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Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-15
Description - Star Wars: The Acolyte is set at the end of the Star Wars franchise's High Republic era, approximately 100 years before Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). It sees a respected Jedi Master investigating a series of crimes that bring him into contact with a former Padawan learner and reveal sinister forces. This Star Wars series takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love the TV series Star Wars: The Acolyte because it is an action-packed series with unique and captivating plots that are very different from any of the other Star Wars films or series. Best of all, although it is helpful to have watched the prior Star Wars films, you don't have to have seen any of them in order to enjoy this series.

This series takes place 100 years before episode 1 of the Star Wars films. It is a story about a girl named Osha (Amandla Stenberg) who is accused of murdering a Jedi Master named Indara (Carrie-Anne Moss). However, Osha firmly states her innocence because she is apparently loyal to the Jedis.

The plot is pretty complex. Early in the series, Osha suffers a tragedy as a young girl when her hometown is burned down by her twin sister, Mae (also played by Amandla Stenberg) and everyone, including Mae, is presumed dead, except for Osha, which is suspicious. Afterwards, Osha trains to be a Jedi but ultimately drops out after a few years. Sol (Lee Jung-jae), a Jedi master and Osha's former teacher, believes that Osha is innocent and attempts to find her and confirm her innocence. Another Jedi master is murdered while Osha is with Sol so there may be another killer! The show follows Osha and Mae and the audience tries to discover who the killers of the Jedi masters are. What I really like about the series are the beautiful settings, the costumes, and the musical composition. The settings include areas with beautiful lush landscapes and other areas in a frozen ice land. The costumes are very unique as they are in most Star Wars films and series. For example, when the witch's ceremony is held in the third episode, the gold costumes of the women are stunning. The background music is both beautiful and eerie, and always fits the various scenes perfectly. One of my favorite parts of the show is when the group travels to a remote planet to find one of the Wookie Jedi masters and all of the surprising creatures they see along the way including a massive flying beetle. My favorite character in the series is Mae because we learn why she set her hometown on fire and begin to understand that not everything is as it initially seems.

The series' message is, "We are not defined by what we lose, we are defined by what we survive," which is a direct quote from one of the supporting characters. This highlights the point that Osha is not defined by having lost her family, but by having the strength and courage to survive it allows her to persevere in spite of it. Be forewarned that this series contains a lot of violent behavior.

I give Star Wars: The Acolyte 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first two episodes of Star Wars: The Acolyte release on Disney + June 4, 2024. The remaining episodes of the eight-episode series release weekly after that.

By Arya B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Garfield (voiced by Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father - scruffy street cat Vic (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) - Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Garfield Movie is a heartwarming story with a great pace and humor. It's cleverly put together with beautiful animation which makes it an engaging film.

The story follows the cat, Garfield (Chris Pratt), who has the dream life - a dog best friend, a nice house, and most importantly, access to an endless amount of food. Everything's going perfectly until he reunites with his long-lost father. The animals have a perilous journey ahead of them, having to deal with the conflict between the father-son duo.

I really like this movie because it's super funny but also has deep messages about relationships with important people in your life. Its main characters are Garfield, Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), Jon (Nicholas Hoult), Otto (Ving Rhames) and Jinx (Hannah Waddingham). The characters are unique and represent different emotions - Garfield represents anger, Jon represents anxiety, Vic represents regret, and Otto represents sadness and longing. It illustrates a positive message for the younger generation at the end of the movie. I really like the animation; it's unique and a cool mix of 2D and 3-D awareness of space. There isn't a dull moment in this film. It's constantly engaging, like when they're running from a nasty security guard or dodging ridiculously big cutting knives. I like the pacing; it's not too fast nor too slow. Plus, there are flashbacks to when Garfield was a young kitten, which gives the film a strong backstory. The background music helps set the mood. When it's raining and young Garfield is abandoned, the music is slow and depressing. However, when Odie and Garfield are playing, the music lightens up. My favorite part of the movie is when Vic gets Garfield on the train by launching him off of a tree branch. Garfield bounces off trees, animals, rocks, and more, and it's hilarious to watch.

The film's message is about forgiveness and family. Garfield's dad has a reason he left Garfield, which was actually to help him, rather than hurt him. Vic goes out searching for food and when he comes back, Garfield seems to be happy under Jon's care. Garfield and Vic forgive each other, and become close again.

I give The Garfield Movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. The Garfield Movie releases in theaters May 24, 2024.

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

I love The Garfield Movie. It is fun, heartwarming and has a great villain. The animation is stunning and it has some heartfelt moments with an exceptional cast. The film definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end and I was laughing out loud.

Garfield (Chris Pratt), the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure! After an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father, scruffy street cat Vic (Samuel L. Jackson), Garfield and his canine friend Odie are forced from their perfectly pampered life into joining Vic in a hilarious, high-stakes heist. There is nothing not to love about Garfield. He hates Mondays, loves lasagna, and is loyal to his best pals Jon and Odie.

I really love the animation in this film. It is extremely well done -- the way the fur moves and how it looks on all the animals throughout the entire film is stunning. When the fur moves during action sequences and when the heist plans are being made, they even switched the animation style which I thought was particularly cool. I really do not think they could have picked a better cast for this film. Chris Pratt is perfect in the role of Garfield. I love hearing Harvey Guillen as Odie, especially his different barks with different emotions expressed throughout the movie. Hannah Waddingham voices Jinx, a cat who is the villain. She plays a fantastic villain -- she is a little intense, but never too scary even for younger audiences. I like that the plot is made simple so kids can easily understand it and the storyline is so funny. This movie is rated PG; it is 1 hour and 41 minutes and it never drags. I was completely entertained by the entire movie. I left the theater wanting Italian food and a pet.

The film's message is about teamwork, family, and friendship. It shows how family will always be there for you, no matter what. The film shares the importance of doing what is right and being loyal to the people around you.

I give The Garfield Movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Garfield Movie opens in theaters May 24, 2024. Be sure to check it out!

Carter P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Garfield Movie is an entertaining animated film about a lovable tabby cat and his adventures. I like funny movies and this one definitely falls into that category. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt! This film isn't all jokes though; there are many heartwarming moments as well.

This film starts out by making sure the audience knows just how much Garfield (Chris Pratt) loves Italian food. While eating his morning snack, he begins to tell the story of how he met his owner Jon (Nicholas Hoult) after his own father Vic (Samuel L Jackson) seemingly abandons him. Jon takes Garfield in, and from there he has quite the luxurious life; he gets to sit around all day eating and watching cat videos on TV with his buddies. Unsuspectingly, Garfield is taken from his normal routine and forced to adjust to a world he is not prepared for. On this new journey, Garfield meets lots of new people and learns many new life lessons. With the help of his new friends and his dad, Garfield learns to be independent. Garfield eventually makes his way home to a new normal that he helps create.

The Garfield Movie is an animated film that personifies everything from ordinary house pets to farm animals. The animation is very well done and the colors used are an iconic part of what makes Garfield, Garfield. The music used throughout this film really helps set the vibe at crucial moments, such as when Italian music plays at the local Italian restaurant and familiar "danger" music plays during action scenes. My favorite character is Garfield because he is hilarious, loves Italian food, and hates Mondays! The selection of voice actors for each character is also spot on. When Roland the dog (Brett Goldstein) fakes a British accent to make Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) more comfortable, then switches back to his New York accent at the end, the talent of this voice actor really shines through.

The film's message is that you should never judge others without knowing their full story. You may think that you know how something happened, but it's important to get all the information. This message is successfully delivered through the development of Garfield's relationship with his father. Note that this film does contain some violence; although delivered in a funny way, some parents may be uncomfortable with their kids watching such aggressive behavior.

I give The Garfield Movie 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available exclusively in movie theaters beginning May 24, 2024. Be sure to check it out.

By Audrey L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

I have always loved all things Garfield, so I was expecting to love The Garfield Movie--and I do! The film remarkably captures the essence of Garfield, and I couldn't think of a better movie to bring Garfield back to the big screen where he belongs -- and with a talented star-studded cast.

The story follows Garfield (Chris Pratt) who has an unexpected reunion with his long-lost father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson) when Jinx (Hannah Waddingham) -- the movie's crazy vengeful antagonist -- kidnaps both Garfield and his fellow pet Odie (Harvey Guill�n). Jinx forces the two of them from their perfect (marred only by Mondays), pampered, luxurious lives into joining Vic in a high-stakes heist as revenge against Garfield's father. The plot is tied in with so much humor and so many plot twists overall making it a fun family comedy.

Chris Pratt's voice suits Garfield perfectly, and he brings the right attitude and edge to the character. Samuel L. Jackson wonderfully conveys emotion into his character, Vic (Garfield's father) so as a viewer, you really end up feeling for his character. And Hannah Waddingham is outstanding as Jinx, Garfield's antagonist. She voices Jinx as maniacal and flamboyant but she also brings heart and soul to Jinx, making viewers sympathize with Jinx's motivations. Hannah Waddingham also has two songs in this movie: An original called "I'm Back" which rolls over the end credits and a rendition of the French nursery rhyme "Alouette, Gentille Alouette", the latter of the two occurring in my favorite Jinx scene. The Garfield Movie is really funny. I especially like the parts with Jon (Nicholas Hoult) in them. I do feel like there is a huge effort to make Garfield more modern in this movie... there are lots of pop culture references. In some cases it's done very well, but the movie overdoes this. Garfield calls himself "G-money" and makes shark tank references. And The Garfield Movie has a huge fixation on mobile devices. The film loses out on a very important nostalgic aspect of the film by attempting to adjust Garfield to better match the present-day audience. Garfield is relatable to modern kids and loved by the modern audience not because he has a phone. As Garfield's creator, Jim Davis says, "Garfield is a human being in a cat suit". The film does flesh out his character and I really enjoy seeing it. Yes, his adventures are significantly wilder but that just makes them more fun to watch.

The message of The Garfield Movie revolves around the importance of family and connection. It explores themes of sacrifice, the unseen presence of love, how misunderstandings can change your whole worldview, and the deep (sometimes hidden) bonds that define family.

I give The Garfield Movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2-18, plus families as well as all fans of the lovable cat. Look out for The Garfield Movie, which opens in theaters May 24, 2024.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8-18
Description - Roku Original The Great American Baking Show is the American version of the most beloved baking show on the planet, bringing together passionate, talented bakers from around the country to see who will be named America's Best Amateur Baker.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Watching nine contestants bake in a tent in the British countryside became an international pastime with the release of the Great British Baking Show. Season 2 of The Great American Baking Show is soon to arrive, in an attempt to capture the magic of its counterpart across the pond...and it succeeds beautifully. The Great American Baking Show is as fluffy and sweet as its bakers' treats, and it replicates the British show's format without feeling like a knock-off - though it is a bit corny at times.

The premise of the Great American Baking Show is simple: nine bakers from across the US, who each have expertise in different areas of baking, are assembled and brought to a white tent in the British countryside where they're tasked with making increasingly difficult items. Each episode deals with one type of baked goods -- week one is cake week, for example -- and the bakers face three challenges to test their creativity and their mastery of baking in a time crunch and without a formal recipe. Their baked goods are judged by renowned chefs Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, who winnow down the pool of bakers by eliminating one each episode and, in the end, crown one baker as the winner.

The Great American Baking Show Season 2 is, by leaps and bounds, superior to the most recent seasons of its British counterpart (and its first season, which had a tough run). That doesn't mean it doesn't have issues, but it's almost at the level of the first few seasons of the Great British Baking Show. The bakers are judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, both of whom lean into the characters they've carved out for themselves in the British version. Paul is the exacting master baker whose handshakes seem to be worth more than the lottery (and whose striking good looks are a source of near-constant discussion among the ladies). And Prue is the endearing British dame, providing periodic, measured compliments and pearl-clutching comments about calories. The show's hosts, comedian Zach Cherry and actress Ellie Kemper, have, essentially, one job: pull silly, cheesy stunts, motivate the bakers and mug for the camera while mournfully calling out time checks. In the first few episodes, they seem a bit awkward together, with some of their jokes working and others falling flat, but they soon find their beat. I did miss seeing Noel Fielding in the tent, but I will say that Cherry and Kemper's chats with the bakers are fun and help the show move along. The contestants are a sweet, supremely talented, but somewhat unremarkable batch, likely due to the editing which, as in last season, doesn't allow viewers to understand the bakers' back-stories very well. There are other rough moments in the editing of this show, like some jerky cutaways, shaky footage of bakers running from place to place and clearly artificial, over-the-top reactions to the technical bake judging. Also to be noted, the items on this list were present in the first season of the American show too, so perhaps it's an artistic choice. The actual content of the show is pleasant , though. The British version of the show has seen its challenges grow more and more wild over time, and the Great American Baking Show follows suit. I also think it was a smart move to make the show more "American" so that both viewers and bakers would have an easier time relating to the show. And, my final note -- I love how wholesome the energy in the tent is throughout the show. Even in the midst of heated competition, the bakers smile and encourage each other. It appears that the most kind cross-section of America got its own TV show, which is nice to see in this age of discord and infighting.

The Great American Baking Show promotes healthy competition, exploration, creativity and the enjoyment of simple joys in life like food.

Great American Baking Show: Season 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It will be available on The Roku Channel beginning May 24, 2024.

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

Description - From writer and director John Krasinski, IF is about a girl who discovers that she can see everyone's imaginary friends -- and what she does with that superpower -- as she embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten IFs with their kids. IF stars Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Fiona Shaw, and the voices of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr. and Steve Carell alongside many more as the wonderfully unique characters that reflect the incredible power of a child's imagination.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the film IF. It delivers a lot of heart and teaches everyone to keep the magic alive. It is fun, silly and had me shedding a tear in the theater and thinking about my childhood and imaginary friend.

In the film Bea (Cailey Fleming) discovers she can see everyone's imaginary friends and embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten Ifs with their kids. Bea has gone through a lot and is forcing herself to grow up and then, she meets Cal (Ryan Reynolds) and re-discovers her belief in the unbelievable. Bea needed a distraction as life was getting tougher for her and helping these imaginary friends is just what she needed.

IF is a fantastic film that is perfect for the entire family. The cast is outstanding and the CGI work is so impressive. This movie will bring you right back to your childhood in all the most magical ways. Cailey Fleming is remarkable. Her relationship onscreen with Ryan Reynolds is magical -- they get along perfectly and you can feel their natural connection. John Krasinski's role as Bea's father is amazing -- he is silly, loving and fun, and does not want Bea to give up on being a child. He jokes around with her a lot throughout the movie, even when she tells him to stop. His response is "never." John Krasinski not only stars in the film, but he wrote and directed it as well. The IF's are designed so well and there is something special about each one of them. They look so real on the screen and I fell in love with them immediately. Cailey's performance is terrific when she interacts with the IF's that obviously were not really there during filming.

The film's message deals with healing yourself and creating distractions when life gets difficult. It reminds us to never lose the joy in life -- keep the magic alive and believe in the unbelievable. It is about family, friendship and always having someone who is there for you, even if you have to make believe. The movie is the perfect length and never drags.

I give IF 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can watch IF in theaters on May 17, 2024.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - Available for the first time in over 50 years, Let It Be, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg's original 1970 film about The Beatles, is now available on Disney+. First released in May 1970 amidst the swirl of The Beatles' breakup, Let It Be now takes its rightful place in the band's history. Once viewed through a darker lens, the film is now brought to light through its restoration and in the context of revelations brought forth in Peter Jackson's multiple Emmy Award�-winning docuseries, The Beatles: Get Back. Let It Be, , brings viewers into the studio and onto Apple Corps' London rooftop in January 1969 as The Beatles, joined by Billy Preston, write, and record their GRAMMY Award�-winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award�-winning title song, and perform live for the final time as a group. With Lindsay-Hogg's full support, Apple Corps asked Peter Jackson's Park Road Post Production to dive into a meticulous restoration of the film from the original 16mm negative.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The beauty and creative process of one of the greatest bands ever is captured in Let it Be, a documentary filmed 50 years ago that gives the audience an intimate look at the interactions of the band members. It also includes the rehearsals behind what was the very last live performance ever from the four geniuses of Liverpool: The Beatles. This is an essential testimony for music lovers that I enjoyed in every aspect. Not only is it a piece of history, but it is also a delightful music video in a longer format.

Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney stopped touring in 1966. They focused on solo careers, but after a three-year hiatus, they got back together to record some new songs and a final album. Let it Be was produced by filmmaker Peter Jackson, who produced The Beatles: Get Back, the docuseries of almost eight hours that previously aired on Disney+ in 2022. The Beatles: Get Back: The Rooftop Concert is a film that had a theatrical release in January 2022 and then on BluRay and DVD in July of the same year.

Let it Be is a condensed experience that combines rare footage of the musicians recording studio with the famous rooftop concert in around 80 minutes, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg who also directed music videos for The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It premiered in 1970 and won an Oscar for Best Music and Original Song Score, and a Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special. This is the first time in years that the documentary is available for audiences after Jackson recovered and restored damaged 16mm footage. The documentary portrays the creative process and shows how, despite the disagreements the band members had, they speak in a common language when they play their instruments. We see the tension, the laughs, the joy, and the balance they kept as a band. It is interesting to watch the musicians in their mid-to-late 20s, coming together and working in the studio together, sometimes accompanied by their wives and children. My favorite part is when The Beatles sing "Besame Mucho," an iconic bolero written in 1932 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velasquez which is the song the band recorded as an audition at EMI in 1962.

The film's message is that music is a universal language and makes people come together, from the joy of a group of musicians playing to the profound effect in audiences that gather together and form an instant bond.

I give Let it Be 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages12 to 18, plus adults. Let it Be is now streaming on Disney+.

By Zo� C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Hard Miles tells the uplifting true story of the bicycling team at Rite of Passage's RidgeView Academy, a medium-security correctional school in Colorado. The film follows beleaguered coach Greg Townsend (Matthew Modine) as he rounds up an unlikely crew of incarcerated students for a seemingly impossible bike ride from Denver to the Grand Canyon.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really love the film Hard Miles because it is very inspiring, touching, and has a funny twist to it.

The story follows four teenage convicts who have lost hope for a "normal future" and are trying to get their "second chance" by showing their motivation to be better. The prison social worker (Matthew Modine) takes them on a 1,000 mile bike riding journey to the Grand Canyon. This journey is not easy, but it makes them discover who they are, what they are made of, and the importance of friendship and teamwork.

All in all, this film is great for family movie night. Hard Miles is very inspiring - it features violent teenagers that have had a tough life and they learn how to work together as a team and to cross hundreds of miles on a self-made bike. While I was watching, all I wanted to do was to get out into the sweet, cool, fresh air and ride my bike. There is also a side story regarding a father-son relationship that adds to the complexity of their story and contributes to a very heartfelt scene at the end of the film. I found this movie to be very funny. For example, a scene that made me laugh out loud, was when the teenagers, who were willing to do practically anything not to return back home and move to another school, pop the wheels of the van that was supposed to take them back. After a staff member finally fixes it, she finds another "nice surprise" waiting for her in the van. Scenes like this happen throughout the film. In addition, knowing this movie is based on a true story really made me excited and appreciate bicycles. The scenery really stands out and makes it feel like you're riding with them. The costumes go great with the storyline and even contribute to the movie's antagonists' turning point.

The film's message is "never stop something until you finish it." There are many more life lessons and messages all to be learned by watching this film. Be forewarned that this film has a little violence and some profanity.

I give Hard Miles 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It will be released in theaters April 19, 2024.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - An "evil doctor" ("Weird Al" Yankovic) wants to steal the world's best soccer players' talents, skills, and abilities. He targets Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Megan Rapinoe (both playing themselves) and turns them into horrifying "mutant" monster versions of themselves. But with the help of some children soccer players, "Weird Al" will have to overcome their team of heroes that relies on hard work and practice instead of a magic serum.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Soccer Football Movie is a delightful blend of humor, heart, and thrilling action sequences. From start to finish, the film captivated me with its engaging storyline and charming characters. It's a joyride that kept me hooked throughout.

In this animated adventure, a group of plucky kids, known as the Creature Catchers, embarks on an exciting journey to witness their soccer heroes, Zlatan and Megan Rapinoe (voiced by themselves) in action. However, their plans take an unexpected turn when they discover that the players have been mutated by a strange slimy slug concocted by the eccentric Weird Al (voiced by Weird Al Yankovic). Now the creature catchers must team up with superstars to thwart a monstrous creature created by the nefarious slime.

This movie is a true gem! The clever humor, stellar voice acting, and stunning animation make it a joyride from start to finish. The jokes had me laughing out loud, and the voice acting by the remarkable cast brings the characters to life in a way that is both entertaining and endearing. The animation is top notch, with vibrant visuals that capture the excitement of the soccer matches, and the chaos of the creature's rampage. Moreover, the underlying message of unity and camaraderie adds depth to the storyline, making it a film that resonates long after the credits roll. Watching the creature catchers and the soccer stars come together to overcome obstacles and defeat the common enemy is not only thrilling, but also uplifting. The Soccer Football Movie is a winner for both soccer fans and animation lovers.

The film's message is that teamwork makes the dreamwork, and that with support anything can get done.

I give The Soccer Football Movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 through 12; this film is available on most streaming platforms now, be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Kitty, the imaginary girl to whom Anne Frank wrote her famous diary, comes to life in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Her memories reawakened by reading the diary, believing that if she's alive, Anne must be alive as well, she sets out on a quest to find Anne. We follow Kitty as she travels across Europe and back to Anne Frank's time, armed with the precious book, in search of her beloved friend.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Where is Anne Frank? offers a poignant and innovative take on the story of Anne Frank through the lens of animation and the adventures of her imaginary friend, Kitty. I thoroughly enjoyed this film for its unique approach to storytelling and its ability to blend historical narratives with elements of fantasy.

Directed by Ari Folman, the story unfolds as Anne Frank's diary comes to life years after Anne's death. Anne's imaginary friend, Kitty, embarks on a journey to find Anne, spending a lot of time trying to uncover the truth about Anne's fate. Kitty learns about the harrowing experience that Anne and her family experienced during the holocaust, and the heartbreaking reality of their demise.

The film captivates audiences from the outset with its imaginative premise, as her imaginary friend Kitty, embarks on a quest to find Anne years after her death. This narrative device not only provides a fresh perspective on Anne's life but also allows for a deeper exploration of her experiences and legacy. The animation is beautifully crafted, bringing both the historical setting and the fantasy elements of life with vibrant visuals and rich detail. The adventure that Kitty undertakes to uncover the truth about Anne's fate is both suspenseful and emotionally resonant, keeping viewers engaged throughout.

The film's message is that anyone has the right to live in freedom, no matter their race, religion, or culture. Be forewarned this film does contain moderate profanity.

I give Where Is Anne Frank? 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 12, plus adults. It was featured on March 10 at the New York International Children's Film Festival. You can watch it on Prime Video, Vudu or Apple TV. Be sure to check it out.

By Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior, while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Don't get your noodles in a twist because Kung Fu Panda 4 is available now. For the first time in almost a decade, comedy icon Jack Black returns to his role as Po, the world's acknowledged most unlikely kung fu master. Some familiar characters are here to support him on his journey along with some new relationships which refresh this beloved franchise.

Po, the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black) is about to experience a transition in his kung fu role in the Valley of Peace. Kung Fu Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) informs Po that he is needed to become a spiritual leader and to choose and train the next Dragon Warrior. This new role is a challenge for Po as he enjoys butt-kicking moves to counter villains and questions his fitness for a new cerebral role. While searching for inner peace we are reminded that for Po everything comes back to dumplings. Resisting his new role, Po determines it is necessary to first thwart a powerful new sorceress, Chameleon (Viola Davis), who can shapeshift and seeks total kung fu domination. He finds an unlikely partner in a tricky thief, Zhen (Awkwafina) who ends up teaching him that heroes can be found even in a den of thieves.

The computer animation of this film is so beautiful that, in the beginning, it almost appears to be 3D. The backgrounds are stunning and you'll love the various scenes in this wonton wonderland from DreamWorks Animation. I really enjoyed the interaction between the unlikely duo of Po and Zhen and the comedy created between their two characters. I absolutely love the new villain Chameleon and Viola Davis really illustrates how small and stylish stature doesn't impact the extent of evil evident in a character.

This film's message is that true change comes from within and that support from family and friends makes a great impact while helping to enable that change. After all, every step someone takes, no matter how large or small creates a footprint for others to follow.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This movie releases in theaters March 8, 2024 so go enjoy this hilarious new chapter in a favorite action-comedy franchise!

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Kung Fu Panda 4 is just the feel-good movie I needed this year. It's an incredibly entertaining family-friendly movie that seamlessly weaves humor and heartwarming messages.

When our favorite Dragon Warrior and Kung Fu fighting panda, Po (Jack Black), is chosen to become the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace, he must step down and train a new Dragon Warrior. However, he isn't quite ready for that change and has no idea who to choose as his successor. To top it off, the Chameleon (Viola Davis), a powerful sorceress, has set her eyes on Po's Staff of Wisdom, so he must go on one last Dragon Warrior adventure to save the Valley of Peace with the help of the clever bandit corsac fox, Zhen (Awkwafina).

Even though the target audience for this movie, based on its humor, is pretty young, this film is enjoyable for the whole family. Plus, it embeds some deep messages about change and redemption. The animation style and quality is top notch - reflecting exactly what we expect and more from DreamWorks. The animation style of the bunnies and pigs is so iconic and adorable, and I love seeing the new types of animals the movie introduces. I also love how they portray the energy coming from the Staff of Wisdom and the Chameleon's magic. One of my favorite duos in this movie is Mr. Ping (James Hong), who is Po's adoptive dad, and Li (Bryan Cranston), Po's biological dad. You can really tell how much they both care for Po and they make a great team. Awkwafina's distinct and unique voice really fits the personality of Zhen. It's so endearing to see her character grow and develop, and the contrast between her sneakiness and Po's genuineness makes them complementary partners. Of course, Jack Black never fails to make the audience laugh - he makes Po so lovable and relatable. There's a lot more star power in this film with voice actors like Viola Davis, Ian McShane, Dustin Hoffman, Mr. Beast, Seth Rogen and more. I only wish we got to see more of the Furious Five.

The film's messages include recognizing that even though change is hard, it isn't always bad, and it's never too late to do the right thing. Also, as with the previous Kung Fu Panda movies, we are reminded to never judge a book by its cover.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters on March 8, 2024.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Exciting. Dynamic. Captivating. Our favorite panda, Po is BACK in the fourth installment of Kung Fu Panda. With a daring adventure and character development that gives the movie an appropriate pace, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a new lighthearted film that I definitely enjoyed.

Kung Fu Panda 4 focuses on Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black), who has been promoted to the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace. This means that he now has to select and train a new warrior. In his process, he discovers that the evil shapeshifter Cameleonul (Viola Davis) is trying to steal his Staff of Wisdom. Joining forces with a witty and sly fox named Zhen (Awkwafina), Po has to try to stop Cameleonul's plan.

This animated film is geared toward a younger audience and with that in mind, the plot is a bit predictable. The viewers can sense the plot twists and changes throughout the movie. Despite this, the fast paced scenes like the chase in the town, keep you engaged the whole time. The animation pays great attention to detail, which helps move the story forward while keeping the audience interested. One of the biggest examples of captivating animation is when Cameleonul is shape shifting. Audiences anticipate what she will turn into next, big or small, and what vibrant colors are coming. One of the characters that stands out is Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina. Her delivery and comedic timing is on point, and she fits the character perfectly. Her banter with Po creates a friendly relationship that audiences can invest in. Kung Fu Panda 4 is perfect for a family movie night, and has an important message that all audiences can relate to.

