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Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - From award-winning creator Julian Fellowes comes the motion picture event DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA. The much-anticipated cinematic return of the global phenomenon reunites the beloved cast as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess' newly inherited villa.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Crawley family returns once more! Downton Abbey: A New Era brings all our favorite characters together again in interesting circumstances. Fans will love what's in store in this new film.

Downton Abbey: A New Era focuses on the secret past of the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith). She comes into possession of a property in the South of France. Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and his family head to France to investigate why the villa was given to his mother. Meanwhile back at Downton, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) hosts a crew of filmmakers and actors who use the estate as a set for their new film.

It's so incredible to return to the Downton Abbey era and the Crawley family. Each one is out of their comfort zone in this new movie, which is absolutely hilarious. Lady Mary becomes a voice actress temporarily and seeing Robert hate the film crew for taking over his property is as funny as possible. The Crawleys have seen the times change and preparing for cinema to take over is amazing. It makes audiences realize how this generation saw life change so rapidly. Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is happily married and some new couples flourish in the film too. It's beautiful to see how much the characters have changed since the first time we met them in 2010. This movie focuses on relationships and characters that we haven't seen that often. It's refreshing to watch the pure relationship Daisy (Sophia McShera) and Andrew (Michael Fox) have and I loved watching fan-favorite Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) chase her love. The wardrobe is as spectacular as ever, even adding some Victorian pieces for the film being made at Downton. The comedy is brilliant and cunning, reminding us why we love Violet as much as we do.

There are many messages to take away here. Lady Mary learns to embrace the new era of filmmaking and life as she gets out of her comfort zone and realizes that it's okay to try new things. Lord Grantham learns that, even though being Earl and having property is a big part of his life, it is not everything. He realizes how important his family is to him.

I give Downton Abbey: A New Era 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters May 20, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - Takes an illuminating, holistic look into the life and career of one of the world's most iconic figures, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. This docuseries explores the remarkable accomplishments and global impact of Johnson's life, both on and off the court. From his humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, he changed the conversation around HIV and transcended into a community activist and successful entrepreneur. Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with Magic, his family, powerhouses from business and politics, and those in his inner circle, the series will offer an unprecedented look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our era.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like They Call Me Magic because it is a four-episode docuseries about the life and career of Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the five time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. The audience can appreciate Magic's humbleness, sacrifices and challenges he went through in order to be the Legend he is today.

They Call Me Magic is about the beginning of Earvin "Magic" Johnson's career as a basketball player, his journey from playing in high school, college, becoming an NBA All Star player, and a successful businessman and advocate for the minority communities. The audience will learn where his nickname Magic came from. What type of obstacles Magic had to go through to have the successful life he has today. He experienced racism, rivalry, jealousy, three engagements gone wrong with his actual wife, Cookie Johnson, he has the HIV virus and had to deal with the acceptance of his son, EJ Johnson, being homosexual and the repercussion that comes with it.

This Apple TV+ docuseries was directed by Rick Famuyiwa with editor Dirk Westervelt and cinematographer Rachel Morrison. The audience will enjoy listening to special guests narrating some of Magic Johnson's highlight moments in his life. We get to see former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton expressing their admiration for Magic. Former basketball players like Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about their personal experiences with Magic, inside and outside the basketball court. Jimmy Kimmel, Arsenio Hall, Samuel O'Jackson and Snoop Dog are also some of the celebrities expressing their admiration and narrating Magic's influence in his community and globally. Today, Earvin "Magic" Johnson is a successful businessman, an advocate for HIV/AIDS patients and for the minority community. He owns several sports teams as well.

The moral of this docuseries is that things always happen for a reason and to never give up when situations in life get hard. Magic never thought that having the HIV virus will turn his life for good by educating the world about this illness. He shared his experience with the virus and taught the world that AIDS is not necessary a gay illness. Anyone can be contaminated by this virus.

I'd give They Call Me Magic 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, with adult's supervision due to foul language. They Call Me Magic is available now on Apple TV+.

Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: TV, AGES 5-18
Description - This short film tells the story of Peppermint Patty. All the other kids are excited to celebrate the special day, Mother's Day. But Peppermint Patty never had a mother, so she decides to celebrate her father instead since he does mother things.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - To Mom (and Dad), with Love is a funny and heartwarming animated film about different types of families and how not every family is the same. This 40-minute story featuring the much-loved Peanuts gang appeals to all ages -- old and new fans alike - and will pull you in with its bright colors and sweet storyline. The film has an original point of view on Mother's Day because the main protagonist, Peppermint Patty, doesn't have a mom, though the reason isn't specified. Audiences can only tell that she has a dad, who is very special to her.

The story of To Mom (and Dad), with Love jumps from character to character as each does something original for Mother's Day. The main character, Peppermint Patty (voiced by Lexi Perri), has to find her own way to celebrate a holiday that has always been hard for her. By the end, Patty figures out how to celebrate her own unique family. This film shows almost every character celebrating Mother's Day. Lucy (Isabella Leo) tries to make an art project; Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan) and his sister, Sally (Hattie Kragten), experiment with a lot of ideas; and other characters, including Snoopy (Terry Mcgurrin) and Woodstock (Rob Tinkler) do something creative and unique for their families, too!

To Mom (and Dad), with Love has a theme of embracing differences and being yourself, as well as celebrating moms (and dads) and caretakers in whatever form they take.

I give To Mom (and Dad), with Love 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults. It releases on Apple TV May 6, 2022, just ahead of Mother's Day!

By Samantha P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to the multiverse, including alternate versions of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The thrilling Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, written by Michael Waldron, keeps you on the edge of your seat--you silently root for Doctor Strange as he embarks on the daunting journey to save America Chavez. Not only exciting, this film is also heartwarming, as the characters show the viewers the true importance of love. The acting is emotional and grounded in reality, even though the Marvel world is fantastical. Marvel fans will be fully engaged as they travel through the endless and unknown multiverse with Stephen Strange.

The storyline follows Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he tries to save America Chavez's (Xochitl Gomez) powers from being stolen by the indomitable Wanda, the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen.) The unlikely duo must travel deep through the uncharted multiverse in order to defeat Wanda, but along the way, how will Strange and Chavez overcome the seemingly impassable obstacles that they will inevitably face? Wanda just wants her children back, but how much is she willing to sacrifice and destroy in order to return to her content family life?

As usual, Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Stephen Strange's beautiful complexity with ease, making his work seem simple. I forget he is even acting. To me he is truly Doctor Strange. Xotchil Gomez, although new to the Marvel Universe, starts off with a bang. She acts in a relatable and comical way, and it is impossible not to root for her with every step. The CGI is scarily realistic and absolutely essential to the story. The marvelous monsters are gruesome, each universe is unique and colorful, and the fight scenes are powerful--all because of the CGI. The music in this movie, by composer Danny Elfman, makes the action even more dramatic and gives the audience a pump of anticipation and adrenaline. Music even plays a pivotal role in one scene as it becomes a tool and a weapon in battle. My favorite part of the movie is the first time Dr.Strange travels with America to a new universe and experiences wonder and fright and ultimately awe.

The message of this film is that love is the most powerful kind of magic. One may be strong or supernatural, but familial love comes before any other superpower. This message is beautiful, relatable, and uplifting, especially for those of us who miss someone we truly love. The film starts really quickly and immediately draws the viewers into to the plot, but there are many macabre scenes that may be frightening to a younger audience.

I give Doctor Strange, into the Multiverse of Madness 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10-18, plus adults. It released in theaters Friday, May 6, 2022.

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

Right from the start, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is action packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the duration. The movie evolves the depth of these Marvel characters that we already know and love, and it introduces us to new characters that are likely to be fan favorites.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) encounters fourteen-year-old America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) who has the power to travel the multiverse, but she doesn't know how. Strange joins his old and new allies to go on a thrilling and perilous adventure that pushes the limits of the multiverse.

The special effects are not just out of this world, they are out of this universe. Everything from intense fight scenes and portals through the multiverse to scary creatures and witchcraft, the CGI lives up to the high standards of a Marvel movie. My favorite performances in the movie come from Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez and Rachel McAdams. Elizabeth Olsen, as Wanda Maximoff, really sheds new light on her character as she displays a more complex personality. Xochitl Gomez plays America Chavez and brings a very refreshing yet powerful performance. Rachel McAdams (as Christine) shows the audience an independent girl-boss side to her character. Make sure to look out for some surprise cameos and always stay for the credit scenes at the end.

The message of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is to try to make the most of your circumstances as "multiversal" travel isn't usually an option. This movie contains violence and some scenes that will be frightening for the faint of heart.

I give Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Marvel fans will love this movie. It released in theaters May 6, 2022.

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

Four Doctor Stranges, epic battles, twists and turns and dimension travel are just some of the thrills you can expect in the new Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness! This film pulls you right into the multiverse with action-packed scenes from the opening credits right up until the credits at the end. The visual effects and cinematography will have feeling like you're traveling through your own multiverse.

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), is having dreams about the universe being in danger and him trying to save a young girl, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). The adventure begins when he encounters her in his real-life universe and learns that she has the power to travel dimensions. They run into Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), also known as the Scarlet Witch, who is on a mission to steal America's powers so she can re-connect with her two sons. It's an all-out battle between happiness vs. sadness, evil vs. good and even dreams vs. nightmares.

The main characters of this film are Stephen "Doctor" Strange, Wanda Maximoff, America Chavez, and Wong (Benedict Wong). I love the different versions of the characters and learning the backstory of each from their own universe. My favorite part of this film is when America and Doctor Strange are falling through tons of dimensions and pass through one that turns them into paint. America even jokes about how hard it is to eat in that universe. The music battle scene between two Doctor Stranges was hilarious and creative. They use their powers to fight each other with music notes while upbeat piano tunes play in harmony. The Marvel character cameos from films such as The Fantastic Four, Captain America, and even a special appearance from the X-men that, once again, will wow Marvel fans.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shows us that just because someone stumbles, and falls, doesn't mean they're lost forever. Many of the characters multi-verse versions didn't always make the best decisions. People deserve to have second chances to become better. Parents should be aware of foul language, gory scenes, some jump-scares, and violence.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is very entertaining. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for kids ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness now in theaters only.

By KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Tiana S., age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO 13
Description - When the lights go out at the mall, the BotBots come out to play. Meet a fun-loving crew of everyday objects that morph into robots at closing time.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A cheeseburger, soccer ball, flashlight and even a plunger ... the Transformers are back like you've never seen them! They may be smaller robots than what we usually see, but these bots are still more than what meets the eye in the upcoming new series, Transformers: BotBots, named and based off the toy line of the same name. You'll enjoy relatable characters, hilarious adventures and great friendships in the first comedy in the Transformers franchise.

Transformers: BotBots follows everyday objects that turn into mini robots at night after a substance called Energon hits the mall. Things get interesting when "The Lost Bots" from the lost and found section of the mall run into the mall guard as they strive to get back into their original squads. Will they be able to prove that they are worthy of being part of their original groups or will they stay lost forever?

Burgertron (James Harnett) is the main protagonist of the Netflix series Transformers: Botbots. He is a burger transformer, the former leader of the Food Court Squad and leader of the "Lost Bots." The rest of the "Lost Bot" team are Kikmee the soccer ball (Lisa Norton), Dimlit the flashlight (Deven Christian Mack), Cloggstopper the plunger (Christian Potenza and Bonz-eye the Bonsai plant (Louisa Zhu). Most of the adventures take place as the "Lost Bots" try to avoid the flesh being, Dave the Mall Guard (Mark Little). I love how, throughout the entire series, each episode is a new adventure and picks up where the previous one left off -- almost like a movie. One of my favorite characters is Bonz-eye because she is fierce, carries a cool Katana and is the perfect representation of girl empowerment. The series is really funny, especially when Bonz-eye tries to slingshot Burgertron to save another bot and does it with enough force to cause his toppings to spill out.

Transformers: BotBots is about not focusing so much on the negative or changes that happen in your life. The "Lost Bots" were so focused on reconnecting with their original squads that they forgot to take time to appreciate the new friendships they had with each other. Sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy what life gives you.

I give Transformers: BotBots 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 13, plus adults. It really has something for everyone, and you can stream it now on Netflix.

By Tiana S. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-13 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: TV SHORT, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - Sally's bond with a special little flower on the baseball field may spell disaster for the big game. For Charlie Brown and the team, it's just the inspiration they need to make a positive impact on their environment. It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown is the Peanuts Earth Day TV special which features an original song by American singer-songwriter Ben Folds, Tyler Nathan as Charlie Brown, Terry McGurrin as Snoopy, Hattie Kragten as Sally, Rob Tinkler as Woodstock, Lexi Perri as Peppermint, Patty Isabella Leo as Lucy van P.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Since 1965, the characters in Charles M. Schulz's famous Peanuts comics have brought joy to so many families during the holidays and have also served to promote mature conversation among them. Not much has changed in 2022, as Craig and Bryan Schulz bring the new Earth Day special It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown to Apple TV+. With a deep message and multilayered characters, It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown is the perfect special to galvanize kids into climate action this Earth Day.

In this short film Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan) is determined to help his team win the big baseball game against Peppermint Patty's (Lexi Perri) team so he can claim the neighborhood pennant. But things turn into a fiasco right before the game when Sally (Hattie Kragten) bonds with a flower on the pitcher's mound and vows to protect it at all costs. Charlie Brown tries his hardest to get her off the mound but repeatedly fails. Throughout her sit-in, all the characters learn to value nature.

What I find intriguing about this special is that it's one big metaphor; Charlie Brown represents the average person, and the ball field represents the planet. Charlie Brown is so obsessed with winning this ballgame that he doesn't see that the ball field is going downhill. Sally represents the new generation, whose focus is on conservation and enhancing the planet. The animation style of this special is the part of the production that stands out the most to me. It is somewhere between the 70s still-frame animation and The Peanuts Movie. In each scene, the lighting is manipulated to make the characters look more lifelike and three-dimensional. It's absolutely beautiful. Though Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) isn't the focus of the special, I still love how his character develops throughout the 38 minute short. By the end of the film, he too realizes how important it is to save the environment. For kids like me who love Snoopy even more than Charlie Brown, this sends a great message. I'm also a big fan of Tyler Nathan as Charlie Brown and Hattie Kragten as Sally; their voice acting really completes the package of the show and makes the plot more believable.

It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown promotes taking initiative, caring for others (whether people, animals or plants), saving our planet and serving as a positive role model for others.

I give It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown is available to stream now on Apple TV+ in celebration of Earth Day 2022.

Just in time for Earth Day, Charlie Brown and the gang are back with a special message about environmental protection and using your voice in a fun, yet educational way only the Peanuts gang can deliver! In the new short film, It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown, they are ready to plant flowers, and clean up trash to make our planet a better place. Everyone loves the Peanuts gang, so what better way to spread the message?

In It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown, the main characters in this short film are Sally Brown (Hattie Kragten) and Charlie Brown (Tyler Nathan). In the story, Charlie Brown just wants to play a baseball game, but his little sister, Sally, finds a special little flower on the baseball field that reminds her of herself. She decides she must protect this flower and give it a voice. Sally relates to the flower because she is also small and tends to be lonely and ignored. It is a nice touch that the flower's petals are the same color and shape as Sally's hair.

The film has updates to the animation techniques, but still gives us the look and feel of the original animation we've come to love. I love the diverse cast and how it reflects what our world looks like today. One of my favorite parts is when Ben Folds' original song, "It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown," plays as Sally is singing about the flower on the mound. It really breaks down how we are all connected to the Earth and can come together to make things happen.

It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown shows us how important and easy it is to take care of our planet, no matter how young or small you are. Even though Sally was told she was too small to play baseball, she wasn't too small to take a stand to try to help protect and save the flower, which represents the Earth. Sally was able to use her voice to show how we should speak up to help save the world.

he Peanuts world is known for creating content that prompts conversations for adults and that also inspires young people, and this film does just that. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 3 to 18, plus adults. You can watch It's the Small Things, Charlie Brown on Apple TV+ now!

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

It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown is a funny, inspirational and entertaining movie. Though it's only 40 minutes long it really embodies the classic Charlie Brown spirit.

This film is about Charlie Brown (Tyler James Nathan). There is a big baseball game between Charlie's team and Peppermint Patty's (Lexi Perri) - a championship. Unfortunately, Sally (Hattie Kragten) grows attached to a flower on the pitcher's mound, preventing the game from happening. In the film, we find out what Charlie Brown does about this.

In It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown there are many fun things to talk about. One is the use of the old style Charlie Brown comics. Rather than use the new style of 3D animation, like some recent Charlie Brown movies, this film goes back to 2D style animation, although it still is very high quality and has cool animation. Another thing is the use of words during the practicing baseball scene. When they hit the ball there is a fun "POP!" animation on the screen and it really caught my eye and kept my attention. Lastly, there is a really fun song about how "It's The Small Things" - hence the title. It is a really beautiful song about a dandelion and, while others consider it a weed, Sally promises to keep it safe.

The message of the film is that sometimes it's not about the thing, but the love you show for it.

I give It's The Small Things, Charlie Brown 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16, plus. It's available on Apple TV+ now - just in time for Earth Day!

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Description - The film follows the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today. Narrated by two-time Academy Award� nominee Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich), Disneynature's Polar Bear tells the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today. Helmed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson, the directing team behind Disneynature's Penguins, and produced by Fothergill, Wilson, Jason Roberts, Keith Scholey and Roy Conli.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Have you ever watched a film that left you filled with so much emotion that it rendered you speechless? Disneynature's new Earth Day film Polar Bear has done just that. As a huge advocate for nature, I appreciate this film so much and truly believe that this just may be the film that inspires us all to create the environmental change that can save our planet.

This nature documentary follows the life journey of a mother polar bear and her two cubs. This brave mother navigates through some of the roughest and most dangerous ecosystems on our planet while teaching her cubs all about survival. Environmental changes over the years, however, have negatively impacted these ice bears resulting in an even greater struggle for existence. If these creatures are to survive in this modern world, they must learn to adapt and to pass new survival skills to their offspring which we are able to witness in Polar Bear.

Although the film is so heartfelt and difficult to watch at times, its footage is exactly what we need for a call to action because it creates awareness. If people are unaware of the causes and consequences of climate change, we can't fix it. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson have created a masterpiece filled with the most breathtaking scenes with each one serving to educate viewers. The cinematography is so captivating, and I especially love the aerial footage. Actor Catherine Keener adds a special touch to the film with her first-person narration of the female cub who shares how the memories of growing up alongside her courageous mother helped to shape her own motherhood.

The message in Polar Bear is about conservation awareness and a need for global commitment to make change. I'm hoping that this film's message inspires others to think more about nature and what would happen if ecosystems were lost forever. Polar Bear also sends the message of the importance of strong family bonds and how for some species, these bonds are critical for survival.

I give Polar Bear 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults, especially nature lovers, will also love this film. Polar Bear begins streaming exclusively on Disney+ on Earth Day, April 22, 2022. Mark your calendars and spread the word, this is a film that you don't want to miss!

