my expectations the most. In one scene, multiple cobra-type gigantic snakes are circling. I wonder if I am the only one that finds this ironic. Honestly, I nearly screamed when the first snake came out with a bang. I thought it was coming at me and was glad this film isn't in 3D! The vivid and exceptional graphics are a major plus for this film. As to the acting, while Henry Golding delivers a strong performance when it comes to action, but it lacks emotion for someone avenging his father's death. Snake Eyes is a very complex character - experiencing desperation, disappointment, hope and many other emotions. However, the character development was a bit confusing at a few points. While there is a scene explaining exactly what happened to him on the night of his father's death, there are bits of background information not shown, leading to a bit of uncertainty in a few places. There are a few sudden changes of events which are unexplained and leave the audience wondering why or how they happened. Because this is primarily an action movie, those aspects do not play a huge part in the viewer's experience and most audiences will see this film for its excitement and thrill.

The message I took away from this is the portrayal of bravery and perseverance. Though the film keeps its profanity and violence under the bar to keep it PG-13, there is one fight scene at the beginning that is pretty brutal and may be uncomfortable for younger kids. There is also some mild profanity that parents should be aware of.

I give Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters July 23, 2021.

By Apurva S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS


AILEY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
10-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
NEON

Description:

An immersive portrait of dance pioneer Alvin Ailey, told through his own words and a new dance inspired by his life.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

The film Ailey opens with a moving speech by American actress Cicely Tyson honoring Alvin Ailey for his lifetime contribution to American culture through the performing arts. Ms. Tyson's speech sets the tone for the film as she states that he is a "choreographer of the heart" and has the "very spirit that has made him a pied piper of modern dance." Through dance he "reveals the meaning of things" and has brought a "whole new public to modern dance."

Ailey is a tribute to Alvin Ailey's life and work and shows his humble beginnings in a rural area of Texas during the Great Depression. His relationship with his mother and his childhood history impacted his outlook and expression in dance as he grew up dancing at house parties in his community. However, Alvin was a rebel and had his own ideas about movement and dance. As a choreographer he sought to create movement in the search for truth.

The film interweaves archival footage with interviews from Ailey American Dance Theatre members sharing their experiences at the dance company and Alvin's impact on dancing through his reenactment of life. Beautiful movement, agility and sensuality are shown throughout the various dance pieces, exploring the search for emotion by dancing with passion, joy and anger, as well as sorrow.

Director Jamila Wignot weaves everything together and highlights how Alvin Ailey's life experiences influenced his choreography and programs. The documentary wouldn't be complete without the amazing work of archival producer Rebecca Kent and her team, as the footage really brings his life story together.

The message of this film is that innovation and passion can affect change and raise peoples' consciousness. The movie, as well as Alvin Ailey's dancing, is a celebration of life.

I give Ailey 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters July 23, 2021 and if you appreciate dance and body movement you won't want to miss Ailey.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The documentary Ailey redefines the meaning of contemporary dance and the unconventional form created by choreographer Alvin Ailey.

Ailey is a documentary about the life of choreographer Alvin Ailey, known for creating contemporary dance arrangements such as Revelations and The River. With his own narration and testimonials from people who knew him, we learn who he was, what he went through and how he interpreted his life into dances that later became world renowned.

Out of many dance genres, modern dance used to be my least favorite. I found it odd and confusing. That is until I watched the film Ailey. Director Jamlia Wignot takes the documentary into a learning experience not only about Alvin Ailey, but also about the true meaning of interpretive dance. I enjoy the scenes of the modern Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, showing that his legacy still lives on through dance. This film has many scenes that feel like filler when the narrator is speaking and that gets repetitive over time. I love how this film does not require you to have a general knowledge or passion for dance. It allows the audience to create their own feelings and opinions about what dance means to them.

The message of Ailey is to pursue your passion and use your talent to impact others in a meaningful way. This documentary portrays this message with great success.