The film's message is that, while it may not be easy, change is what builds character and makes you the best version of yourself. Po doesn't know who he is, if not the Dragon Warrior, but he eventually realizes that passing wisdom down and helping others succeed is one of the greatest accomplishments he can achieve.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 out 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can find Kung Fu Panda 4 in theaters on March 8, 2024. Make sure you check it out!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 16

Kung Fu Panda 4 may not pack the punch of earlier Kung Fun Panda movies, but the breathtaking animation, frenetic fights and well-placed humor more than deliver. Families must check this out for fun pandemonium that both adults and kids can enjoy.

This film starts a new journey for Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) once he is commanded by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to find a replacement Dragon Warrior and complete his transformation as the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. Unfortunately, Po knows little of spiritual learning, preferring a good fight and dumplings; worse yet, he runs into a mysterious thief Zhen (Awkwafina), who really gets under his fur. Worst of all, a sinister, shapeshifting sorceress Chameleon (Viola Davis) seeks to usurp Po's Staff of Wisdom to lead and re-summon the spirit realm that is littered with Po's finest foes. Desperate times call for desperate measures from Po as he trains and relies on Zhen. Can Po once again save the day and make a Dragon Warrior out of Zhen?

The cast is full of hilarious talent that works well off each other. Jack Black, as Po, picks up his character compellingly since he last picked up the mantle. Black's liveliness is always present, but here, he also gets to show off his emotional chops while coming to terms with change. Po might be at a career crossroads, but thankfully Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is here to help with his elderly wisdom. The Furious Five might leave a void in their absence but thankfully Awkwafina, as Zhen, naturally fills that void with Po as their hunt for the Chameleon turns into a buddy-cop spectacle. I can't think of a better complement for Po as the duo bond over their similarities and weaknesses; furthermore, it's Zhen's inner struggle with her inherent shadiness that remains most compelling. For that reason, Zhen's inclination to improve and do the right thing is a memorable and honorable character arc. Viola Davis, as Chameleon, absolutely carries the foe's presence with her commanding, sinister voice. Sadly, the Chameleon is the weakest antagonist in the franchise. Her underdeveloped, generically villainous endgame does not bring the nuances and complexities of Po's previous rogue gallery. Last but not least, Po's parents Mr. Ping (James Ping) and Li (Bryan Cranston) undergo a wholesome quest to find Po; Cranston, in particular, comedically shines in a recurring subplot where he must fool enemies into thinking he's Po. Mike Newell aptly directs the animation with stylistic choices that allow for breathtaking world building and fluid, stadium-like fights.

The film's message is that violence never solves conflicts. Although the film is full of fisticuffs, Po goes to great lengths to first reach an understanding with his foes. Po's reluctant transformation from Dragon Warrior to Spiritual Leader is at the heart of this nonviolence; furthermore, it develops Po's brazenness into a source of peace. Despite the film's child-friendliness, parents should be aware of mild violence. A few characters unfortunately die, but thankfully the deaths are comically unfocused and mostly implied.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 out of 5 stars and from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on March 8, 2024 in theaters. Be sure to check it out in theaters.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22

Set in the fun and humble town of the Valley Of Peace, Kung Fu Panda 4 had me laughing from the amusing story, amazing acting and great animation.

Po (Jack Black), the great Dragon Warrior, now has to become a spiritual leader who has to identify a successor and guide the next Dragon Warrior. He does not believe he can be a mentor and a leader, and while meditating to find a solution, he encounters a fox named Zhen (Awkwafina). A fight ensues and when Po puts her behind bars, he finds out that a new villain, The Chameleon (Viola Davis), has taken over Juniper City. With her shape shifting powers, she can turn into anyone and is planning to take over more land, including The Valley of Peace. Together, Zhen and Po go on a dangerous journey to bustling Juniper City to fight The Chameleon. They are met with countless challenges, and ultimately with the help of a team of bandits, take down The Chameleon.

Kung Fu Panda 4 definitely is entertaining with its funny and amusing characters, plus great morals and stories. The animation is mind blowing with amazing detail for these two different locations. The Valley of Peace is shown to be a small, colorful, village where everyone knows each other. Compared to the Valley of Peace, Juniper City is shown to be a darker, bustling city with many hardened people. The 60s style fight scenes, reminiscent of old Batman TV shows, kept me engaged and are very enjoyable. Jack Black definitely skadooshes as Kung Fu Panda! His empathetic and hilarious tones make it impossible not to love Po. Awkwafina is so great as Zhen because you can feel the hurt she carries with her in her voice. Viola Davis shows her Oscar prowess by delivering a very intimidating Chameleon. Dustin Hoffman, as Master Shifu, shows his annoyance and frustration towards Po in a very funny, yet kind way. Finally, Bryan Cranston and James Hong play Po's Panda and Goose dads, Li and Ping respectively, showing their love and support of Po throughout the movie. Kung Fu Panda 4 reminds us to always believe in ourselves and, even when we do not, at least pretend to. After Po gets hurt, he does not believe he can defeat The Chameleon, but his belief in himself grows with his parents' support. When it gets challenging, his panda dad, Li, is extremely worried, but acts brave just to save Po. We also are reminded that anyone has the ability to grow into a successful or beautiful thing. At first, Zhen does the wrong thing and then she remembers Po's kindness and how he believes in her and that changes her.

The film's messages are to believe in yourself and remember that kindness is important - everything we say to others affects them as it can affect how they think about themselves and ultimately, their actions.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on March 8, 2024

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 - 18
Description - Based on a remarkable true story, Ordinary Angels centers on Sharon (Hilary Swank), a fierce but struggling hairdresser in small-town Kentucky who discovers a renewed sense of purpose when she meets Ed (Alan Ritchson), a widower working hard to make ends meet for his two daughters. With his youngest daughter waiting for a liver transplant, Sharon sets her mind to helping the family and will move mountains to do it. What unfolds is the inspiring tale of faith, everyday miracles, and ordinary angels.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Tighten up your heartstrings for this new release because the film Ordinary Angels delivers a rollercoaster of scenes sure to unleash your deepest emotions. This well-crafted film offers such a mixture of highs and lows, almost in a magical way, that it definitely made its way onto my favorite films of all time. Viewers are in for a real treat with this masterpiece!

Based on an amazing true story, Ordinary Angels takes us on a journey to a small Kentucky Town where a bold, yet emotionally struggling hairdresser, Sharon Stevens (Hilary Swank), finds meaning to her life by helping a tragedy stricken family who are complete strangers. With the recent loss of his wife, Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson) faces yet another hardship when his youngest daughter must have a lifesaving liver transplant in order to survive her illness. With mounting medical bills and other expenses which the Schmitt Family cannot afford, saving his daughter's life seems out of reach until Stevens sets out to move mountains in making this happen. With renewed purpose, this "ordinary angel" brings her community together in this near impossible mission.

There is so much to love about this film! The cast, with both its lead and supporting actors, are dynamite and are an absolute perfect fit for their roles. Although some scenes are bitterly sad and required a box of tissues within reach, others I found to be comedic, which offered a great balance and some time for the tears to dry up. I was totally connected to the film from beginning to end as each scene delivers something so unique, setting off a gamut of emotions. A big two thumbs up for writers Kelly Fremon Craig and Meg Tilly, as well as for director Jon Gunn, for such a powerful timely film which is a true gift in a world so divided. Ordinary Angels reminds us that we must see beyond our flaws and appreciate one another, which I can certainly appreciate. This film is the perfect family movie one in which I will be encouraging families far and wide to watch!

Ordinary Angels delivers a message of faith within "community" and allows that faith to encourage good deeds for one another. God shows up in a big way when there is faith allowing for such a unique ripple effect. Serving within your community is a powerful tool and can result in significant positive change in people's lives. "Find a reason to be here and find meaning outside yourself."

I give Ordinary Angels 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Ordinary Angels is available in theaters now.

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend is a biographical documentary series produced in a collaboration between Apple TV+, Smuggler Entertainment and Pegsa Group. The series follows Lionel Messi's triumphant career, his overall impact on football and shows his journey of highs and lows with the Argentina national football team across five World Cups, culminating with his fairytale ending of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I loved every second of the documentary Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend. Messi is an absolute legend. I remember watching these games in 2022 so it's very very interesting to know what was going on behind the scenes, what the players were thinking and feeling, and other things. In the 2006 World Cup, he was just hoping he would get to play. Now he's the most decorated player in the history of the game.

This documentary follows Lionel Messi through the World Cup of 2022. The documentary shows his journey from when he was young to current time. It touches on his time at Barcelona, his previous World Cups, the challenges he had to overcome, his hopes and dreams for the 2022 World Cup, and finally the World Cup itself from the group stages all the way through the finals and how he feels and what he's thinking in between and throughout. The documentary does this across four episodes ranging from 44 minutes to 49 minutes in length titled "The Last Cup," "We Can Dream Again," "The Weight of a Nation," and "Redemption."

This is a feel-good documentary as we observe an inspiring man getting to accomplish his biggest dream. There's a wonderful beauty to that and this documentary is a beautiful depiction of it. Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend is really very well-made. It offers an intimate view into Lionel Messi's life. He speaks of Diego Maradonna, his soccer hero. Messi tells us that when he doesn't do well, he's very self-critical and explains how he feels guilty. The documentary includes interviews with Messi's teammates, his first coach and Argentina's coach, Lionel Sebasti�n Scaloni. It delves into what happened after the Saudi Arabia loss - 36 matches undefeated ended in the opening match. The Saudi Arabia win against Argentina came as one of the World Cup's greatest shocks. Roger Bennett says, "watching Lionel Messi walk off the field... It was agony. At this moment, he looked defeated." Everybody started attacking Messi after the World Cup loss to Saudi Arabia, saying he was overhyped and similar things. The documentary excels at comparing that incident to when Messi quit Argentina in 2016. When Messi did quit, everyone suddenly freaked out. People begged him to stay, to change his mind, there were even hash tags such as #LioDon'tLeave. Enzo Fernandez was 15 at the time and wrote a letter to Messi that ended up going viral. Six years later, Messi reverted his decision and Fernandez played alongside him in the World Cup. They won it together. The documentary is full of heart touching anecdotes like this. I truly had a smile on my face the entire time I watched it. I love seeing how Messi and his teammates celebrate after a goal - all smiles and jumping on each other. It's heartwarming how happy they look and how they support one another. Watching the team hang out together makes me smile as they sing, dance, chant, play card games and celebrate! This is all Messi's story. Throughout the documentary, you can tell he truly loves his children, his wife, his sport, his country, his team and his life. What a legend! Like Messi or not, you cannot deny that he is one of the greatest players of all time. This documentary helps us understand him, his journey, and his story. You can't say you're a soccer fan and not know the story of one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. Messi's teammates say that they all grew up watching him play. Emiliano Martinez says "We feel that we have to defend our hero." Fernandez says "The team always had the sense of wanting to win it for Leo." It felt like all of Argentina was watching, saying "We need to win because it's Messi's last one." This is an absolutely amazing documentary. I wish it had included interviews with the French team in the fourth episode, which would have given us a very interesting perspective. Argentina would have lost to France, 3-4, if not for Martinez's brilliant last-minute save.

The film's message is that you can't do it alone. The World Cup final is one of the best and most interesting matches I've ever seen. It was Messi's World Cup. But it was also Martinez's world cup. And Fernandez's world cup. Alvarez, Di Maria, De Paul, Scaloni, every other person on that team. It was Argentina's World Cup. Messi could never have done it without them. The documentary ends with Messi saying "I'm just a kid from Rosario who loves to play ball." That makes the documentary all the more inspiring. Messi says "If something is meant to happen to you, it will happen." That's another one of the messages. Messi worked really hard. This documentary shows that truly anyone can do it. Work hard enough, and you can achieve all your dreams. Don't give up. That's 100% true. But by Messi saying that, he acknowledges there's an aspect of luck to it as well.

I give Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults, but this is truly a must-watch for all fans of the sport. You can watch this documentary starting February 21, 2024 on AppleTV+.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend follows pro soccer player Lionel Messi's journey through obstacles and triumphs during the 2022 World Cup. Tasked with leading his team and acting as the face of Argentina, Messi must lead his teammates and country to victory.

This documentary series tells the story of all-star Messi's background throughout the episodes, often non-chronologically. However, at times this method doesn't work, and the story feels disjointed, underdeveloped and the flashbacks feel out of place. We undoubtedly root for Messi throughout the series, but only because the series urges us to cheer him on, not because we have fully gotten to know him. Also, the documentary's formula grows repetitive. We continuously witness Lionel and Argentina's performance during the World Cup, which becomes hard to watch. Messi never remains at a high or low because the series swiftly cycles between the media disliking him, him gaining back their support, and the media disliking him again. This trend is utilized so many times throughout the episodes that it's hard to cheer for a win when we know there is another devastating loss around the corner. Fortunately, Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend thrives from its frequent use of footage from Messi's games. As an audience, we truly get a sense of why Lionel Messi is regarded as one of the all time greats of soccer. He is fueled by his peers and country, which is quite inspiring. His collaboration with teammates and talent in the game is truly entertaining to watch. Viewing the way in which the Argentinean team bonds throughout their wins and losses is something very special to see.

There is no question that Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend has aspects that soccer fans and Lionel Messi fans will enjoy, but the series fails to include many additions that it would benefit from.

I give Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch the series when it releases on February 21, 2024 on Apple TV+.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Dune: Part Two will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a path of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Wow! Just saw this in IMAX, which really delivers the visuals in a breathtaking way, especially the desert scenes. I loved Part One and this is twice as good, perhaps because the storyline is more developed or so it seems.

The story revolves around Paul Atreides' mythical journey as he reunites with Chani (Zendaya) and the Freman seeking revenge for the insurgents who murdered his family. Paul has to prove himself to the Freman by undertaking several tasks, including riding a sandworm - and he calls the largest one ever seen. After a two-year conflict, Paul eventually emerges victorious and successfully deposes the Emperor. The Emperor picks Feyd Rautha (Austin Butler) as his champion to duel Paul for the universe's fate. In the end, Paul abandons the love of his life and claims Princess Irulan as his bride, while sending the Freman out into the universe to start a war against the great houses.

This second installment, based on Frank Herbert's books brings with it lots of questions about Paul and the Arrakis. It adds some key characters to the already splendid cast such as Austin Butler playing the evil Feyd Rautha and Florence Pugh playing Irulan. Emperor Shaddam IV is played by Christopher Walken. Lady Margot, the Bene Gesserit wife of Count Hasimir Fenring, is played by Lea Seydoux. Of course, returning cast members include Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Javier Gardem as Stilgar (leader of the Fremen tribe), Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck and Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen. Chani, played by Zendaya, delivers a stunning performance and shows how she is caught between the man she loves and her dedication to her people, exemplified by her fury at Paul when he breaks his promises to her and colonizes the Fremen through religious propaganda. Having Paul declare war on the great houses at the end of the film shows his drive for ultimate power and sets the scene on world-building. I can't say enough about how impressive the visuals are in this film, created by Patrice Vermette, who goes old-school Hollywood in creating the most immersive sets and environments for the film. That meant filming on location. The grand desert landscapes of Arrakis - the futuristic planet - were filmed in Jordan and Abu Dhabi and are perfectly captured by widescreen cinematography. The vast desert seas are shot from above showing how they stretch for miles in every direction. New worlds are introduced - Caladan and Giedi Prime -- each with its own unique visual characterization. The sandworms appear frequently in Part Two and are massive! Particularly inspiring is Paul's initial ride on the sandworms and, at the end, Chani prepares for her own turn. The most complicated sets were constructed on giant soundstages in Budapest, including the ornithopters. The visual aspect is further enhanced by the incredible flowing, futuristic costume designs by Jacqueline West whose work reaches far and wide as the characters move from planet to planet. Composer Hans Zimmer completes the creative team with an evocative score that absolutely is mind bending, complementing the visuals and enhancing the story's emotional impact.

The film's message is about the importance of family and culture, but it reminds us to beware of heroes. Paul Atreides unites the Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis to wage war against House Harkonnen who murdered his family. The question is, does Paul take it too far?

I give Dune: Part Two 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters on March 1, 2024. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Dune: Part Two is a jaw-dropping movie that sent thrills through my spine as it follows Paul Atredes and the Freemen. The film opens your eyes to the beauty of the desert while keeping you on your toes with stellar fight sequences and war scenes.

Dune: Part Two starts where the first movie ended, with Paul Atredes (Timothee Chalamet) and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) having joined Chani (Zendaya) and the Freemen. Seeking revenge against those who have hurt his family, Paul learns the way of the Freemen to gain their trust and respect, falling in love along the way. When the threat resurfaces, Paul and the Freemen must work together to regain their land and prevail over the House of Harkonnen.

Director Denis Villeneuve outdoes himself with Dune: Part Two. His collaboration of brilliant storytelling with world creation and surreal cinematography makes it a movie that audiences will remember long after watching. This movie gave me a new appreciation for the desert, primarily due to how cinematographer Greig Fraser shoots the landscapes. The beginning of the film, with the shots of the sand and the visuals of the red sun setting with the dunes in the background, is breathtaking to watch on the big screen. But the visuals don't stop with the sequences of the sand, as the visual effects are absolutely incredible. Although there are some moments where I could tell that CGI plays a part in creating the setting, most of the CGI is outstanding. The fight sequences are some of the best I've ever seen and definitely kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The movie is very long, at two hours and 46 minutes, and I admit that it feels a bit long near the end. Some characters and plot lines seem to be extraneous to the overall story. For example, Feyd-Rautha Hakkunnen (Austin Butler), although visually very compelling and greatly acted, seems to be somewhat unnecessary. My favorite character is Stilgar (Javier Bardem), as he brings a much-needed amount of humor to an otherwise dark story. Every actor in this film delivers amazing performances, but Chalamet and Ferguson really blew me away. Their acting is phenomenal and makes you empathize with their characters while also fearing them. The background score, by Hans Zimmer, helps transport audiences to the world of Dune and embellishes the beauty of cinematography, making the movie more jaw-dropping.

Dune: Part Two promotes respect and trust, but most importantly, the value of staying true to yourself. A large part of the story is Paul Atredes's difficulty understanding who he is and the Freemen's perception of his role in their society, causing internal conflicts in Paul's head. Once he becomes vulnerable and accepts his destiny everything becomes more clear, not only for him but for the audience as well. Be aware that the movie is very violent at times and involves many fight scenes involving weapons and blood and other disturbing visuals.

I give Dune: Part Two 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 1, 2024.

By Emma D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Dune: Part Two is one of the best produced films I have ever seen. The cinematography, casting, direction and special effects are all phenomenal. The filmmakers have paid intricate attention to detail and it shows throughout the movie.

The film follows two strong-willed lovers who are among the many fighters on the planet Arrakis. Paul wants to destroy the people who killed his family, but foresees a dangerous future. That same force is messing with his mind and may ruin his plan to save their people.

Some of your favorite actors are in Dune: Part Two! The main characters are Paul or Uzul (Timoth�e Chalamet), Chani (Zendaya), Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Stilgar (Javier Bardem), Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler), Beast Rabban (Dave Bautista) and Emperor (Christopher Walken). The casting is fantastic; each actor compliments their characters beautifully and believably. I felt many emotions while watching it because of the great acting. When Chani is hurt by Uzul's sudden change of mind, the air feels tense and her anger is shown. Also, Uzul's mom, Jessica, is mysterious and changes her personality when she drinks the poison. This film is so well-produced. I am beyond amazed by the quality of the production. The camerawork captures the scenes so well, especially when they are in the desert. The special effects are mind-blowing, like when Uzul and Chani blow up multiple helicopters. The machine they are running from looks incredibly realistic and threatening. When Uzul has visions, the special effects are well-displayed. We learn that, by consuming Spice, the people on Arrakis can see the future. You know when they are seeing the future because their eyes turn blue. This film exceeds all my expectations and explores science fiction beautifully. The pacing is perhaps a bit off, but you might expect some slow parts since it is nearly three hours long! A lot of hard work went into creating this film. I highly recommend watching Dune: Part One to understand the concepts, the characters and their backstories. Dune: Part 2 picks up right where Dune: Part One left off. These two films really bring the Dune books to life. I applaud the director, Denis Villeneuve, for creating such admirable work. My favorite part of the film is when Paul (or Uzul) learns to ride a huge sandworm. The special effects are remarkable because you feel as if you are on the sandworm with him - the wind rushes, the sand flies everywhere, and the motion of the sandworm is smooth. It looks incredibly realistic and it shows how far CGI has come.

The film's message is to have hope and to always believe it can happen. Paul's hope carries him throughout his fights and he constantly encourages the others to believe that they can do it. He also tells his mother to not give them false hope over a prophecy. Be aware that this film has mature concepts, a lot of violence, profanity, and bloody scenes.

I give Dune: Part Two 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Dune: Part Two releases in theaters March 1, 2024.

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

The story of Dune is back with a sequel to the 2021 film, Dune: Part One. Dune: Part Two is action-packed, visually stunning, and matches the dynamic energy and format as the first film. It also has breathtaking scenery, amazing performances, and an engaging storyline.

Continuing the storyline of Frank Herbert's science fiction novels, Dune: Part Two follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) after the happenings in the first film where the Atreides family was defeated. In this film, Paul works hard to protect the Arrakis people. We learn more about Paul's visions and the prophecy that is said to revolve around Paul.

There are many focal points of this film so there are a few main characters besides Paul. The acting in this film is terrific. Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya make for an amazing acting duo throughout the film, and the rest of the cast's performance, including Austin Butler as Feyd-Ratha Harrakum helps move the story along. The visuals are stunning, with the desert landscape, incredible set designs, and mind-blowing special effects. The cinematography, storyline, sets, and overall design come together perfectly to create a truly well-made film. The story is very adventurous -- sci-fi film lovers will be fascinated and interested. The costumes perfectly match the setting and, in a way, tell their own story. Dune: Part Two takes you on an emotional rollercoaster which is expected based on the content in Part One. As much as I enjoyed this film, it is almost three hours long and it seems to lack a lot of context and dialogue. I definitely recommend seeing the first movie before this one.

Dune: Part Two is all about trust, bravery and hope. Paul is challenged with keeping his family's legacy, leading Arrakis, and facing the future he sees in his visions. To protect those who he cares about most, he must be brave. He must have hope for the future despite its dangers and risks. And he must trust others as well as himself to do what he has to do. Parents should be aware that there is a lot of graphic violence and suggestive scenes.

I give Dune: Part Two 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Dune: Part Two opens in theaters March 1, 2024.

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

The film Dune: Part Two is an action film set in the year 10191. This film is faster paced and creepier than Dune: Part One. I was a little confused during parts of it and found the story hard to follow.

The storyline follows Paul Atreides (Timoth�e Chalamet) as he attempts to learn the ways of the Fremen after the House of Atreides has fallen. Paul receives visions and knows that if he travels south a Holy War will begin. He also knows that the only way to bring people together to overpower the Emperor and the other eight houses is to allow people to believe he is "The One."

While this film is set in the future, the sword fights and battles scenes remind me of war scenes from the past. Don't worry; there is plenty of sci-fi throughout the film as well, with the costume design, eerie music and floating characters, such as Baron (Stellan Skarsgard). My favorite part of the film is the developing love story between Paul Atreides and Chani (Zendaya). I am so happy that Chani is a more prominent character in Dune: Part Two than her minimal part in Paul's visions during Part One. The way Paul Atreides asks for the emperor's daughter's hand in marriage has me thinking there is a Dune: Part Three in store for us.

The film's message is that sometimes you have to sacrifice your wants and needs for the wants and needs of the group. Paul doesn't want to abandon Chani but he knows that if he travels south toward the fundamentalists, he will have to lead and that will bring trouble between them. He knows he must do it anyway. Note that this film has violent content, gore and is a bit creepy and scary.

I give Dune: Part Two 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters March 1, 2024.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wonka is a magical, vibrant and fresh retelling of the classic story that the world needs right now. With a spectacular cast, eye-catching visuals, and an absorbing story, Wonka is the perfect holiday treat.

Wonka takes place prior to the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, so we follow a young Willy Wonka (Timoth�e Chalamet), who travels to London to make his name known and share his chocolate with the world. Opposed by Mrs. Scrubbit (Olivia Colman) and Bleacher (Tom Davis), Willy is prevented from selling his candy, but with the help of his companion Noodle (Calah Lane), he just may have a chance.

Wonka's cast is nothing short of incredible. Every single performance adds to the overall feeling of the world with some wacky and eccentric characters. For me, Timoth�e Chalamet delivers the most surprising and fun performance. He really embodies Willy Wonka's older self, but adds younger nuances, with his innocence, enthusiasm and wit. Hugh Grant, who has a much smaller, but unforgettable role as an Oompa-Loompa, delivers by far the funniest lines in the film. He is pretty much playing Hugh Grant, but in the best way possible, and he adds so much flair to the movie which makes it so much more enjoyable. Wonka's visuals are one of the best parts of the film, and are very unique and dream-like. A distinct visual style is seen in the sky, the outfits, and setting. Director Paul King and Production Designer Nathan Crowley create a very fantastical and whimsical 1930s London. Wonka is incredibly atmospheric in its set design and feels pulled right out of the pages of a storybook. Wonka feels necessary and worthwhile because it truly embraces the elements that viewers were drawn to in the first place - a magical escape into a world of vibrant imagination. On the other hand, Wonka is surprising because while it precedes a well-known story, it introduces elements that surpass the classic. The story feels original and refreshing.

Wonka beautifully captures the importance of aspirations and dreams. Willy begins the movie without anything, but is pushed by his undying imagination. Wonka encourages viewers to embrace creativity and passion, forgetting all limitations and striving for a bright future.

I give Wonka 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch Wonka December 15, 2023 in theaters.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Wonka is an amazing movie! This film, directed by Paul King, is a feel-good musical that took me on a very emotional ride. Viewers learn the origin story of the eccentric chocolatier and magician.

Willy (Timoth�e Chalamet) dreams of opening a chocolate shop in the Gallery Gourmet but quickly runs out of money. He meets Bleacher (Tom Davis), who introduces Willy to Mrs. Scrubbitt (Olivia Colman), who tricks him into a contract and forces him to work in her laundry room to pay off his debt. There he meets other indentured workers - Abacus Crunch (Jim Carter), Piper Benz (Natasha Rothwell), Lottie Bell (Rakhee Thakrar) and Larry Chucklesworth (Rich Fulcher). Noodle (Calah Lane) becomes Willy's closest ally and joins him to defeat the corrupt Chocolate Cartel and reach his goal of opening a chocolate shop.

I never expected to feel so many emotions in a Willy Wonka movie. There is the familiar magicalness of Willy who whips up the most amazing chocolate and candy confections, like Hoverchocs that can make you fly. Yet the performances, musical score and art direction really pulled me into the story. The song, "Pure Imagination," appears in different versions throughout the film and adds to the emotional experience. I really like the character development and the sibling-like friendship between Willy and Noodle. When Willy agrees to secretly leave town to free his friends, Timoth�e Chalamet's singing of "Sorry Noodle" had me crying my eyes out. The evilness of the Chocolate Cartel led by Mr. Slugworth (Paterson Joseph) had me so angry as they repeatedly try to defeat Willy and they eventually trap Willy and Noodle. My favorite part is when the Oompa Loompa Lofty (Hugh Grant) saves Willy and Noodle from being drowned in chocolate.