By Dominic DiGravio, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - The world's favorite blue hedgehog is back for a next-level adventure in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2. After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is eager to prove he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes when Dr. Robotnik returns, this time with a new partner, Knuckles, in search for an emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands. From the filmmakers behind The Fast and the Furious and Deadpool, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 stars James Marsden, Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub and Jim Carrey returning, alongside new additions Shemar Moore, with Idris Elba as the voice of Knuckles and Colleen O'Shaughnessey as the voice of Tails.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The wild, fun and adventurous blue hedgehog we all love, Sonic a.k.a. Blue Justice, is back in his new movie, Sonic the Hedgehog 2! This film has new character appearances, major plot twists, mind-blowing adventures, and tons of laughs throughout it. It's great that this sequel is one of those movies you can enjoy without seeing the original; however, since it refers to different scenes from the first one, you may want to watch the original first.

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, or Dr. Eggman as Sonic calls him (Jim Carrey), returns to Earth with a new ally, Knuckles (Idris Elba), in hopes of finding a magical gem that holds the ultimate power of the universe. All that stands in their way is Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and his new partner in crime, Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey). It's a battle of good and bad to see who will reach the emerald first and win in the end.

The main characters are Sonic, Dr. Robotnik, Tails and Knuckles. I love how this film introduces characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and they just fit in seamlessly. One of the voice actors who surprised me is Idris Elba. His voice is the perfect match to portray Knuckle's strong and confident personality. My favorite part is when Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) are at Rachel's wedding and need to open a portal for Sonic; Tom realizes he may have mistaken the wedding ring for one of Sonic's golden rings. It adds some hilarious adventure to the wedding. Kudos to Junkie XL for keeping an "old school" feel throughout the film with songs such as It's Tricky by Run D.M.C. and Here Comes the Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze.

This film sheds light on the importance of having family and friends in your life. They will always have your back and keep you on the right path in life. Sonic and the other characters experience different obstacles that teach them the true definition of a family, even if they come as friends.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is out of this world. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The "battle of the gem" takes place in theaters on April 8, 2022. Be sure to stay for the after-credits movie scene.

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

I really enjoyed the original Sonic movie and this second one, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, is even better. I really enjoyed watching this new Sonic movie, especially with his fun, amusing and youthful personality. If Sonic was real, I would want to be his friend. Although, this is more of a little kid's movie, it brings excitement and suspense. The battle between Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) makes this film a "must-see"!

In the story, Dr. Robotnik figures out a way to get off the planet that Sonic banished him to. His goal is to seek revenge on Sonic with a new partner. When Dr. Robotnik arrives back to earth, he goes looking for Sonic and realizes that there is something bigger that he wants - something that can give him extreme powers to take over the world. While Dr. Robotnik is trying to figure out how to conquer the world, Sonic is struggling with self-control. He wants to be a real superhero and do good, but sometimes, he causes more problems than doing good. Soon he will be put to the test when it comes time to face Dr. Robotnik.

My favorite part of the movie is the ridiculous plan Dr. Robotnik makes to get off the planet he is stuck on. I also like Sonic's character which is relatable to young teenagers. His funny and quirky personality really embodies how a 13-year-old child really acts. Sonic's characteristic demonstrates how it would look if a child his age had the same power as Sonic and what they would do with it. The animation and quality of the effects are impressive! How they made the real people interact with the animation seems so realistic.

The messages of the movie are discovering what it means to be a true hero, making new friends, and not giving up. There was a little foul language at the beginning of the movie--I felt the movie would have been great without using inappropriate language and some innuendo. Older kids and adults will probably understand what they are insinuating.

I give Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5-18, plus adults. It's a family-oriented movie and everyone can enjoy it. It can be found in theaters near you on April 8, 2022.

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

Our familiar blue hedgehog friend Sonic is back with new adventures in Sonic the Hedgehog 2! This film has an exciting plot that moves at the perfect pace, sure to make the audience yearn for more.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 focuses on Sonic (Ben Schwartz) as he's becoming more familiar with his new life in Green Hills. While Tom (James Marsden) is away from home at a wedding, Sonic realizes that Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is back and he's not alone. Doctor Robotnik has a new sidekick named Knuckles (Idris Elba) who gives Sonic and his new sidekick Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey), a run for their money. When Doctor Robotnik and Knuckles try to capture a sacred emerald that belonged to Sonic's family, Sonic and Tails have to try to stop them before evil takes over.

The humor in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is why I would watch it again. This especially goes for the scenes with Rachel (Natasha Rothwell). As her desire for the perfect wedding increasingly gets ruined and her banter with the characters increases, it makes her a really lovable character. Natasha Rothwell's body language and the acting choices she makes are commendable and really drew me in. That being said, I was a little disappointed about how little she was displayed at the end. She is a vital character in the beginning, since she is the whole reason Tom is away from Sonic. However, she then disappears and I wondered when her humorous contribution was coming again. Knuckles is against Sonic the whole time, and then they finally get to know each other, which opens up a lot of room for interpretation and possibly another movie. Now that Sonic has people he can rely on, that can be used to continue to build his story.

The message of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is that sometimes people are just misunderstood. You have to get to know a person before you can truly understand what they're going through and why they make certain decisions. Sonic didn't know why Knuckles was the way he was, but when he hears his story and gets to know him, it is easier for them to see eye to eye.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a very fun movie to watch. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Everyone will find something they enjoy and can look back on to laugh at. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 releases in theatres April 8, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by Jeff Fowler is absolutely hilarious! This is a must see for all ages, everything from the quirky comebacks to the feel good feeling family moments.

Sonic wants to prove that he is a real hero, and can take care of his community. When Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) comes back to earth, he is surprised by his side villain, Knuckles (Idris Elba) who wants to steal the emerald that can destroy the whole universe. Sonic needs to protect the emerald, so he recruits his sidekick Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) to try to find the emerald. The two of them go through a lot of adventures and triumphs.

This film had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and what stood out to me the most were the special effects. They are so colorful and realistic. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all look so fluffy and soft. My favorite scene is the dance party and I even learned some new moves. It's amazing how one of my favorite video games has turned into one of my favorite movies. My favorite part of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is when Sonic's fuzz turns gold, much to the surprise of everyone. I love how we see Sonic grow throughout this film. He learns how to be brave for his family.

The message of this film is that family is everything!

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters April 8, 2022.

By Sariah Rodriguez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is an exhilarating film that many young movie-watchers have been anticipating since the first one came out. The sequel shows the growth of Sonic and how he has matured since the last movie. The messages, actors and action-packed scenes will be sure to captivate audiences too.

After the first film, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has found his place in his town, living comfortably with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter). But, he makes it his mission to go around helping others to prove he is the hero of the town. While Tom and Maddie are in Hawaii for a wedding, Sonic has the house all to himself and plans to just relax, eat and watch TV. All of that changes when Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) comes back with a new sidekick named Knuckles (Idris Elba). Dr. Robotnik and Knuckles are looking for a very powerful emerald and they think Sonic can show them where to find it. Sonic has to team up with a sidekick of his own, Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey), as they face off with Robotnik and Knuckles in an unforgettable battle to the emerald.

What I really like about this movie, and what I think others will enjoy as well, is the acting and the humor. One of my favorite scenes is when Rachel's (Natasha Rothwell) wedding gets ruined. You can really tell by her facial expressions and her tone that she is genuinely angry that her beautiful wedding is destroyed. I also like the fighting scene between Robotnik and Sonic because it is full of action and shows what can happen if you never give up. Like people say - "if you fall down you get right back up" - and that is what Sonic does. My favorite character in this film is Sonic because he is funny, has perseverance, and is a bit childish, which I can sometimes relate to. I also like Knuckles because he acts so serious, but acts funny at the exact same time without any intention. I think these two characters have the potential to be everyone else's favorite too.

The message of this film is that being a hero doesn't mean looking out for yourself; it means doing a lot for others and caring for others. This message is shown multiple times throughout the film and it is shown in many different ways that will draw viewer's attention. This film is completely family-friendly.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters April 8, 2022. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana Nesmith, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is an ideal sequel, including many of the best parts of the first movie while expanding the sandbox in which it plays. The first Sonic was a fairly traditional road movie, but this sequel bounces back and forth between being a superhero movie, a fantastical adventure, a coming-of-age story and a family comedy.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 follows our favorite speedy blue hedgehog Sonic (Ben Schwartz) on another adventure, this time even greater than his last. He's found a home with humans Maddie (Tika Sumpter) and Tom (James Marsden), who--in trying to be a father to Sonic--warns him of the great responsibilities that come with power he possesses. Sonic, in the meantime, is acting as a vigilante, stopping robberies and preventing low-level crimes in the areas surrounding his hometown of Green Hills. When Maddie and Tom head to Hawaii, Sonic gorges himself on junk food, blasting music throughout his house and taking full advantage of his "parents" absence until his shenanigans are brought to a halt by the arrival of a familiar enemy. That's right, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) has returned from his exile to a mushroom planet, and he's brought an angry, red echidna with him named Knuckles (Idris Elba) who also has beef with Sonic. Fortunately, Sonic has a new ally in a double-tailed creature who wants to help him in his fight against Robotnik and Knuckles, aptly named Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey).

This may be a Sonic movie but you can't cast Jim Carrey and not expect him to make every moment his own. Carrey brings more of the same hyped-up energy to Ivo Robotnik that made him stand out in the previous Sonic installment--the only live-action actor in this movie constantly animated enough to rival that of the actual animated characters he interacts with! I will admit, sadly, there is less Carrey in this movie than in the first, but that's because there's so much more going on. With the addition of Tails and Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 goes all in on the richness and, arguably, the insanity of Sonic's lore. And if the post-credits scene that drew excitement and cheers from the audience I saw this with is any indication, this is only the beginning of exploring the expansive worlds and cast of characters that come with Sonic.

You should be aware that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 does have some rude humor and action violence that may be a little intense for younger viewers.

I give Sonic the Hedgehog 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for 8-18, plus adults. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 speeds into theaters April 8, 2022. If you're feeling the "need for speed," I'd say go check this one out.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The newly-released Sonic the Hedgehog 2, by filmmaker Jeff Fowler, is exhilarating, action-packed, and fresh. This two-hour film brings back all the fan-favorite characters, including Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), my personal favorite! That's not all--this film also reveals more about our favorite blue hedgehog that we didn't know before. Let's dive in.

The storyline follows Sonic (Ben Schwartz) as he uncovers new powers, becoming a teenager, and once again saving the world from the manic Dr. Robotnik. Yup, you heard right: Dr. Robotnik has returned to Earth, but not alone! He is accompanied by a new ally, Knuckles the Echidna. However, Dr. Robotnik isn't the only one with a determined ally by their side--Sonic meets a new friend named Tails. Together, they go through numerous challenges and even moments of failure, ultimately fighting to protect the "Master Emerald", which was left behind to be watched over by Sonic's most valuable friend, Longclaw. The question is: will they be successful?

My favorite character is most definitely Rachel, portrayed by writer, actress, teacher and comedian, Natasha Rothwell, who is hilarious. Rachel, the long-time best friend of Maddie, Sonic's mother, has been a fan favorite since day one and hasn't lost the title. In this film, Rachel falls madly in love with a young man named Randall, and even marries him. Well, before he can even put the ring on her finger, it is revealed he is actually an undercover agent working to track down Sonic the Hedgehog. Although her wedding doesn't work out the way she planned, Rachel and Maddie team up and work together to help Sonic and his friends complete their mission. She also brings many laughs and memorable moments.

My favorite part of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is when Dr. Robotnik finally gets his hands on the "Master Emerald." Actually, let me rephrase... I wasn't totally thrilled knowing Dr. Robotnik can use that emerald to completely wipe out the entire existence. I was excited how Sonic and Knuckles decide to team up and stop Dr. Robotnik, because they both finally realize they have more in common than they ever would have thought. They both come to the conclusion that they both want the emerald for the greater good, unlike Dr. Robotnik. Sonic helps save Knuckles' life, and Knuckles repays him by doing the same.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has many unexpected moments and even makes you want to close your eyes at some points. This film will most definitely make you get up out of your seat. The message of this film is: It's never wrong to learn to set aside differences with people--we may all be unique and share different opinions, and yet showing kindness and doing good can never go wrong.

I give Sonic the Hedgehog 25 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It is available now in theaters.

By Nathalia J, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - Inspired by the blockbuster DreamWorks Animation film The Croods: A New Age, The Croods: Family Tree continues the ever-evolving story of the Croods and the Bettermans as they learn to live together on the most idyllic farm in prehistory. The journey from sparring rivals to unlikely friends is fraught with hilarious misadventures as the two families slowly overcome their differences to turn a tree house divided into a tree home united. In Season 2 Grug, Eep and Sandy enjoy a Crood-ific Daddy Daughter Day while Thunk, bored with the window-TV viewing options, creates a bit of real life drama. Even Gran rocks the boat when she declares it's time to choose a new Thunder Sisters' Queen! Meanwhile, pushed to their limits and ready to relax, the parents set out on separate staycations. But with the kids in charge, only prehistoric time will tell if the treehouse will still be left standing.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Croods: Family Tree is back for another season with even more excitement. With more adventures and more of the Croods and Bettermans, there's a lot to love about this new season. In each episode, many important lessons are learned, and they are all delivered in such a fun and entertaining way.

Season two continues from the previous season focusing on the story of two families, the Croods and the Bettermans, living together in a treehouse on the Bettermans' farm. Because each family is different, learning to live together has its ups and downs. And in each episode, we see them overcome their differences and remember what really matters, like many families do. The show highlights different members of the family in every episode, so it makes for good variety in the storylines.

Even though The Croods is set in fictional prehistoric time period, it shows situations we currently experience and go through, always in a hilarious way. We also see different games and activities we play now. For example, in episode 6 Grug (Kiff VandenHeuvel), Ugga (Amy Landecker), Hope (Amy Rosoff), and Phil (Matthew Waterson) are playing a game of beach ball; however, the game is kind of like how we play volleyball. And in episode 3 where the Croods, Bettermans, and Punch Monkeys are playing throw-go-nut, it is very similar to how we play football today. My favorite characters are Gran (Artemis Pebdani) and Sandy (Dee Bradley Baker) because they are fierce and funny characters. They are alike in many different ways, which makes them the perfect duo--you could say Sandy is a mini Gran.

The message of The Croods: Family Tree is that even when times get tough, you can work together to figure things out. Because teamwork "makes the dream work." This is a completely family-friendly show.

I give The Croods: Family Tree 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12, plus adults. This show is available on Hulu and Peacock, starting April 5, 2022. Go check it out!

By Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Description - Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood tells the story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two interwoven perspectives - the astronaut and mission control view of the triumphant moment, and through the eyes of a kid growing up in Houston, Texas who has intergalactic dreams of his own. Taking inspiration from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater's own life, Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood is a snapshot of American life in the 1960s that is part coming of age, part societal commentary, and part out-of-this-world adventure.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood tells a creative twist on a story we all know well, NASA's moon mission, and makes us think that history is not always as it seems. Based on the childhood fantasies of director Richard Linklater, this animated dramedy perfectly weaves together classic childhood coming-of-age memories, late 1960's pop music and NASA's historic race to moon.

This nostalgic movie, set in suburbs of Houston in 1969, follows the childhood of Stan, who is voiced by Milo Coy as a child and Jack Black as an adult. The pressure to get to the moon is ever growing, but NASA builds the lunar module too small, so they turn to Stan to do the job before astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins suit up for their famous Apollo mission. Unfortunately, Stan cannot tell anyone, not even his family.

The animation is one of the coolest things about this movie and really sets it apart from other animated films I've seen. It is a mix of live action with hand drawn and computer animation. I also enjoy how accurate it is to the era, so that as a period piece it does not feel artificial. All the clothes, houses, dialogue, objects and even actions reflect that of the time. I always hear my parents talk about their childhood during this era, but I could never really imagine it until I saw this movie. Jack Black is the perfect choice to play adult Stan as his accent is so subtle and his tone is perfect to play an older Stan. And Milo Coy wonderfully captures the personality of a 10 and � year old.

The message of Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood is that mistakes are okay and that not everything is always as it seems. This movie shows some unhealthy and unsafe practices, which were more common in the 1960's, like smoking, riding in the back of a pickup truck or in cars without seatbelts, and playing with fireworks in the middle of a street. However, the narrator, the adult version of Stan, explains how dangerous these behaviors are. There are also a couple of graphic injury scenes and slight profanity.

I give Apollo 10 �: A Space Age Childhood 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Anyone who loves space and maybe even remembers the actual lunar landing will definitely enjoy it also. This movie premiered at South by Southwest on March 13, 2022 and will be on Netflix on April 1, 2022.

Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Daniela Vidaurre,Christopher Bustos,Fernando Rodriguez,immigrants,Jalostotitlan,Mexico,Frexno
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Por Mi Hija is a gripping, evocative film; it does its part to encourage dialogue about immigration and the journeys of illegal immigrants to the U.S. while greatly entertaining audiences. The film's cinematography further enhances the engaging storyline.

Por Mi Hija follows Leo (Christopher Bustos) and Emma (Daniela Vidaurre), a newlywed couple from the small town of Jalostotitl�n, Mexico. Leo's friend helps him get a job in Fresno, California, and the two head north as illegal immigrants to start a new life. Soon they must confront the reality that their new life in America isn't all that it's cut out to be.

The acting, cinematography, and storyline of the film all come together to make Por Mi Hija a unique experience. The film jumps back and forth in time, using color and light to indicate these shifts. Director Fernando Rodriguez ensured this isn't disorienting to audiences; rather, he keeps viewers interested throughout the hour-long feature film. Rodriguez also wrote the script, which contains a melodious mix of Spanish (about 90%) and English (about 10%). Bustos, Vidaurre, and young Luciana Elisa Qui�onez, who plays the character of the same name, deliver their lines with beautiful conviction. Their eyes speak just as they do, and their body language syncs up perfectly with the mood of the scene. The cinematography is remarkable as well; especially towards the beginning and during tense scenes--the use of light and framing of scenes adds layers to the film.

Por Mi Hija promotes staying together despite difficulties, taking risks, never running from challenges, and, at its heart, the film's all about empathy: empathy for immigrants, yes, but also for all those around you. Por Mi Hija contains racism, blood, slight profanity, and alcohol.

I give Por Mi Hija 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Por Mi Hija is available now on digital and DVD.

Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - The raucous exploits of a blended family of 12, the Bakers, as they navigate a hectic home life while simultaneously managing their family business. Paul and Zoey Baker are a married couple at the head of a large blended family in this reboot of the 1950 original film. Together, they parent ten kids - some of which each brought into the marriage, some they have together. They also bring their ex-spouses into the mix, including flighty part-time babysitter Kate and wealthy former pro-baller Dom. Paul is White; Zoey is Black; their kids are White, Black, or mixed race -- a blend that offers its own challenges in today's culture. When the Bakers are offered a substantial sum of money to launch a line of sauces and franchise their breakfast place, they take the money and upgrade their lives, but their new lifestyle makes some things more complicated than expected.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Hilarious, chaotic family fun is headed your way as the Bakers return in this highly-anticipated reboot of Cheaper by the Dozen. The film is a modern twist on the original, with a more diverse cast, relatable characters, current world issues, new family adventures and craziness. No matter your age, gender, or race you are sure to find someone you can connect to.

