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, 2011

Family Fare for Football Fans, On NBC Sept 3 8E/7C

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

gametime.jpgGame Time, Tackling the Past is a made for TV film by Walmart and P&G Family Entertainment Initiative. This film is a touching story about a family with two brothers- one is a professional football player and the other is an assistant coach for his old high school football team. When a near tragedy strikes the family, the two brothers have to come together to rebuild their family.

I think this movie is very good. The cinematography is wonderful because it is done in a documentary style, which makes it seem more realistic. My favorite character is Mica because he really pulls Jake to his senses and helps him along the way.

My favorite scene is when the football players do cheerleading warm-ups to help improve their grace and agility on the field because it was really funny. I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars because it was good, but I did lose interest a little.

I recommend this movie for 13 and up because younger children will get bored.

Be sure to catch Game Time on NBC on Sept 3.

Credit: Raven Devanney, age 14, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Raven’s video review is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlmP14ESQ0g

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The 5th Quarter – Football, Faith and Family Messages

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

5thQuarterIt’s Football Season again! And Fox Faith just released their film, The 5th Quarter to Blu-ray/DVD this week.

Storyline: When a close-knit family is nearly broken by tragedy, hope is restored by their eldest son who carries the weight of victory on his shoulders in THE 5TH QUARTER. In the spirit of The Blind Side, this inspiring true story stars Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall, A Shine of Rainbows) and Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Groundhog Day) who deliver emotionally stirring performances as the mother and father of Jon Abbate, a rising football star at Wake Forest University. Their lives are suddenly shattered when the family’s youngest son, Luke, is killed in a tragic accident. Inspired by Luke’s memory, Jon courageously leads the Wake Forest team to a series of last-minute victories ? leading to a thrilling climax that will “make you stand up and cheer” (NYC Movie Guru).

One of our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics reviewed it this week: “I just finished watching The Fifth Quarter and I enjoyed it. It’s about a boy named Luke who dies in an auto accident because of drunk driving.  The story is really about how the family copes with the loss of their 15 year old son and brother.

I really like the character John Abbate, Luke’s older brother, played by Ryan Merriman. The acting is superb. He couldn’t have done a better job.

I would say that this movie is for kids 13 and up. There is one little tiny extremely short scene showing some surgery that is disturbing, but there is also a lot of talking and emotion and crying, of course. Any kid younger than 13 would not appreciate that.  However, older kids will appreciate the amazing acting.

By Sam Connan, Age 13, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. Sam’s review is available here:

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Spy Kids 4 – Safe for Your Youngest Kids

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

SpyKids4.jpgJessica Alba makes a quite an impression as spy Marissa Wilson, calmly defending herself from the evil Timekeeper even though she is over the top pregnant and checks into the hospital immediately afterwards to give birth. The theme for this movie offers a pretty traditional fare, enough to put my boy friend to sleep in the first 10 minutes. But, all the kids in the audience clearly enjoyed it – laughing at all the jokes and many spoke about how much they loved it as they exited. This is, if nothing else – a kids’ movie. The 4D “aroma-scope” aspect didn’t work at all, at least not for anyone in my theater. Those scratch and sniff cards were a bust, sorry Robert, nice try. They all smelled the same – like pink bubblegum. My advice, put those things away and just enjoy the movie. Our favorite character was the talking robot dog with the Australian accent (Ricky Gervais) and one-liners that steal the show. The storyline is about a retired spy, Marissa, who is called back into action when the Timekeeper threatens to destroy the world. Her two step children (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) make the pivotal turn from disliking her to loving her once they are brought into her secret spy world. I loved seeing Carmen and Judi (Alexa Vea and Daryl Sabara), stars of the original Spy Kids, return for a cameo appearance. It’s not the best movie of the summer but you could do worse if you are looking for a film for your young children. Recommended for ages 5-8.

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What Are the Top 10 Classic Books Parents Should Read to Their Kids

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Top100KidsFilms_KidsFirstLogoSM.jpgThis question was posed to the Kids Marketing Group I belong to on Linked In. What To Do With The Kids Special Report posed this question and received suggestions from hundreds of people from around the world with more than 300 different books recommended.  I found that all but of the books suggested have been released to DVD and most are included in our KIDS FIRST! Top 100 list. Here are the top 10 suggested: 

  1.  Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  2.  Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
  3.  The Giving Tree by Shel Siverstein
  4.  The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  5.  Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  6.  Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
  7.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  8.  Charlotte’s Web by Elwyn Brooks White
  9.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archabault
  10.  Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Suess

Goodnight Moon was produced by HBO Home Video (2005) in a wonderful version with guest stars such as Susan Sarandon, Tony Bennet, Natalie Cole, Billy Crystal and Patti Labelle. The kids and celebs collaborate in presenting classic bedtime stories including, the title story, Goodnight Moon. It’s truly an evergreen title. Weston Woods/Scholastic also created an anthology that is distributed through New Video and contains Goodnight Moon, A Creature Was Stirring and Gladys Goes Out to Lunch.

The Velveteen Rabbit has been produced by a number of companies. Last year, in our Film Critics Search Campaign, we featured the one starring Jane Seymous and Tom Skerritt, directed by Michael Landon Jr, produced by Feature Films for Families and distributed by Anchor Bay.