The message of Wonka is to let your imagination run wild and keep striving for your dreams even when the odds are stacked against you. In the end, the struggle will be worth it, especially if you have friends to share your success with.

I give Wonka 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film will be released in theaters on December 15, 2023.

By Kira O, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Let's step into a world of pure imagination! The new Wonka film is nothing short of magical! The entire cast shines and my whole family loved this movie. This movie is extra colorful, extra magical, extra sweet and deliciously decadent.

Based on the extraordinary character at the center of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl's iconic children's book, Wonka tells the wondrous story of how the world's greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today. It is a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Starring Timoth�e Chalamet in the title role, this irresistibly vivid and inventive big screen spectacle introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, chock-full of ideas and determined to change the world -- one delectable bite at a time, proving that the best things in life begin with a dream, and, if you're lucky enough to meet Willy Wonka, anything is possible.

As a fan of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I loved Wonka. I love all the songs and dance numbers. It is a scrumdiddlyumptions musical. I was laughing out loud in the theater and the entire cast had me in awe. The movie has an intoxicating mix of magic and music, mayhem and emotion, all told with fabulous heart and humor. Timothee Chalamet is extraordinary as Willy Wonka. He is brilliant as he dances, sings, makes chocolate, and follows his dreams. He had me smiling from ear to ear the entire movie. Keegan Michale Key as the chief of police is hilarious. He is just so funny throughout the entire movie as he is always trying to catch Wonka and eating way too many sweets. Calah Lane, as Noodle, is perfect for this role. She is brilliant in the movie and her story in the movie is beautiful. I loved watching her and Timothee Chalamet on screen together. The chemistry between the two of them is just perfect. I love all the vibrant colors throughout the movie. The costumes are amazing and fit the movie perfectly. I predict that audiences will be singing and dancing and loving every minute of this movie just like I was and leaving the theater with a sweet tooth for more Wonka!

The film's message is about following your dreams. The character Wonka is full of ideas and has a wonderful imagination. He is determined to change the world, open a store and he does not let anything get in his way or stop him. He follows his dreams and believes in himself.

I give Wonka 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can watch Wonka in theaters beginning December 15, 2023.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-18
Description - Eddie Murphy stars in this holiday comedy adventure about a man on a mission to win his neighborhood's annual Christmas home decoration contest. After Chris (Eddie Murphy) inadvertently makes a deal with a mischievous elf named Pepper (Jillian Bell) to better his chances of winning, she casts a magic spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life and wreaks havoc on the whole town. At the risk of ruining the holidays for his family, Chris, his wife Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross), and their three children must race against the clock to break Pepper's spell, battle deviously magical characters and save Christmas for everyone.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Eddie Murphy nails it in this holiday film that is definitely destined to become an evergreen Christmas go to. I really didn't know too much about it before watching it and was surprised at the inclusion of the CGI generated miniature people, which adds another layer of zaniness to it.

The story follows the annual holiday seasonal competition in El Segundo, CA, known as Candy Cane Lane where neighbors fiercely compete for best decorated house. This year's competition is amped up with the promise of a $100K prize wife (Tracee Ellis Ross), daughter Joy (), son Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixon and younger daughter Holly (Madison Thomas) aren't quite on board until they learn the severity of the situation.

Madison Thomas definitely steals the show as her dad's sidekick, following him into the popup mysterious and somewhat ominous Christmas shop called Kringle's hidden away under a freeway overpass. Another show stopper is Pepper (Jillian Bell), the shop owner whose ethics are questionable from the get go. Then, there are the magical little village people - Pip (Nick Offerman), Cordelia (Robin Thede), Gary (Christ Redd) and a group of seemingly innocent carolers who burst into song with the slightest provocation. The twisted tale of how Pepper has connived capturing these little people unravels as the plot develops. My favorite part is the 12 Days of Christmas "tree" that Chris falls for and brings home only to learn that each of the elements becomes real - and real enough to be real problems. All of a sudden seven swans are swimming in the Carver's pool. Geese are laying eggs while air borne and dropping them on innocent bystanders, like Carver's wife! Pipers are piping and dancing in the street; drummers are drumming and making pests of themselves. All this madcap craziness comes to a head as Chris hustles to complete his tasks of gathering the golden rings before the magic hour, only to discover minutes before that the number of rings he thought he needed to procure, was vastly underestimated, since the song repeats them with each round and it's 40, not 5 that he needs to collect or become one of the little village people that Pepper bosses around. However the family rallies, Santa shows up, and ultimately, the good guys win and the bad guys are punished.

The film's message really comes down to the importance of family. As Chris tells his family, "everything I do I do for you." And they come to understand that is really true.

I give Candy Cane Lane 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, or those who are kids at heart. It is available now on Prime Video so, check it out. I promise you'll get some good laughs out of it.

KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Candy Cane Lane is the perfect Christmas Movie to watch with your family and friends in 2023. Candy Cane Lane is filled with adventures, magic and laughter. It definitely brings the Christmas spirits to life!

The story follows a family from El Segundo, California who live on a street called Candy Cane Lane, where every year there is a contest for the best house lit up for Christmas. During this year's contest the competition between all the neighbors is way more intense than in previous years. To win this competition families must have the best and brightest lighting, the biggest Santas, the most colorful elves, the loudest music and the most incredible angels on their front yard. The dad, Chris Carver (Eddie Murphy) finds out about this huge contest on TV and goes crazy. He tries everything to win first place, even making a deal with a lunatic elf, Pepper (Jillian Bell), without even realizing that what he is doing would create a big problem for his family and the whole town.

The film is hilarious, has a twist on classic songs, and a family we can all relate to. Mom, Carol Carver (Tracee Ellis Ross), is a super hard-working woman who is trying to get a promotion at work during the busiest time of the year. The oldest daughter, Joy Carver (Genneya Walton), has a dream to go to college and be part of the track team. The middle son, Nick Carver (Thaddeus J. Mixxon), is not a big math student, but has a passion for music and the youngest daughter, Holly Carver (Madison Thomas), loves Christmas as much as her dad. One of my favorite scenes is when Chris and Holly Carver are looking for Christmas decorations and find a store in the middle of nowhere. The special effects in that store are super fun and magical. Another great scene is when the contest starts at Candy Cane Lane and Santa shows up in his sleigh, points his finger at every house on the street, and viewers erupt with excitement as each house brings a Christmas theme to life. You must watch and see the seasonal magic happening at Carver's house. I know you will just love it as much as I did.

The film's message is that family comes first and they will always be there for you. It doesn't matter what challenges you are facing, when you have your family by your side, you will always figure out a way to find solutions.

I give Candy Cane Lane 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Prime Video beginning December 1, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Candy Cane Lane, directed by Reginald Hudlin. The witty humor and stunning set design make this one of my new favorite holiday movies.

This adventurous comedy follows Christmas lover Chris Carver (Eddie Murphy) and his family as they compete in the annual neighborhood house decorating Christmas contest. However this year the stakes are higher; the winner of the contest will receive a $100,000 cash prize. After unintentionally making a deal with mischievous elf Pepper (Jillian Bell), she casts a spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life. To prevent disaster before Christmas, Chris and his family must break Pepper's spell before it's too late.

The humor in Candy Cane Lane is one of its biggest highlights. Eddie Murphy's comedic timing and quick-witted performance make for some laugh-out-loud moments. He also brings charm, joy, and relatability to his character through his distinctive comedic style, making him one of my personal favorite characters. Chris Carver is the type of dad every kid would love to spend time with during the holidays. The set design in this film is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Set designer Adam Mull absolutely captures the wonder of the Christmas Spirit in every set design. My favorite scene is when Chris and his daughter Holly (Madison Thomas) first meet Pepper at her Christmas Shop. As soon as they both walk through the door the scene explodes with Christmas magic; each Christmas tree is decorated with beautiful unique ornaments and the environment made me feel like I was right there in the scene. Adam Mull transformed this movie into an onscreen winter wonderland; in every scene you can see how much time and effort went into this film's creation.

The film's message is that, through thick and thin, families should stick together and use teamwork when tackling a problem. This message is important for families to hear year round but especially during the holidays; a time where many families come together and spend quality time with one another.

I give Candy Cane Lane 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Candy Cane Lane premieres on Amazon Prime Video December 1, 2023. Make sure to check it out!

By Tia O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Join us on an Oscar Wilde adventure where... being scary is not what it used to be! As the nineteenth gives way to the twentieth century and scientific invention brings forth new ways of traversing and seeing the world, a modern American family moves into their recently purchased, country home, Canterville Chase, in England, only to find it is haunted by a ghost. Sir Simon de Canterville has been haunting the grounds of Canterville Chase successfully for over three hundred years, but he meets his match when he tries to scare out the new arrivals.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I found The Canterville Ghost incredibly appealing due to the lessons ingrained in the movie. I enjoyed that the daughter ultimately has a change of heart and falls in love with a member of the royal family in England who she initially wanted nothing to do with.

The Canterville Ghost is about an innovative American family of five moving to England into a manor which has been deemed haunted by all those who previously lived there. The oldest and only daughter of the three kids encounters the Canterville ghost first, but since she does not want to be there she hatches a plan to have the ghost (who she ultimately befriends) scare her family so they move back home. Since the family's dad is a scientist, he is not afraid of the ghost; neither is his wife; and the kids enjoy playing with the ghost and pranking him as well. Ultimately, the daughter helps the ghost achieve everlasting rest and falls in love with one of the royal members of England.

Overall, this is a great film. I enjoyed the part where the boys are not afraid of the ghost and, in an effort to have fun, play with the ghost's head and use it as a football when trying to care for him. I enjoyed how Virginia was willing to go into the locked garden to help the ghost leave the mortal world and rest with his love (who has died). I love that the film has an interesting storyline -- something to always look forward to and delightful plot twists. For example, the maid whose family had lived in Canterville castle for generations believed the ghost had murdered his wife. It is later found out he was sabotaged by a member of the royal family generations ago who wanted to take over his castle. It is funny when the maid says she is not to speak of the story about the ghost's wife and then immediately spills the story as if they had begged to hear it. I believe a child would enjoy this film because it is humorous, the animation and graphics are well put together, and it is a story about ghosts, friendship, forgiveness, and love.

The movie flows very well. The film definitely draws the viewer in and one cannot help but be empathetic of the characters feelings and emotions. In the first part, there is a scene showing the person who lived there before Virginia's family who is scared of the ghost and is driven insane. In the next scene when the family moves in, the maid explains how everyone who has previously lived there was driven insane and continuously yells. This makes the viewer want to continue watching the movie to see how the ghost will torment the American family that has moved in. The screenplay and characters develop very well. The dad starts off, and remains, a logical scientist who does not fear ghosts. The boys are playful and fun and continue to blame each other for their shenanigans. Virginia goes from being homesick to falling in love with Henry, a member of the royal family.

The visual quality is amazing. The scenes are colorful, contrasting and interesting. It is very interesting to see one of the last scenes where Virginia is in the locked garden where it is incredibly bright and colorful (replicating where Sir Simon's wife had died) and, at the same time, the camera gives a Henry's point of view on the other side of the gate. Some of the concepts are suited for older kids - tweens and teens - such as the idea that people lived using candles before electricity. Virginia's dad hosts a banquet celebrating his invention of light bulbs which may catch younger viewers by surprise. When he shows the banquet attendees that he will be bringing light bulbs to England it makes the viewer question how long we have had such technological advancements. U.S. kids are not familiar with why the higher classes in England are referred to as Sir or Duke. This film definitely invites the viewer to question and problem solve. It makes the viewer question how royal families in England live, specifically when Henry goes to see Virginia before the banquet and says he will protect her from English high society. When Sir Simon explains the story of his love's death, the viewer learns to not believe everything they hear. The two boys are goofy --the ghost ends up displaying kind qualities by saving Henry whom he initially wanted to harm. The parents are loving and kind, and Virginia and Henry meet by chance, become good friends and eventually fall in love.

The film's messages are to never be fearful, to not judge others by what you hear about them, and to learn to give opportunities to new things as one may end up loving it.

I give The Canterville 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It releases in theaters October 20, 2023 and digitally October 5 on all major channels.

By Steve A., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The new animated film, The Canterville Ghost by British director Robert Chandler honors the author's geniality with a beautiful film that is not just entertaining and fun to watch but also captivates with the characters adventures and dilemmas.

The humorous short story The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde has been adapted into different forms like films, radio, TV episodes and even an Opera since its release in 1887. True to the original book, the story follows a modern American family that moves to their recently purchased country home, Canterville Chase in England. The Otis family consists of Dad (David Harewood), Mom (Meera Syal), two twin wild sons (Jakey Schiff, Bennett Miller) and Virginia (Emily Carey), a rebellious and determined teenager. Soon they discover the old mansion is inhabited by a ghost who has been wandering its corridors and rooms for over 300 years - Sir Simon de Canterville. The subsequent encounters are unexpected as the past repeats itself.

Although the animation doesn't offer innovations, this film is absolutely charming, and is very well done. The concept of haunted houses is typically a crowd pleaser. Most audiences can't deny the pleasure they feel by being scared, especially when they are in a safe place like a movie theater. The Canterville Ghost captures this thrill in its production design and the narrative storytelling offered by co-directors Kim Burden and Robert Chandler. The vibrant colors and color palette really caught my attention. I love how the animation is filled with details in costume design. One of the aspects I most enjoyed is the camera work, from the oscillating shots that make you feel like a POV of Sir Simon, to some camera placements that feel like somebody's watching from a hidden place. The characters are funny and I love Virginia's journey from not wanting to be in the house to her intrepid relationship with Sir Simon. Stephen Fry delivers the perfect emotion voicing Sir Simon de Canterville. He not only has the perfect gravitas for the most iconic character in the film, he has previously interpreted Oscar Wilde. Emily Carey portrays her role as defiant, brave and determined - with Virginia in total command.

The film's message is to value people of all persuasion and to make the most of your lifetime. The Canterville Ghost has the perfect tone for young audiences and will delight grownups with its amusing narration.

I give The Canterville Ghost 5 out of five stars and recommended it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. The film opens in theaters nationwide on October 20, 2023 - right on time for Halloween celebrations.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

I really like the animated film, The Canterville Ghost. It definitely got me into the Halloween spirit. It's an enjoyable watch, sprinkled with mysteries and comedy, plus a compelling plot and likable characters.

The Otis family just moved into a new home that's notorious for housing the ghost Sir Simon de Canterville. He has successfully haunted every resident up until now. Will the family be the exception?

The main characters are Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry), Virginia Otis (Emily Carey), the Duke of Cheshire (Freddie Highmore), Lucretia Otis (Meera Syal), Hiram Otis (David Harewood, Louis Otis (Jake Schiff), Kent Otis (Bennett Miller) and Mrs. Umney (Imelda Staunton). The characters are all so loving and respectable toward each other, which makes the story very enjoyable. Their genuine interactions show that the family cares so much for each other. Each of the characters has unique personality traits. I especially like Virginia, who is both strong-willed and kind hearted. Her anger reflects her passion, and I admire her ambitious mindset. I also appreciate that the writers adapted those personality traits into a female teen, which gives inspiration for young girls. Virginia is forced to move away from all her friends, so she needs time adjusting to her new life. It's a lot to handle, but it adds to her character development. Also, the twin brothers, Louis and Kent, are two peas in a pod, but get into a lot of trouble. It's amusing to watch their shenanigans, like when they toss around a ghost's head as if it's a football. This film is based on the novella by Oscar Wilde. The movie brings this beloved story to life and makes it entertaining for the younger generation. I applaud the producers and directors, Robert Chandler and Kim Burdon, for adapting the story into an enjoyable watch. The animation is incredible and extremely realistic. The quality is great, as well. When the house is on fire, the flames look real. Speaking of the house, this setting is magical and reminds me of a haunted house at night. My favorite part of the film is when all of the members of the Royal Society start flying around in a circle on the ceiling. The Canterville Ghost makes them fly, which made me laugh because all of them are completely afraid. The guest's costumes are elegant and royal, from puffy dresses to fancy suits.

The message of this film is that love is all you need. Sir Simon de Canterville states, "Love is the greatest adventure of them all." It's also about letting go, forgiveness, friendship, and family.

I give The Canterville Ghost 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. The Canterville Ghost releases in theaters October 20, 2023 and digitally October 5, 2023

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

The Canterville Ghost is a hilarious and entertaining movie. It has lots of twists and turns and definitely showcases some very funny plot points throughout the film.

The storyline follows an American family who moves into a manor called Canterville Chase in England. However it turns out their manor has been haunted for 300 years and there's a ghost named Sir Simon de Canterville attempting to scare them out. None of the family is scared by the ghost though and he must continue to find ways to try to freak them out. The ghost also tries to break his curse of being stuck haunting the manor for all eternity and this family might just be his way out.

The Canterville Ghost is animated and the style is absolutely incredible. It has the perfect amount of realism mixed with an animation style that creates the perfect combination that makes the film even more interesting. The plot and characters' relations are absolutely hilarious and stunning. All the characters have such diverse and interesting connections to each other such as Sir Simon de Canterville (Stephen Fry) who is the ghost haunting the manor. The diversity resembles the diversity in our own society and communities. It's almost like they are real people. The characters themselves are also very relatable. Such as this one character named Virginia Otis (Emily Carey) who does not want to move and does everything she can to try to get out of it. Despite ghost movies being a relatively common concept, this one takes a whole new turn that definitely spices up the story. Such as the one at the very beginning where you find that the family is a lot harder to scare than the ghost thought. It is also not such a scary movie which makes it more suitable for younger kids. The beginning is a little hard to understand as it takes off without a lot of context. It does make more sense once the story develops.

The message of this film is that you have to stop and smell the roses and not be too impulsive or you might get really hurt.

I give The Canterville Ghost 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. It will be released in theaters on October 20, 2023 and digitally October 5 on all major channele.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

WISH (2023)
Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Walt Disney Animation Studios' Wish is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force--a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe--the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico--to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Wish is a beautiful film that contains a very valuable life lesson; not only is the movie inspiring, it is also hilarious. It's perfect to watch with friends and family!

The story follows a girl named Asha (Ariana DeBose) who longs to fulfill her wish. Then something strange happens and Asha's wishing star comes to life, Asha calls the wishing star, "Star"! King Magnifico (Chris Pine), a powerful sorcerer who looks like he is doing everything for the kingdom, but in reality, he is doing everything for himself. One of my favorite characters is Valentino (Alan Tudyk), the hilarious goat that cheers up everyone even when they're in a tough situation.

The animation is great although it is not as quite as good as many other animated films we see today. On the other hand, the special effects are incredible and match the story perfectly. My favorite scene is when Asha is talking to her friends about the wishing star coming to her and helping her with her wish. Asha puts Star and Valentino in the chicken pen and tells them to be quiet. When Asha shows Star to everyone, we are treated to chicken dance that Valentino is leading. What makes this scene so funny is the contrast between the serious topic and one that isn't serious at all! Another stunning scene takes place on top of King Magnifico's castle. Asha is in pain from the power King Magnifico has struck her and everyone in the kingdom, with. The citizens of Rosas are looking up at Asha. They too have been struck by King Magnifico's bad magic, but they still sing with their hearts content to fight for their kingdom. You need to watch and see what happens next, I believe that you will love it just as much as I did!

The film's film is to always keep dreaming about your wishes -- you will find a way to get there and someday they will come true. What matters most is that the wish is really your heart's desire. Another message is to keep fighting for your dream because, if it is really what you want, it will come true.

I give Wish 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It opens in theaters on November 22, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 12

Wish stands as the latest jewel in the Disney crown, a captivating addition to the beloved collection that has defined the magic of animated storytelling for generations. The film, reminiscent of prime Disney, artfully weaves a tale filled with enchanting moments, exceptional acting, and an irresistible vibrancy that pays homage to the studio's golden era.

At the heart of Wish lies the compelling story of Asha, portrayed with grace and charm by Ariana DeBose. A soon-to-be 18-year-old, Asha embarks on a journey discovering the transformative power of wishing upon a star. Her wish, far from ordinary, becomes a courageous plea to thwart the plans of the imposing King Magnifico, portrayed with regal charisma by Chris Pine. The narrative unfolds with a perfect blend of whimsy and depth, capturing the hearts of audiences from start to finish.

The palpable enthusiasm surrounding the film is undeniable. Wish not only delivers a cinematic experience that is compelling and entertaining, but manages to empower its audience at the same time. The film's brevity sets a new benchmark for Disney, departing from sprawling narratives and standing as a testament to the creative prowess of the filmmakers. In terms of technical brilliance, Wish excels in its innovative approach. The combination of 3D characters and 2D backgrounds creates an animated masterpiece, showcasing the film's commitment to pushing artistic boundaries. Chris Pine's portrayal of King Magnifico is outstanding, portraying the character as a misunderstood villain, shedding light on Pine's underrated acting skills. Ariana DeBose, with her remarkable voice and expressive acting, brings depth and authenticity to her character, adding to the film's overall allure. The pacing of the film is a noteworthy element, keeping the audience engaged throughout the film.

The film's message, "some dreams come true," resonates perfectly with the quintessential Disney spirit. It encapsulates the magic of dreams and the belief that, no matter the circumstances, some wishes do come true.

I give Wish 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on November 22, 2023.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Set in the beautiful kingdom of Rosas, I found Wish to be an enchanting and fascinating movie with amazing singing and really funny characters!

Asha (Ariana DeBose) lives in Rosas where a sorcerer king named Magnifico (Chris Pine), and a queen named Amaya (Angelique Cabral) rule. Asha also has a cute sidekick, a goat named Valentino (Alan Tudyk). Magnifico has a special power which is the ability to grant wishes. Young Asha makes a wish so powerful that it's answered by a cosmic force, a ball of boundless energy called Star. With Star's help, Asha is able to save her kingdom from the evil king and prove that magic things can happen.

Rosas is a beautifully animated town where people always have fun. However, the setting sometimes looks rather flat, uncharacteristic of the lively Disney animation I am l so used to. Sometimes the secondary characters look like they are all wearing the same clothes and they don't have much impact to the story. Ariana DeBose's singing is so spectacular; you can hear the power and the emotion in her voice. Chris Pine is a great voice actor for Magnifico because you can hear the difference between when Magnifico is the good king vs when he plays the "Evil sorcerer." Alan Tudyk is really funny and is perfect for the role of Valentino! The little Star is super cute and lively, making me laugh out loud! Wish was especially made for the 100th anniversary of Disney Studios and meets KIDSFIRST! criteria. I loved the interesting story and the many great songs. Disney is also launching a new Wish Together campaign with their decade's long partnership with Make-a-Wish Foundation with the release of this movie.

The film reminds us to never give up following our passion because when we do, we lose the light inside ourselves and we forget what we are living for. When somebody pushes us down, that is the time that we have to do our best to stand up to them because we have the light and power within each of us. We also are reminded that we are always stronger when we stand together. When Asha is defeated by Magnifico, she starts singing a powerful song which moves everyone to sing with her and they defeat Magnifico together.

give Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters now.

By Avani M., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Wish, the latest animated film from Disney, is somewhat mediocre. From an animation standpoint, this movie is visually stunning with adorable animals and striking settings. However, it is a bit lacking in its story.

Asha (Ariana DeBose) is a peppy, optimistic, and caring 17-year-old girl living in the magical kingdom of Rosas. She is interviewing for an apprenticeship with the powerful, magical, and beloved King Magnifico (Chris Pine), who grants people wishes, when she notices he isn't what he seems to be. When she relies on a star to grant the wish that King Magnifico wouldn't, the star comes down from the sky and helps her cause a revolution to save her kingdom from King Magnifico.

This movie celebrates 100 years of Disney and the idea of wishing upon a star. It has many references to the studio's previous movies--some subtle, some obvious-- and they are sometimes funny. A couple references I caught are to Peter Pan, Cinderella and Mary Poppins. And though it was nice to see an original 'princess-y' movie from Disney after some of the remakes from other studios, Wish relies a bit too much on Disney's older movies instead of creating something entirely new and unique. The animation is beautiful in this movie. It is distinctive compared to other recently-animated Disney movies and has a kind of hand-drawn feel while staying pretty true to Disney's signature style for 3D animation. The animals are so, so cute. They look like 3D versions of animal characters straight out of Bambi, and I really enjoyed it whenever they came on screen. I also love the star in this movie. I think it was the right choice to make it silent because it adds to the magic and mysteriousness of the star. Its design and face are simple and that's what makes it so endearing. In spite of my appreciation for the animation, the story and songs are unmemorable. The story is pretty simple and understandable for children, and I can see why kids might like it, though it likely may not be as entertaining for teens and adults or be as popular on social media platforms as some movie soundtrack songs were recently. The cast and characters are very diverse. Asha is the second Disney female lead character of African descent, with the first being Tiana. Asha's friend group, based on the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is very diverse, with people from many different origins and ethnicities, including Dahlia, who has a walking disability and is voiced by Jennifer Kumiyama, who is in a wheelchair herself. Be sure to stay all the way to the end for a sweet post-credit scene.

The messages of Wish are that your dreams are special and make up a big part of you, and that you should work hard to make your dreams come true.

I give Wish 3 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Wish is in theaters as of November 22, 2023.

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 5-12
Description - Actor and comedian Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania, The Wedding Singer) delivers signature laughs in this coming-of-age animated musical comedy about the last year of elementary school - as seen through the eyes of a class pet. Jaded 74-year-old lizard Leo (Sandler) has been stuck in the same Florida classroom for decades with his terrarium-mate turtle (Bill Burr). When he learns he only has one year left to live, he plans to escape to experience life on the outside but instead gets caught up in the problems of his anxious students -- including an impossibly mean substitute teacher. It ends up being the strangest but most rewarding bucket list ever.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the movie Leo --it is funny and relatable. Leo is a coming-of-age story, seen through the eyes of a school's class pet, as much as it is a coming-to-terms with aging story.

The story features Leonardo (Adam Sandler) and Squirtle (Bill Burr) who are quick witted, full of jokes and the best classroom pets ever. Leonardo, Leo for short, overhears a parent saying that lizards live up to 75; at age 74, Leo decides it is time to escape and live his life to the fullest. In comes strict "old school" substitute teacher Ms. Malkin (Cecily Strong) who wants to teach the 5th graders responsibility by taking turns to care for the classroom pets over the weekend. Each reluctant 5th grader who takes Leo home discovers his secret, along with wisdom about who they are and how they can better fit in the world. Every student returns Leo to the classroom and Squirtle is his biggest fan, boosting Leo's spirits and outlook on his caged life. When his secret is revealed, jealousy and distrust seeps in and Ms. Malkin, who feels the most threatened, takes Leo away.

