Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for August, 2008

Legendary Jane Goodall’s When Animals Talk DVD Releases August 12

Saturday, August 9th, 2008
Jane Goodall educates viewers about the unique bond between people and their pets and the special language developed by picking up on cues instead of spoken words. Featuring interviews and amazing stories of animals that have changed lives, including the secrets of elephant whisperers, rats in Mozambique trained to sniff out land mines, animals that can predict natural disasters, and more, one can begin to see the advantages to open the lines of communication between humans and animals. Goodall educates viewers about the “conversations” that can take place between humans and animals, and the amazing results that these mutual comprehensions can yield.
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Nim’s Island Released to DVD August 5 – KF Recommended

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)and her adventures in the tropics as a precocious yet self-sufficient 11-year-old, will have every kid wanting a zip line installed in the backyard. Nim and her Dad (Gerard Butler), a famous scientist live an idyllic life on a secluded island somewhere in the South Pacific that they refer to as “our own perfect secret world.” Clearly, that’s the way they want to keep it. Nim’s best friends are a lizard and a sea lion named Selkie. She pours over books about her favorite literary hero/adventurer – Alex Rover.

The scene shifts when Nim utters the words, “when my Dad gets back” as he takes off for a four day trip on his sailboat in search of protozoan. A terrific storm blows in unexpectedly and when her father doesn’t return, Nim’s life goes topsy turvy as she ponders her fate and that of her missing Dad. She reaches out to her hero for help, unaware that the author of her favorite adventures books is Alexandra Rover (Jodi Foster). While her fans think she’s the swashbuckling hero of her adventure novels, the truth is Alexandra is a wuss with a crippling fear of leaving her own house – if even to go to the mailbox. All that changes with an email exchange with Nim and her fictional character, Alex Rover eggs her on and go to Nim’s rescue. She somehow rises to the challenge but not easily.

What I enjoyed about this film is how the action/adventure/fantasy/Indiana Jones theme has a girl hero. One of the current favorite TV shows for our KIDS FIRST! jurors is Flight 29 Down. I believe the same audience will love this.

Directed by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett who also brought us “Little Manhattan,” it brings out the best of young actress, Abigail Breslin. Miss Breslin’s portrayal of Nim is charming, captivating and fun. Jodi Foster’s performance captures her comedic qualities but doesn’t have the same stickiness as her co-star. Gerard Butler’s (P.S. I Love You) performance as both Dad and Alex Rover demands little of the actor beyond his eminent good looks.

This is a great film for tweens who will resonate with an adventure of their peers. There are two issues that make me not give this the highest scores for KIDS FIRST! First, are the scenes of Dad and Alexandria in the ocean without life vests. In real life, neither of these characters would have survived their ordeals in the turbulent seas without life vests and it’s inappropriate to even suggest that they would not be wearing them at the first hint of bad weather. The other objection is inappropriate treatment of animals. When Nim is protecting her island from an onslaught of dim-witted tourists, she catapults reptiles onto the beach. Ug. I can hear the animal activist scream in the back of my head. It’s not a big enough deal to diss the movie but enough to mention.

My summary: A perfect action fantasy for tweens, where young Abigail Breslin captures your heart along with your imagination.

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Garfield’s Fun Fest Releases Aug. 5th

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Hold onto your lasagna! Everyone’s favorite morning-loathing, Odie-taunting, tart-tongued tabby is back for a slew of hilarious new antics in Garfield’s Fun Fest, his newest full-length computer animated feature film. Written by creator Jim Davis — Garfield, Odie, Jon, Arlene and the rest of the gang – yes, Nermal, too – are gearing up for the town’s annual talent show, Fun Fest. Having won every year, Garfield is convinced he can’t loose, especially with his long-time sidekick Arlene in tow. But when Arlene steps out with another partner, Garfield – not one for solo performances – sets out with Odie on a quest to regain his lost humor mojo and get the funny back before show time.

Now celebrating his 30th Anniversary, Garfield is one of the most beloved and enduring icons with the most widely syndicated comic strips in the world – 263 million readers and counting.

Synopsis: Garfield, long-running champion of the Fun Fest talent show, believes he can’t lose. Problem is, his sidekick (and girlfriend) Arlene wants to change the act. When Garfield refuses, Arlene hooks up with a suave, narcissistic newcomer, Ramon, for a show-stopping Tango. Not one for solo performances, Garfield loses his humor mojo! With hours ticking away till showtime, Garfield, with pal Odie in tow, sets out to find the Holy Grail of Guffaws — the magic pond of funny water within the Mystical Forest he read about in a fairy tale storybook. On a journey filled with riddles, jokes, quirky characters and a comedy guru (Freddy the Frog, the very first funny…anything!), can Garfield learn the lessons of true comedy and make it back in time to capture first prize and win Arlene back?

DVD Includes: Exclusive Comic Booklet By Jim Davis; DVD-Rom games “Destination Fun Fest” and “Tango Toss.”

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“Growing Up” Series Charge Onto DVD For the First Time August 8th

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Enter the world of elephants, zebras, giraffes and hyenas, as baby animals experience a variety of firsts and find their way in Animal Planet: Growing Up Safari, debuting on DVD August 5 from Genius Products and Animal Planet. Featuring four episodes from the top-rated Animal Planet series, “Growing Up Rhino,” “Growing Up Zebra,” “Growing Up Giraffe” and “Growing Up Hyenas” each provides a heartwarming look as these babies learn valuable lessons and overcome challenges with the help of professional caregivers. From a rhinoceros mud bath, to an up-close look at the early lives of a group of intelligent and underestimated hyenas, Animal Planet: Growing Up Safari unveils their amazing stories as they embark on thrilling journeys into adulthood.

Synopses:
“Growing Up Rhino”Orphaned baby rhinos Tunzi and Tandi grow up in the safety of Pretoria’s Wildcare Africa Trust. Tunzi takes his first mud bath while caregivers go to great lengths to save Tandi when she contracts a mysterious illness.
“Growing Up Zebra” Sanwild Animal Sanctuary founder Louise Joubert raises three baby zebras. Cassidy, a badly injured foal, grows into a mischievous rascal. He and his two cohorts, Shadow and Sky, experience joys, adventures, and adversity in their journey back to the wild.
“Growing Up Giraffe”An orphaned giraffe is placed in the care of two keepers at a northern California wildlife sanctuary. Keepers Kim and Sheri fill Kulula the giraffe’s tragic life with hope and devotion as they prepare her to join the sanctuary’s herd.
“Growing Up Hyenas” The hyena is often relegated to the role of skulking scavenger – always the villain and never the hero. But one man is committed to showing the world that hyenas are intelligent, strong and fearless predators – to be respected and not maligned.

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