Where the Wild Things are was released as a feature film by Warner Bros and is now available in DVD or Blu-Ray. There is also a shorter version included as part of an anthology with other Maurice Sendak stories (The Nutshell Kids and In the Night Kitchen) produced by Weston Woods and available through New Video. There is also a version from Rabbit Ears narrated by Meryl Streep (2003).

Stone Soup was included in an anthology released by Weston Woods called, The Amazing Bone and Other Caldecott Classics. Other book based videos included are Where the Wild Things Are and Googles.

The Curious George books have been turned into many DVDs and are available through Universal both as a TV series and as DVDs. Recent DVD releases include: Curious George Goes Green, Curious George: Follow that Monkey!, Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, Curious George: Beats the Band and More, Curious George: Camping with Hundley, Curious George: Sea Monkey. Weston Woods also includes it in an anthony which includes Curious George Rides a Bike, The Great White Man-Eating Shark, Flossie and the Fox, The Happy Lion and Cat and the Canary.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was released by Disney in 2006 as part of an anthology of Eric Carle’s most popular stories including Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, The Very Quiet Cricket and I See a Song. It is also included in the HBO DVD Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales and New Video’s Strego Nona…and More Caldecott Award-winning Folk Tales (Scholastic Video Collection 2004).

Charlotte’s Web, the classic story of loyalty, trust and sacrifice was released as a feature film by Paramount i 2007 starring the young Dakota Fanning with Julia Roberts playing the voice of Charlotte. It is available in DVD and Blu-ray.

Chicka Chicka Boom is offered as part of a collection through New Video which includes four animated children’s books  (Trash Town, Rosie’s Walk, and the Caterpillar and the Poliwog) produced by Weston Woods.

Green Eggs and Ham is part of the Seuss collection released by Universal that includes The library says that it contains:
The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Pontofell Pock and His Magic Piano, Green Eggs and Ham, Sneetches, Zax, Grinch Night, The Grinch Grinches and Cat in the Hat and The Hoober-Bloob Highway.

If you are a new parent or grandparent or well-meaning auntie or uncle, your efforts to wow the child in your life will be well rewarded by including some or all of these to your DVD library. All are available online at amazon.com.  

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The Smurfs Aren’t Just for Little Kids!

Friday, August 19th, 2011

TheSmurfs.jpg14-year-old Gabriella Chu enjoyed this as much as our younger film critics. See her review here and read more below.

Initially, I thought this movie would appeal more to younger kids, but I enjoyed it and found myself laughing in some parts. The movie is based on The Smurfs TV series. In case you have not watched the TV series before, the movie tells the story of the Smurfs coming to the big city, New York, to escape from the evil Gargamel. They end up befriending a couple named Patrick and Grace because they let them stay at their apartment. If you’re wondering how the Smurfs will steer clear of Gargamel and get back to their magical world, watch the movie to find out!

While the Smurfs are in New York, they go on exciting endeavors. The movie depicts the liveliness of the city well. I also like how the storyline of the movie works together smoothly. In addition, the movie delivers many meaningful messages, and at the same time incorporates humorous jokes. The Smurfs learned the importance of teamwork. As for Patrick, he learned to follow his heart and be more confident in his decisions in his job and in his role of becoming a father.

One of the things I found funny include Gargamel’s cat’s facial expressions. The cat’s expressions are hilarious, and very similar to a person’s.

I recommend this movie to children 6 and up. It is a fun family film. Parents will laugh as they reminisce their childhoods, and children will enjoy watching the adorable Smurfs as they go on thrilling adventures.

Reviewed by Gabriella Chu, age 14, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

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Cowboys & Aliens – Sci – Fi Meets Western – Kids Loved It

Friday, August 12th, 2011

cowboys.aliens.jpg14-year-old Raven Devanney, a KIDS FIRST! Film critic reviewed it this week. Here are her comments:

If you love action packed adventures then ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ is the perfect film for you!

I’m actually pretty impressed with this movie because I think the concept of throwing together two separate genres like westerns and Si-Fi is an interesting idea but I didn’t think there would be much more to the film then explosions and gun fights. However the story line is much more entertaining than I expected.

I think the visual aspects of this film are good because the aliens are relatively creepy and the design of their ship is really cool. If you’re into horror films (like me) then the aliens won’t be that impressive to you, but if you are easily frightened then some scenes may seem a bit intense.

My favorite character is the preacher because he seems a lot more compassionate and caring then most of the other characters.

Something that I think is very unrealistic is in the final battle scene when the humans start defeating the aliens. In the beginning of the scene the humans are totally getting crushed by the aliens (which makes sense since they are practically killing machines) then the humans start winning which is odd considering their weapons are far inferior to the aliens. Obviously there isn’t be much of a movie if the aliens conquer the world; it just seems a bit unrealistic.

This movie is for ages 13 and up because there is some inappropriate language and it is very violent. Overall, I give ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ 3 out of 5 stars because personally I’m not that into Si-Fi, but if you are, you’ll definitely enjoy it!

Credit: Raven Devanney, age 14, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

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