Cheaper by the Dozen is a reboot of the 2001 film of the same name, featuring the Bakers who are a family of 12. It follows parents, Zoe Baker (Gabrielle Union) and Paul Baker (Zach Braff), as they try to balance home life, taking care of their blended multiracial, talented family all while running the family business. Zach is faced with trying to expand the family business and still make time for his family, while Zoe deals with racism in their new neighborhood and constant criticism for having 12 children. It's an all-around struggle of understanding, accepting change, and family.

One of the biggest differences with this reboot is the diverse cast. It really shows how people from all backgrounds can co-exist. The premise of the show is similar to the original, but with a twist: Mr. Baker has an opportunity to expand on the family restaurant, and Zoe stays home to manage the family and the chaos while he travels. All of which leads to plenty of hilarious scenes. I love the updates in the film, especially some of the references such as the Black Lives Matter sign in the window of the first Baker house. Even the dogs' names, 'Bark Obama' and 'Joe Bitten' are creative. My favorite scene from this film is when Seth Baker (Luke Prael) helps his cousin Haresh Baker (Aryan Simhadri) by teaching him skills to avoid getting bullied at school. It's great to see how the family comes together to support each other.

The message of Cheaper by the Dozen is that change can be difficult, and everyone will react to it differently even to the point where it causes issues among family members. But we must accept that we are all different and need to work together to be successful and truly happy in life. The Bakers are the perfect example of how people so different from each other are still able to live and work together. The only things for parents to look out for are short scenes where the parents are intimate, mentions of serious topic like racism and some mentions of 'teenager' issues.

I give Cheaper by the Dozen 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Cheaper by the Dozen on Disney+ starting March 18, 2022.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - The story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Mt. Everest. Her courageous, historic, and tragic journey would inspire a nation and generations to come.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - One of the things I love about the new documentary Pasang: The Shadow of Everest is that it shows how much women have struggled to follow their dreams. The film explores the journey of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, a Nepalese woman from a mountaineering family, whose dream is to climb the highest mountain in the world. We learn how mentally and physically challenging this Mount Everest trek is, especially when people doubt your ability because you're a woman.

Pasang started climbing when she was 16 or 17. Climbing as woman is shocking to many people. She was determined and ambitious, but doing this will mean needing to raise the money herself for an expedition, finding sponsors to support her, and getting a group together to go on this dangerous adventure. She believes in herself but Mount Everest takes the risk to a whole other height.

PASANG really made me think about why someone would risk their life to stand on an 8,849-meter mountain. And the answer is: passion. When you really believe in a goal, you climb until you reach where you want to be. Climbing Mount Everest is a very breathtaking and risky experience--there are few chances for mistakes. The amount of time and work you have put into preparation and the trek itself is extraordinary. It takes approximately 6-10 weeks to get to the top, then add bathroom, food and water breaks. Knowing that over 100 people have died either on the way up or down, is terrifying, but knowing 10,184 people have survived is promising.

This film's message is go after your dream, no matter what anybody thinks, because ultimately you can do anything. Women have the right to not be doubted when following their dreams. Pasang: The Shadow of Everest is very uplifting and can inspire many people. People can tell you what to do, but you don't always have to listen.

I give Pasang: The Shadow of Everest 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. This film premieres at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on March 3, 2022.

By Makena P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 7-11
Description - The world's most iconic dog is ready for his close-up. Dive into new adventures with the happy-dancing, high-flying, big-dreaming beagle, who's joined by best friend Woodstock and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Snoopy Show is a fun spin-off series from Charlie Brown's many movies and shows. This animated series is enjoyable for young audiences because it focuses on the life of Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy. This show has the same style as the originals, which makes it interesting to watch, especially if you are a fan of the Charlie Brown classics!

Each episode follows Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown (Ethan Pugiotto) and Charlie Brown's friends as they get into different hilarious situations. Woodstock and Snoopy have creative and intriguing solutions to problems they face, like wanting a fishbowl so they can become astronauts, or writing a story for a competition. Every episode is unique and has a creative storyline.

This series has interesting anthropomorphic characters, because Snoopy, along with his animal friends, walks on two legs and has many human characteristics. Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) doesn't talk, but he makes many noises like yelling, grunting, sighing and laughing for his character. Woodstock (Rob Tinkler) does something similar for Woodstock. Every episode has about three five-minute shows within it. The first episode has three stories about the backstory of Snoopy, which is really interesting.

Every episode has a different theme; some common themes are selflessness, perseverance and coming-of-age.

I give The Snoopy Show 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 11. The Snoopy Show returns for season two Friday, March 11, 2022.

By Samantha, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 7-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Batman ventures into Gotham City's underworld when a sadistic killer leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator's plans become clear, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like The Batman because the overall script is interesting and very suspenseful. This movie is definitely worth the 2 hours and 55 minutes to watch--I was not expecting it to be this good!

The Batman takes place in Gotham City, home of all the Batman stories. A crazy killer named Riddler (Paul Dano) kills liars like political figures and reveals how corrupt they are. Riddler likes to leave trails of clues behind which forces Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), a single millionaire, to become a detective to find out who the Riddler is. As you know Batman is Bruce Wayne's secret identity. Along the way, Batman visits old friends like Penguin (Colin Farrell) and meets new ones like Selina or Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz).

The graphics are amazing looking, although the CGI is not as good compared to other films. I was a little disappointed with the Batmobile because it just looks like a sports car with a powerful engine. Very different from the other Batmobiles in the past movies. Robert Pattinson's transformation into Batman is impressive. We see a muscular Robert Pattinson with impressive fighting skills. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable as Penguin. It was fun to watch Zoe Kravitz portraying Catwoman. She resembles Halle Berry when she portrayed Catwoman for the movie of the same name. Her fighting skills are impressive and catch the audience's attention. The gruesome way the Riddler kills his victims makes this a very dark Batman movie--very different from the other Batman films. My favorite part is when Batman uses the hook to walk down a building, kind of like he did in the older films or the 1960's show instead of going down.

The moral of this movie is that not everyone can be good. Bruce finds out the dark side of the Wayne family after Riddler exposes his family--and not only his family but other people such as cops, too.

I give The Batman 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Watch the movie in theatres on March 4, 2022.

Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

Out of the deep dark depths of Gotham City comes the newest addition to one of the best-known franchises. The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson is thrilling, chilling, and jam-packed with action. We all know and love Batman, but this stellar cast will show you a deeper, darker side of him and other characters who have been loved, and hated, for generations.

The Batman is an exciting addition to the DC Universe, but does not follow the original Dark Knight trilogy. This new film follows beloved hero, Batman, as he tracks down a series of murders of Gotham's most powerful people. He is given clues written in cryptic codes that he has to decipher, all while the deviously smart (and insane) Riddler (Paul Dano) is killing off important people one by one. From a history of lies, in a corrupt city, and in a battle over the true meaning of justice comes the new DC film that will get in your mind and stay there.

From the moment the lights of the theater dimmed and the movie started, I was hooked. I have never been a fan of movies that waste time getting to the meat of the story, and The Batman wastes no time. This film is full of suspense, and the music is one of the major components that contributes to that. In intense situations, atmosphere is everything, and the music by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino creates the perfect amount of eeriness and tension. Robert Pattinson's acting is also incredible. This Batman speaks very little, but his body language and facial expressions speak volumes. I was extremely impressed by how real and broken Pattison makes his character seem, and I have never seen this protagonist reach depths like this in other Batman stories. The one thing in this movie I would have liked to see more of is the story behind Batman's technology. He seems to have a million gadgets, but the audience doesn't know exactly what they are or where they came from.

The message of this film is that vengeance won't change the past, but helping others can change the future. A big part of this film is about justice and what that means. In the end, we see that justice isn't about killing or hurting others. Justice is about taking what is wrong and fixing it by doing the right thing. Justice does not equal bloody revenge.

I give The Batman 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it to ages 13 to 17, plus adults. You can see The Batman in theatres on March 4, 2022.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

The Batman is everything you're expecting from another adventure with the caped crusader at the center and unlike any Batman movie we've seen yet. It retools the whole world of Gotham City and looks at its spread of criminals, villains, and masked vigilantes through a whole new lens, as well as at the character of Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting counterpart.

The Batman sees a younger and slightly more naive Bruce Wayne in only his second year as Batman (Robert Pattinson). Bruce is being stretched thin--he can't be everywhere at once and certain aspects of life in Gotham have only gotten worse in the time since Batman arrived on the scene. A string of murders of Gotham's most powerful and high profile figures--whose murders bear a striking resemblance to the manner in which Bruce lost his own parents decades before, a flashpoint that haunts him still decades later. These brutal, connected killings send the city into disarray perpetrated by a masked serial killer named The Riddler (Paul Dano) who runs rampant, leaving clues at his crime scenes. Wayne befriends a burglar named Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), who's looking for her missing friend, and, with a morally upstanding cop, they try to track down the elusive Riddler and keep his catastrophic plan from running its course.

Director Matt Reeves and the sensibilities he brings to the table feel well suited to this film. What I didn't expect is this movie's hyper-effective use of shadows--it makes sense for the character, but, oh man, the night isn't just The Batman's central setting: it's Batman's domain. It's the shadows that have given him his hold over the whole city. Criminals see the Bat signal and look into a pitch-black alley not knowing who's gonna walk out and whether or not they'll be dealt the whupping of the century. And with Pattinson's Batman, there is terror in those moments of uncertainty and he's the one we're rooting for. And Pattinson has made this character his own. This Bruce Wayne is divorced from notions of charisma or the qualities of the billionaire playboy that he usually has to pretend to be--he's moody, antisocial, and passive like he's more out of place without the cowl on than with it. He spends a lot of this movie fully in the suit, and it's a credit to Pattinson that he can "mask act", even when not even a quarter of his face is visible. Pattinson's eyes give us a window into Bruce's internal journey.

The Batman shows its admiration for the world and characters of Batman's universe in the skill with which it brings them to life--original, but familiar. Matt Reeves has made a tense, sorrowful, borderline disturbing modern noir about Batman needing to alter his work-life balance. Plus we have an enthralling mystery driven by an ever-expanding web of corruption. This is Batman at its finest, and I hope this is not the last we see of this Batman.

The message of the film is to not let rage consume you. Batman has never been a pacifist, regardless of the iteration of the character, but this Batman has moments of real brutality with the criminals he fights. He has to learn that, as Batman, he has to restrain himself from doing things that would make him no different from his villainous adversaries and to instead be the Batman Gotham needs.

I give The Batman 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 17 for tense sequences, language and shocking, but not graphic, violence. The Batman flies into theaters on March 4, 2022.

I give The Batman 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 17 for tense sequences, language and shocking, but not graphic, violence. The Batman flies into theaters on March 4, 2022.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, 10-15
Description - The series follows the story of Penny Proud, a 14-year-old girl and her family, as they navigate their lives in the 2020s. Trudy, Penny's mom, has new career highs, Oscar, Penny's dad, has wild dreams, and Penny faces a myriad of challenges while her Suga Mama returns, as does Michael, Dijonay, Zoey, and LaCienega.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Your favorite spunky, loving, and humorous family are back - louder and prouder than ever - in the new series reboot of the 2001 Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder! From glow-ups to new adventures, to new characters, this show is sure to entertain new and original Proud Family fans!

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder follow 14-year-old Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) as she tries to navigate through the 2020s with new challenges, technology, and social issues in Smithville. Of course, she is joined by her wild, yet relatable family members we have come to love -- Oscar Proud (Tommy Davidson), Trudy Proud (Paula Jai Parker) and Suga Mama (Jo Marie Payton ). The creators of this series, Bruce W. Smith and writer, Ralph Farquhar, are the "proud parents" who delivered us both the Proud Family series and The Proud Family Movie, so you can expect the same laughable, adventurous, and exciting storytelling.

One of the best things about this series is that all the main characters and most of Penny's friends have returned, but there are a few newcomers. Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins (KeKe Palmer) and her rapping brother Francis 'KG' Leibowitz-Jenkins have moved into the neighborhood. The interactions between Maya and Penny are a must-see as they both try to figure themselves (and each other) out. My favorite character in the series is Michael, who is now voiced by the bold, fierce, and stylish EJ Johnson, who plays a live-action unapologetic version of his character. He is the perfect person to voice Michael. I love how the characters have all grown, and yet their transformations all still make sense even after the show has been off-air all this time.

The message of this series is that no one is perfect, and we are all works in progress. The Proud family and their friends are no different. In life, we are going to have different experiences, likes and dislikes, especially as kids grow older and develop in different ways. As a family and extended family, we must learn to grow and accept each other. There isn't anything for parents to look out for, but you should know that real-life family, teen and societal issues are discussed and may initiate conversations with viewers.

I rate The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder series 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18. You can stream it on Disney+ now with new episodes streaming every Wednesday.

By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 10-16
Description - Big Nate is an American computer-animated streaming television series developed by Mitch Watson and based on the comic strip and book series of the same name by Lincoln Peirce. It follows the adventures of titular protagonist, alongside his friends, in sixth grade. Big Nate follows the adventures and misadventures of Nate Wright, an incompetent, spirited and rebellious sixth-grader. His friend group includes Francis, Teddy, Chad and Dee Dee. Nate hates social studies teacher Mrs. Godfrey, whom he considers his nemesis and calls her names like "the school's Godzilla," and the firm Principal Nichols. At home, Nate lives with his single father, Martin and girly sister Ellen.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Big Nate is an excellent show for kids of all ages! The show has wonderful characters, amazing comedy and teaches valuable lessons. It's an ideal series for families.

Big Nate is an animated series based on books of the same name. Big Nate follows Nate (Ben Giroux), a boy in sixth grade, as he learns about life and grows into his own, while accompanied by his friends, Dee Dee (Bryce Charles), Francis (Daniel MK Cohen), and Teddy (Arnie Pantoja).

The comedy of Big Nate is genius. Nate, Dee Dee, Francis, and Teddy each have their own sense of humor, giving balance to the group and adding to their individual personalities. The animation stands out--it's computer animated, and the heads of the characters are bigger than their bodies; their hair has specific lines and an exaggerated, stiff shape to look like the comics the show is based on. The characters all have depth, giving them as much importance as the titular character. They all have their own backstories and lines that they mutter under their breath. These expression make viewers laugh and provide clues about their personas. By the end of the episodes, we're left wanting more of Nate and his friends. The translation of the books to the small screen is spectacular. It's clear how much the creators of the show cared about doing justice to its published material. The execution of the animation, Nate, and his journey through sixth grade is done with precision and attention.

The messages of this series are learned through Nate. He learns about discovering who you are and who you want to be, the power of friendship, and the hardships of family. Nate makes some enemies and at times doesn't know who he can trust, and yet he always has his friends in his corner.

I give Big Nate 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 16. It begins streaming on Paramount+ February 17, 2022.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting, white-knuckle race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs. If Nate and Sully can decipher the clues and solve one of the world's oldest mysteries, they stand to find $5 billion in treasure and perhaps even Nate's long-lost brother...but only if they can learn to work together.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like Uncharted because it is based on the 2007 PlayStation video game of the same name. You never know who to trust in this action-packed, two-hour treasure hunt game turned movie.

Uncharted is about the adventures of treasure hunter and fortune seeker Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) as he discovers the truth behind a mythical treasure during his journey with Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). Nathan and his brother grew up in an orphanage until one day they got caught stealing a map. Nate's brother runs away. Sometime later Nate meets Sully who convinces Nathan to look for the lost treasure. Nathan and Sully team up to get the keys that open doors and traps in order to find more clues. Nate follows what his brother and him wanted to do ever since they were younger and that's when the action begins.

This film has extraordinary computer-generated imagery effects. The explosion scenes look real. The cargo airplane scene is one of the most breathtaking and intense scenes of this film, keeping the audience at the edge of their seat. The actors' wardrobe is the same wardrobe as the characters in the video game: typical explorer or hunter's clothes and gear. Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland work masterfully well together while Antonio Banderas as villain Santiago Moncad will stop at nothing to get what he wants, including killing his own father. You don't have to be a video game fan to enjoy this treasure-hunting movie. Director Ruben Fleischer expressed that Tom Holland, as the younger version of the video character Nathan Drake, is a key to making a movie adaptation that offers something for gamers and newcomers alike. My favorite scene is when Nate gets hit by a car when he finally gets to the cargo plane.

The moral of this film is to be very careful who you trust. Don't trust anyone, only yourself and your instincts. The audience will confirm my statement when watching the movie: Every character pursues same goal--the mystical treasure--and they will do anything and everything in order to get it, even if that means they have to kill.

I give Uncharted 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie is available in theatres February 18, 2022. If you are an Uncharted video game fan, you will recognize a special cameo appearance that you just have to "listen" for.

Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

I love Uncharted! Uncharted has been a mega-successful game franchise, and now, Sony is transforming it into a swashbuckling prequel film fit for all: gamers and non-gamers alike. It is full of massive, action-packed sequences, comedy, objects of desire, globetrotting, booby-traps, and loads of double, and even triple, crossers.

Nate Drake (Tom Holland) is a bartender and street-smart criminal, who, along with his brother Sam, dream of finding the long-lost fortune of Ferdinand Magellan. But when Sam disappears, Nate is left with nothing but Sam's ring, some old postcards and his undying love of adventure. One night, he meets the professional treasure hunter and scoundrel, Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), who tries to recruit Nate to set out on a thrilling expedition to find the lost treasure of Ferdinand Magellan and his crew. At first, he is hesitant, but he joins Sully to carry on Sam's unfinished work. But they must do this before Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a man who believes he's the heir to the lost riches, gets to it--if they don't, all their work will be lost forever. Who will get there first and what lengths will they go to?

Getting Uncharted to the big screen has been a wild ride. I heard it went through six directors before hiring Rueben Fleischer for the job. And Mark Wahlberg was originally cast as Nathan Drake. True to the game, the adaptation features unrealistic fight scenes and a clich�d storyline. I still find Uncharted to be very fun and entertaining. The violent combat scenes kept me on the edge of my seat, and the perfectly timed comedic lines kept me laughing. Make sure to watch this on the biggest screen possible. The sets are realistic, the props pack a big punch, and the historical symbolism blends everything together perfectly. The beaches and caves provide the perfect backdrop for some of the film's biggest scenes. Tom Holland delivers a knockout performance and his performance is very likeable: he's charismatic, handsome, intelligent, and na�ve perhaps to a fault. Tom does some of the biggest action sequences of his career in this film, and he kills it! Mark Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas also have notable performances.

The messages of the movie are that family bonds last forever and that adventure awaits. There is some profanity, intense fighting scenes, alcohol use and weapons.

I give Uncharted 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Fans of basically any adventure movie will love this. This movie releases in theaters on February 18, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 7-12
Description - Alice's Wonderland Bakery is a vibrant new take on the classic 1951 Alice in Wonderland film. Featuring reimagined (though instantly-recognizable) versions of iconic characters and introducing memorable new ones, the series highlights diverse cultures and characters as Alice and her friends learn about community through their adventures in the Wonderland Bakery. Wonderland is home to all sorts of unique families, each with their own fascinating cultures and traditions, which Alice and her friends learn about through their explorations with food. In this contemporary version, the royal family, for example, is inspired by Cuban heritage, giving Alice and her friends the chance to discover bu�uelos and huevos haba�eros, among other Cuban-inspired treats, while Hattie, a mad hatter boy and descendant of the original Mad Hatter, is based on Japanese culture and whips up mochi and sekihan with his family.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Alice's Wonderland Bakery is absolutely magnificent! Lovable characters, beautiful locations and references to a classic film take center stage in this excellent show. Fans of all ages are bound to love this series.

