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

Archive for July, 2010

Win a visit to the set of The Help – a new DreamWorks’ film shooting this summer

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Would you like to visit the set of the upcoming film THE HELP, and meet the all star cast?
Here’s your chance!
Enter the contest, hosted by iVillage, and encourage others to do the same. We hope to see you on set! T

o Enter: http://the-help-ivillage-community.fotobabble.com/  

For Official Rules: http://www.ivillage.com/official-rules-help/1-a-218422  

ABOUT THE PROJECT: The Help has captivated readers and become one of the most talked-about books in years is coming to the big screen. DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media and Touchstone Pictures are excited to share Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling debut novel with you.  Published over a year ago, and propelled by passionate word of mouth, The Help spent the summer of 2009 circulating on everyone’s “Summer Must Read” lists. It continues to sit on The New York Times’ best-sellers list, where it has remained for 60 straight weeks. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider and Holly Bario were early fans of the book and jumped on board after the project was acquired by 1492 Pictures. Participant Media recently joined the film and we all couldn’t be more thrilled to bring The Help to life on the big screen, especially for the book’s enthusiastic fan base. 

SYNOPSIS: The Help is a provocative and inspiring look at what happens when a southern town’s unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, the film features Skeeter, a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives—and a small Mississippi town—upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter’s best friend’s housekeeper, is the first to open up—to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community. Despite Skeeter’s life-long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Aibileen continue their collaboration and soon more women come forward to tell their stories—and as it turns out, they have a lot to say. Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges—but not before everyone in town has a thing or two to say themselves when they become unwittingly—and unwillingly—caught up in the changing times. 

ABOUT THE CAST: Headlining the cast are newcomer Emma Stone (from last year’s breakout hit “Zombieland”) as Skeeter and two-time Tony® winner and recent Oscar® nominee Viola Davis (“Eat Pray Love”) as Aibileen. Joining them is Bryce Dallas Howard (“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”) as Hilly, the Junior League President whose obsession with maintaining the social status quo pushes everyone to their breaking point. Octavia Spencer is headstrong Minnie, Aibileen’s hot-tempered best friend, whose blatant honesty is always getting her in trouble. Jessica Chastain is Celia, the outcast from the wrong side of the tracks who marries a man above her “station” and whose desperation to fit in with polite society hides a painful secret.  Tate Taylor, a childhood friend of the author’s, is directing the film from a script he wrote. Brunson Green is producing along with 1492’s Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan. The film’s executive producers are Tate Taylor, Mark Radcliffe, Dean Jones, Nate Berkus, Jennifer Blum, Jeff Skoll and Mohamed Khalaf Al-Mazrouei.  

Filming begins this summer in Greenwood, Mississippi, and will be released in theaters in 2011 and YOU have the chance to visit the set of the movie and meet the all star cast! We’d love for you to enter the contest, hosted by iVillage, and encourage your readers to do the same. We hope to see you on set!

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Flipped – A New Rob Reiner Movie Coming Soon

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Lauren Boxer, our 12-year-old film critic shared this about the movie, Flipped which is being released August 6 in select markets.

“Flipped is a movie showing how when you like a guy (or girl) make sure you see them as the whole self. A quote I loved from the movie is “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” I do not know exactly what it means but it touched my heart. Rob Reiner (Director) really showed the viewers what Flipped means – showing the same situation from both the girl’s side and the boy’s side. I would recommend it to everyone that has ever had a crush.  Hold on tight because Flipped is coming soon to theaters.”

Based on the novel “Flipped” by Wendelin Van Draanen.

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Ramona and Beezus Releases July 23

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010


Ramona and Beezus is a strong adaptation of the classic Beverly Cleary novels, that updates the already engaging characters and setting without weakening them. This cute family comedy deals well with today’s middle class crises, ranging from the real estate crash to corporate downsizing.  We get inside Ramona Quimby’s head almost immediately with fanciful special effects that bring her imagination right out onto the screen. Most of all it, it is a lovely portrait of two sisters overcoming their differences and coming together – demonstrating along the way that sisterhood isn’t just powerful – it’s also fun.  Ramona Quimby rides again in this sparkly funny family comedy!

Reviewed by Doug Zwick, KIDS FIRST! Board member; Discussion guides are available through Walden Media here.

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Reviewed by Cyndi Menegaz

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

The Walt Disney Company’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice reunites the National Treasure team (producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turteltaub and star Nicholas Cage) in an energy-filled supernatural adventure complete with cool magic,  fast cars and romance.   The story is loosely based on the beloved animated short of the same name seen in Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia, which in turn was inspired by the 1797 German poem by Johann Goethe.  In the 2010 film version, we learn that Merlin the Magician had three apprentices:  Horvath (Albert Molina), who betrays Merlin and sides with the evil Morgana;  Victoria, who becomes trapped with Morgana in a vessel; and Balthazar (Nicholas Cage) who must locate the only sorcerer capable of destroying Morgana forever.  So begins Balthazar’s centuries long quest which ends with his discovery of Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel.)  

At 20 years old, Dave is a socially awkward but brilliant physics student at NYU with a crush on Becky (Teresa Palmer), a girl far out of his league.  How could he possibly be the descendant of the fabled Merlin, charged with saving the world from the clutches of evil?  Balthazar soon has him on a crash course in the ways of magic – a cool blend of modern science and age-old sorcery – but Dave is a reluctant protégé and high jinx ensue.  Self-confidence is the one thing Balthazar can’t teach Dave, and it’s the one thing he’ll need to fulfill his destiny (and get the girl!) 

Much of this story feels like we’ve seen it before – it’s certainly formulaic and crosses much traveled cinematic terrain.  However, the characters and their relationships are engaging and their quest is just a whole lot of fun.  Laughs are gratefully abundant and the special effects are worthy of the genre. 

The film is geared for families, but due to creepy and possibly frightening depictions of supernatural beings and events, it’s most appropriate for children aged 10 and up.   

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The Karate Kid: For Kids of All Ages

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Karate Kid 2

The best part of The Karate Kid, according to KIDS FIRST! jurors, Margie and Joseph Sarrao (9), was all the Kung Fu, especially when Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) fought with a broken leg.  Indeed, there is a lot of Kung Fu action in this movie, a fact that is sure to please kids of all ages.  It is, however, also a story of friendship, redemption, getting up when you are knocked down, learning to live in a foreign culture, and good sporstmanship.  Oh, yeah, it is also a story about bullying – a concept many American kids understand.

In Karate Kid, Dre befriends Meiying (Wanwan Han), a girl at his school, but unwittingly dishonors her family.  Viewers will think it’s funny to watch Sponge Bob in Chinese, but Dre is learning to navigate in a culture very different from ours – from eating different foods to watching “Sponge Bob” in Chinese, to the Chinese idea of honor.

Good sportsmanship and bullying are also central themes in this movie.  Dre makes an enemy of the school bully.   At one point, they beat Dre up 5 against 1!  They are definitely not good sports. They are willing to do anything to win, even cheat.  But Dre doesn’t handle this situation well, either.  He doesn’t tell any adults about the bullying.  Both his mom (Taraji P. Henson) and his school’s headmistress would help him if they knew.  This is a good lesson for real life.

As a “child of the 80’s,” when the first Karate Kid was made, I was hesitant to watch this remake.  But I really enjoyed it!  It is very well made. Will Smith definitely “pulled out all the stops.”  Jaden Smith is a very emotive young actor.  The plot is exciting.  The scenery is amazing!   And… there are lots of things for parents to discuss with their kids after the movie (or watch it just for fun!)

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