I give Ailey 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Ailey in theatres July 23, 2021.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR AILEY


CINDERELLA STORY, A: STARSTRUCK
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
9-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AES 9-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

Finley Tremaine, a small town farm girl, longs to spread her wings and soar as an aspiring performer. When a Hollywood film crew arrives in her sleepy town, she is determined to land a role in the production and captures the attention of handsome lead actor, Jackson Stone. Unfortunately, a botched audition forces her to change course. Now, disguised as cowboy "Huck," Finley finally gets her big break. But can she keep the charade a secret from everyone, including her evil stepmother and devious step-siblings?

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Do you love Cinderella stories? Are you looking for a brand new, humorous and unique family film that has excellent characters and even better actors? You need to watch A Cinderella Story: Starstruck. It's one of my favorites of 2021 so far, and it's suitable for nearly any audience!

Finley Tremaine (Bailee Madison) is not your average Cinderella and neither is this story. Finley aspires to be a Hollywood star, so when a new action film comes to town, bringing famous actor Jackson Stone (Michael Evans Behling) along with it, she becomes focused on the audition stage. The film spirals into drama as Finley faces a constant inner conflict and tries to be more than one person. Will she keep her secret? The fear of discovery is constant, and she soon realizes that honesty could truly be the best policy, especially when it comes to her dream.

A Cinderella Story: Starstruck checks every box. The cinematography is better than most of what I've seen. The lighting and perspective make the images natural, and they use tons of creative angles. The cinematographers seem to have lots of tricks up their sleeves to make this film look amazing. Settings are chosen with precision; though some do seem a bit extraordinary for a normal town and farm land. However, we constantly see colorful views that leave me in awe. The film is a Cinderella story, but it isn't easily predicted like most new versions are. It's probably the most innovative princess story I've ever seen. The resemblances to the original Cinderella are hard to find, but are there nonetheless. Instead of mice, Finley's support friends are the farm animals. There's a unique addition behind every twist and turn of the plot. One of the best touches that I like is including a stepbrother, Kale (Richard Harmon), along with the traditional stepsister, Saffron (Lillian Doucet- Roche). These two siblings argue a lot; another different aspect between this version and the original. The stepmother, Valerian (April Telek), is as unbearable as always, though she's still a great character. Lastly, the acting is truly magnificent. It doesn't feel like acting. The actors seem to have real bonding, which is special. Richard Harmon as Kale, Bailee Madison as Finley and Michael Evans Behling as Jackson give some of the best performances. Kale is a difficult character to play, as there aren't really similar characters in other Cinderella stories. Richard Harmon pulls off the role with astounding ability, setting a great example for any future step brothers.

The message of A Cinderella Story: Starstruck is to follow your dream. Parents should be aware that there is some mild language and action.

I give A Cinderella Story: Starstruck 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It releases on digitally June 29, 2021 and on DVD July 12, 2021, so don't miss it!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR CINDERELLA STORY, A: STARSTRUCK


SCHMIGADOON!
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
12-18

Category: FAMILY
TV SERIES, AGES 12-18 series

Media:
TV

Distributor:
APPLE TV

Description:

A couple, Melissa and Josh, go on a backpacking trip in an attempt to patch up their failing relationship, only to find themselves still arguing. They then discover a magical town called Schmigadoon, which is perpetually trapped in a Golden Age-style musical, and slowly realize that they cannot leave until they find true love. The title and concept is a parody of the 1947 Broadway musical Brigadoon.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Schmigadoon! is a fun-filled musical comedy perfect for theatre kids and musical lovers! The cast of this new series has some famous faces like: Keegan-Michael Key, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenoworth and many more!

On a bonding trip, lovers Josh and Melissa accidentally find themselves in the 1940's musical town of Schmigadoon. Josh and Melissa see everyone bursting into song and dance and soon discover that they can't go home until they find true love. Do they have it? Will they find it? Watch Schmigadoon! to find out!

The cast of Schmigadoon! stands out and so do the sets Josh Skinner (Keegan-Michael Key) is not excited about this musical town and tries everything he can to get away from all the singing and dancing. Josh experiences many emotional highs and lows: engagement, break-ups and drama. Melissa (Cecily Strong) is the one who decides on the bonding trip which leads them to Schmigadoon! She does enjoy the musical town and, eventually, joins in on the fun.