Alice's Wonderland Bakery follows Alice (Libby Rue) who is a young baker in the world of Wonderland. Alice goes on several adventures with her friends, Hattie (Cj Uy) and Fergie (Jack Stanton). The trio resemble the personalities of their ancestors, Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit from the classic tale Alice in Wonderland.

The series has such fun-loving characters, each a "rockstar" in their own right, with vivid personalities and a developed character arc. Even though they mirror iconic characters from the classic Alice in Wonderland, they are not carbon copies--that means some refreshing twists as we see these new kids grow and learn their way around this topsy turvy town. Alice is a bright, spunky, and modern version of Alice from the 1951 film. My favorite character is definitely Hattie--he's very fun to watch--not always fitting the stereotype of what a "Mad Hatter" is, growing into his own, but proud of his heritage. The songs on the soundtrack to the series move the storylines along perfectly--no doubt sure to be a hit, with young children soon to be bopping along to the melodies. The animation is spectacular--every strand of hair is visible on Alice's head just like the fur on Fergie. The visuals of bright colors, abstract patterns and unusual architecture add to the world building of the Wonderland that fans all around the world are familiar with. It's as if the show picks up with Alice exactly where the movie left off in 1951 and nothing since has changed. This series is perfect, reminding fans why they fell in love with the original film, engaging audiences to watch every last second of every episode.

The theme of Alice's Wonderland Bakery is to follow your dreams. Alice loves baking with her whole heart and is regarded as the best baker in Wonderland. Even as things don't go her way all the time, Alice never gives up baking, and sometimes solves her problems by baking delicious cakes.

I give Alice's Wonderland Bakery 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 12, and older. It premieres February 9, 2022 on Disney Junior.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 7-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Tucked among the magical redwood trees of Northern California and surrounded by her grandmother's gargantuan roses, 17-year-old Lennie Walker, a radiant musical prodigy, struggles with overwhelming grief following the sudden loss of her older sister, Bailey. When Joe Fontaine, the charismatic new guy at school, enters Lennie's life, she's drawn to him. But Lennie's complicated relationship with her sister's devastated boyfriend, Toby, starts to affect Lennie and Joe's budding love. Through her vivid imagination and honest, conflicted heart, Lennie navigates first love and first loss to create a song of her own. Acclaimed filmmaker Josephine Decker directs this moving adaptation of the beloved novel of the same name.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The colorful and beautifully-acted film The Sky Is Everywhere by director Josephine Decker and writer Jandy Nelson blends magic and romance in a perfect story just in time for Valentine's Day. The film's setting in the redwood forests of Northern California creates the perfect backdrop for scenes that include magical realism. In addition, Grace Kaufman, Jacques Colimon and Pico Alexander all act their hearts out in this dramatic story about moving through grief and loss.

The Sky Is Everywhere tells the story of a high school senior named Lennie (Grace Kaufman) who suffers the sudden loss of her older sister, and, in her grief, also loses the ability to play her clarinet. She bonds with her sister's devastated boyfriend Toby (Pico Alexander), and yet is also intrigued by a new boy in her advanced band class named Joe (Jacques Colimon). We watch Lennie navigate her feelings about both boys while also processing her sister's death.

Grace Kaufman does not hold back in her portrayal of Lennie, showing how she moves in and out of different stages of grief. Her acting feels natural as does her chemistry with both of her male co-stars. Pico Alexander gives a sympathetic performance as Toby who is distraught and confused. Jacques Colimon's Joe comes off as playful and flirtatious. You really feel the chemistry between Lennie and Joe. One of the best parts of The Sky Is Everywhere is how magical realism is used to bring Lennie's emotions to life. People break out in dance, musical notes float across the screen and Lennie's grandmother's rose garden comes alive, which is also my favorite scene in the film.

The main message of The Sky Is Everywhere is the importance of letting yourself experience grief after a big loss. In the film, you see Lennie clinging to her sister's belongings, breaking out in tears and getting angry at her grandmother. She has to experience the full range of emotions before she can move forward with her life. There is some light sexual content and a stereotypical "mean girl" who competes with Lennie for first chair in clarinet.

I give The Sky Is Everywhere 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Sky Is Everywhere opens in select theaters and on Apple TV+, Friday, February 11, 2022.

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Sky is Everywhere is a unique film, filled with surprises, romance, and cool CGI. The film is also great to watch if you are a fan of instruments, music, and art. The Sky is Everywhere digs deep into the struggles and hardship of Lennie Walker (Grace Kaufman), a girl who lost her sister to a condition and is trying to figure out how to keep going in life without her. Lennie is trying to find her path again after being lost in a world of pain that she goes through with her sister's boyfriend Toby (Pico Alexander.) . Even as grief is still smacking her in the face, Lennie ends up meeting a new boy Joe Fontaine (Jacques Colimon) who changes her perspective of love and happiness.

I am absolutely touched by this film. As far as the storyline goes, I think that it would be difficult to live in someone's shadow and that would block me from who I truly am--which is how Lennie feels until she moves on. She goes into a kind of fake reality, floating in the sky, with the world and the beauty of nature making her feel alive. The settings are usually in spots of quietness or nature, like the forest Lennie lives near, or her house. The forest is a go-to hang out spot because that is Lennie's comfort zone from when her sister Bailey (Havana Rose Liu) was alive.

My favorite part is the ending when Lennie realizes that her sister was with her wherever she went, and no matter what she did. I love how nothing is predictable and everything comes by surprise. The ending of the story is happy and fulfilling, and brings much joy.

The message of The Sky is Everywhere is that either bad or good things can happen at any given time, but you must keep living. There is some language that would be inappropriate for younger viewers.

I give The Sky is Everywhere 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 17, plus adults. The Sky is Everywhere releases on Apple TV + February 11, 2022.

By SaniyaRain, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Sky is Everywhere is a whimsical movie that tells a story of teenage loss, discovery and love. Throughout the film, director Josephine Decker expresses her artistic eye with imaginary landscapes that are harmoniously fused with dramatic choreography and rhythmic music. Adapted by a novel of the same name by Jandy Nelson, the screenplay of The Sky is Everywhere was also written by the author.

The Sky is Everywhere follows the dramatic evolution of its lead character, Lennie Walker (Grace Kaufman). Lennie is a musical prodigy who is grief-stricken from the sudden death of her best friend and sister Bailey (Havana Rose Liu). As the story twists and turns, Lennie finds herself in a whirlwind of emotion when she is unexpectedly attracted to two different boys, Toby (Pico Alexander), her late sister's fianc�, and Joe (Jacques Colimon), a fellow musician at her school.

Grace Kaufman's performance as Lennie radiates in the film. She is my favorite character because Kaufman's acting is raw and alive. There are scenes in the film that will tether you to her and scenes that will drive you away. Overall, I really enjoyed Lennie's spiritual journey. Other notable character performances include Gram (Cherry Jones) and Joe (Jacques Colimon.). Cherry Jones portrays Lennie's spirited grandmother perfectly. Jacques Colimon gives a blazing performance as Joe, a handsome musician and love interest of Lennie's. Many of the film's scenes are set underneath a lush canopy of redwood trees with magical skylines. The cinematography is outstanding with its bold filming techniques. The cameras twirl, zoom and flow perfectly with the characters' movements.

The messages of the movie are to not let grief take over your life and damage closest relationships, and to be considerate of others with similar experiences. There is also the theme of encouraging us to embrace music. The Sky is Everywhere does have some profanity and drug use. There is no shown sexual content, but it is mentioned several times.

I give The Sky is Everywhere 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters and Apple TV+ on February 11, 2022.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: BOOK, AGES 6-18
Description - The child in us yearns for simple answers to complex questions. How do we open to new ways of thinking? How can we live in community and still respect the individual? Who are we, and do we have the ability to transform ourselves and, perhaps, each other? This book starts with a set of values that can be true for anyone and a reminder that our hearts hold goodness waiting to be revealed. These stories and drawings are for our children, our future, and they are for you, too. Let the magic transform you and inspire a world filled with unity, compassion and love.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - This is a book to share with young people for those times when they need an uplifting story -- and keep a copy for yourself. You will feel the pulse of family and the sense of community, and you'll recognize Genie Valen's need to get these stories out -- to share with an evolving world. I thank her for how she makes us examine our own accountability. By R. Levy, KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Author Genie Valen writes camp stories in a very unconventional way. This book sets itself apart from other popular stories such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Ms. Valen tells important and modern life lessons for an evolving world where future generations are facing different issues that call for a different type of campfire stories.

Campfire Stories for an Evolving World uses bookending where two stories are happening simultaneously. The story starts off with a family traveling to go camping. As issues arise a prayer from the father of the family creates the start of a mystical storytelling. This then ignites into the telling of different stories with different lesson. Will the family be able to learn from this lesson and navigate this evolving world?

This book is such an interesting approach to telling a camp story. It really challenges the idea that the real monsters we should fear are the fear to dream and to not be afraid of change. In the age of social media this is a great guide for younger kids who may need help with self-worth and image. That brings me to my favorite part of this book. I love the story of Lizard Boy best. It really captures the message of being comfortable with your circumstances without letting it define who you are and how you feel. My favorite character, however, is the elder who appears at the campfire to tell the stories. Her character represents any person you may look up to.

There are so many messages in this book. The main message is to be confident in navigating this modern new world. Make sure you take advantage of the people around who can help you on your journey, highlighted in the story entitled Lellie's Adventure. This book promotes positive social behavior.

I give Campfire Stories for an Evolving Stories World 5 out 5 stories. I recommend for ages 6 to 18, plus adults.

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

Exciting, educational, powerful, delightful, and so many other adjectives can be used to describe Genie Valen's new book, Campfire Stories for an Evolving World. This collection of inspirational short stories not only serves to provide readers with ways to critically think about the ever-changing world we live in, but also gives us strategies to help us face the unknown challenges of an evolving society. This is a book that people of all ages should keep within arm's reach to read when times get tough.

Author Genie Valen has created a small masterpiece of literature built on a foundation of love. Her book starts off with an author's note that sets the stage with, "if every cloud has its silver lining, then every silver lining is a doorway to transformation." Life has its many challenges and these challenges only get more complex in an evolving world. Stories in the book help readers get through difficult times and offer positive strategies to transform us--to help conquer our battles, and to make us better people altogether. Her practical stories of overcoming fear, finding one's self, embracing friendship, and having a strong connection to nature are all great reminders of how we should live our lives.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that the stories are short yet chock-full of uplifting messages for teachable moments. The stories reflect the reality of what kids and adult face within our society today. With critical thought and strategies built on understanding and love, we should all feel empowered to move beyond those challenges. The stories are engaging and written such that kids of all ages can connect and interact with them. Leslie Cook's illustrations are a simple yet enjoyable bonus.

Each story in Campfire Stories for an Evolving World carries its own message; however the overall message of the book is that if there is love in our hearts, there is love in this world. Our evolving world can appear "ugly," hardened, and hopeless at times, yet each of us has the ability to change that. Love runs deep within us all and softens the heart, which is the most powerful tool for transformation! This book is more than a book to be pulled out and read around a campfire, but rather its powerful messages are a great tool, and can be read and shared on any given day.

I give Campfire Stories for an Evolving World 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults will also love and appreciate this book. The book is available now and you can purchase a copy wherever books are sold.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 6-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ 14.95 Media: Book ISBN # 1737329409

Series: FEATURE, AGES 11-18
Description - Based on the 1937 novel by Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile is a daring mystery-thriller about the emotional chaos and deadly consequences triggered by obsessive love. Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot's Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple's idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this dramatic tale of love gone wrong features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers with enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement. Death on the Nile transports audiences to the 1930s, recreating many of the locations that served as inspiration for Christie's glamorous, high society thriller.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Death on the Nile, based on the Agatha Christie novel, is an entertaining, action-packed film. It's filled with mystery and suspense that never failed to grab my attention.

This film starts off with two lovers on an innocent, relaxing honeymoon vacation aboard a riverboat. However, they are pretty much doomed from the start, after choosing love over friendship and human decency for others. Eventually, the characters find themselves in the middle of the Egyptian sea. The key, though, is actually making it off the boat alive with a murderer onboard! The movie has many unexpected turns, and by the end you may be in shock.

The movie's unpredictable nature stands out to me. Every time I thought I knew what was happening next, I was completely off. This unpredictability is especially pleasing in a mystery. It creates suspense for the viewer, and can really grab an audience's attention. I personally love murder mysteries, and this film, overall, is an excellent representative of that genre. Another thing I enjoy is the setting. The locations are absolutely beautiful, and really caught my attention. All of the scenery, including the blue ocean, and giant sand dunes, really adds suspense to the film and feels natural at the same time. Lastly, the casting is top-notch. All the actors are excellent in their roles, and I feel like each part is cast perfectly. For example, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) gets into character, and executes his role as a private investigator to a T.

The message of Death on the Nile is that doing bad things will never make you a good person, even if it's done out of love. This film does have violent scenes, including gunshots and stabbings.

I give Death on the Nile 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Death on the Nile releases n theaters February 11, 2022.

By Mikella G, KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 11-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

JOCKEY (2022)
Series: FEATURE, AGES 13-18
Description - An aging jockey is determined to win one last championship, but his dream is complicated when a young rookie shows up claiming to be his son.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like Jockey because it is a movie full of inspiring scenes. The storyline is very interesting and worth watching.

Jockey is about a famous and talented jockey named Jackson (Clifton Collins, Jr.) Jackson is looking forward to winning his last race, but he has been suffering from pain due to the multiple injuries through the years of competing in horse races. He meets this young man named Gabriel (Moises Arias) who claims to be his son and starts working with him. Jackson is not happy about the news, but still takes him under his wing and trains him to be a jockey. Jackson feels threatened by Gabriel because he becomes a good jockey and might take his place soon. The film has a twist that will leave the audience in awe. You need to watch the movie to find out.

Jockey is written by Clint Bentley and directed by Bentley and Greg Kwedar. It has beautiful scenery like the sun rising above a lake. The music is appealing and goes well with each scene. My favorite scene is when Jackson is training Gabriel at the jockey's training gym. Gabriel sits on a horse-like device. It shows how jockeys gain confidence training on this device, how they work on their grip and how to manage a horse.

The moral of this movie is that being vain doesn't take you anywhere. Jackson is a proud and vain jockey. He thinks he's so good that he's irreplaceable until he realizes he is not the young jockey he used to be. It took Gabriel to open his eyes.

I give Jockey 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. This movie is rated R. Jockey will be released in theaters on February 4, 2022.

By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 10-15
Description - Raising Dion follows the story of Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) and her son Dion (Ja'Siah Young) after Dion starts to manifest several mysterious, superhero-like abilities. Two years after defeating the Crooked Man (Jason Ritter), Season Two follows Dion as he continues honing his powers with the support of his mom and Tevin (Rome Flynn), his Biona trainer who catches Nicole's eye. After befriending new student Brayden (Griffin Robert Faulkner) - a fellow powered kid - a series of alarming events unfold, and Dion learns that danger is still looming. Navigating twists, turns, and surprise visitors, Dion and Nicole must prevail again -- not just to save themselves, but the entire city of Atlanta.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - After a two year hiatus, the second season of Raising Dion is here! Fans have been waiting to see what's happening with Dion and his family and friends after their lives were turned upside down. Dion's powers have proven to be a blessing and a curse, but can these powers help Dion fight evil when everything he's ever known is on the line?

Season two of Raising Dion comes two years after Dion (Ja'Siah Young) defeated Pat (Jason Ritter) and the Crooked Man with the help of his mom, Nicole (Alisha Warren), and his friends Esperanza (Sammi Haney) and Jonathan (Gavin Munn). Dion is continuing to learn how to control his powers with the help of BIONA and his new trainer, Tevin (Rome Flynn). When a new kid, Brayden, who Dion learns is also powered, comes to school, his life becomes unstable as he realizes danger is still lingering.

In this new season, I really like the involvement of Dion's friends Esperanza and Jonathan. It gives Dion more of a support system, and it also gives more depth to his character, as he has to balance being a normal kid as well as having power. The "triangle of power" what the three call themselves, gives Dion the opportunity to do what he needs to do to save his family, friends, and city because he doesn't have to do it alone anymore. Another beneficial addition to this season is Tevin, Dion's new trainer. Tevin is powered, and because of that, he will have a closer bond with Dion. It also gives Dion someone trustworthy to look up to and to protect him. The introduction of Tevin also adds another storyline for Nicole which fans will enjoy. Brayden's character brings another element of suspense--being a young and vulnerable kid makes him an easy target for the dark energy, and it allows him to get close to Dion. So, what really makes this season good are the storylines and the addition of new characters. They all fit and complement each other, and that makes the audience yearn for more.

The message of season two of Raising Dion is to always follow your instincts. When Brayden is trying to convince Dion to do questionable things, Dion always has second thoughts. The characters in this show have an out-of-the-ordinary life, surrounded by different threats. So when they feel something is wrong, going with that gut feeling is essential. For the most part, Raising Dion is kid-friendly, with minimal use of inappropriate language and fighting scenes.

Raising Dion is everything I hoped it would be and more. Who knows what's to come for Dion as he, along with his powers, starts to mature? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I rate Raising Dion 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Season two of this series can be found on Netflix starting February 1, 2022. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 10-15 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - With unique access to a sitting member of Congress, Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power tells the complex story of Rep. Barbara Lee, a steadfast voice for human rights, peace, and economic and racial justice who was the lone vote in opposition to the broad authorization of military force following the September 11th attacks and is the highest-ranking African American woman in the United States Congress.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The fantastic documentary, Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power, directed by Abby Ginzberg shares an historic story generations should witness. I admire how this documentary focuses more on the current impact of Barbara Lee. Many documentaries based on a single influential person are solely focused on the past, while this film does not.

Barbara Lee is currently a United States Congresswoman who has pushed boundaries and broken glass ceilings. This documentary follows the initiatives she stands for and how she has impacted the politics as the 100th Black member of Congress.

It is exciting to see so many familiar faces throughout this film, such as, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and the late former Congressman John Lewis. The flow and organization of this film is my favorite aspect. As most documentaries are known to be information heavy, I love how Director Abby Ginzberg starts the film off with Lee's most recent endeavors. This demonstrates that Congresswoman Lee is still making history and that I am living in it! It is interesting to see how Barbara Lee differs from other politicians--her life in this film is depicted as one large campaign trail to get more people involved in what she advocates for.

Barbara Lee says the message of this documentary herself, stating, "You have to be true to yourself." Also, although faced with so much controversy and hardship throughout life, we must, in every circumstance, know who we are and act accordingly. This film is a call to action from all of us to take a stand on the issues we care about.

I give Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power, 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommended it to ages 7 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power on STARZ premiering February 1, 2022.

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

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power is an inspirational documentary. My attention was really captured by Barbara's transition from a single mother on public assistance to an activist with a political career built on a promise to help others.

