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Movie Review: Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons * Heartwarming Graphic Novel Sharing A Tale Of Friendship, Bravery And Discovery

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Movie Review: Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons * Heartwarming Graphic Novel Sharing A Tale Of Friendship, Bravery And Discovery

Making friends can be hard for a nervous bear, even at summer camp. But Frank’s about to discover a mystery… and the camp needs him to save the day!

Frank is perhaps the most un-bear-like bear Camp Jay Bird has ever seen. Actually, he’s probably the ONLY bear Camp Jay Bird has ever seen. And there are tons of bugs, he’s getting picked on, and he can’t seem to earn a single badge! But there’s Ricky, an excitable little raccoon who shares Frank’s love of Mega Bunny comics. But Ricky’s friendship might be more than Frank can handle. After breaking camp rules, getting lost in the woods, and discovering ancient secrets about the long-forgotten Order of the Night Jay, how will Frank explain all this to his dad?

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nyara A. comments, “Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons is a heartwarming graphic novel that shares a tale of friendship, bravery, and discovery. Through detailed and colorful graphics, the reader journeys with a bear named Frank during his first experience at summer camp.” See her full review and interview below.

Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons by Jonathan Schnapp

By Nyara A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons is a heartwarming graphic novel that shares a tale of friendship, bravery, and discovery. Through detailed and colorful graphics, the reader journeys with a bear named Frank during his first experience at summer camp. My favorite parts of the book are the letters that Frank sends to his father describing his daily adventures.

Order of the Night Jay follows the protagonist Frank, a shy, anxious bear, who is just looking for some friends. Because he is the only big animal at camp he feels out of place. Teased due to his size, he worries whether he will ever fit in. When he meets Ricky, an extroverted and bubbly racoon, his whole outlook begins to change. On an overnight trip, the two friends discover a secret code. What does this code mean? And most importantly, where will this code lead them?

Author Jonathan Schnapp engages the reader with earthy and original graphics. Even though the characters are animals, the drawing style makes their emotions relatable and their facial expressions almost human. By using letters home, we get a glimpse into Frank’s mind. And Frank writes his own comic, within the comic, so we are able to see the creativity behind his quiet and shy facade. The words he uses are ones we have used or could easily relate to. Each of the characters has a unique backstory and graphics, too.

This book is perfectly suited for any child who is about to start something new, like a new school year, a new activity after school, or even going to summer camp for the first time. The graphics are most appropriate for elementary school-aged children. The story could start a little more quickly, so I would encourage readers to keep going because the story gets good!

I give Order of the Night Jay: The Forest Beckons 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. It is available September 20, 2022 at online retailers and in bookstores.

Keywords: detective, adventure, camp, animals, friendship, prejudice, campfire story, thrilling series, cliffhanger

Movie Review: Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy * Adorable, Impeccably-Filmed Sci-Fi Adventure

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Movie Review: Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy * Adorable, Impeccably-Filmed Sci-Fi Adventure

After losing his mother to illness and his best friend to an unexpected move, a young boy discovers a crashed spaceship and makes a new friend with awesome powers (although she does need a little help with her earthly social skills). Together, they embark on a zany, fun-filled adventure while taking on the bad guys and helping Maika find her way home.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy is an adorable and impeccably-filmed story of friendship and exploration. It’s the perfect sci-fi adventure for the whole family this September.” See his full review below. 

Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy 

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy is an adorable and impeccably-filmed story of friendship and exploration. It’s the perfect sci-fi adventure for the whole family this September.

Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy follows the story of Hung (Phu Truong Lai), a young boy in Vietnam. After Hung’s mother Hang (Elyse Dinh) passes away from lung disease, and he loses his best friend My to an unexpected move to Saigon, he discovers a crashed spaceship and makes a new friend, Maika (Chu Diep Anh), with powers. Together, they embark on fun-filled adventures while taking on various villains like the head of an aeronautical company before helping Maika find her way back to her home planet.

Ham Tran’s direction truly ties this film together; even though the film is based on a Czechoslovakian TV series that became a cultural sensation in Vietnam in the 1980s and ‘90s, it comes across as an original film. My favorite part of the film was the special effects, as I think it should be in a sci-fi film. When Maika does her “magic,” purple beams emanate from her fingers; it is beautiful! The performances by Chu Diep Anh as Maika and Hung by Phu Truong Lai steal the show; I was moved by Lai’s emotive performance in the initial scenes where his mother is hospitalized, and An’s chirpy, bubbly character stole my heart.

Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy promotes finding your own adventures, fostering positive friendships, and overall being a good, virtuous person. There is one scene to watch out for where Maika, unaware of Earthly social norms about clothing, pounces on Hung naked; she is shown from the neck up, though.

I give Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 8 to 12.  Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy debuts on digital outlets on September 6, 2022.

Trailer:

Keywords: Phy Truong Lai, Elyse Dinh, Chu Diep Anh, spaceship, sci-fi, adventure, Czechoslovakian, television, magic, surprise, movie reviews,by kids for kids, maica the girl from another galaxy, alien, Vietnam

Movie Review: Gutsy * Very Empowering Show That Highlights Known And Unknown Women Heroes

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Movie Review: Gutsy * Very Empowering Show That Highlights Known And Unknown Women Heroes

What does it really mean to be gutsy? Join Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton on an unforgettable adventure to ask some of the world’s boldest and bravest women how they embody gutsiness. Inspired by the Clintons’ acclaimed New York Times bestselling book, “The Book of Gutsy Women,” the docuseries features Hillary and Chelsea as they embark on a thought-provoking journey to speak with pioneering women artists, activists, community leaders and everyday heroes who show us what it truly means to be gutsy. Joining the Clintons are a number of extraordinary, courageous, and resilient women who have made an impact in their community and on the world, including Megan Thee Stallion, Dr. Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and many more.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S., comments, “Gutsy is a documentary series worth the watch! It’s a very empowering show for women that highlights household-name heroes and well as several unrecognized heroes.” See her full review below.

Gutsy

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

Gutsy is a documentary series worth the watch! It’s a very empowering show for women that highlights household-name heroes and well as several unrecognized heroes.

Gutsy follows former first lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, as they meet “gutsy” women and answer the question: what it means to be “gutsy”. They share the interesting and inspiring stories of admirable women throughout eight episodes.

The documentary is based on The New York Times’ best-selling book, The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite stories of Courage and Resilience, authored by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Some of the episodes include Gutsy Women Have the Last Laugh, Gutsy Women Refuse Hate, and Gutsy Women Seek Justice. Other topics explored include women being rebellious, taking leaps of faith, exhibiting their strengths and motherhood. It’s fascinating to hear stories about people you didn’t know outside of movies and shows, or even at all. Some of the interviewees include Dr. Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Megan Thee Stallion, Goldie Hawn, Amy Schumer, Kate Hudson, Wanda Sykes, along with many more accomplished women. Hillary and Chelsea Clinton are such natural hosts and make it easy to enjoy watching them.                                         

The main messages are to be “gutsy” and to not let your hard times define you. There is profanity, and mature topics are discussed.

I give Gutsy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. This movie comes out on Apple TV+ September 9, 2022.

Trailer:

Keywords: movie reviews,by kids for kids, Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Megan Thee Stallion, Goldie Hawn, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Dr. Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Kate Hudson, apple tv, bill Clinton, apple tv+, Clinton, celebrities, secretary of state,2016 election, Donald trump, Hillary Clinton speech, daughter, docuseries, democratic national convention, Trevor Noah interview

Movie Review: Ivy + Bean * Buckle Your Seat Belts, Because Ivy And Bean Are Two Best Friends That Take The Audience On A Crazy Ride

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Movie Review: Ivy + Bean * Buckle Your Seat Belts, Because Ivy And Bean Are Two Best Friends That Take The Audience On A Crazy Ride

Two unlikely friends, the loud and fearless Bean, and the thoughtful and quiet Ivy. Yet the two discover that an adventure can reveal that even seemingly different people can become the best of friends.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Ivy + Bean is a three part movie series based on the iconic Ivy + Bean children’s book series. Full of talented actors and a nostalgic plot, everyone can find something they enjoy in Ivy + Bean. Buckle your seat belts, because Ivy and Bean are two best friends that take the audience on a crazy ride.” See her full review and interview below.  

Ivy + Bean

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 15

Ivy + Bean is a three part movie series based on the iconic Ivy + Bean children’s book series. Full of talented actors and a nostalgic plot, everyone can find something they enjoy in Ivy + Bean. Buckle your seat belts, because Ivy and Bean are two best friends that take the audience on a crazy ride.

Ivy + Bean is about two young girls with very different personalities. Ivy (Keslee Blalock) is quiet and reserved, while Bean (Madison Skye) is loud, outgoing, and a risk taker. At first, the two want nothing to do with each other. But once they realize they have a similar imagination, they become best friends and find themselves on plenty of adventures.