The scary Mrs. Mildred Layton (Kristen Chenoworth), wife of Reverend Layton, is the leader of the "Mothers of the Future" organization and isn't very fond of Josh and Melissa's arrival. As well as Josh, Mildred is also trying everything she can to get them to leave, as she thinks they are ruining "her" town. Betsy (Dove Cameron) is a young waitress who takes a quick interest in Dr. Skinner and tries to be his true love. Enchanting and wise school teacher Emma Tate (Arianna DeBose) doesn't care much for love and focuses on teaching the children, but all that changes when she meets Josh.

The set replicates a genuine theatre stage set, creating a definitive boundary between the real world and Schmigadoon!'s stage set--I love that. The music is all taken from mid-1900s musicals, but the words have been changed. You'll spend all day singing the tunes in your head, trying to figure out what the original songs are. I love the contrast in costumes from Josh and Melissa's modern day clothes to the town's 1940's outfits.

While there is more than one message to the story, the main one is that when hope looks lost don't give up (and maybe add a bit of song and dance).

I give Schmigadoon! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults, but strongly recommend this for theatre kids. This series does contain strong language and some slightly inappropriate scenes. You can find Schmigadoon! starting July 16, 2021 on Apple TV. I'm looking forward to a season 2 already!<

 

KIDS FIRST ALL STAR SCHMIGADOON!


SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY
 

KIDS FIRST!® Juror Recommended Age:
6-18

Category: FAMILY
FEATURE, AGES 6-18 series

Media:
FeatureFilm

Distributor:
WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Description:

When LeBron James and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.'s digitized champions on the court: a powered-up roster of professional basketball stars as you've never seen them before. It's Tunes versus Goons in the highest-stakes challenge of his life, that will redefine LeBron's bond with his son and shine a light on the power of being yourself.

KIDS FIRST!® Adult Juror Comments:

 

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KIDS FIRST!® KID Juror Comments:

 

Space Jam: A New Legacy, the cartoon sequel, brings the whole Looney Tunes gang back to the court, only this time with the reigning king of basketball, Lebron James. This comedy combines live action with animation and is filled with life lessons, funny catch phrases, loads of glitzy digital effects and a glimpse of Warner Bros. cinematic library.

When LeBron James and his son, Dom (Cedric Joe) get mysteriously sucked into the Warner Bros. digital world by a rogue AI super villain (Don Cheadle), nonsense and chaos ensue. Dom is kidnapped and LeBron is challenged to a high-stakes basketball game by the evil AI. Lebron must form the most winning team to get his son back and, a loss could leave him and all those he loves, stuck in the server-verse forever. Lebron and his Looney Tunes pal Bugs Bunny meet up for a wild adventure through the server-verse. Will he win, or be trapped there forever? Watch to find out.

The writing is clever. It is comedic and zany at some points; at others, it is very wholesome and realistic. The animation is outstanding! The movie combines traditional animation with three-dimensional computer graphics and live action. LeBron's cartoon character is spot on. The tour through the server-verse is so enjoyable. Seeing iconic characters like Yogi Bear, Pennywise, Iron Giant and King Kong is every movie junkie's dream! Eric Bauza plays a very important role in this movie as he voices Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian and Porky Pig. Jeff Bergman is also instrumental in this film as he voices Bugs Bunny, Sylvester and Yosemite Sam. Both Eric and Jeff voice their characters so well that it's like listening to the original cartoons! Space Jam: New Legacy also features Don Cheadle, who is the rogue AI AL. G. Rhythm. His villainous role features a wide range of emotion and I give him two thumbs up for his outstanding performance. My favorite character is Granny because she is a good-natured, protective, spunky old woman that has some epic moves.

The messages of this movie are that family is everything and there is power in chasing your dreams. Sometimes, we need some loony things in our life to make it better. There is mild language and a lot of action.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It's a great family movie. Fans of the original will love this, too. This movie releases July 16, 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Space Jam: A New Legacy has everything that a big summer blockbuster should have and more! This revamped version of the original 1996 Space Jam starring Michael Jordan, is the perfect blend of old-school characters from favorite cartoons of the past, seamlessly mixed with updated characters, premier digital animation, trendy music, a modern plotline and current big name stars. This feature film packs in so much good stuff that I almost don't even know where to begin with my review!