The story is about Representative Barbara Lee, who is a voice for human rights, peace and equality. One point of significance is that Barbara Lee is the lone voice in opposition to the authorization of military force after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Barbara Lee is also the highest ranking African-American woman in the U.S. Congress.

This film highlights Barbara's struggles as a child growing up in a segregated town, to being a divorced single parent; through these struggles we can see what motivates her to better her family's circumstances. Barbara Lee helps people who need assistance because it's the right thing to do. She does it with a smile on her face, making me truly believe that she loves what she does and that it is her true calling. We get many glimpses of the woman and the politician as we see Barbara Lee in her office, in her car, in meetings and in her home. This gives a real picture into what makes Barbara Lee inspirational --she represents so many viewers like the single mother, divorced people, those on welfare, non-traditional college students, barrier breakers and servant leaders. Audiences also will see what colleagues, family and friends think of Barbara Lee. Notables like Cory Booker, the late John Lewis, Danny Glover and Barbara's son all discuss Barbara and their observations. It is also noteworthy to see the adversity Barbara faced being the lone voice opposing force after 9/11. Even when people were very critical of her, she remained steadfast in her beliefs. This steadfastness is a theme in the documentary.

The message of Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power is to fight for what you believe in. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone or to be the first to do something. We are all capable of lending our voices to help and stand up for others.

I give Barbara Lee: Speak Truth to Power 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. The film is featured on STARZ beginning February 1, 2022 for Black History Month.

By Ayden P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Known as The Sun King, Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) is the most powerful and influential monarch on the planet. Obsessed with his own mortality and the future of France, Louis turns to his spiritual advisor, P�re La Chaise (William Hurt), and the royal physician to help him obtain the key to immortality. Believing a mermaid (Fan Bingbing) contains a force that grants everlasting life, Louis commissions a young sea captain to search the seas and capture the mystical creature. Further complicating his plans is his orphaned daughter, Marie-Jos�phe (Kaya Scodelario), who returns to court with an abundance of elegance and an inherent defiance of authority. With a rare solar eclipse approaching, Louis will discover where his daughter's true loyalties lie as he races against time to extract the mermaid's life-giving force.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - If you're looking for a swashbuckling adventure with a royal heroine and a mystical creature in a fairytale setting then The King's Daughter is for you! This movie showcases the beauty and majesty of Versailles with breathtaking cinematography that is truly the stuff of dreams.

The King's Daughter is based on the book The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre--a historical fantasy novel taking place during the reign of King Louis XIV of France (Pierce Brosnan). King Louis, known as The Sun King, is the most powerful monarch of that time and obsessed with his own mortality and rule. While seeking the key to immortality, he has his estranged daughter, Marie-Jos�phe (Kaya Scodelario) brought to court. She was secretly raised in a convent and is unaware of her parentage but has a forthright character, intellect and beauty that draws him to reconsider his world and values.

The performances in this film really add to the haunting majesty of the storyline under the direction of Sean McNamara. I really enjoyed the depth of the relationship between King Louis (Pierce Brosnan) and his spiritual advisor, P�re La Chaise (William Hurt). Naturally, my favorite character is our independent and strong heroine Marie-Jos�phe (Kaya Scodelario), and she is a great role model in this film. Interestingly, after playing the romantic roles in this movie, Kaya Scodelario and Benjamin Walker (Captain Yves De La Croix) fell in love in real life! Another magical element is the narration by the incomparable Julie Andrews. In addition to the acting performances, the breathtaking setting of Versailles imbues its own magic as does the visual effects in this film. Music is another key element which supports the story, and I enjoyed the scenes of Marie-Jos�phe (Kaya Scodelario) composing and performing as her music weaves its magic on more than one character. Near and dear to my heart are the sumptuous gowns and costumes designed by Lizzy Gardiner as the exquisite detailing adds to the majesty of the characters.

This film has more than one message as it explores the importance of belief and values. The characters learn to stop hoping for the perfect world and to live in the one that they inhabit and try to make it better--an important message for everyone. King Louis XIV learns through the perseverance of his daughter, Marie-Josephe, that only love is immortal.

I rate The King's Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults who will enjoy it as well. The film opens exclusively in theaters on January 21, 2022. Don't miss this magical story as it unfolds!

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

The King's Daughter combines historic and futuristic elements into one modern, fantastical film. The sets are absolutely beautiful and the acting is on point--and along with that, an intriguing storyline and deeply developed characters make it impossible to stop watching.

The fantasy story follows King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) of France and his determination to gain immortality, no matter the cost. Even the death of a mermaid (Bingbing Fan) and the grief of his daughter, Marie-Josephe D'Alember (Kaya Scodelario), will not stop him. He proves his selfishness even further by forcing his daughter into a marriage to make allies with the Dutch, despite her love for the sailor Benoit (Paul Ireland). Will Marie learn of the King's plans in time to save the mermaid? Or will lives be lost and love drained in King Louis's path to eternal life?

The King's Daughter has gorgeous sets. The palace is gigantic and golden, with intricate designs etched on the top of the points. Wide open fields with vibrant green grass, a fountain surrounding a magnificent statue and the seaside cliffs where Marie has to decide her fate are only a few of the breathtaking locations. The cave where the mermaid lives, however, rises above all. The gentle dimness sets the tone for the friendship that will be created and then jeopardized. With the ship towering over the water, the limited light reflects in the sea. These pretty sets create a perfect background for the wonderful acting. Pierce Brosnan as King Louis, Kaya Scodelario as Marie, and William Hurt as Pere La Chaise deliver some of the best performances. The actors drop clues as their characters' motivations and secrets are slowly revealed to make the plot even more interesting.

The message of The King's Daughter is to treasure loved ones and regard all lives as important, no matter their appearance or powers. This is shown through the themes of love and equal treatment of other species, symbolized by the mermaid. There are periods of violence, particularly at the end.

I give The King's Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. Get that popcorn ready--you can view The King's Daughter in select theaters beginning January 21, 2022.

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

I love The King's Daughter because the story timeline creates suspense and is very intriguing. It guides the film in many different ways, with costumes, makeup, sets, setting, and how the characters are portrayed. The costumes really caught my eye--every single one is different. The outfits of Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) are so beautiful and seem to always have a touch of her personality in them.

The story is about King Louis XIV's (Pierce Brosnan) daughter, Marie-Josephe D'Alember, who comes from an orphanage where she is being raised by nuns. She is introduced to the world where she meets a mermaid (Bingbing Fan) who is captured and put in a secret place where the subjects of King Louis XIV hold her. Marie-Josephe doesn't know what they are planning to do with the mermaid and why.

The cast of The King's Daughter is excellent overall and includes William Hurt in a key role as Pere La Chaise. The movie is partly filmed in the Palace of Versailles in France including a big dance sequence filmed inside the Hall of Mirrors. The King's Daughter has so much of everything--action, adventure, family, fantasy, and romance which all make the film so interesting!

The message of this film is that you know what's right and wrong, so don't let anyone get away with doing something wrong. Even people you love might be doing something for the wrong reason--it's important to stand up to them and make it right.

I give The King's Daughter 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find The King's Daughter in theaters on January 21, 2022.

By Makena P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid star in this beloved tale based on the New York Times best-selling book by Kate DiCamillo. When 12-year-old Rob Horton (Christian Convery) discovers a caged tiger in the woods near his home, his imagination runs wild and life begins to change in the most unexpected ways. With the help of a wise and mysterious maid, Willie May (Queen Latifah) and the stubborn new girl in school (Madalen Mills), he navigates through childhood memories, heartache, and wondrous adventures in this heartwarming adaptation.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Grief can run so unbelievably deep that it can control your life. Sadly, this is the case with 12-year-old Rob Horton in the new film The Tiger Rising. This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges. Although its subject matter is somewhat heavy, this film will leave its viewers with a sense of empowerment that each of us has for what it takes to make it through our darkest days.

Based on Kate DiCamillo's book, The Tiger Rising follows a young boy on his heartfelt journey following the loss of his mother. Young Rob (Christian Convery) flees with his Dad to a new town to start their life anew. Rob is bullied at his new school, but finds friendship with Sistene (Madalen Mills), an aggressive and outspoken classmate who is also new to the area and dealing with problems of her own. Rob stumbles upon a caged tiger and shares his find with Sistene who insists that this tiger be set free. Feeling confused about doing the right thing, Rob seeks advice from the motel's maid Willie May (Queen Latifah) who gives him genuine and endearing advice.

What I liked most about The Tiger Rising is how symbolic it is. The tiger in the cage represents the very trapped Rob and Sistine. Both of these kids are struggling with their trapped emotions very much like the tiger that spends his days pacing back and forth in his tiny cage. The actors for this film completely fit their roles and give it such meaning. The Tiger Rising tugs at the heart and creates gratitude for our blessings in life, which I also appreciate. The outcome of the film is suspenseful and filled with complex emotions, leaving viewers both sad and glad at the same time. Also worth a mention are the terrific visual effects that bring such life to the tiger. The films explores Rob's close family relationships, as shown in Rob's flashbacks and how, when those bonds are no longer there, they are replaced by the bonds of friendship. When these two kids hit rock bottom, they must trust one another to lift themselves back up.

The main themes of The Tiger Rising are about relationships and trusting others. There is a deeper message in The Tiger Rising, however. Loss and grief can cause you to become caged and isolated from the world; yet the only way to be released from it is to find a way to free yourself. Each of us has the ability to move beyond these constraints and Willie May's advice of "nobody can rescue you, you have to rescue yourself," expresses the importance of self-empowerment.

I give The Tiger Rising 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to ages 8 to 18. Adults, especially educators, will also love this film. The Tiger Rising releases in theaters January 21, 2022 and begins streaming on Apple TV February 8, 2022.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 18-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Drac and the pack are back, like you've never seen them before in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Reunite with your favorite monsters for an all-new adventure that presents Drac with his most terrifying task yet. When Van Helsing's mysterious invention, the 'Monsterfication Ray," goes haywire, Drac and his monster pals are all transformed into humans, and Johnny becomes a monster! In their new mismatched bodies, Drac, stripped of his powers, and an exuberant Johnny, loving life as a monster, must team up and race across the globe to find a cure before it's too late, and before they drive each other crazy. With help from Mavis and the hilariously human Drac Pack, the heat is on to find a way to switch themselves back before their transformations become permanent.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Your favorite monsters are back in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania for the fourth and final installment of the Hotel Transylvania franchise! This film is entertaining from the opening sequence right until the last minute. Full of thrilling CGI animation, electrifying music, monstrous comedy and one all-new crazy adventure, the audience is sure to have a frightastic time watching it!

Drac (Brian Hull) and his friends are back and Drac is ready to announce his retirement from Hotel Transylvania. He plans to give the hotel to his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny, his son-in-law (Andy Samberg), but after having a change of heart, he decides not to, thinking that Johnny will ruin the hotel. To get out of it, he tells Johnny a lie, which causes Johnny to use Van Helsing's (Jim Gaffigan) mysterious invention, the "Monsterfication Ray" to transform into a monster to get Drac's approval and fix everything. However, the machine malfunctions and ends up stripping Drac of his powers and turning him and his monster friends into humans. Johnny and Drac must partner up on an adventure to find the magical stone that will change them back before their transformations become permanent.

The main characters are Drac, Johnny and Mavis, but the rest of the Hotel Transylvania family we've come to love, such as Drac's wife, Erika Van Helsing (Katherine Hahn), Frank (Brad Abrell), Murray (Keegan-Michael Kay), Griffin The Invisible Man (David Spade) and Wayne (Steve Buscemi) also make appearances. This film lives up to its subtitle where almost every character goes through some type of internal or external transformation. It is fascinating watching the monsters get turned into humans and how they have to adapt. I laughed so hard when Blobby, who is a green blob monster, turns into his human form, which ends up being a plate of green gelatin that the characters have to carry around. Drac and Johnny's entire adventure through the jungles of South America is hilarious, especially when they are on a tour bus and Johnny's weight as a monster slows it down, so he sticks his feet through the bottom and starts running with it.

The message of this film is to accept others for who they are and also be true to yourself. Drac only sees the crazy things Johnny does and Johnny tries to teach him to see beyond the worst things so he can see the best parts in people and life. Whether Johnny is a human or monster he always loves being himself but gets in trouble when he lets Drac convince him that he isn't enough.

I rate Hotel Transylvania: Transformania 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can check into Prime Video to watch Hotel Transylvania: Transformania starting January 14, 2022.

by Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stock boy at a grocery store to a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. The film centers on Warner's unique story and years of challenges and setbacks that could have derailed his aspirations to become an NFL player -- but just when his dreams seemed all but out of reach, it is only with the support of his wife, Brenda (Anna Paquin) and the encouragement of his family, coaches, and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is. American Underdog is an uplifting story that demonstrates that anything is possible when you have faith, family and determination.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - American Underdog is based on a football player's unlikely true story of ascending to the heights of the game. This biopic features moments of drama, comedy, romance, nostalgia, frustration and religious events that will touch your core.

This magnificent movie is about the legendary NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) and his wife Brenda (Anna Paquin). This is the first faith and family film released by Lionsgate on Christmas Day. The movie depicts Warner's journey from college all the way till he makes it to the NFL. During that journey, Warner meet his wife, goes through tough and challenging situations with Brenda and her sons, and he has to make a living--on top of all that, he struggles with being drafted into the NFL. My favorite part of this movie is the ending. Why? Because is a mixture of video showing real plays combined with scenes created for the movie. To see Kurt Warner executing his plays in real life gives the audience a sense of motivation and happiness, and sends the message that nothing is impossible when you have hope and faith.

The moral of this film is to never give up on your dreams, no matter how impossible they look or what it takes. Every time you fall, stand up. Every time you fail, try again. Have faith in yourself and in God, or the higher power, that you can achieve whatever you focus on or put your mind to.

I give American Underdog 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 10 to 18 plus adults. The movie releases in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25, 2021.

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

A touching, inspiring real life story that will have you hooked, American Underdog is the sports film you want to be watching this Christmas!

American Underdog follows NFL quarterback Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) and his journey from bagging groceries, to the struggles of being an undrafted player, to playing arena football, to playing for the then, St. Louis Rams. While he's experiencing ups and downs in his career, Warner also must balance his vacillating family life. It's a saga for the ages, and it's all true!

The production team of American Underdog led by Andrew and Jon Erwin don't let a single detail go - the acting, music, cinematography and script of this film are all incredible. Zachary Levi owns his role as Kurt Warner, harmonizing the characteristic toughness of a NFL player with the emotions of a husband, son, dad and teammate. Dennis Quaid's portrayal of head coach Richard Vermeil deserves a round of applause as well, and for a similar reason. It feels as if Quaid must have been a coach at one point. In his role as Vermeil, Quaid unrelentingly pushes Levi's character, but encourages and supports him in equal measure.

American Underdog teaches the virtues of perseverance and hard work. Kurt Warner didn't get what he wanted the first time, so he worked his tail off and earned it. Sure, he was dejected when sent home from the Green Bay Packers after a day on the team. But he didn't let it stop him.

I give American Underdog 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to18, plus adults. American Underdog releases in theaters December 25, 2021.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, 10-18
Description - It might seem humans have mapped every inch of our planet's surface, but look closer and you'll discover that there is still so much more to uncover -- the age of exploration is far from over! Welcome to Earth, a Disney+ original series from National Geographic, follows two-time Academy Award� nominee Will Smith on an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime adventure around the world to explore Earth's greatest wonders and reveal its most hidden secrets. Throughout the six-part limited series produced by visionary Academy Award�-nominated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, Protozoa Pictures, Jane Root's Nutopia and Westbrook Studios, Will is guided by elite explorers on an awe-inspiring journey, getting up close and personal with some of the most thrilling spectacles on the planet -- from volcanoes that roar in silence to deserts that move beyond our perception to animal swarms with minds of their own. Combining breathtaking cinematography with Will's boundless curiosity and enthusiasm, the blockbuster series is an exciting, multisensory ride through Earth's most mind-bending portals.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I loved Welcome To Earth, a six-part documentary featuring Will Smith traveling to the far reaches of the globe in search of Earth's hidden secrets. It is exciting to watch Will find himself in places few have gone before, which forces him to conquer his fears as he embarks on life changing expeditions that alter his perception, and the viewer's, of the world we live in.

Audiences will follow Will from the Nambia Desert to Norway, from Brazil into the depths of the ocean and to top of a volcano, as well as to other fascinating places. He witnesses the secrets of nature in hidden places that most people don't often see or notice. Viewers will be both educated and enchanted by the wonders they encounter in each episode, especially since the different camera angles and tricks that capture the speed of movement give viewers images of these incredible sights.

My favorite scene is in the episode called "Descent Into Darkness" when Will Smith and Dr. Diva Amon travel by submarine 3000 feet below sea level to a mind-blowing place that looks like another world. They explore and learn about a variety of sea creatures that live in the Twilight and Midnight zones below the ocean. It's fascinating to learn how the animals communicate using bioluminescence, the emission of light. And since a very small percentage of the ocean has been explored, Will's below-the-sea trip is particularly meaningful and also quite terrifying. I also appreciate how each experience has expert guides. Many of them have faced challenges of their own which makes it even more interesting. It's eye opening to hear from multiple people on what they're passionate about and learn about their past. Ultimately, Will Smith is an incredible host who combines humor with education and is very enjoyable to watch.

The message in this series is that you need to face your fears in order to defeat them. You can't let your fears stop you from pursuing your goals. Will gives the advice to "work with your fear not against it." He is constantly pushing himself and testing his limits, too. There is some mild cursing that parents should be aware of.

I give Welcome To Earth 5 out of 5 stars. This documentary held my attention and got me excited to learn more about Earth. I recommend this to ages 11 to 17, as well as to adults. It releases on Disney+ December 8, 2021.

By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - In 1999, 12-year-old Beverly discovers a broken mixtape made by her late parents. She sets out to find the songs -- and learn more about her mom and dad.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Mixtape is an excellent feel-good flick! Amazing songs, extraordinary characters, and comedic one-liners make this movie worthwhile. By the end of the film, I wanted to watch it all over again.

Mixtape follows twelve-year-old Beverly (Gemma Brooke Allen) in 1999. She lives with her grandmother Gail (Julie Bowen) after her parents died in a car crash. One day, Beverly finds a mixtape from her parents and goes on a journey to find out more about them and about herself. She is accompanied by her friends Nicky (Olga Petsa), Ellen (Audrey Hsieh) and Anti (Nick Thune).

This film is incredible. It radiates fun vibes that young audiences need today. The comedy is perfectly balanced to give the movie a lighthearted feel, but doesn't distract from Beverly's quest to find out more about her family. The flick really does resemble life in the 90s, with phrases, taunts and wardrobe that are appropriate to the era. The characters are so loveable. Anti is hilarious with his dry humor which compliments Beverly's eccentric personality. Nicky, Ellen and Beverly make a perfect and unlikely trio. They are all funny, work great together as a team, and are strong together - just as strong as they are individually. The writers fit so many relationships and themes into this movie - friendship, family and finding yourself. It's incredible how they focus on so many topics without jumbling them and making a huge mess. Audiences need a film like Mixtape because it's a breath of fresh air. It's easy to get exhausted from heavily dramatic movies and Mixtape is the perfect comfort movie.