Each 5th grader experiences positive change after their time with Leo and, in return, Leo experiences living like he never has before. The animation is colorful and realistic, from the background scenery to the small details like how a caterpillar is depicted. Each of the actors who play the 5th graders fits their character from their personality to their hair and body type. I especially liked Summer (Sunny Sandler) with her fast-talking, super sweet kindness, as well as the overly "great" and popular Jayda (Sadie Sandler). The little balls of energy that represent the kindergarteners are on point. And from the overprotected, super-safe, drone-watched home of Eli (Roey Smigel) to the over-the -top, mega-great mansion of Jayda's family, it is easy to get a sense of each character from their surroundings. The musical element of Leo propels the characters into songs that tell of their struggles, hopes and dreams while moving the story along in a beautiful way. I like the opening song that expresses how the last year of elementary school is about being on top and the melancholy song toward the end of the film each 5th grader sings about when they were younger.

While facing his mortality, Leo learns the important lesson that he has a lot of life experience to share. He is transformed from a grumpy old lizard with nothing to show for his 74 years to beloved friend and confidant who discovers he has many more years ahead of him. Another theme of Leo is in the significance of not underestimating yourself and the film delivers the message to live an authentic life by sharing your talents and being true.

I give Leo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. Leo releases on Netflix November 21, 2023.

By Madeleine H.K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - When a young, aspiring fashion designer's first ideas are passed over, she learns to stick to her instincts and never give up, bringing more sparkle and brightening the world around her.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Caralique is a relatable and inspiring movie. It's filled with incredible relationships and even more incredible fashion ideas.

The plot of this film is centered on a girl named Caralique (Isabella Blake-Thomas) whose mom is forced to give up her fashion dream in France and moves to the United States due to a loss of her job and therefore, money. However her daughter still continues to come up with fashion ideas. This eventually lands her mom a job. The story continues to play out from there.

The movie Caralique focuses a lot on fashion. With that being said, the fashion in the movie is absolutely stunning. All the designs are gorgeous and innovative. They could be worn in real life if someone created them. The film also utilizes languages in a very unique way. In the beginning the mom speaks a lot of both French and English to the daughter, fostering her use of both languages. Then as the daughter continues to get older they use less French but the influence can still be seen. The editors also add subtitles for when French language is used in the film so even if you don't speak French, you can still understand what's going on. There are lots of characters in the movie. Each has a distinct personality, such as the character named Eloise (Abbie Georganna) who has an accent and has a very different place in life and in her school, different from others her age.

The message of the film is to trust your instincts and never give up on your dreams.

I give Caralique 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. The film can be viewed on VOD and DVD beginning November 21. 2023.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Caralique is a film full of lessons we need to bring to life and has thrilling scenes that I really enjoyed and made me thrilled.

The storyline follows Caralique (Isabella Blake Thomas), a young girl, inspired by her parents, who is completely in love with fashion design and has been since she was a little girl. She wants to make people happy by wearing her clothes. Difficulties happen, but still, Caralique has an extraordinary idea that can change her life.

This film is fantastic and so inspiring! It made me believe that we never have to give up even during the hardest situations. My favorite part of the film is when Caralique realizes that she is different, and that is what makes her successful. Scenes like this make us reflect on life. The acting is absolutely brilliant! For example, Caralique cries when she loses a very dear relative and is very discouraged and I could really feel her despair. I also liked the costumes, which play a major role in the film - each one is uniquely based on an individual personality. Caralique's brilliantly shows the stages of her life. Since childhood, she has dressed with a child's version of contemporary clothes, such as simple denim shorts, a white outfit, or even a dress, with the help of her mother. In adulthood, she dresses differently from the normal, with clothing ideas uniquely her own, reflecting her personality.

The film's message is to be yourself no matter where you are, believe in your dreams and don't listen to the bad advice.

I give Caralique 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on VOD and DVD on November 21, 2023.

By Anna Clara B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Caralique is extremely appealing -- the plot pulled me in from the very beginning, starting with the brief overview of Caralique's life story and following with interesting conflicts. The characters are easy to sympathize with, adding to the anticipation of what will follow in the story, making each scene that much more enjoyable. It's a heartwarming story about sticking to what you believe in and doing what you are passionate about.

The storyline follows a young aspiring fashion designer who learns to never give up on her dreams even when she is faced with hardships and has to overcome the difficulties of the fashion industry. Caralique (Isabella Blake-Thomas) learns from her motivating mother and father to chase what she wants most in life -- creating fashion in a unique way.

The conflicts help build the fascinating character, Caralique, into someone you can easily relate to and feel sympathy for; her determination is both incredibly riveting and entertaining. Visually this film is spectacularly colorful, each scene being just, if not more, entertaining than the last. This fits the theme of the film perfectly as the fashion is well displayed into every frame and you are easily drawn to what the character will make next. Caralique is a driven character who promotes individualism and staying true to your passion; she succeeds in this by showing great determination and problem solving in unique ways. The writing in the show is very good, with well-timed pacing and easy-to-follow content. Each scene is significant to the plot development, whether it's something dramatic or something small. Each character has its own time to be evaluated by the audience and therefore builds sense of empathy for further development. The concepts within the film are definitely suitable for a youth audience -- a great amount of the film centers on a teenager's daily life hanging out with friends, having a part time job, and going to school. A child could enjoy this film, as the story centers around a child's motivation not to give up on their dreams even in their teenage years. This incredibly important life lesson is communicated throughout the film perfectly using language a child can easily understand and relate to. This film easily encourages audiences to focus on their passions even if they face hardships, which in turn can motivate younger audiences to start their journey early.

The film's message focuses on the importance of staying motivated to achieve your dreams and not letting others stand in your way. The film encourages the audience to stay motivated and chase your dreams, which is a wonderful life lesson for any age group especially kids.

I give Caralique 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It releases on VOD and DVD November 21, 2023.

By Maverick C., KIDS FIRST!

Caralique is an emotional film that is also beautiful and inspiring. This film has an excellent story, talented actors and pretty props, designs and costumes. Caralique is truly a work of art that everyone should experience.

This film follows a girl, Caralique (Isabella Blake-Thomas), from her journey as a young, 8-year old (Kali Funston) to a teen with big dreams. Her mom, Arlette (Helene Cardona), was a talented fashion designer who gave up her dreams to raise her daughter. They struggled financially for most of Caralique's early life, and when her mom loses her job, they must "go on an adventure," as Arlette calls their search for a home. At one of her mom's unsuccessful job interviews, Caralique gives the interviewer a drawing she made. This drawing is the key to Caralique's success, but she faces many obstacles before she gets there.

Caralique's plot is fun and engaging, with many emotional points as well. The story has a perfect amount of happy, uplifting parts to balance the sadder moments. The main characters are determined and sweet, creating great role models and an inspirational storyline. However, some events in the film are slightly unrealistic. For example, even with Caralique's impressive artistic abilities, it is doubtful that a job interviewer would take a second glance at a drawing given to them by an eight-year-old. While this makes the film a bit less realistic and relatable, it does boost the optimistic mood and themes of the film. The actors that portray Caralique and Arlette add so much to the film with not only the raw emotion through their voices and facial expressions, but their chemistry as scene partners. Isabella Blake-Thomas and Helene Cardona truly appear as mother and daughter on screen. Their relationship is vital to the development of the story and the emphasis on the theme -- and the actors do not disappoint. In addition to the mother-daughter relationship, fashion design is a primary focus of Caralique. Since both main characters are so talented in fashion design it's important that the dresses, fabrics and designs reflect these qualities. They certainly live up to this expectation. There are original designs, vibrant colors, unique ideas and matching hair and makeup for each one. The screen is so pleasant to look at all the time with these beautiful costumes and props.

The theme of Caralique is to never give up on your dream, even if it seems like everything is against you. Both Caralique and Arlette must overcome so many obstacles to achieve their goals. This inspirational message is a big part of Caralique, and is developed throughout the film.

I give Caralique 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Caralique on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray beginning November 21, 2023.

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-12
Description - Poppy discovers that Branch was once part of the boy band 'BroZone' with his brothers, Floyd, John Dory, Spruce and Clay. When Floyd is kidnapped, Branch and Poppy embark on a journey to reunite his two other brothers and rescue Floyd.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kennedy P. comments, "I love the new animated musical, Trolls Band Together. The movie delivers a lot of heart, along with showing the importance of family values, friendship, and love. Trolls Band Together had me out of my seat, dancing and singing along to all the songs." Tiana S. adds, "It's time to hit the backstreet for a new edition to the Trolls movie franchise! Trolls Band Together has the perfect music, acting and animation that kept me *Nsync with the story!" Kira O. says, "The music adds a lot of energetic fun to the film, including a new song called "Better Place," from the 90s boy band *NSync. That should make some parents in the audience happy since the band hasn't released a new song in 20 years!" Valerie R. wraps it up with, "I really admire how they brought NSYNC back together to record the song "Better Place" for the film. All in all, this film is a fun and family-friendly film that I and my family really enjoyed! Plus, I love the very important message this movie conveys." See their full reviews plus an interview with director, Walter Dohrn below.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love the new animated musical, Trolls Band Together. The movie delivers a lot of heart, along with showing the importance of family values, friendship, and love. Trolls Band Together had me out of my seat, dancing and singing along to all the songs.

In the film, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple. As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boy band "BroZone," with his four brothers. BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch has not seen his brothers since. When Branch's bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of pop-star villains, Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells), Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.

Trolls Band Together embraces the boy band era with so many references to everyone's favorite bands. The movie delivers a lot of heart, along with showing the importance of family values, friendship, and love. The entire movie is filled with humor, catchy cover songs, amazing animation, and lessons about family. Directed by Walt Dohm and Tim Heitz, the animation in this DreamWorks production is stunning -- all the vibrant colors throughout the movie are amazing. I was not able to take your eyes off the screen. All the music goes so well with the storyline in every scene. It features a new original song, "Better Place," from Justin Timberlake's old boy band NSYNC. It was so fun to sing and dance along. The voice actors are terrific. Timberlake and Kendrick are joined by Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Icona Pop, Anderson Paak, Ron Funches, Kenan Thompson, Kunal Nayyar plus a handful of newcomers. They could not have picked a better group of actors to voice these characters. The script by Elizabeth Tippet is so smart, but my favorite part is all the songs and dances throughout the movie. Trolls movies have been a hit with viewers of all ages and this one is no different. I predict that everyone will be singing and dancing and loving every minute of this movie.

The film's message is about family dynamics and how all family relationships are different. It shows viewers that no two families are the same and all families have their differences with each other, but they are still family. Be aware that it contains some rude and suggestive humor and some scary creatures like the Bergens and large spiders, plus the trolls are chased and eaten.

I give Trolls Band Together 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. You can watch Trolls Band Together in theaters on November 17, 2023.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

It's time to hit the backstreet for a new edition to the Trolls movie franchise! Trolls Band Together has the perfect music, acting and animation that kept me *Nsync with the story!

In Trolls Band Together we get to see the family of Branch (Justin Timberlake) and their former band "BroZone." After the band breaks up, one of the brothers, Floyd (Troye Sivian) gets kidnapped by Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Venner (Andrew Rannells) who steal his talent. It's up to Branch, his brothers, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and some other new and recurring characters to find a way to save him before it's too late.

The film's main characters are Poppy, Branch and the BroZone brothers. There are many new characters introduced in this film. I personally love characters with an evil aura and Velvet has to be my favorite. She's the perfect mix of a prideful mean girl and a typical big sister. Velvet's singing performance by Brianna Mazzola sounds so angelic and beautiful, which I loved as well. Speaking of singing, the music covers in this film are outstanding! I love the boy band references throughout the film, like New Kids on The Block, 98 Degrees and One Direction. Plus NSync came together to record a new song for this film. In the film, we see a lot of issues between family members. BroZone members are constantly at odds with each other - John Dory (Eric Andr�), trying to be the boss of everyone and the brothers treating Branch like a baby, causing hard feelings and arguments. Even Velvet shows her evil and demanding ways towards Venner. This movie is worth watching and covers a lot of issues we can relate to.

The film's message is about the true meaning of family. Being a family by blood is one thing, but actually portraying an equal family system is more important, especially among siblings. Kindness, equality, and understanding can relieve so many issues. Things parents may need to look out for are kissing scenes, love-related aspects like making out or having kids, and other very subtle words.

I give Trolls Band Together 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It opens in theaters November 17, 2023. Be sure to stay for a short post-credits scene.

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

Trolls Band Together is an awesome movie! This latest film in this DreamWorks trilogy did not disappoint me! It is filled with surprising back stories for some of the most beloved Trolls characters.

Similar to the first two Trolls films, viewers join a rescue adventure led by Branch (Justin Timberlake) and Poppy (Anna Kendrick). The film starts with a lead up to the wedding of Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) and King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) when a person from Branch's past comes crashing in.

We learn that Branch has three older brothers, John Dory (Eric Andr�), Spruce (Daveed Diggs), Clay (Kid Cudi) and Floyd (Troye Sivan). They had a boy band, BroZone that failed, leaving Branch to live alone with their grandmother. Fast forward to present day and Floyd has been kidnapped by the film's villains, Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells) who plan to steal Floyd's singing talent. John Dory tries to get the band back together, to save Floyd. First, he enlists the help of Poppy and Branch, and then they set out to find Spruce, and then Clay. My favorite part is when they are searching for Clay and end up at an abandoned golf course and discover a new community of trolls. Viva (Camila Cabello) is the leader of the troll community. I don't want to spoil the surprise but a main character is very important to Viva. The animation is very good and consistent with the Trolls trilogy, which means vibrant colors, a wide range of characters and lots of pop music montages from the '80s, '90s and 2000s. The music adds a lot of energetic fun to the film, including a new song called "Better Place," from the 90s boy band *NSync. That should make some parents in the audience happy since the band hasn't released a new song in 20 years!

The message of Trolls Band Together is that things do not have to be perfect to work, including families.

I give Trolls Band Together 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. It releases in theaters on November 17, 2023.

By Kira O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Want to embark on a magical adventure filled with funky characters and a spectacular soundtrack? Trolls Band Together is the perfect movie for you and your entire family to watch together on movie night as I and my family loved it.

The story follows Branch (Justin Timberlake) who discovers that one of his brothers is being held captive by villainous pop stars Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells). Poppy (Anna Kendrick), Branch and his other brothers, Clay (Kid Cudi), John Dory (Eric Andre) and Spruce (Daveed Diggs) embark on an emotional journey in order to rescue their brother Floyd (Troye Sivan). During the journey Poppy discovers she has a long lost sister named Viva (Camila Cabello). Throughout their journey the Trolls learn the importance of family, and the importance of sticking together and solving problems together.

What I enjoy the most about this film are the character designs and animation throughout the entire film. The animation is perfectly clear and visible; it is very different from the original Trolls movies, and looks hyper-realistic. I love how they reference bands like NSYNC, One Direction and Boys ll Men to describe Branch and his brothers' former band that disbanded. Another thing I love about this film is the comedic timing of the characters. The jokes are absolutely hysterical! Although there is so much to love about this film I am not a fan of the visual effects; the colors are so exotic that they made me feel quite nauseous and dizzy. The flashing lights and the variety of colors made my eyes hurt. Another thing worth mentioning is the soundtrack, which made me feel like dancing and singing along. I really admire how they brought NSYNC back together to record the song "Better Place" for the film. All in all, this film is a fun and family-friendly film that I and my family really enjoyed! Plus, I love the very important message this movie conveys.

The film's message is that family is the most important thing and that family should always stick together. Never take family for granted and always put family first. Please be advised that there is brief profanity.

I give Trolls Band Together 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Trolls Band Together releases in theaters Friday November 17, 2023

By Valerie R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - A Haunting in Venice is set in eerie, post-World War II Venice on All Hallows' Eve and is a terrifying mystery featuring the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world's most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a s�ance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - While A Haunting in Venice is a significant departure from its roots as an Agatha Christie novel, its clever writing, superb set design and cinematography--and Kenneth Branagh's skillful acting--make it a relentlessly intriguing, vivid film for lovers of mystery, history, and intrigue.

In 1947, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is in retirement in Venice, and when visited by his American authoress friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), he is pulled into a mystery at the palazzo, a former orphanage haunted by children's spirits. Oliver invites Poirot to a seance held by opera singer Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), who's mourning the death of her daughter, Alicia. He must get to the bottom of whether Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), a medium who means to summon Alicia's spirit during the s�ance, is legitimate or not. What ensues is a creepy series of -- perhaps fortunate -- events. The plot is interesting, but the solution to the mystery is not particularly unique, though it is unveiled with a lovely, dramatic monologue by Branagh. The setting of the story in post-World War II Venice is most striking; some characters suffer from PTSD, and even Joyce Reynolds was a nurse during the war. Everyone is in mourning of some sort.

The story revels in the richness of its visuals, unique setting, and in its talkative script. Kenneth Branagh not only headlines, but also directs the film. Branagh, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos and production designer John Paul Kelly are a dream team; they beautifully capture one of the world's most striking cities, interspersing the action--which takes place in the dark, ornate palazzo--with classic, scenic shots of gondolas and canals at sunset. The classic horror movie effects like scurrying rats, falling chandeliers, and banging doors are not overdone, though they are somewhat cliched. Branagh hams up Poirot's Belgian French accent and truly seems to be loving his role. Tina Fey shines as the sharp-tongued American, the authoress with a suspicious motive; she balances out Poirot's gloominess with some humor and an almost campy demeanor. This, along with other elements in the film, means that A Haunting in Venice is both a horror and a whodunit, a perfect film for Halloween, the spooky season, or anytime.

A Haunting in Venice touches on all kinds of themes -- religion, the supernatural, and belief in good over evil. Poirot repeats time and again that his job, dealing with cruelty, vice, and death, means he simply cannot believe that God exists. He lives, instead, on cold rationality. This mystery doesn't exactly make him change his mind, but he ends with a belief that he, as a detective, can do some good in the world, and he decides to emerge from retirement. There's optimism and light even in this dark tale. Parents should be aware that A Haunting in Venice contains mentions of suicide, death, murder, and violence.

I give A Haunting in Venice 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. A Haunting in Venice debuts on digital retailers and Hulu on October 31, 2023, and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD on November 28, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

A Haunting in Venice combines real life and supernatural elements into one creepy mystery. Although it is slow to start and a bit overwhelming at times, but it has a very interesting plot with many in-depth characters.

This film follows retired detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) as he attends a Halloween party followed by a seance at a palazzo that is rumored to be haunted. Trapped in the house with people he doesn't know and danger increasing by the minute, he realizes he must identify the murderer as quickly as possible. As he speaks with each of the other people trapped in the house and puts together the pieces of the trouble, he must also ignore the voices he's hearing and children's ghosts he's seeing.

A Haunting in Venice takes place in a haunted palazzo, which sets the story up to be scary and suspenseful. The palazzo is dark and appears old and abandoned. The structure, furniture and general style of the place also clues me in to how ancient the house really is. It is perfectly ominous, forcing me to constantly be on the edge of my seat. While this film does an excellent job of creating suspense and eeriness within the haunted palazzo, some of the supernatural elements are unnecessary distractions. The main focus of the plot is around the mystery, figuring out who committed the murder of Alice long ago, and who could be committing crimes now. However, with the constant emphasis of supernatural bits, such as the supposed ghosts and voices that some people seem to be seeing and hearing, the mystery seems less important than escaping these spirits. While the combination of the supernatural and mystery elements make for a constantly suspenseful story, it often leads to too much chaos, distracting me from the mystery and the story eventually becomes slightly hard to follow. With all of this being said, the mystery itself is very well done. Clues throughout the film as well as careful concentration during each of the characters' alibis all add up to the shocking ending of who is responsible for these crimes. Each character has so much depth, with their alibis showing information from their background, providing possible motives and revealing some reason to suspect them.

The theme of A Haunting in Venice is to be careful who you trust. Even though most of the characters seem to get along fine, they all realize that the murderer is among them, possibly even someone they thought to be their friend. The Haunting in Venice does contain some gore and mildly inappropriate language, as well as scary and creepy elements.

I give A Haunting in Venice 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch The Haunting in Venice on Hulu and other digital retailers beginning October 31, 2023 and on Blu-ray and DVD beginning November 28.

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

A Haunting in Venice is a chilling murder mystery with a ghostly twist. I love the set design and the plot development, and the use of symbolism adds to its grim sophistication.

The storyline takes place over Halloween night and follows Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), a retired detective who has relocated to Venice, Italy, intending to find a peaceful balance in his life away from solving mysteries. Poirot's old friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) convinces him to join her at a Halloween party at the palazzo, where he meets Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), who persuades him to solve the mystery of her daughter (Rowan Robinson)'s murder. However, all is not what it seems, and after a disturbing session with a spiritualist (Michelle Yeoh), Poirot begins to suspect he is up against a supernatural force.

The setting of Venice is fitting for the movie, with its peaceful canals and masquerade parties. The palazzo has an abandoned charm, and the dark, Baroque-inspired interior reflects the ghastly style of the movie. The lighting is dim for the most part, adding to the ominously peaceful vibe. I enjoyed the cinematography, especially for flashback scenes, which are black and white and grainy, like an old movie. This pattern repeats itself in the flashbacks in all Poirot movies. A Haunting in Venice is, in part, a psychological thriller. If you pay close attention, you will notice that apples are used as a symbol throughout the film. At the end, Poirot confirms that the apples were used as a diversion - someone used them to try to play games with his mind. At the beginning of the movie, Poirot is nearly drowned while apple-bobbing. Apples are placed in every room in the palazzo, intended to lead Poirot to think he is losing his mind. There are also multiple references made to Adam and Eve, one of which is the apple. Another is the cuckoo clock, which features Adam, Eve and Satan. This clock is shown multiple times. The chiming of the clock is used to foreshadow an epiphany, a reveal or a shocking event.

The message of A Haunting in Venice is that we should all watch out, because the people we trust the most might be the first to betray us. Another message is that you should never rule out any possibilities if they have a chance of being the truth, because sometimes it can surprise you. Be aware that there are disturbing scenes of violence, spiritual possession and psychosis.

I give A Haunting In Venice 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. A Haunting in Venice debuts on digital retailers and Hulu on October 31, 2023, and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD on November 28, 2023.

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

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO18
Description - Loki: Season 2 picks up in the aftermath of the shocking season finale when Loki finds himself in a battle for the soul of the Time Variance Authority. Along with�Mobius, Hunter B-15 and a team of new and returning characters, Loki navigates an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous multiverse in search of Sylvie, Judge Renslayer, Miss Minutes and the truth of what it means to possess free will and glorious purpose.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Loki: Season 2, Episode 3, 1893 is the climax episode that will keep viewers entertained. Filled with action, time travel, plot twists and dramatic irony, this is one of the most engaging episodes.

This episode continues Loki's (Tom Hiddleston) journey at the TVA with Mobius (Owen Wilson), but it travels back in time to visit another variant of "He Who Remains," named Victor Timely (Jonathan Majors) in 1893, who, after being given a TVA notebook by Ravonna (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and the rouge cartoon clock, Miss Minutes (Tara Strong), proceeds to work on various invention prototypes. This leads to a feud between the many teams in a battle of their wants and needs from this new "He Who Remains" variant. You'll have to watch to see how the story unfolds.

I love seeing Jonathan Majors as the "He Who Remains" variant. His character's stutter is realistic, adds depth to his role while he gives an incredible performance. It is hard for me to even believe it's him. The costumes are also amazing. When the present-day characters travel to 1893 their outfits change to reflect the new era. The special effects of characters like Miss Minutes' and Loki's powers are mind-blowing. Keep in mind this episode is pretty lengthy, but it doesn't feel like it, at all. It's incredible how the writers can stray from a typical Loki storyline and still make it engaging and entertaining. Music also plays a big part in this show, especially in relation to the different time periods and the action scenes. And keeping with the time travel, even the regular Marvel intro is updated with the sounds of classic piano tunes, which is really creative!

This episode touches on believing in yourself, finding where you belong, and trusting in others. This episode shows many examples of these messages from Victor Timely presenting all his new ideas to the times when evil strikes and betrayal occurs. The only scene that is somewhat inappropriate is one where Miss Minutes tries to flirt with Mr. Timely.

Loki: Season 2, Episode 3,1893 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. You can watch it on Disney+ now and new episodes release every Thursday.

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

Loki Season 2, Episode 4 is a new fun, adventurous and action-packed experience for those who have already seen the first season as well as those who are just beginning to watch the show. I really enjoyed the new season of Loki because of the CGI, the acting, the time manipulation in the show and the messages in the show. This series is kid-friendly with some moderate violence and could also be of interest to adults as well.

The storyline follows the mercurial villain, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Along with Mobius (Owen Wilson), Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) and a team of new and returning characters, Loki tries to stop the temporal loom from exploding and destroying not only the TVA (Time Variance Authority), but also a big fraction of the quantum realm with it. Throughout his journey he makes new friends and meets new enemies. Once he and his team begin their mission to prevent the explosion of the temporal loom, something horrible happens, something so horrible that it would change their lives forever.

This new episode is phenomenal, and I enjoyed it a lot, primarily because of the CGI. The CGI makes everything like space debris and the particles flying around in the quantum realm look so realistic. Another thing I really enjoyed about this episode is the acting. The cast play their roles so well and put on terrific performances. Additionally, the time manipulation is absolutely mind blowing. In one scene we see Loki talking to Sylvie, and when Sylvie goes to the next floor, she sees present day Loki zapping another Loki from a different timeframe. This scene is the icing on the cake for me. I like how this show is kid-friendly but can easily interest some adults as well.

Although there are many messages this series portrays, the one that I really like and rings very true to life is that the most valuable thing a person can spend is time, whether it's time with family, time at work, or time alone. Be forewarned that it does contain moderate violence, some cursing, and some alcohol use.

Loki Season 2, Episode 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available now on Disney+ so be sure to check it out. See ya!

by Gavin S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Episode 5 of Loki: Season 2 is a unique, thrilling portrait of Loki rocketing through the multiverse, paying for his past mistakes; it offsets Marvel's other tedious TV projects with action and vivacity. It didn't disappoint my expectations, and I'm sure it won't let down ardent Marvel fans, those binging the show, or others looking for an episode to catch on Disney+.

Loki: Season 2 picks up with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) searching for the soul of the Time Variance Authority, an authority dedicated to preserving the Sacred Timeline. In Episode 5, he's focused on using his almost-funny time-slipping abilities to get to all the people who were at the Time Variance Authority when wires were crossed. None of them recognize him, and Loki can't stop slipping into new times and locations. For example, he sees Mobius (Owen Wilson) selling jet skis as a middle-aged dad in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2022. The God of Mischief assembles a team and tries to earn their trust. Perhaps it's because I was entering this episode blind, but the plot seems extremely complex for the first half of the episode as I pieced things together; luckily, things were much easier to understand after establishing some context.

In Season 2, the stakes are elevated, and the writing is super strong; I was glued to the screen throughout the 45-minute Episode 5. The visual effects are very realistic, as are the practical sets -- the color-correction across timelines differs, but it adds to the aesthetic of each character whom Loki is trying to find. The cinematography is wonderful, with lots of close-ups and medium shots to capture Tom Hiddleston's emotions, along with those of the other characters. Mentioning the cast, all skillfully carry the complex plot, which could have become overwhelming. Tom Hiddleston is one of my favorite actors - the lovable yet full-of-himself Norse god Loki. Ke Huy Quan as OB, the techie trying to help Loki, is another favorite I didn't expect; his earnest effort to help and bumbling personality go together wonderfully. Owen Wilson as Mobius adds a wonderful comedic tint to the episode, with physical comedy (miming that he'll call the police on Loki when he first arrives), zingers, and more subtle lines (He remarks with a bewildered expression that when Loki time-slips, "it looks like you're being born, or dying - or both at the same time."). Overall, a wonderful package.