Ivy + Bean is a great family friendly movie to watch when you’re just looking for some fun. The set design of Ivy + Bean is very well done, especially Ivy and Bean’s houses. Both houses and the girls’ rooms have a different tone, which highlights the differences between the two. Ivy has a lot of spells and ingredients in her room, but it is also neat. Meanwhile, Bean’s room is animal themed and relatively more chaotic than Ivy’s. This displays how Ivy is more reserved and organized and Bean is more wild and daring. We can also find examples of descriptive backgrounds in Ivy and Bean’s backyards. Ivy has this nice area she calls her secret garden with paper butterflies and flowers that she takes Bean to. However, Bean mostly stays in her backyard with holes that she’s dug and her tree houses. Props to the set and production designers for using these elements to expand the story. Having too many movies can sometimes backfire if they’re long and don’t have an interesting plot. However, the three Ivy + Bean movies have perfect continuity and each one brings something new. My personal favorite is the second movie, The Ghost That Had to Go, because of the involvement of all of the new characters and the craziness of trying to get rid of the ghost.

The message of Ivy + Bean is that having a big imagination and being willing to try new things can lead you to greatness. Both Ivy and Bean were hesitant before becoming friends. When they finally tried to see eye to eye, they realized that they have a lot in common, and could be a better duo than they thought.

I give Ivy + Bean 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. You can find all three Ivy + Bean movies on Netflix on September 2, 2022. So make sure you check it out!

Keywords: movie reviews,by kids for kids, Elisa Down, Annie Barrows, Jeff Stock well, Kathy Waugh, Jane Lynch, Sasha Pierterse, Nia Vardalos, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jaycie Dotin, Marci T. House, Lidya Jewett, Kesee Blalock, Cheyenne Rouleau, Garfield Wilson, Madison Skye Validum, Jesse Gervasi, Autumn Thom, Ava Marchfelder, Innocent Ekakitie, Mia Swami Nathan, Marlee Walchuk

Movie Review: Pinocchio * Best Film Of The Year! Beloved Pinocchio Graces Screens In This Beautiful Live Action + CGI Retelling From Disney

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Movie Review: Pinocchio * Best Film Of The Year! Beloved Pinocchio Graces Screens In This Beautiful Live Action + CGI Retelling From Disney

A live action and CGI retelling of the beloved tale of a wooden puppet who embarks on a thrilling adventure to become a real boy. Other characters include Geppetto, the woodcarver who builds and treats Pinocchio as if he were his real son; Jiminy Cricket, who serves as Pinocchio’s guide as well as his “conscience”; the Blue Fairy; “Honest” John; Sofia the Seagull and The Coachman.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Our favorite wooden puppet, Pinocchio, is headed your way more real than ever in Disney’s upcoming musical adventure of the same name! Fans will get to enjoy a breathtaking new version of the song “Wish Upon a Star,” live-action adventures, and real-life CGI elements with this new adaptation of Pinocchio’s story.” Heather S. adds, “The best film of the year arrives! The beloved tale Pinocchio graces screens once more in this beautiful live action plus CGI retelling from Disney. Audiences will fall in love with this story all over again.”  Nathalia J. wraps it up with, “The upcoming musical fantasy film Pinocchio, by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, is engaging and fulfilling. This nearly two-hour long film brings viewers back to the original 1940 film, with a bit of a twist on the backstory and characters alongside Pinocchio. The film offers a legendary cast, which includes Tom Hanks (Geppetto), Keegan-Michael Key (The Fox), Luke Evans (The Coachman), and more.” See their full reviews below.  

Pinocchio
By Tiana S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Our favorite wooden puppet, Pinocchio, is headed your way more real than ever in Disney’s upcoming musical adventure of the same name! Fans will get to enjoy a breathtaking new version of the song “Wish Upon a Star,” live-action adventures, and real-life CGI elements with this new adaptation of Pinocchio’s story. We even get to learn how he gets his name. Pinocchio is perfect for the entire family to enjoy.

Narrated by Jiminy Cricket, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the film follows elderly woodcarver Geppetto (Tom Hanks) as he creates a kind-hearted puppet named Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) from white pine to become the son he never had. One night, Geppetto wishes upon a star for his creation to come to life. The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) later appears in a stunning illuminated blue fairy dress to make his wish come true. Pinocchio must now prove he is brave, truthful and unselfish, so he can become a real boy, which sends him on an adventure full of mischief.