The starting line-up includes LeBron James, his son Dom James (Cedric Joe) and Bugs Bunny. The two main characters, Lebron and Bugs, must work together to solve a big problem for the all-star athlete. They need to get Lebron's son Dom back from a diabolical computer-generated villain named Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) and the only way to do it is for LeBron and Bugs to work together to win the most important basketball game of their lives.

The basketball moves on the court are like nothing anyone has ever seen before. One team's players are all Looney Tunes characters from classic Warner Bros cartoons and they play against a squad of elite players from the real world that have been leveled-up by the evil Al-G Rhythm. As expected, Space Jam: A New Legacy is action packed and moves at a quick pace which kept my attention. The music throughout the movie adds energy and tone; the CGI blends animation effortlessly with live action characters and real world settings. The special effects all look so believable and pristine that it is easy for the viewer to get lost inside this cool new world.

In the end, the movie really is just a sweet story about a dad and his son bonding and working through their relationship, which happens at a certain age. It is a touching family film with lessons about the importance of family as well as being true to yourself.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Kids will love the sports and modern look as well as the music. Adults will appreciate the references to the original film and nostalgic cartoon characters from their own childhood. It's the perfect family film. Space Jam: A New Legacy has lots of extras, like new WB merchandise and even its own Xbox video game. It releases in theaters and on HBO Max July 16, 2021

By Izzy C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Space Jam: A New Legacy is an entertaining and funny movie starring LeBron James. It is the sequel to the first Space Jam movie which starred Michael Jordan. This is a creative film with a mix of animation and live action.

The storyline is a fictional one about basketball player, LeBron James and his son Dom (Cedric Joe). LeBron wants his son to play basketball, but his son wants to do different things like creating video games. Dom gets taken by a computer program into the Warner Brothers' animated world. LeBron then has to beat the computer program in a basketball game to get his son back. LeBron assembles a basketball team with Bugs Bunny and a group of Loony Tunes characters.

The plot is unusual and very creative. They use a ton of Warner Bros' Loony Tunes characters throughout the film including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Lola Bunny and more. I loved seeing all my favorite classic Looney Tunes characters! Other Warner Bros' characters make guest appearances, including King Kong, Harry Potter, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. The effects used in this film are absolutely amazing as they flip between live action, to animation, then back to live action. It is so fun to watch. There are parts where I literally laughed out loud such as a funny moment with Bugs Bunny. The acting is funny, dramatic and very realistic. The special effects are great. The imaginary locations are creative. For example, there are scenes with the characters inside a computer. At other times the setting is inside other Warner Bros' movies, like Batman or The Matrix.

The message of this film is that parents and their kids should do activities together and share with each other cool things they've done or made, like a project.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters and on HBO Max July 16, 2021.

By Conrad W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Space Jam: A New Legacy because it has a lot of funny scenes. Plus, I love some of the big actors in this film and the roles they play.

This movie is about Lebron James coaching his son Dom (Cedric Joe) to be a good basketball player. His son would rather play video games, so Lebron tries telling him that he needs to start focusing on the basketball game more. Then, a bad AI named AL G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle) traps them into his digital space and makes them play a game of basketball. They are split up and Lebron James is sent to the tune world where he soon finds Bugs Bunny and asks for help.

My favorite part is how this film brings back so many old characters such as Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Tweety, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn and more. The Looney Tunes remember their first basketball game from the first Space Jam movie and get real excited when one of them finds Michael Jordan from the stands but their excitement goes away quickly in a really funny way. The graphics and digital effects are amazing. I loved how they made cartoon characters real and Lebron into a cartoon character. This is the first time I seen Lebron act in a movie. He looks like he was born to act. The music is very catchy and appealing to each scene, getting better as the scene gets better.

The moral of this movie is not to give up because Lebron and Team Tunes never give up! Another reminder is to have fun. Lebron learns that he was taking basketball too seriously and learns to have fun again.

I give Space Jam: A New Legacy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters and HBO Max July 16, 2021!

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

 

KIDS FIRST ENDORSED SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY



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