This episode of the show promotes teamwork and taking responsibility to solve problems when they arise. Loki may be the God of Mischief, but he takes a remarkable amount of accountability to restore the TVA and works with every character across timelines. Loki's time-slipping can feel a little bit like a jump scare, with his face and body contorting and some demonic noises accompanying it, so parents with young children might want to tell them to brace themselves.

Loki: Season 2, Episode 5 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Loki Season 2 is playing exclusively on Disney+ now, with new episodes weekly.

by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 8 TO18
Description - The Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy & Entrepreneurship is launching Season 2 of Faceplant, a documentary style series about some familiar faces, their career and life struggles, and how they overcame them to get back up stronger than ever. From Hollywood actors, directors and producers to Olympic athletes, the show gives inspiration as we hear how they took the lemons life gave them and turned it into lemonade. Uncover the personal stories from people who discover the value of failure in pursuit of their dreams. One person highlighted in Season 2 is Damian Escobar in The Side of Success That Nobody Talks About. Originally from Jamaica, Queens, New York, world renowned violinist Damien's inspiring journey of making it big (3rd place on America's Got Talent), losing it all (and sleeping on his mother's couch), fights to rebuild for a second chance at success -- because if you can get to the top, you can also surely find yourself at the bottom.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - From struggle to symphony, the inspirational and moving documentary The Side of Success No One Talks About beautifully captures the remarkable journey of a musician who's weathered life's toughest storms to reclaim his passion.

This short documentary is part of the popular docu-series, Faceplant, about seven entrepreneurs who share their game-changing life lessons with us. This film offers a portrait of Damien Escobar, a gifted violinist whose journey to success and back is heartwarming. From his early start in music, his acceptance into Juilliard at 9 years old and performing for three U.S. presidents, to the lows of financial hardship and personal crisis, this documentary gives us a glimpse into the rollercoaster life of a musical prodigy.

This is a short film hat will resonate with a wide range of audiences, from aspiring musicians to anyone in need of inspiration during challenging times. The film exquisitely profiles Damien and the talented and ambitious individuals who mirror him. Damien's resilience and passion for music shine through every frame, making it impossible not to root for him, in this a classic underdog-to-hero story. One of the standout aspects of this documentary is its ability to convey the emotional depth of Damien's journey. The audience can feel his triumphs and setbacks, and the film truly makes you emotionally invested in his story in a short period of time. Additionally, the interviews with Damien provide valuable insights into his experiences and mindset. My favorite part is when Damien shares his rediscovery of his love for music and embarks on a successful solo career. It's a testament to the power of passion and determination, and it's truly inspiring to witness him rise from adversity.

This film carries a powerful message of resilience, the pursuit of one's true passion, and the importance of finding joy in the journey of life. It encourages viewers to reflect on their own paths and the obstacles they may encounter along the way.

I give Faceplant, Season 2: The Side of Success No One Talks About 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can find it streaming online now at

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 19
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATUREE, AGES 12-18
Description - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an upcoming movie based of the coming-of-age young adult novel by American author Benjamin Alire S�enz. Set in El Paso, Texas in 1987, the novel follows two Mexican teenagers, Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza and Dante Quintana, their friendship, and their struggles with racial and ethnic identity, sexuality, and family relationships.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe emerges in this convoluted cinema era of super heroes and special effects offering a refreshing story. Everything from the storyline, to the cinematography and indie film style is right up my alley.

The story begins in 1987 with a boy named Aristotle (Max Pelayo) who keeps to himself. He goes to the local swimming pool in hopes of learning to swim and meets Dante (Reese Gonzales). The two instantly click as they realize they have a lot in common and start hanging out every day. Dante moves away for a year but the two boys exchange letters and remain in contact. Both Dante and Aristotle have a long road of self-discovery ahead, but that doesn't interfere with the strong connection between them.

I love how this film deals with so many different themes all at once -- family dilemmas, sexuality, self-growth, and ethnic identity. I always relate to seeing Latino representation in films; Aristotle is Mexican and I love that this film has a lot to do with his heritage. The cinematography is delicate and bright as is the overall aesthetic of the film. My favorite scene is when Aristotle and Dante tie their Converse shoes together and hang them on a light post at night. The lighting and simple concept of tying their shoes together is so beautiful; especially in the way that scene is shot. It is so powerful and meaningful. The acting is also impressive. Max Pelayo's portrayal of Aristotle is terrific - despite Aristotle having lots of inner conflicts, Max portrays him in such a beautiful way. I love Reese Gonzales as Dante as well; Dante is a very awkward person but in the cutest way and Reese captures that dichotomy and plays into that tricky kind of feel. I'm a huge fan of Eugenio Derbez, who plays Jamie Mendoza, Aristotle's dad. He's such an incredible actor. Eva Longoria, as Dante's mom, and Veronica Falcon, as Aristotle's mom, both really caught my attention. I love how both moms are so different and both love their kids infinitely. Veronica is the perfect example of a Mexican mom. I wish Eva had more screen time but nevertheless she is great. This film is based on a novel with the same name by Benjamin Alire S�enz and is produced by Eugenio Derbez and Lin-Manuel Miranda who narrates the audio book.

The film's message is that true love always prevails, but takes time. Please note that it contains some strong violence, strong language, sexual material, teen drug and alcohol use and smoking.

I give Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters, HBO and Netflix September 8, 2023.

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

Description - Ammu's Treasures is a gift of intergenerational love and wisdom, with profound messages for everyday living. A three-volume omnibus of 35 songs and 21 chants, Chandrika invites its listeners to reminisce or make new memories with traditional folk tunes and familiar popular songs and poems. This music collection also includes ancient Vedic chants set to Indian scales, aimed to soothe and relax. Ammu's Treasures features many maestros including Cyro Baptista, Martin Bejerano, Peter Calo, Purbayan Chatterjee, Rakesh Chaurasia, B�la Fleck, Eugene Friesen, Maeve Gilchrist, Jamey Haddad, Bobby Keyes, Kevin Kliesch, Howard Levy, Romero Lubambo, Marcus Rojas, Dave Schroeder, Michael Ward-Bergeman, Kenny Werner, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Scott Cannizzaro, Teese Gohl, John Kiehl, Kevin Killen, Mirek Vana, and more. Marc Lumer and Bob Spang contributed their talents to beautiful accompanying lyric videos.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ammu's Treasures is great for young kids looking for auditory entertainment; with pop songs, poems, Vedic chants, and more, listeners will have more than enough to be transported to a whole new musical world.

Ammu's Treasures is a three-volume omnibus of 35 songs and 21 chants compiled by renowned musician Chandrika Tandon. The album features many maestros including Cyro Baptista, Martin Bejerano, Rakesh Chaurasia, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and more.

Ammu's Treasures is beautifully composed, with each piece clearly having hours of thought behind its instrumentals, vocals and mixing. Plus, the accompanying lyric videos by Marc Lumer and Bob Spang are vibrant and enjoyable. The album was conceptualized by Tandon as a gift to her grandchildren, and it's evident that she painstakingly pieced together the motley array of songs in the album; I'll admit that the mix of pop songs, nursery rhymes, chants and instrumental pieces took me by surprise at the beginning, but only those who actually listen to the songs will realize how they come together to form a beautiful lyrical panoply. My personal favorite pieces are "Chants - To the Light," "Listen to the Pouring Rain," and "Au Clair la Lune," as much for their nostalgic value as for their elegance.

Ammu's Treasures was created to spread intergenerational love through art (one of the purest kinds of love!). And you do truly feel it after listening to two or three numbers, a magical sensation that envelopes you with joy and warmth. It's truly wonderful.

I give Ammu's Treasures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 5 plus adults. Ammu's Treasures released on all major audio vendors beginning September 7, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The children's album Ammu's Treasures is very well sang by Chandrika Tandon. The vocals are strong and lyrical. It brings back memories of my early childhood and the songs I used to sing, and the happy, cartoonish music videos will appeal to young kids.

Ammu's Treasures is a collection of 35 songs and 21 chants that range from traditional folk tunes to familiar and popular songs and nursery rhymes for multi-generations, sung by Grammy nominee Chandrika Tandon. It includes some music videos featuring an animated family of colorful bears -- one of whom is dressed in traditional Indian clothing - along with other characters.

Ammu's Treasures is appropriate for a multigenerational audience, particularly younger kids. For example, babies and toddlers will enjoy the nursery rhymes like "Teddy Bears' Picnic," "Hush Little Baby" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." The colorfully animated music videos, such as "Miller of the Dee" will also attract younger viewers. Many of the songs will be familiar to both children and adults, such as "Edelweiss" and "Scarborough Fair." Songs like "Au Clair de la Lune," "Molly Malone," "Vive Le Compagnie," and "Que Sera Sera" might remind adults of their own childhoods. Ammu's Treasures features many maestros including Cyro Baptista, Martin Bejerano, Peter Calo, Purbayan Chatterjee, Rakesh Chaurasia, B�la Fleck, Eugene Friesen, Maeve Gilchrist, Jamey Haddad, Bobby Keyes, Kevin Kliesch, Howard Levy, Romero Lubambo, Marcus Rojas, Dave Schroeder, Michael Ward-Bergeman, Kenny Werner, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Scott Cannizzaro, Teese Gohl, John Kiehl, Kevin Killen, Mirek Vana, and more. Marc Lumer and Bob Spang contributed their talents to the lyric videos. Chandrika Tandon also acknowledges her Indian heritage with songs such as "Surganani." In the song "There's a Hole in My Bucket" the name of the girl is changed from Liza to Kavi, which is an Indian girls' name. I like that.

Ammu's Treasures conveys an overall happy, cheerful message meant for the ears of younger audiences. There is no inappropriate language in any of the songs.

I give Ammu's Treasures 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5, plus adults. Ammu's Treasures released on all major audio vendors beginning September 7, 2023.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
Runtime: 137 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 2-5 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: AUDIO

Description - Sometimes the hero you are meant to be lies just beneath the surface. This summer, DreamWorks Animation dives into the turbulent waters of high school with a hilarious, heartfelt action comedy about a shy teenager who discovers that she's part of a legendary royal lineage of mythical sea krakens and that her destiny, in the depths of the oceans, is bigger than she ever dreamed.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, is an absolute delight! This enchanting animated gem seamlessly weaves heartwarming coming-of-age themes with underwater fantasy, delivering a profound message about embracing one's uniqueness, making this a must-see film for all ages.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, tells the captivating story of Ruby (Lana Condor), a 16-year-old girl longing for acceptance in high school. Her life takes an extraordinary turn when she discovers her lineage as a descendant of warrior Kraken queens and her destiny to protect the oceans from power-hungry mermaids. As Ruby grapples with her newfound identity, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, forming an unlikely friendship with Chelsea (Annie Murphy), a mermaid, and reconnecting with her estranged grandmother.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken brings its characters to life with a talented cast that shines throughout the film. Lana Condor delivers a remarkable performance as Ruby, capturing the essence of a shy teenager thrust into an enchanting underwater world. Annie Murphy adds depth to her character, Chelsea, the captivating mermaid, while Jane Fonda's commanding portrayal of Ruby's grandmother adds gravitas to the story. The film's imaginative world-building and stunning animation immerse the audience in a visually captivating underwater realm. For fans looking to dive deeper the Blu-ray and DVD release offers a treasure trove of bonus materials, including deleted scenes with intros by co-director Faryn Pearl, and a chance to meet the talented humans behind the scenes. One standout aspect is the pivotal scene where Ruby discovers her true heritage and destiny, a breathtaking moment that symbolizes her journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

The film's underlying message is of self-discovery and embracing one's uniqueness is strong.

I give Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken 4 out of 5 stars and recommended for ages, 5 to 18, plus adults. Ruby Gillman is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

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

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is a hilarious film with a captivating story -- I couldn't even get up for more popcorn! It is illustrated by bright and interesting characters that you will root for and evil ones you'll be afraid of. I love the music chosen for the film, but my favorite part is definitely the animation.

The storyline follows 16-year-old Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor), a kraken girl who just wants to be a normal teenager, but the universe has other plans for her. When she accidentally sends Connor (Jaboukie Young-White), the boy she had planned to ask to prom, overboard and dives in after him, she discovers that she is not only a giant kraken, but underwater royalty, granddaughter of the kraken queen (Jane Fonda). With the help of her new kraken superpowers and her Uncle Brill (Sam Richardson), she uncovers her family history and the ancient rivalry between the krakens and the evil mermaids, all while trying to maintain her friendships and avoiding the monster-hunting sailor, Gordon Lighthouse (Will Forte).

You need to know that the kraken are sworn to protect the oceans of the world against the power-hungry mermaids. The characters in Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken immediately drew me in. Viewers will cheer Ruby on from the beginning because of her determination and her vivid personality. Her little brother, Sam, has a contagious happy energy that made me feel more awake when I watched him destroy his opponents at dodgeball. Uncle Brill is so effortlessly hilarious, even when he doesn't mean to be -- such as when he accidentally reveals Ruby's lineage to her. His goofy antics kept me entertained throughout the film. It's hard not to adore Connor, with his big eyes and innocent personality. The wicked mermaid (Annie Murphy), on the other hand, is malicious and terrifying. The soundtrack of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken features upbeat songs that many teenagers will find relatable, such as I Just Wanna Shine by Fitz and the Tantrums. What I find most stunning about the film is the animation. I love the way the mermaid's hair is like a glowing white mist -- and how all the krakens' markings glow in the dark. The underwater Kraken Kingdom is beautifully constructed, and I love the way the main building is designed with a skylight. The lights and darks and the animation's color scheme make a huge impact on the film as a whole. Even the fast-moving scenes, such as the fight for the trident, are seamlessly animated, and it almost feels like a three-dimensional experience.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken reminded me that anyone can do anything, regardless of their age or species! Our differences don't make us weird; they make us special. We can't all have laser eyes, but everyone has a superpower unique to them, just waiting to be unlocked.

I give Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The movie releases in theaters June 30, 2023.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

The film Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is great! I like that they center the film on a 15-year-old and her struggles as a teenager. The film also has some really talented voice actors and hilarious characters that made it really fun to watch and a great time at the movies.

The film is set in a seaside town where Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is a teenage kraken just trying to fit in when, after an accident, she turns into a giant kraken! She is embarrassed about her newfound power and desperately wants to hide it. The conflict arises when Ruby tries to learn about her powers, but her mother (Toni Collette) tries to stop her. Ruby decides to learn anyway and finds out that she is much more than just a giant kraken.

Thematically, this film explores coming-of-age and how to treat each other nicely. There are a ton of great things about the movie. To begin, the animation is very creative and colorful. While mostly CGI, it includes traditional 2D animation mixed in. The design of the town is well crafted, and the krakens are very interesting because they have tentacle-like arms and legs that stretch and bend in hilarious ways. The voice actors are great in this film, as well. Annie Murphy's portrayal of Chelsea really covers a wide range of personalities, from sweet to menacing. One of the funniest characters is Uncle Brill, who is just trying to help but always seems to end up getting bonked. My favorite scenes are all the ones under water, because of the wide variety of creatures we see. The ending has a bit of a plot twist.

The film's message is very uplifting -- to answer the call and discover your true self. It's a very positive social message, especially for teenagers. Be aware that there is one mildly disturbing scene where a character almost drowns.

I give Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is available now in theaters.

By Connor S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Lifelong best friends Stacy (Sunny Sandler) and Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) have long dreamt of epic bat mitzvahs but when popular boy Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman) and Hebrew school drama come between them, their perfect plans go comically awry. Directed by Sammi Cohen, produced by Happy Madison and Alloy Entertainment, and also starring Idina Menzel, Sadie Sandler, Sarah Sherman, Luis Guzm�n, and Jackie & Adam Sandler, You are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah chronicles the high comedy and modern teen angst that comes with family, friendship, and first crushes.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I really enjoyed watching You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah and felt very connected with it for so many reasons. I definitely feel that, regardless of one's religious beliefs you can find a way to relate to this film, which I especially love. The story is very well written and I love the way this film was shot.

The storyline is about a 12-year-old girl, Stacy, who has been planning her bat mitzvah since she is turning 13. So was her best friend Lydia and they both planned on helping each other for their big day which meant everything for them. Stacy has a big crush on Andy, a boy who goes to the girls' school. But things take a turn when boys start interfering with the girls' personal lives and friendship.

I strongly believe this film is very relatable for many viewers, especially teens. I saw myself experiencing many things that are similar to what Stacy and Lydia deal with in this film. The script is very influenced by Gen Z in the best way possible. The dialogue feels very natural and not at all forced. One of my biggest pet peeves with teen films is when the dialogue tries to sound like a "cool teen" might, when in reality it comes off as cheesy. The entire film feels very natural to me in that it doesn't feel like a clich� high school style of film. I really like the score of this film, the overall acting, and the script -- all of that combined really captivated me. Kudos to director Sammi Cohen whose direction is very on the ball with this film. Sunny Sandler's portrayal of Stacy is so relatable; I love Sunny's acting style. Samantha Lorraine's characterization of Lydia works so well with showing her friendship with Sunny - it feels like they've been best friends for years. I also loved Sadie Sandler's portrayal of Ronnie, Stacy's older sister. Her character is so uniquely different from Stacy; I love the dynamic between them and the contrast of their characters. Dylan Hoffman's Andy is the perfect representation of teenage boys nowadays which Dylan executes so well. Last, Sarah Sherman's portrayal of Rabbi Rebecca really stands out -- she is one of my favorite characters because of her distinctive characterization. Although I am not Jewish, that didn't interfere with how I connected with this film in the slightest.

I think the message of this film is that even when one's intentions aren't bad you can still hurt someone else.

I give You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Netflix beginning August 25, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - Growing up impoverished in small-town Texas, young Rickey Hill shows an extraordinary ability for hitting a baseball, despite being burdened by leg braces from a degenerative spinal disease. His stern, pastor father discourages Rickey from playing baseball to protect him from injury, and to have him follow in his footsteps and become a preacher. As a young man, Ricky becomes a baseball phenomenon. His desire to participate in a try-out for a legendary major league scout divides the family and threatens Rickey's dream of playing professional baseball.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - With a hard-hitting cast and beautifully written, evocative script, The Hill surely captured my attention and should appeal to sports, drama and biographical film fans as well.

The Hill is based on the true story of Rickey Hill (Colin Ford, Jesse Berry), a kid from a poor Baptist family in rural Texas. Rickey has big dreams of becoming a baseball superstar and he's immensely talented at batting, but he must face one problem -- his dad (Dennis Quaid) won't let him. Even when Rickey seems to have overcome congenital degenerative spinal disease, his father refuses to let him play, and he's intent on molding him into a pastor just like him.

The direction by Jeff Celentano and screenplay by Angelo Pizzo and Scott Marshall Smith come together to bind the story -- a riveting narrative of talent torn between passion and family. The set pieces and props, ever the wooden leg braces Rickey wears as a child, are all realistic. The dialogue in The Hill is real and raw, and I especially like how each cast member has convincing Texan accents. Dennis Quaid is an absolute superstar in the film; you'll want to scream your head off at him sometimes and at other times, you'll consider where he's coming from -- though that's an angle the film doesn't explore much. I was most taken by Jesse Berry's portrayal of the young, fiery Rickey; he helms the film's many tear-jerker moments. It's certainly a stellar performance by a child actor, especially given the complexity of the role.

The Hill promotes pursuing your dreams with resilience; never saying never; and gaining a better understanding of perspectives different from you. The film contains religious content given Rickey's upbringing in a strict, conservative Baptist family.

I give The Hill 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on August 25, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - One-of-a-Kind Marcie follows Marcie, an introvert who loves her solitude but also enjoys helping her friends. During the school golf championship, Marcie assists Peppermint Patty as her caddie, offering thoughtful and deliberate advice to help her win. Meanwhile, back at school, Marcie is nominated for class president and starts to observe other friends and classmates needing help -- from traffic jams in the hallway to not having enough to share with everyone at lunch. Full of great ideas, Marcie wants to offer help but struggles to share them in a way that doesn't force her to be in the spotlight. She is eventually empowered to buck other people's expectations and embrace her own unique way of doing things -- allowing her to help her friends in her own way out of the spotlight.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Snoopy Presents: One-of-a-kind Marcie is truly one of a kind! In the new and first feature film about the infamous and brilliant Marcie from the Peanuts gang, the true essence of the beloved character is revealed. It's quite different from the style and messages of previous Peanuts films but still with the look and feel we've come to love of the classic franchise.

In Snoopy Presents: One-of-a-Kind Marcie, Marcie (Arianna McDonald), the main character, is an introvert who struggles with using all her amazing ideas to help solve problems for her friends and classmates on the big stage ... from wanting to solve the pizza shortage at her school, to helping Peppermint Patty (Lexi Perri) with playing golf. Peppermint Patty suggests Marcie run for Class President since she has such great ideas; however, since Marcie is too shy, she doesn't want to do it. Throughout the film, we get to see the challenges Marcie faces while trying to juggle being an introvert and wanting to help everyone.

My favorite aspect of this film is what the director Raymond S. Persi refers to as "still picture" scenes, which are used to show Marcie's feeling when talking about not wanting to run for Class President. She goes into her own little world surrounded by black shadows that appear to be "coming for her." This film is unique because the other films tend to focus on Charlie Brown, the whole gang, or characters who are popular, special events, and holidays. Instead this one highlights a personality type and Marcie's challenges. I love that the Executive Producer and son of Charles M. Schultz, Mr. Craig Shultz, drew inspiration for the film from the movie Hidden Figures and wanted to make a film about a smart girl with big ideas that just needed a way to show them off!

The message of this film is to just be yourself, be one-of-a-kind. Even if you are introverted, you can do anything and even if you feel overwhelmed, that's okay. You can find other ways to get your ideas out there! In the film, Marcie speaks about this multiple times to herself and to her friends. Don't let your personality type stop you in life.

I give Snoopy Presents: One-of-a-kind Marcie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can watch it on Apple TV+ starting August 18, 2023.

By Tiana S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 5-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURES, AGES 8 TO 18
Description - The Slumber Party depicts the hilarious aftermath of a sleepover birthday party hypnotism gone wrong as best friends Megan and Paige, along with soon-to-be step-sister Veronica, wake up with absolutely no memory of the night before. Now they must retrace their steps to find missing birthday girl Anna Maria and explain why there's a flock of baby ducks in the bathtub, what happened to Megan's eyebrow, and why she's wearing unattainable hottie Jake Ramirez's signature black hoodie.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I love The Slumber Party. It is a heartwarming Disney film that brilliantly captures the essence of teenage friendships and the journey of self-discovery. With its enchanting storyline and captivating moments, the movie celebrates the power of friendship while encouraging viewers to break free from insecurities, making it a genuinely empowering cinematic experience.

The storyline follows best friends Megan (Darby Camp), Anna Maria (Valentina Herrera) and Paige (Emmy Liu-Wang) at a sleepover celebrating Anna Maria's birthday before high school begins. However, things take an unexpected turn when Anna Maria's soon-to-be stepsister is included, causing tensions among the girls. The night takes a magical twist when the party entertainer, Mesmer, hypnotizes them and leads them on a hilarious and life-changing adventure that makes them put aside their self-consciousness and embrace their true selves.

This heartwarming Disney film is a delightful and empowering experience for youth and family audiences that offer valuable life lessons and an enchanting adventure. The Slumber Party weaves a captivating tale of friendship and self-discovery through the remarkable performances of Megan, Anna Maria and Paige. The film's nostalgic sets and locations immerse the audience in the world of teenage camaraderie; while the imaginative costumes, complemented by an impressive soundtrack, add depth to the characters. Mesmer's hypnotic scenes and seamless special effects contribute a touch of magic, all masterfully directed. A standout moment is when the girls steal a hedgehog car float, showcasing youthful rebellion and friendship, leaving viewers exhilarated. The Slumber Party delivers an enchanting cinematic experience, celebrating the power of friendship and the joy of embracing one's true self. The film is uplifting and leaves viewers with a heartwarming feeling at the end, reminding us that true friendships and self-acceptance can lead to extraordinary and magical adventures.

The message of The Slumber Party is about the power of friendship, self-discovery and embracing one's true self as the girls learn to break free from their insecurities and support each other through the challenges of adolescence. There are no concerning elements present in the movie, making it a delightful and family-friendly film.

I give The Slumber Party 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases July 27, 2023 on Disney Channel and July 28 on Disney+.

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

Sure you have been to a slumber party before, but trust me you have never been to one like this. This film has a great message that anybody no matter what age they are, can take away. This movie is fun, enjoyable, and it kept me wondering throughout the whole movie. So sit back, relax, and enjoy The Slumber Party.

This film is about Megan (Darby Camp), Anna Marie (Valentina Herrera), Paige (Emmy Liu-Wang), and Veronica (Alex Cooper Cohen) who have a slumber party for Anna Marie's birthday. Anna Marie wants to get her mind off of her dad's wedding so to help her live without thinking, she hires a hypnotist. After waking up with no memory of what happened last night, they can't seem to find out where Anna Marie is. The friends have to follow clues to try to where Anna Marie is.

An aspect of the film that I really enjoy is the comedy. All the characters in this film have such a great sense of humor which keeps you laughing the whole time. The audience can relate to many of the characters because they are going through real life situations. For example, Anna Marie's dad is getting remarried and she is not happy about it. She doesn't want to accept that he is moving on and this is a topic that many kids can relate to. My favorite character is Megan because she has a good sense of humor and I enjoyed her character development. Megan is afraid to try new things and to put herself out there. But with the help of her friends she is able to push past her anxiety of trying different things.

The message of The Slumber Party is that trying something new may not be easy but sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. And who knows you may even enjoy trying something new. This film is completely appropriate and is a great movie to watch with the family in your free time.

I give The Slumber Party 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. This film is out now and you can find it on Disney+. Be sure to check it out!

By Giana N., Age 12, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Description - A chronicle about how the Lakota Indians fight to reclaim control of the Black Hills. Will investigate how the sacred land was stolen in violation of treaty agreements and feature interviews with Indigenous citizens.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Lakota Nation vs. United States educates and entertains with hard-hitting interviews and lyrical narration. It's an incredible watch for history buffs, especially those looking to learn more about a significant moment in US history.

A chronicle of the Lakota people and their homeland of the Black Hills, Lakota Nation vs. United States traces the journey of a marginalized people. It starts with the Indian Wars of the 1800s, describes how sacred land was stolen in violation of treaty agreements. It progresses through the centuries all the way to today, as people protest a most ironic shrine to white supremacy, Mount Rushmore, and continue to call for the recognition of their tribal rights.

The film is unique for a variety of reasons. First, it's co-directed by Jesse Short Bull -- an Oglala Lakota man -- and Laura Tomaselli, one of the few times in mass media we see Native Americans telling their stories. It is a wonderful touch that provides the whole film with a spirit of warmth and respect. The film is written and narrated by acclaimed Oglala poet Layli Long Soldier, and its narration will be the first thing to strike you in Lakota Nation vs. United States. The rhythmic refrain of "X marks the spot," the soft, dignified, yet strong voice of Long Soldier, and the emotional roller-coaster of the story are truly mesmerizing. Tomaselli also serves as the editor of the film, and she, along with cinematographer Kevin Phillips use a wealth of archival and modern footage and rousing interviews with activists and leaders to tell this beautiful story of a land and a people who have survived exploitation, forced migration, and genocide, and who still wait for justice to come.