There are several themes in this movie. Beverly learns to find confidence in herself plus she finds amazing friends. She also learns to live life to the fullest, seeing it through new lenses and getting out of her comfort zone.

I give Mixtape 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 16. It begins streaming on Netflix December 3, 2021.< p>By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - The Chosen has a new episode! To launch the Christmas season this December, The Chosen has created a special episode about the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph. You'll also see an extraordinary lineup of musicians perform both new and classic Christmas songs from the set of The Chosen.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Calming, musical and inspiring are just some of the words that describe this new episode of The Chosen series, Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers. This episode is just in time for the Christmas holiday and brings a touching story and music revolving around Jesus Christ's birth. This special event is the first time The Chosen fans gather across the country and they will not be disappointed.

Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers is a two-hour Christmas special episode of The Chosen's multi-season series. It shows the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph. It also includes Christmas-themed musical performances by Christian artists and storytelling from the Bible.

The Chosen fans will feel right at home watching some of their favorite actors from the original series. The director of this episode, Dallas Jenkins, is known for faith-based media and put this episode together flawlessly. From the songs to the musicians that perform them and even the accurate storytelling, everything is amazing. The costumes, sets and cinematography make you feel like you are actually witnessing Jesus being born. The music is sensational and helps drive the film. My favorite song is Emmanuel (God with Us Forever) performed by Bryan and Katie Torwalt, because it is delivered beautifully and is soothing, inspiring and heartwarming. Fun fact ... this entire film was recorded in secret and is the perfect Christmas gift for The Chosen's fandom. I think it is pretty amazing that the filmmakers, cast and the staff behind the episode were able to pull off such a huge surprise.

Audiences will enjoy the spiritual Christmas music and Bible stories that are included in this episode and it makes a great addition to a Christian family holiday film collection.

I rate Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It will be released through Fathom Events in select cinemas December 1 through December 24. Tickets are available at

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - Rowena "Ro" is a high-spirited teenager who is experiencing a lackluster Christmas. Ro isn't handling her parents' divorce well. She wants her life back the way it was--her parents back together, her dad's new girlfriend and son out of the picture, and their family traditions to remain the same. After a disappointing celebration with her family, including her sister Gabriela "Gabby," Abuela Sofia and Abuelo Hector, she makes a wish to a neighborhood Santa for a "do-over" and unexpectedly finds herself reliving Christmas day over and over ... and over again. Now, in order to break the strange magical loop, Ro must learn to appreciate her loving family as it is, as well as the true meaning of Christmas.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Christmas Again is full of so much comedy, action and seasonal fun. Imagine your craziest and/or most memorable Christmas and having to live it over and over again! Well that's exactly what you will get from this new holiday film. It's sure to go on your list of movies to watch every year with your family.

Christmas Again follows Rowena "Ro" (Scarlett Estevez) who wakes up on Christmas Day looking forward to another amazing Christmas with her family, but everything is different. While her family is fine with the new way of life and traditions, Rowena struggles with accepting her parents' divorce, her father's new girlfriend and new traditions. Ro wants everything to go back to how it was before so she makes a wish to the neighborhood Santa Claus to re-do Christmas in hopes that it will make things go back to normal, but things just get worse. She repeatedly re-lives Christmas Day over and over again. In order to break the loop, Ro has to learn to love her family, but also discover the true meaning of Christmas.

The main character, Rowena, is a teenager that just really loves Christmas and her family's long standing traditions. One of my favorite parts is when Rowena and her family are playing a game and she knows all the answers because she has played it over and over again each day in the magical loop. It is funny watching her family's reaction as they try to figure out how she knows everything. I enjoyed seeing all the traditions Rowena and her family had and watch as Rowena tries to figure out how to break the loop. Even though the movie shows the same day over and over again, you will be entertained as Ro learns more and more about the true meaning of Christmas each day.

The message in Christmas Again is that the true meaning of Christmas is about spending time with family and embracing new traditions together with the old ones. Ro must learn to appreciate her family as they are now and realize the true meaning of Christmas. Changes are going to happen in life and you have to be ready to accept them.

I rate Christmas Again 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 6 to 18, plus adults. Christmas Again premieres Friday, December 3, 2021 on Disney Channel.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: EBOOK, AGES 5-12
Description - Rae is like many five year olds with one BIG exception: she has a super-secret superpower. It's her 1st day of school & her classmates are in need. Will she keep her power hidden, or help her friends?
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I really enjoyed Rae's First Day. The book is filled with beautiful artwork, almost like a graphic novel. My favorite part is when Rae explains her disability to her classmates and is able to make friends and to prevent herself from being bullied.

Rae's disability doesn't define the little girl she is. Rae's First Day is about inclusiveness of all people with disabilities. Rae shows her superpowers caused by her disability. This book is very informative and educational in showing that, despite our differences, we are capable of so much more.

A graphic novel, the first book in the Capable series, Rae's First Day was written by Danny Jordan and illustrated by Augustina Perciante. The story was inspired by Jordan's daughter who has the same disability as Rae. Rae is a five-year-old girl with an upper limb difference who is about to start her first day of school and is quite reluctant. When she gets to school with her parents, it is raining. She doesn't like it when her teacher touches her right arm because of her limb difference. When her teacher reaches for her arm, she backs away, not wanting to go into school. Rae explains to her classmates about her disability and they become friends. Lex is the only person that she shares her superpowers with. Rae uses her secret superpowers to turn the rainy day into a sunny day.

The message of the book is about addressing your differences, explaining them to your peers and understanding if they don't comprehend.

I give Rae's First Day 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It is easy to understand for middle-school kids, but some language is too advanced for more 5-year-olds. It is available now where book are sold.

By Connie C., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The theme of Rae's First Day is very appealing; it's about the inclusion of all people no matter how different they are. Everybody should read this book. Not only is it totally heartwarming, but it empowers people who have disabilities to be the very best they can be. We are all super in our own way. My favorite part of the book is when Rae uses her superpowers to save the day by clearing the rain so that recess could be held outside.

This book displays acceptance and embraces differences. The theme, the story, and the illustrations are extremely engaging for a young audience.

This book is an easy read. It has some slightly difficult vocabulary for younger readers but overall the story flows nicely, has great content and is somewhat suspenseful, which makes the reader wanting to read on. Not only is this a perfect book for younger readers, but it's also a great family read. Whether families are sitting around a table, the campfire, or lounging in a living room, this is a great book to share.

Rae's First Day models some of the very best characteristics. It is such a package deal for displaying courage, perseverance, kindness, acceptance and so much more within the many character interactions. There are many teachable moments. Problem-solving can be seen throughout the book. Rae's parents question the readiness of Rae starting school, the interaction she may have among her peers, and whether Rae will stay strong. Rae also questions her abilities to get through the day. Both Rae and her parents are able to problem solve by just trusting themselves. Negative thoughts ran through their heads, yet they problem-solved by simply facing the world head on. All ages can relate to having the courage to face any struggles. The concepts are exceptionally easy to follow. The vocabulary, for the most part, is easy to understand, although some terminology may be difficult for younger readers. For example, the words instance, daily affirmations, villainous and illumination are suitable for older readers.

The colorful, glossy pages and illustrations made me want to delve right in and read the book and I was super excited for the last page that reads, " be continued." I'm eager to read more about Rae and her capabilities!

Rae's First Day is highly educational and has great merit. In a world that can sometimes be very cruel, reading about Rae and how her difference makes her super is a must read for all ages. This book should perhaps land itself in classrooms around the globe as its value is priceless. I will be sharing this book on my social media accounts as it such a worthy book.

Like Rae, many children across the globe have disabilities which often affect them, both physically and socially. Rae's bravery needs to be shared with the world. Books such as this can only serve to make the world a better place.

I give Rae's First Day 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults, especially educators. It can be found now wherever books are sold.

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

Rae's First Day is a wonderful representation of kids with disabilities and how being different makes you super. Rae's First Day is the first story in the Capables series showing how differences not only make you unique (because if everyone was the same it would be boring), but how differences make you super. Make you special.

Rae is a five-year-old starting her first day of kindergarten and she is worried that all the kids will treat her differently. You see, Rae was born with only one bone in her right forearm while most kids are born with two. Because of this, Rae's right hand is shorter than her left and only has two fingers. But (as her dad says ALL THE TIME!), Rae is smart and strong and capable! Because she is capable; because she is different - unlike her limb difference that all can see - she has a superpower she's never shown anyone.

The Capables are a group of super-capable kid superheroes who all have a cape or super capability. That cape or superpower is activated through empowerment. The author, Danny Jordan, is following this cause because it hits home. His daughter Emerson Rose is just like Rae, a superhero in her own right who has an upper limb difference. Danny created The Capables to put children like his daughter in the hero role and also to encourage readers to be more understanding when it comes to disabilities and more inclusive. The illustrations are by Agustina Perciante and are beautiful and very accurate to the story. The book has lots of pictures with lots of color which definitely make the book engaging for young kids. There's even a word-search with one of the kids playing that readers can actually play. And the words --- smart, strong, unique, capable - all supports ideas related to the cause and message of the book such as, "Agustina possibly draws better than me." I think that this is an amazing educational, engaging and entertaining children's book with a focus on the inclusion of those with disabilities, which is a great cause that doesn't get enough attention. It's Danny's hope (and now mine too) that this book will turn into a series - one that strongly believes that being different is a superpower.

The message of this book is that different is super. It's a beautiful message we need to hear more often in our world today. The only thing I don't like is that Rae doesn't tell her parents about her superpower. She says maybe someday but now - no way. Keeping secrets from parents isn't the best message for young kids.

Rae's First Day is great and I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8 (for younger kids, parents can read it aloud). It is available for purchase now at, the and other places where books are sold.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Rae's First Day is a must read for all ages that belongs in classrooms around world as it portrays positive outcomes for children that are different from others. This book has a beautiful message we need to hear more often. Rae's First Day describes how being different makes you awesome. I loved reading this book because it empowers people who have disabilities to be great.

The story follows five-year-old Rae who is starting her first day of kindergarten and is worried about how all the kids will treat her. Rae was born with only one bone in her right forearm. Because of this, Rae's right hand is shorter than her left and only has two fingers. Rae is smart and strong and capable! With her limb difference she has a superpower she's never knew before.

This book is suitable for the young audience because it is easy to read and has an educational message too. I love the content and the suspenseful events, which made me want to read more. The story displays courage, perseverance, kindness, acceptance and so much more. The concepts are easy to follow. The vocabulary, for the most part, is easy to understand as well. The book shows the characters' social interactions, especially when Rae explains her disability to her classmates. After doing that, she is able to make friends and prevent herself from being bullied. Like Rae, many children have disabilities which often affect them, both physically and socially. Rae's bravery is wonderful to share with the world, because books such as this can help others that don't yet believe in themselves.

The theme, the story and illustrations are all well executed. The colorful, glossy pages and illustrations make you want to delve right in and read. There are many teachable moments in this book. Problem-solving is shown throughout. Rae's parents question Rae's readiness to start school, any negative interaction she might have with her peers, and whether Rae can stay strong. Rae also questions her abilities to get through the day. Both Rae and her parents' problem solve by just trusting themselves. Negative thoughts ran through their heads, yet they problem-solved by simply facing the world.

The book's vocabulary is mostly suitable for a 5 to 8-year-old audience, but some language is too advanced for some 5-year-olds. For example, words such as daily affirmations and illumination may need to be defined for younger readers. This book is filled with beautiful artwork, almost like a graphic novel. The illustrations are by Agustina Perciante who keeps it accurate to the story. This book is very educational and has great merit. In a world that can sometimes be very cruel, reading about Rae and how her difference makes her a great student and child. The author created The Capables series to put children like his daughter in a heroic role and to encourage readers to be more understanding when it comes to those with disabilities. My favorite part is when Rae uses her superpowers to save the day for her classmates by clearing the rain outside for everyone to have recess.

The message of this book is about addressing your differences, explaining them to your friends and understanding if they don't comprehend. The only thing I don't like is that Rae doesn't tell her parents about her superpower. She says maybe someday but not now. Keeping secrets from parents isn't the best message for young kids.

I give Rae's First Day 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults, especially educators. It is available for purchase now at and other places where books are sold.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Book

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-18
Description - Hosted by the multitalented, Emmy� award-winning actress Keke Palmer, Foodtastic is an immersive global competition series in which highly skilled artists create extravagant scene work and larger-than-life sculptures made entirely out of food. From vegetables and butter to fruit and cheese, these everyday items are transformed into works of art. Each episode is rooted in iconic Disney IP and the food-based builds are an extension of that world. Flour Shop founder Amirah Kassem and NYC's City Cakes founder chef Benny Rivera serve as food art experts on the series.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - What do you get when you give adults a pass to play with their food in the magical world of Disney? You get one Foodtastic show! Foodtastic is Disney's new food build competition show that is filled with whimsical storytelling, breathtaking set designs, out-of-this-world visual effects, and larger than life food sculptures with magic around each corner.

Foodtastic is hosted by the multi-talented actress, Keke Palmer, who is also one of the executive producers. Each episode opens with Keke Palmer acting out a Disney-themed skit narrated by award-winning voice actor Anthony Mendez. Contestants must build scenes using food sculptures based on the skit. Flour Shop founder Amirah Kassem and NYC's City Cakes founder chef Benny Rivera serve as the food artist experts and judges on the show. Contestants are judged on technique, realism and creativity. The winning team is awarded bragging rights and a gold Foodtastic pin.

Each episode has three teams consisting of highly talented food artists including architects, food sculptors and even a Guinness world record pumpkin carver. Disney left no stone unturned when it came to making this show magical. The set designs are vibrant and very realistic. Creative visual effects such as a red sun setting in the background of the Star Wars-themed episode are used to track the contestants' time. The food artists are like kids in a candy store when they see all the food options they have to build their sculptures. The food designs are impressive and include anywhere from 55 different food ingredients for one sculpture, giant jawbreakers as giant donut sprinkles, wasps made out of hot peppers and even Ramen noodles as a massive ant hill. There are even plot twists that serve as extra challenges for the teams, where they may have to re-think their entire project to add a last-minute element, such as Micro Girl needing to be rescued. In that instance, they had to figure out how to add her and what type of food to use to make her. One of the best parts of the show is that all unused food is donated to the local food banks.

Disney is known for being magical and inspiring audiences around the world and Foodtastic is no different. It promotes teamwork, creativity, problem-solving skills and tapping into the magical world of Disney. The contestants really learn what it's like to dream big, free your mind, believe in yourself and your team and just go for it. It's sure to motivate generations of food artists.

I rate Foodtastic 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 5 to 18, kids at heart and adults. You can find Foodtastic on Disney+ starting Wednesday, December 15, 2021.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Description - Tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they're monsters, a group of Australia's deadliest creatures plots a daring escape from the zoo. Back to the Outback is an upcoming Australian-American computer-animated adventure comedy film directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, from a screenplay written by Cripps, and a story by Gregory Lessans and Cripps.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Has your family been looking for a new movie, but can't seem to find anything quite right? Well, your search ends here! Back to the Outback is a brand new Netflix film with perfectly paced humor and out-of-this-world animation. Hilarious for kids and entertaining for adults, this film is sure to be the perfect movie night adventure.

Back to the Outback follows Maddie (Isla Fisher) and her fellow "scary" show animals as they decide they've had enough of sitting in cages and posing as horrific creatures. They escape from Chaz's (Eric Bana) cages and venture out; their final goal being to reach their home in the Outback of Australia. Along the way, they meet the cute koala, Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), whose looks conceal his real personality. That is, until he spends time with Maddie and realizes his true self. Their adventure is going fine until Chaz brings his son along on a mission to catch the animals. Will Maddie, Pretty Boy and the rest of the crew find their way to their families, or end up back where they started?

The first stand-out thing about Back to the Outback is the humor. The funny scenes are spread out between suspenseful ones, so there's always a laugh. Hilarious moments are included even in the action segments, which keeps the film light and relatable. In addition to the funniness, the animation is positively amazing. First, it's incredibly vibrant and colorful. The colors aren't so flashy that they are unrealistic, but they are bright enough to always look warm and welcoming, except for the action-packed, dangerous scenes. In addition, the characters and objects seem to pop out of the screen. It feels like you're actually there! If Chaz is chasing Maddie and her friends down a hill, you're screaming in terror along with them. That is due to the spectacular, almost 3D animation. To add another positive aspect, the plot is strong. There is an easy-to-follow main plot that kids will find simple enough to understand, but there are also countless subplots that are resolved at the end of the film. These subplots are what create an adult-worthy film. They require some deeper understanding, but you can still watch the movie and have a ton of fun even if you don't follow every single character's backstory and subplot.

The message of Back to the Outback is that no one's ugly, but everyone's different. One person's idea of ugly could be someone else's idea of beauty. This film also conveys the importance of trust within family and friends. Without teamwork and immense trust, Maddie and her friends would never have survived their trip to the outback. The only thing to look out for is action-packed and slightly suspenseful scenes.

I give Back to the Outback 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Back to the Outback in select theaters beginning December 3 and on Netflix beginning December 10, 2021.

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - At Lowell High School, the top public high school in San Francisco, the seniors are stressed out. As they prepare for the emotionally draining college application process, students are keenly aware of the intense competition for the few open spots in their dream colleges. At Lowell -- where cool kids are nerds, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, and most of the student body is Asian American -- the things that usually make a person stand out can feel commonplace. With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum captures the reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as young adults navigate a quintessential rite of passage.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The college admissions process is one of the most competitive endeavors children in America face every year. As a senior in high school currently going through it, I found this film relatable and eye-opening to the hardships that I and many others are facing.

Try Harder! takes us through the admissions process by following members of the senior class at Lowell High School, a prestigious, nationally ranked school. The students in the film all share the same process, yet different personal experiences which make the process more complex.

The stereotypes of immigrant parents reign true in this documentary. It considers different viewpoints on the different aspects of the admissions process - from test scores to essays. I love that the film ponders questions we will never get to uncover such as, if you should be humble in writing your essay or not. It questions whether you should check the "I do not wish to disclose" when asked for your race or gender. This film also touches on heavy social issues such as the stereotypes placed on African Americans and their academic abilities, racial discrimination in the admission's process, and the mental health of students in pressurized households.

One of students in the film mentions a very powerful message applicable to this situation, but also in any difficult situation - "People who apply and don't work hard, yet still get in, rubs me the wrong way." This quote exemplifies how, during a competition of any sort, you must work hard and overcome those people making it difficult for you to succeed or to be happy. This film promotes positive social behavior and mentions mental health.

I give Try Harder! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Try Harder! opens in theatres December 3, 2021.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - The Madrigals are an extraordinary family who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a charmed place called the Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift -- every child except Mirabel. However, she soon may be the Madrigals last hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Encanto is an amazing film full of teachings that brings big surprises and great emotions to the public. You�ll be thrilled with the many beauties and magic in this film.

The film tells the story of Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), a girl who is part of the Madrigal family, a family where everyone has super-magic powers. But, is Mirabel of the same alignment as they are? An unexpected event that puts the family in danger, can change everything.