Lakota Nation vs. United States promotes resilience, valuing culture, standing up to oppression, and honoring history. The Lakota provide us with so many lessons from which to learn and grow into better versions of ourselves.

I give Lakota Nation vs. United States 5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases July 21, 2023 in select markets and will roll out later to other locations.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Based on the unbelievable, inspiring true story of a team of underdogs - a struggling, working-class gamer, a failed former race car driver, and an idealistic motorsport exec - who risk it all to take on the most elite sport in the world.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A scintillating, exhilarating watch, Gran Turismo will hold your attention from start to finish with its well-written script, deep characters, and detailed and immersive graphics.

The film follows Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), a teen from Cardiff, Wales, who's obsessed with the video game Gran Turismo. Jann's family doesn't really understand his passion and worries about him, especially since he dropped out of university because of his dream to be a racecar driver. When Jann is selected as one of 10 kids worldwide to compete in Nissan's GT Academy for a shot to be a professional racer, he must face tragedies, love, deceit, and so much more on the path to glory.

The cast shines in this film. Archie Madekwe as Jann Mardenborough captures the emotions of a teen with big dreams and the fire inside him to pursue them. He comes across as emotionless in the first few scenes but warms up into his character--by the climax, you're sure to be rooting for Mardenborough. My other favorite character is David Harbour as Jack Salter, a tough character to play. He's a typical Hollywood coach, aggressive but a bit jaded because of his previous experience in racing. Over the course of the film, he warms up, which is where Harbour shines; the transformation from a brooding middle-aged has-been to a kind but fiery coach is spellbinding. The screenplay by Jason Hall and Zach Baylin enhances the film massively, as do the cinematography and graphics, as well as the monumental score by Lorne Balfe and Andrew Kawczynski. In every racing scene, you feel like you're in the car with Jann; my jaw was clenched throughout every hairpin turn. When the lights go green at the beginning of every race, the whole theater vibrates with the sound of the engine starting up.

Gran Turismo promotes resilience. Every time Jann fails, Jack Salter (David Harbour), his trainer, pushes him to overcome the failure, get up, dust himself off, and move on to the next race. Interestingly, Salter starts off in the film by not believing in Jann or any of the other kids in the GT Academy. Jann's performance turns Salter into his most ardent supporter. Herein lies another message: proving your detractors wrong. Salter's belief in always doing the right thing puts him at odds with Nissan marketing executive Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom), but is another great takeaway. And of course, the core of the film is about achieving your dreams, no matter how unattainable they seem; when fate, fortune, and prowess align, you will find success. Parents should be aware of scenes with slightly foul language, one kissing scene, and one scene where kids drink and hang out in an industrial area and then have to run from the police.

I give Gran Turismo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Gran Turismo releases in theaters on August 11, 2023.

I am blown away by the new film Gran Turismo. From the start, Gran Turismo pulled me in on an emotional roller coaster - or should I say emotional "racetrack." This movie had me and everyone else in the movie theater on the edge of our seats due to a steady stream of intense racing and deep care for the characters.

Based on an unbelievable yet true story, Gran Tursimo follows Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), a teenager who is obsessed with the "racing simulator" Gran Turismo and who happens to be one of the best in the world. He is one of ten selected to train and compete for an opportunity to become a professional racecar driver for Nissan. Can Jann beat the odds and overcome the challenges of racing and fulfill his lifelong dream of racing? Your body will experience a lot of adrenaline finding out.

After watching this movie, I definitely have a newfound respect for racers. I had no idea about the amount of physical and mental strain racing causes. The writers and actors of this movie really deliver on this point. One of the strongest performances comes from Archie Madekwe as Jann because he makes you really feel his emotions. You celebrate his highs, worry about his close calls, and grieve with his lows. I also love David Harbor because he brilliantly plays a "salty" yet lovable chief engineer, Jack Salter. He is such a dynamic character, and I can sense his change from a cold and doubtful to warm and caring. I wouldn't necessarily consider this movie a comedy, but one of the biggest things that contributes to its humor is the dichotomy between the musical tastes of Jack (Black Sabbath) and Jann (Enya and Kenny G.) They play each song at the perfect moments and let the audiences relax or have a good laugh after being so tense during stressful scenes. The stunts, sets, and special effects are insane! All of the racetracks are spot-on accurate and the actual Jann Mardenborough (the man the movie is based on) is the stunt driver for Archie Madekwe. Additionally, all of the scenes with Jann/Archie Madekwe playing Gran Turismo are genuine, which adds to the realism of the film. I'm not a huge fan of racing, and I've only played the actual game, Gran Turismo, a couple of times, but I still love this movie and believe that others will too.

The messages of Gran Tursimo are to never give up on your dreams and to always believe in yourself, no matter what others think. There is some profanity and aggressive driving scenes. Don't watch this movie and plan on sleeping right away-- adrenaline courses through your veins well after the movie ends.

I give Gran Turismo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This is a must watch for Gran Turismo players and racing fans. This movie comes out in theaters August 11, 2023.

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

Gran Turismo: A True Story, a cinematic masterpiece, zooms into the spotlight as a racing film of the decade. It captures the electric feeling of racing, offering a whirlwind of action, emotion and delightful humor.

Centered around the inspiring true story of Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe), the film follows the incredible journey of a young man whose passion for racing propels him from the virtual world to the real racetracks. The film beautifully showcases how Mardenborough's racing skills, honed through video games, catapulted him into the world of professional racing, smashing preconceived notions and fueling his aspirations.

With its gripping narrative, Gran Turismo: A True Story is a beacon of hope for those with big dreams. As the story unfolds, the racing becomes increasingly captivating, mirroring the evolution of Jann's journey. The film effectively captures the transition from playing racing video games in his bedroom to the high-stakes reality of racing on the track. David Harbour shines as Jack Salter, the mentor who guides and transforms Jann into a formidable competitor. Harbour's portrayal is compelling, akin to a real-life crew chief, adding authenticity to the film. An intriguing twist in this cinematic gem is that Jann Mardenborough himself served as a stunt driver for Archie Madekwe, adding an extra layer of realism to the racing scenes. The movie's pacing is finely tuned, ensuring the audience remains engrossed throughout. The racing cinematography is a masterpiece -- every scene is a testament to precision and attention to detail, propelling viewers into the heart of the action.

The film's core message is simple, yet powerful: dreams do come true. This theme resonates deeply as Jann Mardenborough's journey from gaming enthusiast to professional racer reflects the tenacity required to turn aspirations into reality. Note that there is a good chunk of profanity in this film.

I give Gran Turismo: A True Story a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, as well as adults who possess big dreams. Rev up your calendars for August 11, 2023, when it speeds into theaters, promising an adrenaline-charged cinematic experience.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Gran Turismo is a heart-pounding action film that kept me on the edge of my seat as it follows the story of Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) as a video game player turned race car driver. The CGI is phenomenal, transporting the actor from his bedroom to the racetrack and vice versa.

Based on a true story, Gran Turismo is about Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom), a marketing executive from Nissan with an idea that the top 10 Gran Turismo players should compete in an actual race. He and Jack Salter (David Harbour), start an academy to train the gamers to race against professional racers.

No one believes that video game players will be able to handle a real life racing experience. The film demonstrates how we have to believe in ourselves if we ever want to succeed in life. When everyone is telling Jann that he can't and shouldn't follow his dreams, he commits to working harder and ultimately shows that he can make it happen. When a crash inevitably happens, we learn the importance of facing your trauma in order to realize your actual potential. The performances by the key characters are outstanding; I could feel the emotions that the actors portray. Archie Madekwe is amazing as Jann Mardenborough because I can feel his passion and dedication to racing. Djimon Honsu delivers an incredibly touching performance playing Jann's dad. He is initially unsupportive of Jann, but feels remorse when he sees Jann actually start to succeed in his dreams. David Harbour and Orlando Bloom are really great -- the whole GT academy idea seems realistic as they define it. Even when facing failure, they do not give up and keep training the racers.

This film's biggest theme is that when the world looks down upon you, you show them that you have what it takes and, with hard work and dedication, will make it happen. Be forewarned that there is some profanity.

I give Gran Turismo 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases theaters on August 11, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - There's just one dream for the women of Ballygar to taste freedom: to win a pilgrimage to the sacred French town of Lourdes. With a little benevolent interference from their local priest, a group of close friends get their ticket of a lifetime.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - If you like dramatic movies with comedic relief and you believe in Lourdes, The Miracle Club is the perfect film. Alongside its thorough plotline, it stars many known celebrity figures, such as Maggie Smith, Laura Linney and Kathy Bates.

The storyline begins in 1967 in Dublin, Ireland and Lourdes, France with three women, Eileen (Kathy Bates), Lily (Maggie Smith) and Dolly (Agnes O'Casey) participating in a talent show to win tickets to the Lourdes. Unexpectedly, Chrissie (Laura Linney), the daughter of Eileen's and Lily's late friend, shows up for the funeral of her mother. While grieving, Chrissie finds her mother's voucher for Lourdes and decides to join them. Together, these four women experience the ups and downs of friendship and life and, although they all go to visit the Lourdes for different reasons, they have one thing in common: each prays for a miracle.

This movie is truly a gift to watch. It is the definition of hope and faith. Although the four actresses are all spectacular in their performance, my heart leans towards Maggie Smith playing Lily Fox. Lily struggles with the death of her son and her own health, yet always seems to make those around her happy. My favorite scene with Lily is when the women are at the Lourdes bathhouse and she hears Eileen scream. Then a nun comes out and says they are ready for Lily, to which she replies, "Well, I'm not!" which is kind of funny. I also love Agnes O'Casey's portrayal of Dolly as a kind, but mentally struggling mom and wife, who takes her child Daniel (Eric D. Smith) to the Lourdes so she can make him speak. She believes it is her fault that he cannot speak, and tries her best to overcome his mental obstacle - that is my favorite characteristic about her. I also love the scenery of Lourdes; it is tranquil and peaceful, the perfect place to recollect your thoughts and find miracles.

The film's message is that miracles do happen, although they may take time to occur. Please be aware that there is partial nudity, miscarriage and abortion references, slight suicide references, and some profanity.

I give The Miracle Club 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in select theaters on July 14, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, "Haunted Mansion" is about a woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters. The film's producers are Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, with Nick Reynolds and Tom Peitzman serving as executive producers. Directed by Justin Simien, the film features an all-star cast ensemble cast including LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon and Dan Levy, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto as The Hatbox Ghost.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - If Halloween is the perfect holiday for you, then buckle up for Haunted Mansion! The acting and humor are just as riveting as the special effects involved. There are so many memorable moments, from spooky ghosts to joyful laughs to heartbroken tears.

The storyline begins in New Orleans, Louisiana, with single mom Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), and her son Travis (Chase Dillon) moving into a new mansion. As soon as they step into the house, weird things start to happen. Soon, they rely on ghost tour leader, Ben (LaKeith Stanfield), who is currently grieving from his wife's death, to help. They also gather together Father Kent (Owen Wilson), psychic Harriet (Tiffany Haddish), and Historian and Professor Bruce Davis (Danny DeVito) to catch a ghost named Alistair Crump (Jared Leto). As they work together to catch this evil ghoul, they grow a closer bond and begin to trust each other with secrets and hidden truths.

This film is based on the attraction at Disneyland, and it is definitely spooky. The humor is abundant, and it comes at spontaneous times. One example is when Harriet, Ben, Kent, Travis and Gabbie are getting ready to perform a s�ance, and Kent tells the group he wants to say a prayer, then says, "God, give us a break!"-- perfect comedic relief in the scene. The special effects also blow me away, especially the CGI. And I love Jared Leto's character, Alistair Crump, and all of the effects, especially his sharp chin and creepy grin. The ghosts done in CGI are great and seem to me so real! When Ben enters the ghost world, you see all of these ghosts go into the floor, through walls, and more, which is so cool. Alongside all of this, the chemistry between the characters and actors works incredibly well. I especially love the friendship between Kent and Bruce, since it is so pleasing to see how well they get along.

The message of this film is no matter what life throws at you, friends will always be there by your side. Note that the film contains mild profanity, jump scares, scary action, and references to death.

I give Haunted Mansion 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, including adults. This movie will be released in theaters on July 28, 2023, and later in the year to Disney+, just in time for the scary season.

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

Welcome Foolish Mortals to Disney's Haunted Mansion! This film--inspired by the classic Disney theme park attraction--is so funny, and the cast is outstanding... There are a few jump scares and even some emotional moments. I love Haunted Mansion.

Disney's Haunted Mansion is about a single mom named Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her 9-year-old son, Travis (Chase W. Dillon), who move into a New Orleans mansion filled with long-buried secrets and several unpleasant ghosts. Hoping to cleanse the house of the evil, Gabbie hires a team of experts to help.

This family-friendly film is full of heart, laughter, chills and thrills. The film is loaded with Easter eggs from the attraction. Pay attention if you dare because the movie has so many fun cameos and references in it. The movie takes you on a ride full of light scares mixed with plenty of humor throughout. The production was filmed in New Orleans and the setting looks so authentic and very spooky. The use of CGI to create the ghosts throughout the movie is outstanding. They look like they are really flying throughout the mansion. My favorite part, without giving away the ending, is when a cat appears on the doorstep of a house, and they share the name of the cat--it has a very special meaning to the movie, and it was so sweet.

The film's message is about the importance of family. There is so much chemistry with the different characters that you can feel it through the big screen. They all connect to find a way out, and in the process find deeper layers to themselves. They all start out as individuals dealing with their own problems, insecurities, and troubles, but wind up coming together as a family by providing one another with exactly what they have been missing all along.

I give Haunted Mansion 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can see Haunted Mansion in theaters July 28, 2023.

By Kennedy P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

I love the movie, Haunted Mansion! It's based on Disneyland's theme park attraction, and its perfect mix of horror, comedy, and emotional scenes kept me intrigued throughout the whole movie.

The plot follows a mother and son who move to a mansion to start a new life. However, soon mysterious and spooky things happen in the house. They have no choice but to contact spirit experts to hopefully put an end to the ghostly encounters.

The main characters are Ben (LaKeith Stanfield), Gabbie (Rosario Dawson), Travis (Chase Dillon), Father Kent (Owen Wilson), Harriet (Tiffany Haddish), and Bruce (Danny DeVito). These are all wonderful actors that made me believe the story is real. The characters make strong interactions with each other, and I love the energy throughout the movie. They exemplify teamwork to help each other get rid of the ghosts haunting them--you could say they're the dream team! The animation is wonderful and the ghosts look realistic. Since it's live-action, the contrast between humans and ghosts can look rough, but the transitions are smooth. When Ben and Gabbie are being chased by supernaturals, the ghosts look extremely real (or what I'd expect a ghost to look like). Additionally, the music changes dramatically as the scenes do, and so do the characters' emotions. When Ben is thinking about his past and his regrets, for example, the music is soft and slow. However, when Harriet begins to talk with the dead, the music becomes eerie and dark. My favorite part of the film is the sets and locations. This movie was based on the Haunted Mansion attraction in Disneyland, so it's incredible to see it come to life. The sets look spectacular and give a very creepy vibe. The lighting plays an important role in making the house look haunted, too. Another part of the movie I really like is the character of Travis. He's a young boy that lost his father. He is lonely, and being haunted by spirits can be a lot for a kid to handle. Lastly, the comedy in this film ties it all together. The jokes are hilarious, and, overall, it's the perfect combination of horror and comedy.

The message of this film is to live life to the fullest and to prioritize happiness. It also mentions the theme that it's okay to let go. Some scenes are quite scary, so that's something to look out for.

I give Haunted Mansion 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Haunted Mansion releases in theaters July 28, 2023.

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

I really enjoyed Haunted Mansion. Based on the beloved attraction at Disneyland, it has a great mix of comedy and scariness, which makes this a "gateway movie" to horror films for kids. As this is the second attempt to create a movie out of this ride, I am thrilled to say that this movie is "terrifyingly" good.

When Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and Travis (Chase Dillon), a single mom and her son, discover their newly-purchased mansion is haunted by ghosts, they team up with an eclectic group of people to rid the ghosts from their house: a rude tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield), a questionably competent medium (Tiffany Haddish), a non-traditional priest (Owen Wilson), and a peculiar historian (Danny DeVito). However, they soon realize it's way more complicated to get rid of the ghosts, and that their situation is graver than they could ever have imagined.

I recently went to Disneyland in California and - of course - went on the aforementioned Haunted Mansion ride. And since that experience is still fresh on my mind, I picked up on so many references to it while watching this movie. Some of the lines, characters, objects and places come straight out of the ride. And for any Disney amusement park fans, like me, you'll notice that the mansion in this movie more closely resembles the one in Disneyland compared the one in Disney World. Most of ghosts in this movie are not overly realistic, which makes it more fit and less scary for a younger audience. I like this aspect, but I do love scary ghosts, and Jared Leto's ghost is pretty ghoulish. The cast really pulls this move together. ����Owen Wilson as Father Kent, Tiffany Haddish as Harriet, and Danny DeVito as Bruce make Haunted Mansion hilarious with all their funny lines and different personalities. LaKeith Stanfield, who plays Ben, brings the film down to earth with his emotions and relatability. My favorite character is definitely Harriet because you never know what to expect from her next. This movie does drag on a bit in the middle but closes strong.

I expected that this movie would be somewhat lighthearted, funny, and a bit scary. However, Haunted Mansion has some surprisingly deep messages. It talks about dealing with grief and social anxiety, which I think will be positive for children to see. This movie might be too scary for young children or sensitive people.

I give Haunted Mansion 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. If you love the Haunted Mansion ride, I encourage you to go see it. Haunted Mansion comes out in theaters July 28, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence. Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - What a film! I was ecstatic about seeing Barbie and it definitely exceeded my expectations by far. As much as I was excited, I was a bit scared that the stakes were too high; after all Barbie is an icon and a part of so many people's childhood. For a film like this it's very easy to create something corny, disappointing, or unappealing to viewers. I'm so glad that Gretta Gerwig stepped up to the plate and created an absolute masterpiece.

The film starts with showing the origin of Barbie in 1959. It explains how little girls used to play with baby dolls and commonly acted as their mothers, but wanted a doll that they could really play with instead of taking care of. And that's how Barbie came about. Then we see the beautiful Barbie world where every Barbie is a part of something. We see Barbie doctors, Barbie novelists, Barbie astronauts, Barbie everything! And in Barbie's world every day is perfect. The star of the show Margot Robbie plays "Stereotypical Barbie" and she starts to notice strange things happening to her. She has to visit the real world to see who was playing with her to discover why these strange things are happening. The rest of the film is about Barbie trying to find herself and discovering scary aspects of the real world that she was blinded by before.

There was so much love put into this film and you can really see that on screen. The comedy in this film is so on point that the whole theater was laughing when I went to see this film. Huge kudos to Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, writers of this incredible screenplay. The script is pure genius; I love how the film really honors Barbie and what she was made for. The cast of this film is exceptional. Margot Robbie was originally producing the film until she was cast as Barbie. Margot is the perfect Barbie; she plays this role so well she is like a real-life Barbie on screen. The way she embodies Barbie is just so perfect. I was really excited to see Ryan Gosling as Ken since he's one of my favorite actors. There's a lot of controversy as to why Ryan Gosling was cast as Ken but he makes perfect sense. He plays Ken so well he really nails what it means to be Ken in this film. America Ferrera plays a Mom named Gloria and she is such an interesting character. She plays a mom who's going through struggles of just being a woman and I'm sure her character will speak to so many mothers. It would be a crime to not talk about the insane set. Funny enough, Greta Gerwig used so much pink paint for this set that it actually drained an entire company's supply. The Barbie world is exactly as you'd expect it -- from Barbie dream-houses to Barbie beaches -- everything looks like it came right out of a toy store. Rodrigo Prieto shot this film and the cinematography is extraordinary. As someone who grew up with Barbie, this film really speaks to me. I am in love with the score of this film. Billie Eilish's "What was I made for" is one of the most beautiful songs I've heard. This film is packed with so many great artists like Tame Impalla, Lizzo, Dua Lipa and many others.

The film is packed with so many messages. I was surprised with how many topics this film covers -- what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a mother, what it's like to grow up in today's society, what is love, and so much more. This film is a celebration of women and girlhood but I also love how it represents men. Ken is discovering how men are viewed in today's society in a similar way to how Barbie is discovering who she is.

I give Barbie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Don't miss Barbie in theaters July 21, 2023.

By Zoe C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 14

I love Barbie, the movie, and how it takes the magic of a childhood doll and brings it to life. It's a very powerful and moving production, and yet also has bursts of comedy. This film has an interesting and clever concept that I really enjoy.

Barbie revolves around the life of a stereotypical Barbie doll (Margot Robbie) living in Barbie Land. Everything seems to be perfect, until she starts to get human thoughts as well as features. To get everything back to normal, Barbie and Ken (Ryan Gosling) adventure to the real world to speak with Barbie's owner.

The main characters are Barbie and Ken. And there are many "Barbies," including those played by Emma Mackey, Hari Nerf, Nicola Coughlan, Alexandra Shipp and some "Kens," such as Kingsley Ben-Adir, Simu Liu, and John Cena. Other characters are Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), Gloria (America Ferrera), and Mattel CEO (Will Ferrell). These actors were absolutely convincing and exciting at portraying their characters and the relationship between them. Everyone in Barbie Land has some sort of connection, and I admire that. The characters' costumes are vibrant, funky, and of course, some are pink! Every additional detail enhances the plot and makes me feel like I am in Barbie Land with the other characters. From Barbie's plastic breakfast to her massive wardrobe, each part of this film is touched by Barbie's magic. The subtle differences between Barbie Land and the real world add up, though, and it's drastic enough to show that we don't live in fantasy. That opens Barbie's eyes and makes her see the beauty of our planet. It's a positive reminder that life is beautiful. My favorite part of the film is the music. Well-known artists like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice composed songs to fit the plot as well as Barbie's upbeat energy. Billie Eilish's song gave me chills and fits the storyline perfectly! The way the film is directed keeps me engaged and entertained throughout the entire thing. I applaud the director, Greta Gerwig, as well as the whole crew that made this film incredible. Next, while Barbie connected with her owner, I had a rush of nostalgia. Barbie's owner used to play with her a lot because she gave her a sense of empowerment and motivation, but our current society made her feel like she doesn't belong anywhere. I think many people can relate to this, as it's a reconnection with a past self. I like that it shows how much meaning a doll can have, and how Barbie has changed so many lives.

The message of this film is to never give up, but to always persevere. Barbie learns this as she's about to give up. There are conversations regarding inappropriate body parts, so that's something to look out for.

I give Barbie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Barbie releases exclusively in theaters July 21, 2023.

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

Barbie is a sassy, funny movie with remarkable acting, gorgeous sets and costumes, and the ultimate summer soundtrack! I really enjoyed watching my favorite toys come to life in a world of pink and beaches, and the movie has some meaningful messages to deliver.

The film starts in glamorous Barbieland, where gender roles are reversed--all women are high-powered career Barbies who run the society, but men are just...Ken. They only exist for their Barbies. Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) has a perfect life--she parties every night and never has a bad hair day. But when things start to go wrong for Barbie, she and Ken (Ryan Gosling) must make the journey to the human world and find her owner, reconnecting a mother (America Ferrera) and her daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) and discovering their own purposes along the way.

The first thing I noticed in the movie was the whimsical, impeccably-designed set. Barbie's dreamhouse is flawlessly recreated--and everything is pink! The roads are paved with pink bricks, and the beach has pink sand. There is a recreation of Mount Rushmore with the faces of four Barbies--and it's pink! There are also some cute animated effects, such as a puff of pink dust. Margot Robbie is a perfect Barbie--with perfect outfits! She knows when to be shallow and superficial (without it looking like bad acting!) and when to go deeper. Throughout the movie, Barbie's experiences in the real world transform her from a plastic doll to a human being, and Margot Robbie captures that perfectly. Barbie's soundtrack is perfect for it, featuring songs such as "Dance the Night" by Dua Lipa, which captures how fun, free, and glitzy Barbie is. "Just Ken," sung by Ryan Gosling, brings some attention to the ignored Kens, putting them in the spotlight. Another thing I love about this movie is the amount of people it can reach--younger kids will immerse themselves in Barbieland and enjoy the toy aspect of the movie. Adults will appreciate the film's messages about feminism, motherhood, stereotypes, and just being human and making mistakes. And everyone will feel recognized, regardless of their gender or ethnicity.

Barbie has a few messages--it puts a playful spin on gender stereotypes, calling attention to the unfairness girls and women face in today's world. The Barbies using themselves to try to turn the Kens against each other so they can regain power represents the way women are pitted against each other because of outdated beauty standards. The movie also reminds us that we are all human, and we don't always get it right. But that's the beauty of life, because imperfection leads to change--new ideas and things we never knew we could have. Note that the film contains comical violence and mild language and suggestive material.

I give Barbie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It will be released in theaters on July 21, 2023.

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Juror Recommended Age: 8-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - In Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: To track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, and dark forces from Ethan's past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins. Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan is forced to consider that nothing can matter more than his mission - not even the lives of those he cares about most.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I left the theater in awe after seeing Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One. This film is one of my favorites of the year. I had little to no expectations for Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One since was unfamiliar with the franchise, but this movie really blew me away.

The film opens with Ethan Hunt, (gracefully played by Tom Cruise) and his team who are trying to track down the second half of a key. Many other people are also after the same parts of the key, but no one knows what it unlocks. This scary weapon has the power to control the whole world, so it's pivotal that both halves of the key go to the right person. The entire film showcases the journey in tracking down the key, and the many scary life-threatening obstacles everyone must go through.

I love the way this film was shot. The cinematography by Fraser Taggart caught my attention almost immediately. The only wide or full body shots are the intense action scenes. Every other moment is captured beautifully. 50% of this film is pure acting and the close-ups serve that purpose. The other half is the action scenes - those had the whole theater at the edge of their seats. Director Christopher McQuarrie really knew what he was doing as the action scenes are absolutely incredible. Tom Cruise is one of those actors who truly goes above and beyond for his films. The stunts he pulls off in this film are jaw-dropping. His stunts, together with the crazy action scenes, really add a whole other level of excitement for the viewer. This film has such an incredible cast -- of course, Tom stands out as one that always excels in his films. I love the performance by Hayley Atwell who plays Grace, a character Ethan meets who is also after the key. I love that Hayley plays her character in such a way that makes it impossible to know what is coming next -- she is so unpredictable! Simon Pegg, as Benji Dunn, and Ving Rhames, as Luther Stickell, are two fascinating actors as well. They work together beautifully on the big screen, and they both carry their characters in an outstanding way. If you're like me and have not seen the Mission Impossible films before or any of the franchise for that matter -- don't worry! I was skeptical that, since I don't have much context, the story could be confusing, but I followed along perfectly. Of course if you have seen the previous films or the TV series, certain elements of the plot might be more exciting. Nonetheless, this film delivers the wow factor 100%!

The message of the film is that everything we do in our lives matters and we shouldn't waste a second. Be aware that there is a lot of intense action violence.

I give Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Check out this film when it releases in theaters July 12, 2023!

By Zoe C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One is an attention-grabbing blockbuster film that took me on an exciting world of mystery and adventure.

The film follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the IMF team as they embark on a mission to gain possession of a dangerous gold key, which threatens the humanity of the world. While on this journey, Ethan encounters many obstacles, along with some familiar faces and some new ones. However, this mission is unlike any other, and he must put everything aside in order to achieve his high stakes goal.

The outstanding aspects of this film are the visual effects and the editing during the high-action scenes. For instance, there are multiple car chases throughout this movie. They all feel so realistic and exciting, which definitely had me on the edge of my seat. Everything happens so fast, but yet the imagery is clear. I really enjoy these scenes because it makes me focus on what's happening. The suspense in this film ties right into that excitement factor and is extremely powerful. The entire airport scene had me on my toes, fully engaged with what was happening. The whole movie feels like this and, by the end, I was completely blown away with what I'd just watched. Additionally, I enjoyed the storyline. It definitely lives up to the Mission Impossible name and is relatively easy to understand. Sometimes films like this can get complicated and the main objective can get thrown on the back burner, but that is definitely not the case with this film -- the message and mission are definitely clear. This is important because it is likely to appeal to a wide age range, as well as many different types of personalities. Lastly, Tom Cruise's performance is one to remember. He once again embodies the character of Ethan Hunt in a way that feels so realistic and exciting. Ethan goes through a whirlwind of emotions and Tom Cruise executes them so well, whether he's risking his life jumping off a cliff, or having a vulnerable moment with a loved one, Ethan Hunt fully comes to life.

The message of this film is to always make it work with what you have and to never give up. Be aware that there is some action violence and use of weapons.

I give Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters July 12, 2023.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

I love Mission: Impossible - Dead reckoning Part One! The 7th installment of the Mission: Impossible doesn't disappoint. It's full of blade fights, fast-moving car chases, speeding trains, crazy motorcycle stunts, cyber-attacks and more - perfect for adventure-movie lovers.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back and tasked with yet another impossible mission. He must hunt down a threatening weapon that could destroy humankind if it is in the wrong hands. This assignment takes him and his team across the globe on a mission that could cost him not only his life but also the lives of everyone he cares about.

There is no need to see any of the other Mission: Impossible movies before watching this one because I hadn't seen any before this one and followed the storyline quickly. There are a few references and characters from previous movies, but not enough to be confusing. Even though this movie is a whopping 2 hours and 43 minutes long, it leaves you wanting even more, and I can't wait for part two. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One has the funniest and most intense high-speed car chase I've ever seen. The humor is subtle and very nicely placed as it breaks up the intensity at key moments. It also deals with very current topics like AI. The various filming locations, such as Italy, Abu Dhabi and Norway, makes this a visually stunning movie. I have only one word for the stunts in this movie: insane. And even though he is 61, Tom Cruise performs almost all of his stunts, including one where he rides off a cliff on a motorcycle. Since a lot of stunts today are computer generated or performed by stunt people, this aspect really sets the movie apart and makes it even more enjoyable. I love the dynamic of Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames) and Ethan because they reflect the comradery and jokes only a close team of people can share. Some other notable performances are from Hayley Atwell as Grace, the cunning pick-pocketer, Rebecca Ferguson as the talented sniper, and Esai Morales as Gabriel.

The film's message is that with the power of teamwork, you can accomplish impossible things. There is some profanity, intense fighting scenes, and death. This movie shows that no one is truly good, and no one is truly bad.

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Fans of the Mission Impossible movies and any adventure movie will love this. This movie releases in theaters on July 12, 2023.

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

I like Mission Impossible -- Dead Reckoning Part One. The action sequences are the best part of this film; what also stands out is the suspense it creates and the characters.

The storyline follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he is tasked with an impossible mission to find and destroy an AI machine before it gets into the wrong hands.

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One is like a roller coaster ride. There are many ups and downs and twists and turns, and by the end of it you're left wanting more. What makes it such an enjoyable ride is the action--this movie takes its action sequences to a whole other level. A strong example of this is when Ethan Hunt is fighting against Paris (Pom Klementieff) and her partner in a small narrow alleyway. The choreography that shows him having to fight and defend both of them at the same time is spectacular to watch. Another key aspect of this film is the way it builds suspense. Every moment of this film is builds suspense and there's always a big payoff and that works surprisingly well. For example, the airport scene has a dual mission happening: One involving a physical person that they have to stop, and the other involving the AI machine trying to sabotage the mission. This creates a great sequence where you as an audience member are focusing on two stressful things at the same time. The final part that makes this film is its characters. Ethan Hunt and Grace (Hayley Atwell) are a really fun duo to watch in the car chase scene. I also really enjoyed watching Benji (Simon Pegg) as he was kind of the comedy relief for this film.

The message of this film is that your past doesn't matter but your future does--this is mainly shown through the character of Grace. Her life was terrible and meaningless and she was a bad person, but by the end of the film she's given a choice to become a little bit better, showing us how your past doesn't define you but your future does.

I give Mission Impossible -- Dead Reckoning Part One four out of five stars. And I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film will release in theaters on July 12, 2023.

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

Series: BOOK, AGES 2-8
Description - We love cats because they are fun, playful, warm, soft, and cuddly animals! There is a lot of fun in The Cat-Faced Cat, a book about a cat looking for a place to live and a family to love. The Cat-Faced Cat Named Benny is the first of a series of inspirational tales. It's time to start the journey of The Cat-Faced Cat with this first book. Children will love following him on his exciting adventures with his wonderful new family!
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Do you love cats? Are you interested in the daily life of a cat? The Cat-Faced Cat is a book that touches on the love and enjoyment a person gets from being around cats. The book's simple sentence structure and pictures makes it eye-catching for a child to read and understand the story.

This book follows the journey of a street cat that grows up alone as a kitten and has a keen determination to find a family. Throughout all the difficult obstacles it has to face the Cat-Faced Cat remains strong.

In this book we are taken on the difficult journey of a kitten that starts out all by itself, following its path and its determination to avoid being alone ever again. We see the kitten's constant determination and positivity and its journey in search of a loving family. The story is easy to follow and understand. Its main character is a cat, which is very relatable as the kitten has a hard time growing up alone. In spite of growing up alone, the Cat-Faced Cat shows love and affection to every little thing around him, which is quite admirable.

From the perspective of a little kitten the book encourages kids to show affection to all animals and points out that, even in difficult moments, your determination will pay off.

I give The Cat-Faced Cat 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, plus adults. It is available through online booksellers now.

By Eunnet C., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Do you adore cute cats? Do you enjoy reading about them? Well, you're in luck! The Cat-Faced Cat is one of the cutest children's books you will find...about cats! It has cute graphics and a hidden message about family, love and finding a home.

This wild, heartwarming adventure follows the Cat-Faced Cat, who starts life alone, wanting to find a family of his own. He finds different places to sleep, new toys and eventually a new friend; but in this case, not everything is permanent. All the Cat-Faced Cat wants is a new family and, when you read the book, you will answer the main question: does the Cat-Faced Cat ever find a place to call "home?"

The elements I love most about this book are the graphics. The cats are absolutely adorable and, even though there isn't much detail in the drawings, it makes it so much better for younger children who read this. The people also have simple facial expressions, which helps clarify things for the reader. The only shortcoming for me is the lack of rhyming or alliteration. There are small segments of the book where it does rhyme, but the majority of the book does not, so the "younger child" in me missed that. Other than that, what I like about this story is that it promotes perseverance and the importance of family, human or not.

The message of The Cat-Faced Cat is that, at one point in life, you will find people that are like family to you, blood related or not. This book proves this because at the end, the struggling, lonely cat finally finds a place, and a family, to call home.

I give The Cat-Faced Cat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 5. It is available in both paperback and e-book format at online bookstores, so look for this cuteness overload!

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

The Cat-Faced Cat is an adorable book by Arlette Thomas-Fletcher about an adorable cat. It's written in a rhyming style which makes it much fun to read aloud and the illustrations by Kristina Stansell are so cute.

The Cat-Faced Cat is a tale that follows the journey of a little kitten in his quest to find a loving home. Benny is a cat that longs for companionship. As time passes, he grows older and starts exploring the town in search for it, going on adventures, seeing all sorts of things and meeting all kinds of people.

While this may not be the most complex story, its simplicity and heartwarming message make it a worthwhile read for young children. The illustrations are great. I especially love the detailed appearance of the cat. At the beginning, he's a young kitten and, at the end, an adult cat. I don't know how Kristina did it but you can clearly tell it's the same cat, just older. Ms. Thomas-Fletcher's writing makes the readers feel something. This book, although not for my age group, even made me feel bad for the poor kitten that wanted some friends, family or a home. He's so cute, how can anyone not want him? My favorite part is the illustration on page 7. And I know that doesn't say much because you can't see it -the illustration of Benny in that page melts my heart. He looks so happy and adorable. The book fosters a sense of compassion and understanding as it encourages readers to empathize with the cat's longing for a loving home and family. Additionally, the story emphasizes the impact of simple acts of kindness. It demonstrates how a chance encounter and a genuine connection can change someone's life. The book promotes the idea of finding one's place in the world and serves as a gentle reminder to appreciate the importance of human connections and the joy that comes from finding a place to call home.

The message of The Cat-Faced Cat revolves around themes of perseverance, companionship and the search for a place to belong. It highlights the importance of not giving up, even in the face of loneliness and adversity.

I give The Cat-Faced Cat 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, plus parents. It's available now at online book retailers.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Juror Recommended Age: 2-8 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: Book ISBN # 780971551060

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - Hailey Banks, a risk-averse but resourceful teenager on a mission to complete every item on her long list of challenging (and sometimes impractical) tasks in order to save the world. Hailey will be pushed outside her comfort zone to discover the greatness within as she systematically conquers her fears, whether she is winning a sand-building competition, wrestling a honey badger, eating a raw onion, or facing her ever-growing and complicated feelings toward her best friend, Scott.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Hailey's On It is an incredibly fun and entertaining animated comedy-adventure series that captivated me and is sure to captivate audiences of all ages. With its unique premise and engaging characters, this Disney production showcases creativity and humor in every episode.

From the very first scene, it's clear that Hailey's On It is a delightful series. The combination of risk-averse yet resourceful teenager Hailey (Auli?i Cravalho) and her futuristic sidekick Beta (Gary Anthony Williams) create a dynamic duo that viewers will instantly connect with. The chemistry between the characters is charming, and their interactions provide a perfect balance of comedy and heart.

The series revolves around Hailey's mission to complete a list of challenging tasks, some of which may seem impractical but ultimately contribute to saving the world. While the overarching storyline is compelling, the show wisely balances it with episodic adventures that allow for individual character development and exploration. Each episode of Hailey's On It introduces a new item from Hailey's list, presenting unique challenges that require her problem-solving skills and resourcefulness. The plotlines are well-crafted, keeping viewers engaged and eager to see how Hailey and Beta navigate each task.

Hailey's On It is a family-friendly series that promotes positive social behavior. The characters treat each other with respect and support, and the show emphasizes the value of teamwork and problem-solving. Hailey's determination serves as positive examples for young viewers, encouraging them to embrace their own abilities and take on difficult tasks. The lead characters, Hailey and Beta, steal the show with their distinct personalities and relatable traits. Hailey's relatability lies in her risk-averse nature, which many viewers will find endearing and familiar. Beta, the AI from the future, adds a delightful futuristic touch to the series, providing both comedic relief and technological prowess. AI has recently become woven into all of our lives and it is great to see Disney jumping on the bandwagon so quickly. The animation in the show is top-notch, with vibrant colors, smooth movements, and detailed backgrounds. The visual aesthetic perfectly complements the adventurous tone of the show, creating an immersive viewing experience.

The underlying message of Hailey's On It centers on the importance of facing challenges head-on, even when they seem daunting.

I give Hailey's On It 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. The series releases on Disney+ and Disney Channel on June 8, 2023, so mark your calendars and get ready for an adventure-filled journey alongside Hailey and Beta!

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 19
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar�-winning Spider-Verse saga, Spider-Man�: Across the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn's full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must redefine what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson is mind-blowing, engaging and suspenseful. Following the 2018 release, Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse, this film surpassed all expectations and I believe is the absolute finest Spider-Man film that follows the plot of Miles Morales.

The storyline follows 17-year-old Miles Morales, who was bitten by a radio-active spider, gained spider-like abilities, and became the one and only Spider-Man in Brooklyn, NY after the death of Peter Parker. Miles is working hard to balance school and social life, while trying to live up to his parent's expectations, all while saving the world. During this time, an old friend, Gwen Stacey (Hailee Steinfeld) comes to visit Miles. As she leaves, Miles follows her and is catapulted across the universe, jumping from universe to universe on an extreme adventure where he needs to refine what it means to be a hero so he can save those he loves most.

This film managed to keep me hooked throughout the entire two plus hour run time. It equally balances elements of comedy and drama, while portraying the characters experiencing some real life situations. My favorite character is Miles' long-time, devoted friend, Gwen Stacy, a.k.a Ghost-Spider. Gwen comes from an extremely rough home situation. Considering her father, soon-to-be police captain, has a personal hatred for Ghost-Spider, she spent most nights debating her worth as a person -- if her own father does not see the good she does as Ghost-Spider, what is her purpose? However, this allows her to quickly bond with Miles, whose father also works in the police field. In this film, Gwen experiences obvious character development and proves her loyalty to Miles. Even though she associates herself with the "spider-verse" secret society, which eventually works against Miles, she tries endlessly to keep Miles away, since she knows the danger. She never encourages him to join, nor does she even inform him of it. Once it is made clear the spider-verse secret society is in no way going to help or agree with Miles, she makes it clear whose side she is on. Eventually she gathers alongside a few other Spider-Men and forms her own group, specifically devoted to saving Miles. Though it hasn't been confirmed, Gwen and Miles do have a relationship developing -- the chemistry between them made me want to see Gwen save him even more.

The film's message is to always make the right choice, even if it does not benefit your own wants or needs. You must always rise above and make the choice between selfishness and selflessness.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters June 2, 2023. Check it out!

By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

By Nathalia J. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse is an incredibly enjoyable film that definitely captivated me with its abundance of exciting Spider-Man references. I really like the inclusion of Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya). He is serious, yet funny with his British accent, which is also Daniel Kaluuya's native language.

The story continues the journey of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who has been Spider-Man for a year and four months. As he navigates the multiverse, Miles must find his place while facing his past and confronting new challenges.

This film delivers an exciting multiverse adventure, packed with surprising Easter eggs for Spider-Man fans to enjoy. The storyline fits perfectly within the realm of animated superhero movies, providing a solid foundation for the narrative of superheroes. The film has a lot of twists and turns, which keeps the story engaging throughout. The camera work is incredible and seamless, especially how they formatted the graphics and shape patterns, with no noticeable issues. Shameik Moore delivers an outstanding performance as Miles Morales, embodying the essence of both Spider-Man and Miles, who is just a kid that has superpowers. Hailee Steinfeld portrays an ideal daughter and friend who cannot understand why there is chemistry between her and Spider-Man, which showcases her exceptional acting abilities. Jason Schwartzman, as The Spot, brings an intriguing twist and laughter with a sense of darkness to the character, challenging our expectations. The movie concludes with exceptional music and an ending that left me on the edge of my seat, eagerly anticipating the next installment.

The film's message: "You can't save everyone you want," reminds viewers of the limitations that come with being a hero and how you shouldn't forget to be yourself. It's important to note that there is a small amount of profanity in this film, so parents should take that into consideration.

give Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for 12 to 18, plus adults. It swings into theaters June 2, 2023. Make sure to mark your calendars and experience this thrilling Spider-Man journey firsthand.

By David E., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I love Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The cinematography is excellent and the pacing is amazing. It has some of the best storytelling that I have seen in years and the character development in this film is absolutely astonishing. It also brought back the joy of seeing Spider-Man for the first time.

The storyline follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) propelled through the Multiverse and coming across a group of Spider-People tasked with safeguarding the very existence of the multiverse. Miles must reevaluate what it means to be a true hero when the heroes disagree about how to handle a new threat.

This film made me feel like a kid again watching Spider-Man swinging through the sky --- that's what makes this film great. It brings back memories of my childhood and I think it will for others also. This film takes its time and hits on moments that make it truly an amazing film. The voice acting is phenomenal. Miles Morales excels at bringing out his character even better than he did in the first film. That's not all; Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) brings more heart to her character compared to the last film as well. My favorite voice actor is Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac). His voice suits this character so well and there are some scenes where you notice how great a voice actor he is. The voice acting isn't the only thing that makes this film special. I really appreciated the cinematography. After watching this film some scenes stayed in my mind because they are so stunning. They impacted my experience in a positive way. The character development and the storytelling are both spectacular. There are moments where you feel sad; moments when you feel joy; and moments when it builds suspense. The movie runs 2 hours and 20 minutes and doesn't rush at all. For me this film was more than I expected and I loved every second of it.

The film's message is that anyone can be Spider-Man. No matter where you come from; no matter wgat your past or your future is --- you can be who you want to be. You can do your own thing. This film shows us that sometimes you have to do your own thing and make sure that you never feel like you don't belong.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters June 2, 2023.

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

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is an eye-catching intense film. Its mesmerizing cinematography and complex storyline drew me in for an emotional and exciting adventure.

The storyline brings back Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and many other Spider-men for an epic journey across the universes. Miles' pretty normal teenage life gets sideswiped when he meets Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who holds a deep grudge on him. The film also explores Gwen Stacy's (Hailee Steinfeld) backstory, and dives deeper into some of the other returning characters as well. I definitely enjoyed the journey through the various universes and the world of Marvel.

A CGI is excellent. There are multiple moments when I forgot that the film isn't live action. The feeling and vibe of the movie that's created by the animation really captured my attention. I really enjoy how colors are used to show emotions. For example, a lot of purples, blues and yellows are used to create a sad, nostalgic, but hopeful feeling. There is also a part where Miles and Gwen are looking over Manhattan from afar, and the imagery is outstanding. There is something so satisfying about seeing beautiful scenery, and this film definitely delivers that. Furthermore, each character is so unique and has such strong characterization. Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) is very confident in himself and his beliefs; Miguel (Oscar Issac), likes to take charge and wants complete control. These different dynamics of the two characters really grabs viewers' attention and definitely adds to the plot. Lastly, the costumes really stand out. Each Spider-suit is unique to each character while still delivering the universal essence of Spider-Man. Specifically, Gwen's outfit, which although it is a mix of whites, purples and blacks, still has a clear resemblance to Spider-Man suits. Hers matches her personality in an interesting way and definitely enhances her character.

The message of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is to believe in those you trust and listen to what your heart is telling you. Be forewarned that this film has flashing lights and some violent fight scenes.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse releases in theaters June 2, 2023.

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

I love Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. It is an action-packed and visually stunning adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story takes us back to the Spider-Verse where we meet Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He's just a typical kid, going to school, hanging out with friends but with an awesome twist--he has amazing spider-powers! Miles Morales is a relatable and cool superhero along with his friend Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) who is a strong, independent, powerful Spider-Woman and classmate of Peter Parker (Jack Quaid).

The animation is mind-blowing with vibrant colors and a variety of artistic styles that make every scene feel like a comic book come to life. The multiverse trip takes us on action-packed adventures from Brooklyn to Mumbhattan (a futuristic Indian megatropolis) to LEGO world to Spidey Society with an infinite number of web-slingers. It is like stepping into a whole new world where anything is possible, including dealing with the ever-increasing powers of The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) who is hilarious and unbelievably intimidating; not just your average "villain of the week." The action sequences are fast-paced and full of energy, with Spider-Men and Women swinging, jumping and fighting in ways we've never seen before. What makes this movie extra special is the introduction of new Spider-characters. It is like a Spider-team-up; we see different versions of Spider-Man from different dimensions, each with their own unique powers and personalities that uniquely match their dimension. It is amazing to see them all together, fighting The Spot and saving the day. The humor in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is great; the jokes are funny and clever. Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) steals the show with his non-conformist attitude and sarcasm. The music is fantastic. The soundtrack is filled with great tunes that made me want to move, adding an extra layer of excitement and fun to the whole experience.

This movie makes you feel like a superhero. It's about embracing who you are and using your powers for good. It is a story of friendship, courage and never giving up, no matter how tough things get.

I give Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters June 2, 2023.

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

Description - Experience the wonders of our world like never before in this epic docuseries from Jon Favreau and the producers of "Planet Earth." "Prehistoric Planet" season two continues to bring Earth's history to life like never before as the series presents new dinosaurs, new habitats and new scientific discoveries while taking viewers around the world in an epic five-night adventure. With new dinosaurs like the Tarchia, one of the largest Ankylosauri, to returning fan-favorites like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and many more, "Prehistoric Planet" returns with an all-new season of prehistoric wonders.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Prepare to be wowed by an incredible new documentary mini-series to be released this month. Back for its second season, Prehistoric Planet 2, produced by the world-renowned team from BBC's Natural History Unit, unveils new species and habitats which occupied ancient Earth 66 million years ago. I was really looking forward to watching this expansive series with its advanced technology and I was not disappointed.

The show takes viewers back millions of years to examine a variety of new species within their unique habitats. Based on new evidence provided by paleontologists and other experts within the field, these filmmakers are able to authentically recreate the Jurassic world and highlight the many interactions within and between species, and show how these magnificent creatures needed to fight so hard for their survival. This impressively animated series brings Earth's history to life with such extraordinary detail.

Prehistoric Planet 2 is an educational masterpiece! There is so much to appreciate in this series. The CGI is state of the art; the CGI images are, by far, the best I've seen. The highly technical scenes are so dramatic and bring great adventure into our homes. Although the information portrayed by the biodiverse species in each episode has great merit from new found evidence by archaeologists, a lot of guesses and inferring goes into the depiction of these creatures. The information about these species makes perfect sense and I was truly inspired by each episode. Narrated by beloved 97-year-old David Attenborough who excels as he explains to viewers the lives of so many unique species. He brings great excitement and emotion to Prehistoric Planet 2. Parents need to be aware that some of the graphic content regarding survival strategies may be too intense for younger viewers.

The message throughout each episode of the show is about understanding the biological dynamics of our ancient Earth. We all find dinosaurs fascinating, but there is much more to be learned about their relationships, adaptations and survival mechanisms. Gaining knowledge about past species not only helps us better understand their existence on Earth and it also helps us build more complete ancestral connections to species living today. Education is priceless!

Prehistoric Planet 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Prehistoric Planet 2 releases on Apple TV+ May 22, 2023
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 5-12
Description - Jane, a 9-year-old budding environmentalist on a quest to save endangered animals. Using her powerful imagination, Jane takes her best friends David and Greybeard the chimpanzee on epic adventures to help protect wild animals all around the world because, according to her idol Dr. Jane Goodall: "Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, can they be saved."
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - To all nature and environmental enthusiasts, sit tight because a great mini-series is coming your way! Jane, a new 10-episode action adventure series is the "complete package" full of imagination, thrills, and a whole lot of education, inspired by the work of famous conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall. Viewers are in for a real treat.

The series takes us through the imaginative short journeys of Jane Garcia (Ava Louise Murchison) and her best friend and partner-in-crime, David (Mason Blomberg), who set out to save the world's vanishing species. While on their quest to help these species, this dynamic duo educates viewers about threatened wildlife and explains the importance of making a change for generations to come. Following each journey, these young environmentalists are joined virtually by a research scientist who not only shares so much information about specific species, but also shares their own experiences, which adds excitement to each episode. From bees to bats and bears, the Jane series is exceptional!

Each episode is so inspiring which is what I like most about Jane. Of course the adventure, action, and creativity are also enjoyable, but what makes this series stand out is the education we get about diminishing species and what can be done to save them. The visual effects also deserve a mention. The live action/CGI-blended scenes are outstanding. Set locations are perfectly chosen, allowing viewers to feel they are right there alongside the animals.

The Jane series delivers a message of hope. Each of us, no matter what age, needs to be committed in order to make positive change for our ecosystems. Every species is important on our planet, and if we can gain a better understanding of the problems that exist within nature, maybe we can fix them. We're all in this together, and together we can make change -future generations are counting on us!

I give Jane 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Jane makes
Juror Recommended Age: 5-12 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: TV

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Set on the South Side of Chicago; against a layered backdrop of systemic inequality, the documentary explores a community's unique embrace of the possibilities of early education through the eyes of its first graduates who are now approaching young adulthood. The film reunites three present-day high school seniors who started out in Educare Preschool's first class, exploring the effects of early childhood education as they navigate their way through difficult circumstances. While today the Educare Early Education Center is going strong, the documentary shows its utterly harrowing, yet remarkable early stages as "The Beethoven Project" located within "Forgotonia" - a name the film's Portia Kennel uses to describe what was at the time the largest housing project in the world. Exploring the contrast of promises kept against a pervasive backdrop of promises broken, Tomorrow's Hope celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. Produced by The Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - A film that will fill you with positivity and gratitude and inspire you to tackle all your challenges with tenacity, Tomorrow's Hope is a wonderful experience for viewers of all ages.

Tomorrow's Hope tells the story of three high school seniors who all started their academic journeys as the first class of the Educare Early Education Center. Educare is one of the few early education centers in the violence-ridden South Side of Chicago. The organization's journey from "The Beethoven Project," located in the projects, to a pile of rubble, and now to one of the most successful early education programs, preparing kids for a future of success, is documented with a clear-cut narrative structure.

Every individual interviewed for this film speaks their heart and tells their story in the raw, real manner it was meant to be told. Their stories, the light and dark moments alike, carry great weight and truly make the film what it is. The interviews in the film do not just touch your heart but also educate you about a reality many might not know: the story of "Forgotonia," the moniker given to the Chicago projects as they underwent gentrification, and the people of the South Side. The film represents black voices well, as most, if not all, of the characters, are African-American. The individual interviews are stitched together with ample historical and live b-roll to form a concise but detailed 45-minute story. I especially love how Jacqueline, who works at Educare, and the spotlighted seniors interact in the shots together; their attachment to and warmth toward one another is palpable.

Tomorrow's Hope promotes keeping your hopes up and persevering even against broken promises and catastrophes. Each of the subjects of the film has seen gun violence or gang violence take away those closest to them--it's clear that it would be easy to fall into these traps. But they kept at it; all three went to college and made their families proud. As far as parental advisories go, there are mentions of death and violence.

I give Tomorrow's Hope 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Tomorrow's Hope is available on VOD and digital beginning March 21, 2023.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Follows the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro and his editor, the literary giant Robert Gottlieb, in this chronicle of a unique 50-year professional relationship. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Caro and legendary editor Robert Gottlieb, have worked and fought together for 50 years, forging one of publishing's most iconic and productive partnerships. Directed by Gottlieb's daughter, Lizzie Gottlieb, Turn Every Page explores their remarkable creative collaboration, including the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of Caro's The Power Broker and the LBJ series. With humor and insight, this unique double portrait reveals the work habits, peculiarities and professional joys of these two ferocious intellects. It arrives at the culmination of a journey that has consumed both their lives and impacted generations of politicians, activists, writers and readers, and furthered our understanding of power and democracy.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Turn Every Page - The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb is not only a terrific documentary, but also a very entertaining film. It isn't an action-packed movie where you'll be glued to your seat, but it is a wonderful story about two of the most important people in our literary community - Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb.