The storyline is well written. I really love the characters. They are funny and nice and the kind of people that everyone likes. My favorite parts are when Antonio Madrigal talks to the animals. I love animals and have always wanted to understand them. Watching this film gave me a greater desire to communicate with animals. This is magical! I also like the part when Mirabel is going to save the family and she says something funny. The special effects are terrific. Everything is super colorful. The background music is extraordinary; the music I like most is the adventure song when Mirabel takes off on her adventure. I love the adventure genre and this music accentuates it. As for costumes, I particularly love the costumes that show their tradition, yet at the same time, are contemporary outfits. They are so beautiful!

The message of the film is that we need to believe in ourselves, Never give up, because in the end you'll find a light.

I give Encanto 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Encanto releases in theaters and on Disney+ November 25, 2021.

By Anna Clara B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, 6-18
Description - Created by Ava DuVernay, a social experiment focuses on real families of different backgrounds who experience a new way of life when they trade homes. The participants boldly step out of their comfort zones, taking part in each other's daily routines, getting acquainted with new friends and neighbors, trying unfamiliar hobbies and more. Afterward, the families come together to share stories as well as their new perspectives and learnings. Their emotional, inspiring journey begins as a celebration of differences, but in the end, it might just reveal that they have more in common than they think.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Home Sweet Home is not just another show where families switch lives! This show is different from other reality television shows because it focuses on celebrating differences, things that families have in common and connecting people rather than conflicts, like many other reality TV shows. It really is a breath of fresh air.

Home Sweet Home is an unscripted nine-part docu-series created by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ms. Ava DuVernay that follows two families with very different lives as they swap homes, eat each other's meals, meet each other's loved ones and experience their traditions and lifestyle.

One of the best parts of the show is that Ms. DuVernay picked families that have never been on a television, had no desire to be famous and are genuinely interested in understanding other people. I love that different families, even the children, learn about other cultures and ways of life that they may not be able to experience any other way. During the social experiment, the families must remove personal photos or anything that may give the other family clues about who they are so the "switch family" really keeps an open mind while staying at their house. It's hilarious watching the families try to guess things about each other based on what they see in their homes, like their food and decorations. It's really cool that, at the end of each episode, the two families sit down for a meal together to share what they learned about each other and themselves throughout the experience.

Home Sweet Home is all about kindness and understanding others. The lesson in this series is to learn how to have an open mind and heart to see life through other people's eyes. The families are able to appreciate how other lives and learn that we all want the same things at the end of the day and that we are all human.

I give Home Sweet Home 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. You can enjoy a free screening of episode 4 of Home Sweet Home now through November 28 during the American Black Film Festival at The series premiered on October 15, 2021, on NBC and moved to Peacock on November 12, 2021.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 6-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - An ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an extraordinary adventure into the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of the elves, Elfhelm. Taking with him a headstrong reindeer called Blitzen and a loyal pet mouse, Nikolas soon meets his destiny in this magical, comic and endearing story that proves nothing is impossible.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A Boy Called Christmas is an unforgettable magical tale of how Christmas came to be. Nikolas sets out on a difficult journey to the Far North in search of his father and the magical elf village called Elfhelm. What he finds is so much more. He finds new friends, hope, and who he was meant to be.

As the film begins, Aunt Ruth (Maggie Smith), comes to babysit three children during the Christmas season. She tells them a story of a boy named Nikolas (Henry Lawfull), or Christmas as his mother used to call him. His father, Joel, (Michael Huisman) embarks on a quest with others to find a spark of magic in the North for the King (Jim Broadbent) who is looking to bring back hope to the people. Nikolas finds a map and ventures into the great unknown with his pet mouse, Miika, in search of his father and the village of Elfhelm.

My favorite scene is when Nikolas meets The Truth Pixie (Zoe Margaret Colletti) while he's locked away in a tower. The Truth Pixie is a comical character who doesn't want to help Nikolas at first, but they soon become friends, which is lucky for him. She decides to help him find his dad and their reactions to events are enjoyable to watch. The settings in the film help add to the mood of the story. The small home has simple things that reflect their simple lives. The creative details in the Elfhelm village add a festive flavor to the story. The decorations are perfect for the holiday season and add to the spirit of Christmas. The animation in the film blends well in the scenes. The animated character Miika ( Stephen Merchant) is a helpful little companion to Nicholas that adds a nice touch to the film. The costumes in the film fit the different characters' personalities well. The elves' costumes have nice details that go well with the story. I also like how everything ties in with the kids and Aunt Ruth at the end.

The message in this film is to have hope. Hope is what keeps people going in times that are hard. Nickolas learns that hope is never out of reach and shares this thought with others. The king needed a tangible symbol of hope that would bring happiness and learns from Nikolas that it was inside him all along.

I give A Boy Called Christmas 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this to ages 10 to 17, plus adults. It releases on Netflix November 24, 2021.

By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family's posh suburban New Jersey home after a year away at college and upends their well-ordered life with her newfound independence. Befriending Varun (Rish Shah), the handsome son of the new owners of the local Indian grocery, she invites his family to a weekly dinner gathering with her parents' wealthy friends. She is shocked to learn that her perfectionist mother Sheila (Manisha Koirala) has a previous connection to Varun's mother Bhairavi (Deepti Gupta). Alia's surprise turns to indignation when she uncovers secrets about both her parents that push her toward a daring and transformative confrontation. India Sweets and Spices celebrates a young woman's coming of age set against a lovingly framed glimpse of the life of an Indian American family
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - India Sweets and Spices is the South Asian-American coming-of-age film of the year - a tale of family, feminism and biscuits and bravery. With masterful acting, beautiful cinematography, and a strong script, it's certainly not a film to miss!< p>Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family's New Jersey hometown after a year away at UCLA and upends their life with her free-spirit personality. She befriends Varun (Rish Shah), the son of the new owners of the local grocery store, India Sweets and Spices. But when she invites his family to a dinner party at her house, family secrets from their Delhi University days are uncovered and lives are changed. Alia is motivated by the new discoveries to seek out more information about her parents' pasts, which mounts up to a powerful (and slightly hilarious) rebellion.

Everything about this film is well thought-out and executed. I'm a massive fan of the star cast. Veteran Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala plays Alia's mother Sheila. She is known for her work promoting women's rights, and so it was only logical that she chose to be a part of this film. Her journey with feminism in the film (which I won't spoil for you) is also one you won't want to miss. A master of her craft, Koirala shows great depth of emotion and truly becomes her character in the film. Sophia Ali seems to hit one note for a large part of the film, and comes through with an emotionally dynamic performance towards the last half hour of the film. Deepti Gupta plays Bhairavi Dutta, Varun's mother. Her portrayal of the warm, yet fiery shopkeeper truly steals the show. There's so much mystique to Bhairavi, which Deepti plays beautifully.

India Sweets and Spices promotes standing up for yourself, especially in the context of women's rights. It teaches others to never bend to the will of others if it goes against your principles. Some profanity is used and there are some intimate scenes.

I give India Sweets and Spices 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. India Sweets and Spices releases in theaters November 19, 2021

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 10-17
Description - When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I like Ghostbusters: Afterlife because it includes a great combination of events from the original 1984 movie. This film has comedy and nostalgic moments mixed with a journey filled with adventure. Then the ending gives the audience a hint of a sequel.

This magnificent movie starts off with Egon Spengler in his home located in a creepy, old farm in the middle of nowhere. He is a lonely, old man whose life revolves around how to capture ghosts. After his death, his daughter and single mother of two kids, Callie (Carrie Coon), moves to Spengler's farm. Spengler's granddaughter Phoebe, (Mckenna Grace), is very skeptical of ghosts' existence until she starts experimenting with strange events happening in her bedroom. That's when Phoebe's grandfather's spirit takes her to the Ghostbusters' gun and guides her to assemble it. Her older brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) fixes the old Ghostbuster mobile from 1984 and they start their journey to capture this maleficent ghost with the help of Podcast, Phoebe's classmate, and Trevor's girlfriend.

This film has amazing graphics and sound effects like. For example, when Phoebe shoots the gun, the light effect coming out of it is very cool. The props look real. I love the use of the Ghostbusters' mobile, which is a huge prop that brings back memories of the original film. The landscape and scenery are mostly outside. The audience can appreciate seeing the town, the green areas and the lonely and creepy farm. I like the costumes, such as when the children wear the 1984 Ghostbuster's uniform, which brings nostalgic memories to older audiences. Bill Murray, Ray Stantz, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts, cast members from 1984, reappear and give this film a sense of excitement and memorabilia. Of course, Slimer, the green friendly ghost, is in this movie. The audience will enjoy some of the 1984 movie puns and also the Ghostbusters original theme song which plays in the credits. My favorite scene is when Phoebe's teacher, Mr. Groobers (Paul Rudd), is in the store and the marshmallows come to life as little Michelin look alike creatures. They are so cute, but at the same time, they destroy everything and start killing each other inside blenders and with torches.

he moral of this film is for young people to understand the sacrifices that our parents make for us in order to have a better life. Egon Spengler spent his whole life hunting and catching ghosts in order that his daughter will have a better life. Too bad Callie didn't realize her father's sacrifices until he passed.

I give Ghostbusters: Afterlife 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on November 19, 2021. And remember, if you experience paranormal activity, "Who are you gonna call?"

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

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a beautiful love letter to a classic film! It's the Easter Egg Hunt of the year, with wonderful cameos and amazing new characters. Ghostbusters' fans of any age are set for an incredible ride.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) after they move to a secluded town in the middle of nowhere. Their grandfather recently passed away and left them with a house. Unbeknownst to them, their grandfather was Egon Spengler, legendary Ghostbuster. There's paranormal activity in the town and now Phoebe, Trevor and their friends and family have to bust some ghosts.

This movie is incredible all around. There are so many wonderful references to the original Ghostbusters film - the proton pack, the jumpsuit, the iconic Cadillac. The writers fit in so many amazing tokens that will have fans gasping and tearing up. The best part is how all the new characters look up to the original team, thinking of them as legends, and the ghost phenomenon in the 1980s as extraordinary. The new characters are awesome; they are lovable and funny, making audiences want to see more of them. The way Phoebe loves science reminds fans of Egon, and Trevor's brashness resembles Venkman. Podcast is a hilarious, supernatural-loving kid who fans are going to adore. It's so adorable how he looks up to Ray Stantz, and even has a few scenes that mirror Ray's in the first film of the franchise. The CGI is fantastic, using remarkable de-aging technology. The production team was careful in not overusing CGI, keeping both the Gatekeeper and the Key Master exactly as they were in the 1984 film, instead of modernizing their appearances. The cameos are so amazing; they don't take over the entire film, but they have significance to the plot, and fit perfectly into the storyline. The two post-credit scenes are a must-watch, including a deleted scene, a cameo and an opening for a sequel.

The moral of the film is to be yourself and follow your heart. Phoebe is an outcast for her love of science and being socially awkward. Her mother mentions on several occasions how she worries for her daughter. Phoebe learns to be herself, makes new friends, and is able to hunt some ghosts using her intelligence.

I give Ghostbusters: Afterlife 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available exclusively in theaters November 19, 2021.

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

The 2021 fantasy and comedy film Ghostbusters: Afterlife, by Jason Reitman, is absorbing, hilarious and intriguing. I truly enjoyed watching how Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) grows from being the quiet/nerdy girl, and finds her place. She becomes more comfortable with herself, and soon the ghost-hunting begins.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows a single mother and her two children, Phoebe and Trevor. After being evicted from their home, the family is forced to move to a decayed farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma, left to them by the children's late grandfather. Phoebe begins attending a new school and bonds with the summer school teacher, Mr.Gooberson (Paul Rudd) over their mutual interest in science. Coincidentally, many scientifically un-explainable things happen, and they both feel the need to research more. After Phoebe discovers secret hidden rooms around their new farmhouse, she realizes her grandfather was not just a regular man--he was a Ghostbuster back in the day. Due to daily unexplained earthquakes, Phoebe decides to investigate, which leads her to discover who her grandfather was and finds that they have more in common than she thought. I was impressed by all of the acting talent, especially Mckenna Grace, as the bright and brilliant, Phoebe. Aside from Mckenna and Paul Rudd, familiar faces starring in Ghostbusters: Afterlife include Ernie Hudson, Josh Gad and Bokeem Woodbine. Overall, the cast fits the role--if I had to pick my favorite character, I would choose Logan Kim as Podcast. Podcast is absolutely hilarious; such a geek, and he calls himself Podcast because he has a podcast!

My favorite parts about Ghostbusters: Afterlife are the real-world concepts such when the main characters are introduced, during a scene where the family is getting evicted from their simple home. Not only does their eviction make the audience sympathetic to them, but this is a very realistic scene that leads us into not-so-realistic ghost scenes. It also allows us viewers to really identify the big differences between Trevor and Phoebe as siblings. Phoebe is the classic nerd who has never been comfortable, and Trevor is very worried about not fitting in, especially in a new, unwelcoming town where everyone knows their grandfather as the creepy, quiet and mysterious old man who believed in ghosts.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife promotes positive social behaviors and shows how important it is to follow your dreams. The message is to do whatever you aspire to do that makes you happy, no matter the thoughts or negative opinions of others. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and be a leader by helping others to live for themselves.

I give Ghostbusters: Afterlife 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It debuts in theaters on November 19, 2021. Be sure to check it out!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an action, attention-grabbing film that never failed to grab my attention.

The story starts off innocently enough, with a mother bringing her two children, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), to their inherited grandfather's house. However, the plot thickens when Phoebe soon discovers that her crazy scientist grandfather isn't that crazy after all. She eventually learns that he is connected to the original Ghostbusters, and she needs to use his research to help survive the future.

Something that really stands out to me is that the main character of this movie is a twelve-year-old girl. In most blockbuster films, there are adults leading the film, especially in a movie series that is so well known. However, this is definitely not the case. Mckenna Grace carries this film the whole way through, while still having the maturity of a blockbuster film star. Something else that I really enjoyed are the special effects and cinematography. There are tons of shots of electrifying ghosts, along with fire bombs, and scary wolves! Everything feels so real, and makes it feel as if the viewer is there in the moment. Finally, the cast is phenomenal! They brought the original Ghostbusters back, including Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. This is so iconic, especially for diehard Ghostbuster fans. Plus, Paul Rudd has one of the leading roles parts and plays it to a tee. He never fails to make me laugh, and you will never be disappointed with his performance.

The message of this film is to never doubt someone without knowing their whole story. This film does have some profanity as well as some violent scenes including bursting of fire and strikes of electricity.

I give Ghostbusters: Afterlife 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters November 19, 2021.

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

Who you gonna call? Your local theater to witness the next installment of the franchise everybody loves, Ghostbusters: Afterlife! Like all the previous films Ghostbusters: Afterlife never fails at getting a laugh in, even in the craziest ways. Behind all the laughs is unfortunately a very complex plot that leaves viewers confused. Audience members that do understand the plot are likely fans of the original films because the core story is copy and pasted from Ghostbusters 1984.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife takes place, present day, in a small town of Oklahoma, following the life of previous Ghostbuster Elon Spengler. After the mysterious death of Elon, everything he owns is willed to his remaining family. The story of Ghostbusters: Afterlife then shifts to center around Elon's remaining family, and the mysteries they uncover from his mysterious past. When the terrifying god Gozer makes a reappearance from the original film, Elon's family must work together with friends new and old to defeat Gozer once and for all.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a huge step up from the previous films. The original movies stayed in the central location of New York City, yet Ghostbusters: Afterlife expands its locations to new parts of the world. This is a large breath of fresh air for long-time fans. Moving past the boundaries of NYC also requires a step up in CGI to keep the realistic vibe of the film. Ghostbusters: Afterlife doesn't miss and provides practical ghosts for the highest of quality viewing experiences. Given the history of Ghostbusters, one would normally assume there would be quite a lot of spooky ghosts, but this film does not include as many ghosts as I expected. Due to this change, the film widens its age range for a lot of younger audience members. Most ghosts in the film are there for comedic relief, but there are indeed a couple of ghosts that are intense and frightening.

The main themes of the film are about family, friendship and perseverance. Ghostbusters: Afterlife teaches the lesson that relationships can always be repaired... no matter the damage. Cursing and crude humor are also very present throughout the film.

I give Ghostbusters: Afterlife 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters November 19, 2021.

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 10-18
Description - Armed with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on Compton, California's neglected tennis courts--rain or shine--the girls are shaped by their father's unyielding commitment and their mother's balanced perspective and keen intuition, defying the seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing expectations laid before them. Based on the true story that will inspire the world, "King Richard" follows the uplifting journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately delivers two of the world's greatest sports legends.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - King Richard is a heart-warming bio-drama film about family and perseverance that will inspire the world! Director Reinaldo Marcus Green and Writer Zach Baylin deliver a great film about achieving the impossible when you don't give up. It's based on the true story about tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams and how they rose to fame and the role their father played. Tennis fans are sure to love this, but anyone that loves inspirational films will appreciate it.

King Richard follows the journey of Richard Williams (Will Smith), the father and coach of famed tennis players Serena Williams (Demi Singleton) and Venus Williams (Saniyya Sydney). It shows how, even without having a background in the sport, poor equipment, outdated tennis courts, and limited financial resources, he was able to guide his daughters' careers and turn them into some of the best athletes in the history of tennis. Williams was an undeterred, driven father with a clear vision and plan to turn his girls into talented superstars using his own unusual methods.

The main characters are Richard Williams, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Demi Singleton, Oracene 'Brandy' Williams (Aunjanue Ellis), Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn) and Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal). While this film is two hours long, you can't tell due to the amazing writing and the hilarious comedic delivery of two-time Oscar winner, Will Smith. You will experience many emotions while watching this film - pride, inspiration, sadness and happiness. My favorite part was watching the family support each other by making the best decisions for the overall family, whether it was getting mentors for Venus and Serena or just figuring out how to survive and strive in everyday life. The music is amazing and Beyonce's feature song "Be Alive" really sums up the journey the girls went through on their rise to the top.

The message throughout King Richard is to never give up and believe in yourself and your family, no matter your circumstances or background. The Williams' sisters came from a rough neighborhood and their family didn't have the money and resources needed to properly train them, but did not let that stop them from working hard and eventually dominating the world of tennis. Their father, Richard Williams, had a dream and a plan and he stuck to it. He also taught his family to dream big, despite any obstacles. Parents should be aware that there is mild violence.

I rate King Richard 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 18, plus adults. King Richard serves up in theaters November 19, 2021 and on HBO Max for 30 days after the theatrical release.

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

King Richard is one of the best movies of the year! The movie tells the incredible story of the childhood lives of two of the most famous female tennis players ever, Serena and Venus Williams. The acting is stupendous, and the portrayal of the Williams' story is extremely accurate. I love how there is so much subtle humor that keeps you laughing throughout the movie.

This storyline follows the lives of the Williams' family, specifically Serena (Demi Singleton), Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and their father, Richard's (Will Smith) journey to the top of the tennis world. You learn about their home life, their victories and their struggles.