Robert Caro is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author best known for his biographies of President Lyndon B. Johnson and New York political figure Robert Moses. Robert Gottlieb is an American editor who has been editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf, and The New Yorker. Caro and Gottlieb have worked together for more than 50 years. Documentarian Lizzy Gottlieb, Robert Gottlieb's daughter, spent five years on the film and gives us an up close and very personal view of each of these amazing men, their work, their passion for their work and their working relationship.

I found this documentary so interesting because it balances entertainment, humor and education. I like that this documentary teaches us about many people that no one truly knows about, especially those from my generation. I learned so much about the power and influence Robert Moses held in New York City and the power and influence President Johnson wielded during his political career. Their impact is so deep and wide and yet so different. And this is also true about Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, as they contributed so much to American literature working together and also are very different. They have such a passion for what they do--they even 'go to war' over commas and semicolons. One of my favorite lines from the movie is from Robert Gottlieb, "He does the work. I do the cleanup." This movie also shows what goes on behind the scenes of writing a book. There is so much that goes into it, and it's enlightening to know what that is. Watching this documentary may even inspire you to read The Power Broker about Robert Moses or the Lyndon Johnson biography series.

The message and purpose of this documentary is to highlight the shared dedication and working relationship of these two literary men. There is some language that might be offensive to some.

I give Turn Every Page - The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, but especially adults. The film is playing now in select cities.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 8-18
Description - The Magician's Elephant follows young Peter, who is searching for his long-lost sister, and crosses paths with a fortune teller in the market square. There is only one question on his mind: is his sister still alive? The answer -- that he must follow a mysterious elephant -- sets Peter off on a remarkable journey to complete three seemingly impossible tasks that magically change the face of his town forever. The Magician's Elephant is based on Newbery Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo's classic novel.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The Magician's Elephant is a magnificent movie that totally transports you to the world of the story. It is one of my favorite animated movies that I've ever seen.

This movie is about a young boy named Peter (Noah Jupe). He lives with a retired veteran of war who saved him in battle. The veteran, unfortunately, had to leave Peter's sister, and she was blown up in an explosion. However, things take a turn when Peter sees a fortune teller who tells him his sister is still alive and to find her he must follow a magician's elephant. When Peter tries to take the elephant, the king challenges him with three impossible tasks, and then after he performs those tasks -- and only then -- he will get the elephant.

The Magician's Elephant has many notable characteristics, one of which is the animation style. Overall, the animation is flawless and very realistic. However, the clouds are one thing that doesn't look quite as realistic, even though there is a real cloud formation called Mammatus Storm Clouds. There are also many cool locations, like narrow, twisting streets, and interesting characters throughout the film. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when the veteran has Peter march around his house saying, "Fish is small. Bread is stale. Life is not a fairy tale." It is a very comedic moment. Another part that is very impressive is how they bring the story full circle, starting and ending with the fortune teller. Her main role is to tie together the whole story, which could make her the most important character of all.

The message of this film is to never give up hope because you never know what may come along to change your situation.

I give The Magician's Elephant 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. It is available in select theaters on March 10, 2023 and on Netflix on March 17, 2023.

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

The Magician's Elephant is an exceptional film that also provides a very important, valuable life lesson and it is a perfect movie to watch with family or close friends.

The story follows an orphan boy named Peter (Noah Jupe) who loses his sister at a very young age. Peter has always wanted to meet again with his sister but she has been lost since a newborn. Both of his parents passed away in a war and, ever since then, a strict and old soldier has taken care of Peter. On one special day Peter goes to the market to buy a small fish and stale bread, as that is what Peter and the soldier have for dinner every night, but instead of Peter buying dinner Peter spends his money on a fortune teller to answer his lifelong question. He asks, "Where can I find my sister?" and the fortune teller's response is "Follow the Elephant..."

I absolutely recommend watching this astounding film! The Magician's Elephant is so well-done that it made me and my whole family get very emotional. The animation of this film is wondrous; the visual effects are glorious, beautiful and realistic. The special effects are extraordinary -- I love how all the colors and scenes match the storyline so incredibly well. My favorite scene is when the magician (Benedict Wong) brings the elephant back to the animal's habitat and we realize that Peter is also helping another family get back together. This shows that Peter is not selfish at all. Peter is a kind-hearted soul who deserves to be reunited with his sister. He wants to find his sister so badly and so he obeys whatever the fortune teller tells him to do like, follow the Elephant, which he does. To get to the elephant Peter has to complete three impossible tasks given to him by the King. If Peter completes the three tasks he will earn the right to have the elephant and that will lead him to his dream. You will have to watch to see if Peter's dream comes true!

The film's message is to always care and love your family because, if you don't have them, then who do you have to love? Another message is to always have hope for whatever you do or believe.

I give The Magician's Elephant 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It is available in theaters now and releases on Netflix March 17, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - After dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Jonathan Majors), resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian - a fighter who has nothing to lose. Creed III is the third installment in the successful franchise and is Michael B. Jordan's directorial debut.
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Creed III is a movie that is carried by its acting. With a combination of seasoned and up-and-coming actors, the scenes are more meaningful than ever. In his directorial debut, Michael B. Jordan stars in a movie that had me invested from the start, though to the very end.

After officially retiring from boxing, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been focusing on his family and his career as a businessman. When he is greeted unexpectedly by his childhood friend Dame (Jonathan Majors), a former boxer who spent 18 years in prison, Adonis is also reminded of his tough past. Dame is insistent on getting another chance to box, enlisting Adonis for help. When Adonis realizes there is more to Dame's plan than just boxing again, he is forced to face him in a battle that is more than just a fight.

Creed III focuses on its main plot and doesn't rely on subplots to move the story forward. There are ideas introduced in the movie that could've become more significant elements such as Amara's school situation, but instead, it sticks to the primary conflict, making it easy to follow along with the storyline. The dynamic between Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors creates a sense of tension within the movie and creates a much larger reaction when there are plot twists, which there are. Adonis and Bianca's (Tessa Thompson) daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) is such a good addition to the storyline, and her character creates a feeling of love that is palpable. Having the entire family understanding sign language and using that to communicate brings them closer together, which translates to the audience. Creed III is Michael B. Jordan's directorial debut, and the setup of this movie conveys its message incredibly well. In the final fight scene, we see Adonis and Dame in the ring alone - symbolizing the two being together since their childhood, as brothers. Neither of them can believe their relationship has come to the point where they are here, against each other. This scene shows the vulnerability of both characters and provides both points of view. The fight choreography, the silence of the scene, the visual effects, and deeper meaning make the final fight one to remember.

The primary message of Creed III is that the only way to resolve a conflict is to face it, rather than run away from it. Even though Adonis is scared to face his past because of his guilt, he realizes that facing it is the only way to truly move on. There are some profanity and violent scenes within the movie, which explains its PG-13 rating.

Creed III gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find Creed III in theaters on March 3, 2023. Make sure you check it out!

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Creed III is a thrilling movie that lives up to expectations and definitely impressed me. However, due to its thrilling fight scenes and serious topics, it may be a difficult watch for younger kids.

Creed III takes place seven years after Creed II and follows Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) as a retired boxer and a father to his daughter Amara (Mila Davis Kent). Everything changes when a childhood friend resurfaces and brings back problems from Adonis's past, which makes Adonis question everything.

Michael B. Jordan is undoubtedly the best part of the movie. Creed III is his directorial debut and it's a great start to what I believe will be an amazing directing career. Since I hadn't seen the first two films in this series I was concerned that I wasn't going to understand the plot, but Creed III stands on its own and references the first two films without giving anything away. The movie is captivating and is beautifully shot. Jordan makes clear distinctions between good and bad with both costume design and cinematography. Kramer Morgenthau's cinematography is beautiful, especially in the fight sequences. The relationship between Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) and Damien (Jonathan Majors) is super compelling, but a little predictable. One thing that is lacking is the backstory about why Damien went to jail, which made me wonder what really happened. The movie is centered on boxing and can get a little violent. It's actually a lot more violent than I expected and there were many times when I had to look away.

Creed III promotes self-confidence and communicating with people you love. It also emphasizes not using physical violence in difficult situations, which is important in a movie that revolves around fighting. There is a lot of profanity used and many violent and graphic fight scenes. The film also covers serious topics including death, abuse and prison.

I give Creed III 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters March 3, 2023.

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

Series: TV SERIES, AGES 12-18
Description - After losing the gold and fleeing the Outer Banks, Season 3 finds the Pogues washed ashore on a desert island that, for a brief moment, seems like an idyllic home. Officially deemed "Poguelandia," the island's newest residents spend their days fishing, swimming, and reveling in the carefree lifestyle of their temporary dwelling. But things quickly go south for John B, Sarah, Kiara, Pope, JJ, and Cleo when they find themselves once again caught up in a race for the treasure, quite literally running for their lives. They're broke and far from home, they can't trust anyone, Ward and Rafe are hungry for revenge, and there's a ruthless Caribbean Don who will stop at nothing to find the bounty. Was the treasure ever within their reach? Or was it all a trap to stop them once and for all? Either way, it's the Pogues against the world - and the only way out is together.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - See youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The third season of the teen (and adult) adventure series, Outer Banks, is back and even more action-packed! This season is filled with loads of treasure hunting, close escapes, daring rescues and romance. I love how much the plot and characters change from the previous seasons.

The story of the Pogues continues as the show picks up right where it left off with John B (Chase Stokes), JJ (Rudy Pankow), Kiara (Madison Bailey), Sarah (Madelyn Cline) and Cleo (Carlacia Grant) stranded on an uninhabited island they've named "Poguelandia." But once they get rescued from the island, things go south. And the search for treasure isn't nearly over yet.

Since this is the third season of Outer Banks, I highly recommend watching the previous seasons to things make sense. Fans of previous seasons will love this as there are many high stakes chases and unexpected plot twists. This season doesn't get old and keeps you very engaged. The cast of this show is extremely talented. The best performances come from Chase Stokes (John B), Charles Hanford (Big John) and Andy McQueen (Mr. Singh). Chase Stokes' character goes through a lot emotionally, especially in this season, and he makes it very believable and realistic. We hadn't seen very much of Charles Hanford as Big John in the first two seasons, so it is very entertaining and surprising to get to know him more and see what kind of person he is. Mr. Singh is a new character this season, but his character fits in with the plot super well. Andy McQueen perfectly portrays him. I can really sense his background and feel what his past is even though we never see it.

The messages of this show, similar to seasons one and two, are that family can be chosen, change happens and should be accepted, and mistakes are okay because they are a part of life. Additionally it shows how powerful love from friends is. Be aware that there is some profanity, violence and many risky things the kids do that are dangerous.

Outer Banks: Season 3 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out on Netflix February 23, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12-18
Description - The discovery that their house is haunted by a ghost named Ernest makes Kevin's family a social media sensation. But when Kevin and Ernest get to the bottom of the mystery of Ernest's past, they become targets of the CIA.
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KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - The adventure/comedy film We Have a Ghost, directed by Christopher Landon, is thrilling, captivating and engaging. I like how this film balances elements of comedy and drama, while still maintaining a suspenseful plot.

Based on the short story, "Ernest," by Geoff Manaugh, this film follows the Presley family as they embark on a mission to find a new home. The home they hope to make lifelong memories in, is haunted by a ghost named Ernest who quickly comes to be known as nothing other than misunderstood. Since Ernest has no recollection of how or why he died, his soul is unable to fully leave earth. Eventually, the youngest child of the Presley family, Kevin, makes it his life mission to find this out and with that, the family gains fame.

My favorite character is most-definitely Ernest (David Harbour). Wonderful performance! Considering that David Harbour had zero previous experience with a character such as Ernest, he portrays the role magnificently. He is able to gain pity from the viewers, which is extremely rare for ghosts in films. Ernest's character development evolves perfectly, allowing viewers to grasp the moments of importance responsible for changing Ernest's perspective on life. It allows us to think of Ernest as a misunderstood, confused and helpless soul rather than an angry and malicious ghost. The spectrum of emotions that Ernest experiences do not feel rushed, but are perfectly timed out and displayed. My favorite aspect of this film is how it differs from previous adventure or horror-based films. In most cases, the threat (Ernest) will not associate with the victims - the Presley Family -- in any way other than causing them harm. However, We Have a Ghost offers a fresh dynamic of friendship and cooperation, allowing viewers to not get stuck in the same thriller film cycle. Instead of expecting certain scenes or character motives to take place, I loved seeing something fresh in this film genre. I commend Director Christopher Landon for incorporating new and unexpected ideas to this film.

This film's message is to appreciate, value and love the people in your life. Appreciate the littlest moments, because at any given time, those moments can turn into only memories --live life to the very fullest.

I give We Have A Ghost 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on Netflix February 24, 2023. Enjoy!
Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: FeatureFilm

Series: FEATURE, AGES 12 - 18
Description - 80 For Brady is inspired by the true story of four best friends and New England Patriots fans who take a life-changing trip to Super Bowl LI to see their hero Tom Brady play, and the chaos that ensues as they navigate the wilds of the biggest sporting event in the country.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - 80 for Brady is a perfect movie to watch with a best friend, family member and sports fan. What I love about this movie is that it successfully connects the importance of being courageous, while trusting those closest to you to overcome your biggest obstacles in both sports and in life. Also, what else would you expect from Tom Brady (producer), but an inspiring movie about the power of attitude and belief to pull off miracles.

The story follows four best friends, Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field) and Maura (Rita Moreno) who, for 16 straight years, loyally followed Tom Brady's career. After watching the Patriots' 2017 AFC Playoff win, Lou asks her friends to join her for an unforgettable adventure - "Let's go to the Super Bowl LI."

The movie is hilarious with scenes of dancing, funny sports superstitions and includes live action and original sound from the Super Bowl LI experience. Several scenes include live audio of player commentary on the field that you've likely never heard before. One of my favorite scenes is when Lou finally has the chance to talk to Tom Brady in an emotional speech, which inspires us to never give up. The game brings us back to the greatest comeback, both in Patriots history, and in Tom Brady's incredible sports career. The love of football connects us as Americans and the true story of four loyal women, who followed Tom's career for 16 years to finally make it to the Super Bowl, is inspiring for us all - even if you're not a Tom Brady fan. To see Lou, Trish, Betty and Maura having a great time attending exclusive parties, dancing with Gugu's (Billy Porter) dance crew, eating in Guy Fieri's spicy hot wing contest and gambling with high rollers really brings one hilarious scene to another. This film shows that both your age and life challenges can't stop you if you believe you've still got it. I can't wait to have the chance to go to a Super Bowl myself someday with my best friends and family. What an adventure.

The message of the movie is about the importance of friendship and courage to overcome obstacles and embrace the unknown together. The film reminds us to trust in our loved ones; never let fear stop us; and live life to the fullest.

I give 80 For Brady 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It is available in theaters beginning February 3, 2023.

By Keila V., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

80 for Brady is a hilarious movie. It has amazing acting and an amazing cast. Funny moments are around every corner with its hysterical plot.

The storyline follows four women all around age 80 who all idolize legendary football quarterback, Tom Brady. After Lou (Lily Tomlin) wins tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl, the girls are off on a crazy trip to Houston. Along with her best friends Betty (Sally Field), Trish (Jane Fonda) and Maura (Rita Moreno) they fly to Houston to watch their favorite team, the Patriots, on the trip of their lives. Nothing goes as planned and when Betty loses the tickets during a hot wings contest, the girls don't know how they'll ever make it into the game.

Along with an all-star cast, this movie has hilarious jokes throughout. All of the shenanigans the girls get into are unbelievably crazy and insanely fun to watch. I love when Betty signs up for Guy Fieri's hot wings contest because she ends up winning and, after it's over, she tells them that her taste buds aren't very good so she can barely taste anything. The scenes from the Super Bowl are amazingly. Everything seems so real, like you're actually there watching it. My favorite character is Betty because she's so sweet and wants to do something exciting for once in her life. The funniest scene is when Maura is kind of out of it and stumbles into a poker game and wins lots of money thinking she can buy more tickets after Betty loses them, but after she cashes out she finds out it was a charity game.

The message of 80 for Brady is that you're never too old to have fun. These women are all over 75 and think they're destined for a life of sitting at home until this one great adventure. Parents should know that there are a couple of things to be wary of. They accidentally take some drugs at a party and there's some profanity.

I give 80 for Brady 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases in theaters February 3, 2023.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

The film, 80 for Brady, directed by Kyle Marvin, is amusing, engaging and fresh. This film equally balances the elements of comedy and drama while still maintaining real life situations and grounded characters. Not only does this film include familiar celebrities, such as actress Rita Moreno, this film is produced by 7-time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady.

The story follows best friends in their 80's, Trish (Jane Fonda), Betty (Sally Field), Moura (Rita Moreno) and Lou (Lily Tomlin) as their yearly tradition of watching the Super Bowl finally arrives. They decide to attend it live this time, encouraged by the quarterback of the friend group, Lou, who is dead set on this adventure after discovering there's a possibility of her cancer returning. Throughout her time battling chemo, Lou gains the strength and courage to fight it by following the resilient and brave story of Tom Brady--watching his games weekly becomes something for her to look forward to, a sentimental tradition. So whether it means breaking out of retirement homes or joining a spicy wings contest, these four ladies are destined to step foot inside that stadium, no matter what obstacles are in their way.

My favorite character is Betty, who evolves from the beginning to end in an engaging way. Betty is known as the problem solver, not comfortable with confrontation and constantly changing her own wants and needs to benefit others, especially her husband. She doesn't know what it is like to make decisions without needing validation. Their goal to attend the Super Bowl is finally Betty's opportunity to experience that freedom and delivers many hilarious moments. Going from editing essays at home to partying all night long with college students has to be the greatest character development! My favorite aspect of 80 for Brady is how scenes jump from the perspective of Lou to that of Tom Brady. At times of difficulty, Lou often looks at her Tom Brady bobble head figurine, or speaks to herself as if she asking Tom questions about her dilemma. The perspective then switches to Tom expressing his opinion on how to help the situation. Throughout the film, Tom and Lou are not aware of each other until the end, but the instant cuts from Tom to Lou immerse viewers in their conversations.

This film provides a significant message: It is never too late to discover the wonders and experiences of life you may have missed. Happiness has no age limit--it is never too late to discover new interests and act on them.

I give 80 for Brady 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This film releases in theaters February 3, 2023. Enjoy!

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

80 for Brady is a fun comedy that proves that age is just a number and will be a fun watch for all ages. 80 for Brady is not as innocent as it appears to be and although it is a bit slow at the beginning, once it picks up, it becomes a film that will surely make viewers smile.

80 for Brady follows four senior women: Lou (Lily Tomlin), Betty (Sally Field), Trish (Jane Fonda) and Maura (Rita Moreno). The women decide to go to the Super Bowl to support their hero, Tom Brady (Tom Brady) and to have a last hurrah before it's "too late." The trip to the Super Bowl is not as easy as expected and they soon realize that this trip means more to Lou than they originally thought. Through teamwork and determination, the group makes it a trip of a lifetime.

80 for Brady is a super fun film and is really funny from start to end. The pace is a little slow at the beginning, before they go to the Super Bowl, but really picks up once they leave the airport. All four actresses shine in this film, but Tomlin really stands out. Although she does not have as many comedic scenes as some of the others, she feels like the heart of the movie and most of the sentimental parts come from her character. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of celebrity cameos throughout the film, such as Rob Gronkowski and Guy Fieri; they are a fun addition. My favorite part of the movie is the party scene, due to all the different characters going off on their own and really shining in their own respective scenes. The movie is based on the real-life story from four senior female Patriot fans and, learning about that at the end of the movie, makes the entire story more genuine, authentic and heartwarming.

The film promotes friendship and being there for your friends - also, never giving up on your dreams. You should know that there are some scenes showing drug use and some profanity, plus it addresses some topics such as cancer, death, and growing old, which may be heavy for some viewers.

I give 80 for Brady 4 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases February 3, 2023 in theaters.

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

Series: DOCUMENTARY, AGES 12 - 18
Description - Nuisance Bear is a Canadian short documentary film, directed by Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden and released in 2021. The film is a portrait of the polar bears in and around the town of Churchill, Manitoba.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - see youth comments
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - Nuisance Bear has glorious cinematography and superb storytelling that drive home its important message of peaceful coexistence with nature. It's a terrific film for all those who love the great outdoors, as well as for budding filmmakers.

Nuisance Bear follows a polar bear migrating across the town of Churchill in the Canadian province of Manitoba. People congregate to take pictures and videos, and the bear begins to clash with the locals. That is when the bear's journey takes a dramatic turn, and "nuisance bear" removal forces enter the scene.

Nuisance Bear is a documentarian's documentary. With no voiceover or speaking at all, the New Yorker team behind the film lets the images and captured video do the talking. And it's supremely effective. I especially love the way the wildlife forces' pickup truck is shot like it's the predator, not the bear; it approaches menacingly with high beams on and then veers to the side as the bear makes its escape. It's absolutely scintillating. In many scenes, there isn't even any background music, so all you hear is the soft stepping of the bear and the rumbling engines of the wildlife forces. Hat's off to directors Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden for creating such a masterful piece of visual storytelling.

Nuisance Bear promotes respecting nature and ensuring you don't disrupt other beings endemic to your area. The film helps us realize that people are the real nuisance, not the bears.

I give Nuisance Bear 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. The film is available to watch on the New Yorker YouTube channel now.

by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 16
Runtime: 14 minutes Juror Recommended Age: 12-18 Suggested Retail Price: $ Media: VIDEO

Series: FEATURE, AGES12 TO 18
Description - Based on the # 1 New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove, A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grump who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife. Otto is ready to end it all, but his plans are interrupted when a lively young family moves in next door, and he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol. She challenges him to see life differently, leading to an unlikely friendship that turns his world around. A heartwarming and funny story about love, loss, and life, A Man Called Otto shows that family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - I thoroughly enjoyed A Man Called Otto. Tom Hank's portrayal of an aging man whose love of his life was taken way too young haunts his character Otto, but thanks to the persistent love of his new neighbors he emerges from his shell as he finds a new extended family.

The storyline follows Otto, a grumpy old man who thinks of himself as the quintessential rule enforces in his neighborhood and elsewhere. The film is filled with flashbacks which reveal the backstory of Otto's life and how he came to become the grumpy old dude he is.

The character, Otto, is played so well by Tom Hanks that you semi-hate him for his persnickety personality, yet as the story evolves and we learn about the tragic events of his past, the "what and why" become clear. When new neighbors move in across the street, the wife (Mariana Trevino) is persistent in not letting Otto escape her kindness, whether it means bringing him wonderful Mexican food, which Otto begrudgingly loves, or inviting him to spend time with her children. The tragedy of Otto's love story, which began and ended with his lively and beautiful wife, it is, no less, still a love story. It makes you ache for poor Otto who truly found his soul mate and lost her way too soon. He is bent on taking his own life, but constantly drawn away by his neighbors Marisol and her hubby.

Directed by Marc Forster, the film is beautifully produced with eloquent shots of the landscape of suburban Pennsylvania and sets that show middle class America in its simplest form. My favorite scene is a toss-up between the one with Otto and his neighbor buddy, during friendlier times when they compete for who has the coolest car and when he teaches Marisol how to drive; the speech he gives her about how she is not an idiot is awe-inspiring and afterwards, she loses all fear and drives like a warrior.

What I love most about this film is character. So many mass market films, particularly comic based ones, lack depth of character and this one delivers it in Otto, but also in Marisol and Anita, even Malcolm and Jimmy. Everyone evolves here and becomes more substantial than they are at first glance. Be forewarned that there are suicide attempts shown and some profanity.

I give A Man Called Otto 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It's rare to find a film with such substance. We laughed and cried, then did it again and again. By Julie S, KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I didn't love A Man Called Otto as much as I thought I would. It has a lot of funny parts even though it is a really sad movie. The funny parts are where they include different Latinx things and different things we say and do. As a Latinx myself, I had a good laugh, but my eyes did water up.

First we meet Otto (Tom Hanks), who is a grumpy old man that loves to follow the rules and fights with everyone. Everything is annoying to him and he really doesn't like people. He'd much rather be alone; he tries to do something many times and, along the way, he meets many people. We see a lot of flashbacks with Otto and his late wife.

This move is sad and, the way they use dark colors to really make the mood, makes it sadder. Tom Hanks excels in his portrayal of Otto. This film really addresses equality and how much things have changed. There is a LGBTQ+ character in it and Mack Bayda portrays him very well. The costumes are really cool thanks to Mariana Trevi�o. Not only that, but she brings a Latin feel to the film like in all the different Latino food that is featured.

The film's message is that just because someone else's life ends, yours doesn't have to. There are so many beautiful and wonderful people on this earth. The one thing parents should be aware of is that there is some self- harm and suicide.

I give A Man Called Otto 2.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters January 13, 2023.

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

Series: FEATURE FILM, AGES 12-18
Description - A joyous, emotional, heartbreaking celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest female R&B pop vocalists of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom.
KIDS FIRST!® Adult Jurors say - Loved this film. Naomi Ackie knocks it out of the part with her portrayal of Whitney and brings you right into the center of Whitney's lives, loves, hopes, dreams and foibles. I watched this with a friend and, since both of us were long time fans of Ms. Houston, we were a bit anxious that it would take jabs at her faults (we all have them). It doesn't, rather it really shows her innocence as she makes it big in the complicated world of music stardom. Stanley Tucci, as her agent also plays Clive Davis to a T! We love Stanley and can easily imagine him as the person behind this super star.

This film is so well produced from its visuals to the audio track to the costumes. I can't speak to the authenticity of her costumes, but as my friend and I walked out of the theater we both said, "I want her costume designer."

As far as the message of this film goes, it really shows the vulnerability of a young women who is taken advantage of by many people as she reaches for stardom, including those who led her into drug abuse. However, there are also a lot of upsides to this, like the love she shows for her daughter and the loving support of her agent, Clive.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. There is some profanity and drug use, so be forewarned. By Julie S., KIDS FIRST!
KIDS FIRST!® Kid Jurors say - I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a new film about the life of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest voices of any generation. It portrays Houston in a new and exciting way that all audiences will love to see.

Raised by famous singer Cissy Houston (Tamara Tunie), Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) had a powerful voice from the time she was little. After being discovered while singing in her mom's place by record executive Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci), Whitney quickly became a huge singer all across America and around the world. This movie follows her life from the beginning to the end and shows what happened behind the cameras, closely following her relationship with her husband, family, and friends.

Naomi Ackie's performance as Whitney Houston is breathtaking. You can tell she studied Houston very closely. Whitney's relationship with her best friend, Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams) is focused on very heavily in this film, and I loved it. There is lots of tension between the actors and it definitely makes the film better in so many ways. Another relationship that is focused on in this film is Houston's relationship with Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders). Ackie and Sanders both put lots of effort into their roles and it pays off. The film I Wanna Dance With Somebody does an astounding job when it comes to Whitney's performances. It feels like you're really there watching her perform. My favorite scene -- and it's really breathtaking to watch it.

The message of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is that fame can change a person's life for good and for bad. Whitney Houston got lots of money and fame from her singing career, but it also messed with her in horrible ways. A few things for parents watching with children to be aware of is that there is lots of swearing in this movie and drugs are used towards the end of the film.

I give I Wanna Dance With Somebody 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters December 23, 2022.

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


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