I have a million reasons why I feel this is an incredible movie. The first amazing thing is the acting, which is so believable and so natural that I felt as if I was watching a high-quality documentary. While all the actors have very notable performances, one of the strongest performances is from Will Smith, who plays King Richard. His struggles are so visible as he gets his girls to the top after being rejected so many times. Other strong performances come from Saniyya Sidney (Venus Williams) and Demi Singleton (Serena Williams) because they both portray their character very accurately and you really feel their passion for tennis. Another terrific thing about the movie is its accuracy. Almost every detail stays true to the real lives of the Williams family - from the dialogue, to the outfits, to the sets and locations. One more thing that stands out is the cinematography, which is breathtaking. There are many exceptional camera shots that show varied points of view and add to the film's uniqueness.

The messages of the movie are that family is everything and you should always follow your passions. This movie will definitely inspire future tennis players, and other future athletes. There is some offensive language, mild violence and mention of drugs.

I give King Richard 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Tennis fans will most certainly love this. This movie releases in theaters and on HBO Max November 19, 2021.

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

King Richard, which tells the story of Venus and Serena Wiliams' father, is one of the most inspiring and powerful films to date. Especially so as it was created to portray the African-American experience in the United States and explore the possibility of overcoming a system created to oppress the excellence and hardworking efforts of Black Americans.

The two greatest world-renowned tennis players, Venus and Serena Williams, a sister act, were not made in a day. King Richard delves into the life and story of raising Serena (Demi Singleton) and Venus (Saniyya Sidney) through the perspective of their father, Richard Williams (Will Smith). This film creatively tells a story many thought they knew. But one particular aspect about this film that many don't know, and which director Reinaldo Marcus Green makes authentic, is the relationship between Richard Williams and Brandi Williams, husband and wife. It seems that little was held back in the telling of Mr. Williams' story. Will Smith's mannerisms, down to the accent, are almost a pure reflection of the real Richard Williams. Rick Macci (Jon Brenthal) though, as the coach, is my favorite character. The way that Jon Brental interacts with Will Smith and Saniyya Sidney on-screen creates one of the most hilarious scenes in the movie. Overall, the cinematic experience is wrapped up perfectly at the very end of the film with credits which includes a musical number called "Be Alive" by Beyonce, which creates a perfect ending to this film.

King Richard and his daughters teach the important lesson of the process to being great. It first starts with a dream. Then you must create a plan and stick with it through hard work and hustle. And when you get to the top, make sure to stay humble--a positive and uplifting message. You should know that there is profanity and violence throughout the film.

I give King Richard 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can watch King Richard in theatres and on HBO Max November 19, 2021.

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

I really enjoyed King Richard and the story about a hard-working, dedicated father guiding his proficient, talented daughters through their journey on achieving their best. I really like seeing how Richard Williams (Will Smith) starts his girls, Venus (Saniyya) and Serena (Demi) practicing tennis at a young age and works hard to make sure everyone in his family is cared for and has a successful life. He had a vision and was determined to make that vision come true, which is admirable.

This film is based on the true story of Richard Williams (Will Smith), Venus Williams (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton). In the film, Williams tells anyone who will listen to him that his daughters are born to be stars and that he has a plan to achieve that dream. He guides his daughters from working-class Compton, California, to become world tennis stars.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the film is a compelling piece that captures both the internal and external landscape of this tennis-playing family from both California and Florida. The acting is phenomena, from Will Smith's portrayal of the father to Saniyya Aidney and Demi Singleton as Venus and Serena Williams and Aunjanue Ellis who plays their mother, Brandy. The camerawork is breathtaking, showing both the kindness and sacrifice of facing the battle of success on and off the tennis court. This is a must see in-the-theater movie to appreciate the grandeur of the cinematography and all this movie brings. Excellently written and motivationally driven, it delivers an array of positive messages regarding self-worth, courage, discipline, family, faith and humility.

The film's message is about believing in yourself and promotes the idea that hope is all you need to conquer anything. There are some parts that are frightening such as when a young man interrupts their practice to flirt with Venus. Richard asks him to stop disrespecting her and the guy punches Richard in the face.

I give King Richard 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters and on HBO Max November 19, 2021.

By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Belfast is a 2021 black-and-white coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. The film stars Caitr�ona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciar�n Hinds, Colin Morgan, and newcomer Jude Hill. The film, which Branagh has described as his "most personal film," centers on a young boy's childhood amidst the tumult of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the 1960s.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Belfast is the equivalent of a stormy, rainy day, creating a perfect calm-before-the-storm kind of feeling. Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, this family story is a tasteful, bittersweet masterpiece.

Set in a small neighborhood in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s, Buddy (Jude Hill), a young boy from a small-town family, experiences life in tumultuous times. As religious tensions between the tight-knit community members grow, his family dodges shady neighbors and argues the question of moving out of Belfast while Buddy tries to ace his time tables. Belonging to the struggling working class, Buddy's father (Jamie Dornan) often travels for weeks at a time leaving him and his older brother (Lewis McAskie) to explore Belfast on their own. However, their father and mother (Caitriona Balfe) are always there to protect them when danger comes their way.

Four things really stand out to me watching this film. First, the use of black and white with some color is really outstanding. It creates a sense of nostalgia and the few choice moments with color helps those scenes stand out. Second, the sound is absolutely fantastic. In every scene, there is a sound effect that enhances it, it's the sound of rain, fire, or a buzzing television. The quality of the sound effects is astounding, adding another layer of engagement when watching this film. Third, the acting is especially impressive. Young talent Jude Hilly, especially, is quite a star and steals the show. I also love the talent of Caitriona Balfe, who masters the strength and emotion of a mother. Lastly, every scene is very intimate; the camera is always up and close to the action and the family, making audiences feel closer to the main characters.

Kenneth Branagh's film, based on a true story from his own childhood, touches audiences' hearts with an intimate view of family and the struggles of the working class. Parents should be aware there is some profanity, mention of religion, aggression and minor violence.

I rate Belfast 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film opens in theaters November 12, 2021.

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

Belfast shows how a talented child actor, the use of black and white film and a powerful emotional story can make an independent film pack a powerful punch. The heart of Belfast is the lead character, Buddy (Jude Hill). I like how we see the story through his eyes. The black and white photography and close-up camera angles also highlight the joy and terror of Buddy's neighborhood in 1969 when religious tensions explode.

Belfast was inspired by director Kenneth Branagh's childhood in Belfast, Ireland, in the late 1960s. We meet Buddy, his older brother, his parents, grandparents and the neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, kids play safely in the streets and residents may not have much money but are happy. This reality is quickly shattered when violence breaks out between Protestants and Catholics, pitting the once friendly neighbors against each other. Buddy's parents have to make a difficult choice about whether to stay or go.

In addition to a standout performance from Jude Hill as Buddy, I love the character of Ma (Caitriona Balfe). You feel the agony of her decision about whether to move the family out of Belfast. I also love the grandparents (Judi Dench, Ciar�n Hinds). Their love for each other is so genuine. I also enjoyed the music in the film, which is by Irish singer Van Morrison. The sound design for the violent scenes is very powerful and creates a lot of tension. In addition, the film shows how going to the movies was a way for Buddy and his family to escape the growing violence. Finally, the period details bring Belfast to life, especially the red bus from the late 60s that appears in so many scenes like when Buddy's Pa comes and goes every two weeks from his job in England.

The main message of Belfast is that being a good person is more important than what religion you are. Also, it addresses the importance of family and community and how sometimes change is hard, but necessary. Be aware that the film contains some profanity, gambling, fighting and gang violence but also promotes positive behavior with great role models who stand up for what is right.

I give Belfast 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. I left this movie smiling, and I think you will, too. Belfast opens in select theaters on November 12, 2021.

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age
Juror Recommended Age: 13-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 10 - 18
Description - In Finch, a man, a robot and a dog form an unlikely family in a powerful and moving adventure of one man's quest to ensure that his beloved canine companion will be cared for after he's gone. Tom Hanks stars as Finch, a robotics engineer and one of the few survivors of a cataclysmic solar event that has left the world a wasteland. But Finch, who has been living in an underground bunker for a decade, has built a world of his own that he shares with his dog, Goodyear. He creates a robot, played by Caleb Landry Jones, to watch over Goodyear when he no longer can. As the trio embarks on a perilous journey into a desolate American West, Finch strives to show his creation, who names himself Jeff, the joy and wonder of what it means to be alive. Their road trip is paved with both challenges and humor, as it's as difficult for Finch to goad Jeff and Goodyear to get along as it is for him to manage the dangers of the new world.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Cinematography, sound effects mixed with one sole apocalypse human survivor, a lovable, relatable robot, and a cute dog, make Finch an adventure like no other! Not to mention that it has some of the best CGI I have ever seen. Finch is considered a sci-fi drama film, but could also be considered a comedy, making this a very interesting film.

Finch tells the story of Finch (Tom Hanks), who survives the apocalypse with just his dog, Goodyear, and a new robot, Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones). Finch builds Jeff from scratch to look after and protect Goodyear in case he dies from the effects of the apocalypse. The three of them travel in an RV to search for a new home that hasn't been affected by the apocalypse. During their journey, Finch tries to survive in this new world, while also teaching Jeff all about being human and keeping Goodyear safe.

The main characters are Finch, Jeff the Robot and Goodyear. Hanks has a one-man show in this film, but you tend to forget that because of his loving and protective relationship and dialogue with Jeff and Goodyear. He is a genius at carrying the film with no other human actors. My favorite character is Jeff the Robot because he is very relatable and curious. He steals the film with his determination to learn how to be human and his humorous ways. He is very dedicated to learn how to communicate and bond with Goodyear. When Jeff decides to learn how to speak "dog" with Goodyear it is hilarious watching them bark at each other. Part of what makes Jeff so funny is that he takes everything Finch says literally. Finch once tells Jeff that there are holes in the sky like swiss cheese. Jeff then goes off to try to locate the cheese. One of the most beautiful parts of this film is the relationship Finch, Jeff and Goodyear have and the level of trust they have with each other in order to survive. The CGI in this film is spectacular and really keeps you engaged.

The message of this film focuses on learning about life, love, friendship and what it means to be human. Finch spends the entire movie teaching Jeff how to be human so he can properly take care of Goodyear in case anything happens to him, even teaching him about having trust. It is very heartwarming watching their relationship develop throughout the film.

I rate Finch 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Finch is available on AppleTV+ November 5, 2021.

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 10-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 10 - 18
Description - Julia tells the story of the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child's surprising path, from her struggles to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, to her empowering story of a woman who found fame in her 50s, and her calling as an unlikely television sensation.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - If you're looking for a fun, yet informative documentary, then Julia is a perfect film for you. This documentary is great both cinematically and educationally. The detail and effort put into this documentary is seen throughout the film.

Julia is a new documentary about famous cook, author and television personality, Julia Child. It follows her through the struggles of being a woman in the film industry, her 12 year struggle to publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her fight with breast cancer. This film talks about how Ms. Child changed the cooking industry, and America in general - forever.

This film takes an extra deep dive into Child's life, going from where and when she was born all the way through her cooking career, up to her tragic death. It has great detail, exceptional archival footage and sound bites, which add to its interest. Some of the information about Julia are so fascinating that I really just had to learn more. She really was a hilarious person! Julia was such a character and that is what makes this film really fun to watch. My favorite part is when it talks about Child's love life, because I really love learning that Julia was such an independent woman. She didn't get married until she was 35! I thought that was really cool.

The message of Julia is that dedication and hard work will help you achieve your goals. Julia had some struggles as a woman in the television industry, but with her hard work, she was able to overcome all of it. There are a few sexual references in this documentary and a very small bit of profanity to watch out for.

I give Julia 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters November 12, 2021.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - In Jackson Heights, Queens, career-driven sisters Maryan and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Americanish is a perfect and unlikely rom-com! It's hilarious, has incredible representation, and it gives all audiences a great laugh. You're sure to find yourself in fits of hysteria.

Americanish is the first of its kind, romantic comedy following Muslim-American Sam (Aizzah Fatima) and her sister Maryam (Salena Qureshi). Both sisters navigate life in America, while trying to find romance and learning the meaning of being an immigrant in the USA. Maryam finds herself falling in love with handsome Shahid (Shenaz Treasury).

This is a completely hilarious movie with perfect comedic lines, while tackling huge and extremely relevant problems that Muslim-Americans face today. It is such a grand breath of fresh air to have a rom-com following a couple that we've never seen before - Muslim-Americans. The characters learn to speak their truth, face stereotypes and their parents' expectations. To have these actors on screen representing their culture is beautiful in its authenticity. The film gives audiences a break from the usual on-screen couples, while providing a platform for Muslim-American actors. The best part is the wonderful storyline of the relationship between Maryam and Shahid. The two of them find themselves having an adorable relationship. They help one another feel comfortable in their own skin, learn how to be themselves, and learn how to maintain a healthy long distance relationship. Their engagement scene is beautiful; showing the love of their family surrounding them as they appear dressed in incredible outfits. Shahid and Maryam face their troubles while putting on a brave face, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats.

The lesson Maryam learns is to always follow her heart. She's trapped in the decision to stay and get married and follow tradition, or head for Harvard to attend medical school. She chooses what will make her happiest, putting herself first.

I give Americanish 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18 plus adults. It is playing now at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival.

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SHOW, AGES 4-8
Description - Cute cats, quirky crafts and colorful magic! Join kitty enthusiast Gabby and her sidekick Pandy Paws as they team up for a series of animated adventures.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Season 3 of Gabby's Dollhouse is coming, and you can't miss it! With impeccable acting, adorable animation, cute songs, fantastic characters and educational values, Gabby's Dollhouse is a must-see for any little kid or little kid at heart.

Each episode of Gabby's Dollhouse features a transformation from live-action to animation that is important to the overall storyline. Gabby (Laila Lockhart Kraner) starts as a person and Pandy Paws (Tucker Chandler) as a stuffed animal. The plot begins here and then dives into the dollhouse where Gabby and Pandy Paws become animated, along with the other dollhouse characters. The episodes are individual storylines, so each show is a brand new experience with the same high quality.

Gabby's Dollhouse checks all of the boxes. The acting fits the characters well and they sound simply adorable. These characters are far-fetched, like funky kitties and fairies, so the voices can be unique and dripping in characterization to fit the individual creature and personality. It also adds so much to the series that the characters' lips move in sync with their cute voices. The in-sync animation takes Gabby's Dollhouse to a level that some animated shows don't reach. Every character is unique and there is diversity in their appearances. The animated objects are colorful, bright and very cute. They create an interesting background that adds to the storyline in many ways. Whether these objects are used to create foreshadowing or to make the visuals more appealing, they always have a purpose. The same can be said for the animated and live-action locations, which are unique. Another outstanding element of these episodes is the consistent educational breaks. Sometimes it involves choosing to solve a problem or choosing to make a decision that makes everyone happy. These are short breaks and they get important messages across and teach life skills. The entertaining and often educational songs are another wonderful aspect. Each piece of music is woven naturally into the story. The writers have created interesting lyrics that add to the story. All of the singers and musicians mix their acting talent with their musical abilities to create a characterized, yet incredibly musical performance with each song.

The overall message of this show is about teamwork and problem solving. There are subplots and sub-messages as well, about cooking, music and art skills.

I give Season 3 of Gabby's Dollhouse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 8, plus families. You can watch season 3 of Gabby's Dollhouse on Netflix beginning October 19, 2021.

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Juror Recommended Age: 4-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - In 2383, five years after the USS Voyager returned to Earth, a motley crew of young aliens in the Delta Quadrant find an abandoned Starfleet ship, the USS Protostar. Taking control of the ship, they must learn to work together as they make their way towards the Alpha Quadrant. The series uses computer animation, differing from previous Star Trek animation. The series is intended for younger audiences than the rest of the franchise.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - An enthralling and unique offering from a franchise that doesn't normally cater to a kid-specific audience, Star Trek: Prodigy is an action-packed CGI-animated series that kids will love!

Star Trek: Prodigy follows a crew of six young aliens, all of whom are outcasts, tasked with navigating the galaxy searching for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered - a first in the history of the Star Trek franchise and an element that certainly keeps the show approachable for newbies. It's an entertaining and novel concept, and the sense of wonder the characters feel is contagious.

My favorite character has to be Dal (Brett Gray). He's instantly likeable, seems to be up for any challenge, and has one heck of a personality! It's characters like Dal who make this series the perfect way for Star Trek to introduce the franchise to younger audiences. Showrunners Dan and Kevin Hageman and director Ben Hibon evidently worked hard on the plot and overall look of the show. They came up with a whole new cast of protagonists and animation language, which I find perfectly fitting for the show's intergalactic theme. The soft purples, oranges, yellows and blues work in tandem to produce a wonderful backdrop for the saga of the young misfits, played by Ella Purnell, Jason Mantzoukas, Brett Gray and Rylee Alazraqui. Kate Mulgrew's reprisal of her role as Captain Kathryn Janeway is also especially exciting, and Mulgrew manages to phenomenally hit every beat.

Star Trek: Prodigy promotes teamwork, kindness and the idea of working hard to achieve your greater goals and dreams. As Engadget puts it, "part of the franchise's ethos is exploration," and discovery is certainly a major theme in this show.

I give Star Trek: Prodigy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids age 8 to 18, plus adults. Star Trek: Prodigy premieres October 28, 2021 on the streaming service Paramount+ with its first 10-episode season. Go check it out!

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 9-18
Description - Twentieth Century Studios and Locksmith Animation's "Ron's Gone Wrong" is the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device, which is supposed to be his 'Best Friend out of the Box.' Ron's hilarious malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age, launch them into an action-packed journey in which boy and robot come to terms with the wonderful messiness of true friendship.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ron's Gone Wrong is an outstanding animated film, written by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith. It really connects with its audience through funny jokes and loveable characters, while also delivering the important message that no matter how kids present themselves, especially in middle school, they all are experiencing similar challenges and feelings. This message is very important, especially for young kids and teens to hear, and Ron's Gone Wrong brings this theme to light.

The storyline follows a socially awkward middle schooler named Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), who is ostracized because he does not own the hottest new piece of tech -- a B-bot, or a digitally connected "Best Friend Out of the Box." That changes when his grandmother and father surprise him for his birthday with his very own B-bot, although this B-bot is a bit different than what he expected.

The film is critical of social media replacing friendships in real life and the potential of tech companies to violate people's privacy. One of the characters has an embarrassing image of her go viral through her B-bot, resulting in her feeling embarrassed and being unable to take it down. Ron's Gone Wrong has a very talented, all-star cast. Jack Dylan Grazer's portrayal of Barney makes him believable and relatable as a middle school outcast. Another hilarious cast member is Zach Galifianakis, who voices the defective B-bot, Ron. He cracks me up and makes this movie so funny. Director Octavio Rodriguez creates a vibrant, colorful animation style that brings these characters to life - especially the B-bots, but also the goat and chicken that belong to Barney's grandmother who is from "the old country."

The primary message is that the challenges of being a middle schooler, including wanting to fit in and make friends, are universal. There is also a critical message about the danger of too much technology and its impact on kids and the world. Parents should know there is some animated violence when Ron goes after Barney's bullies, but overall, the film is very positive.

I give Ron's Gone Wrong 5 out 5 stars and I highly recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. I love this movie and believe you will too. You can watch Ron's Gone Wrong in theaters October 22, 2021.

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 9-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm


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