Academy Award® winner Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks have created another stellar film together. Pinocchio is the star, but his “conscience,” Jiminy Cricket, also plays a key role in protecting him and guiding him to make the right decisions. He has his hands full as Pinocchio’s journey leads him to join a puppet show, get swallowed by a whale, and narrowly avoid being turned into a donkey. Tom Hanks gives a phenomenal performance as Geppetto and shows his acting mastery as the sole actor onscreen, with all the other characters appearing in CGI. He is almost unrecognizable as Geppetto. One of my favorite parts is when all of Geppetto’s clocks go off at the same time and each one has a connection to a Disney character or film. It was fun guessing the different films. The film stays true to the vibrant period-specific costumes that the characters wear. The music numbers and performances are engaging and fun.

Blue Fairy delivers the message of Pinocchio herself when she tells Pinocchio that, regardless of what you are made of; it’s what in your heart that counts. Pinocchio’s mission is based on him wanting to become a real boy to make his father proud of him, but learns that what is your heart and what you do with your life matters most.

I give Pinocchio 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. Pinocchio’s journey to becoming a real boy debuts on Disney+ September 8, 2022, as a Disney Day exclusive release. 

Pinocchio 
By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The best film of the year arrives! The beloved tale Pinocchio graces screens once more in this beautiful live action plus CGI retelling from Disney. Audiences will fall in love with this story all over again.

Pinocchio follows Geppetto (Tom Hanks), who builds a puppet in loving memory of his son who has passed away. He names the puppet Pinocchio, and wishes on the Blue Star to transform the puppet into a real boy. When the wish is granted, and Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) comes to life, he learns what it means to be “a real boy.” 

This movie captures viewers’ hearts and won’t let go. The CGI animation is a cross between realism and classic Disney style art. While Pinocchio is clearly made of wood, his face is sweet with bright and big blue eyes, and the way he moves and bounces along is the perfect combination of realistic and animated. Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the cutest insect you’ll ever see— adorable and witty. Every character has brilliant expressions. Pinocchio is wide-eyed and curious, and the Fox (Keegan-Michael Key) is creepy and bares his teeth every chance he gets. The filmmakers examine these characters deeply and emphasize their traits and personalities in their body movements and expressions. The writing is as creative as it gets. Jiminy makes hilarious jokes and side remarks, and there’s some modern comedy. Having comedian Keegan-Michael Key tell a Chris Pine joke is a highlight of the film. Another fantastic detail is all the clocks in Geppetto’s shop. At the stroke of midnight, some familiar faces like Simba, Snow White, and Roger Rabbit appear. Keep your eyes open to spot all your favorite Disney characters.

Pinocchio has had several retellings since the iconic animated film in 1940. However, many studios don’t understand how to handle the story. Pinocchio will look too realistic, and it becomes very creepy and unsettling, or the theme of film won’t strike audiences as it should. Having the tale of Pinocchio back in the hands of Walt Disney Studios and Robert Zemeckis at the helm proves that, fittingly, Disney filmmakers best grasp the concept of what the story is all about.

The lesson Pinocchio learns is that it’s what’s in your heart that counts, not what you’re made of. Pinocchio always believed that to be considered a real boy, he would have to transform from puppet to real boy; and to do this, Pinocchio has to prove that he understands the emotions and has the conscience of a real boy. Pinocchio grasps the concept of what it means to love and have friends, and he realizes that’s enough for him. 

I give Pinocchio 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

Pinocchio
By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The upcoming musical fantasy film Pinocchio, by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, is engaging and fulfilling. This nearly two-hour long film brings viewers back to the original 1940 film, with a bit of a twist on the backstory and characters alongside Pinocchio. The film offers a legendary cast, which includes Tom Hanks (Geppetto), Keegan-Michael Key (The Fox), Luke Evans (The Coachman), and more.

The storyline follows Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as he embarks on a thrilling adventure to fulfill his one true dream of becoming a real boy. Tom Hanks as Geppetto, the woodcarver, builds and treats Pinocchio as if he were his real son. The turning point in this film arrives as Pinocchio and his “conscience,” Jiminy Cricket, both end up trapped in some sort of containment. After Jiminy Cricket is finally able to free himself, he immediately rushes to help Pinocchio. After being set free, they decide to make a run for it and get Pinocchio home. However, their plan quickly goes wrong and viewers will see in what way.

My favorite character is Jiminy Cricket (Jimmy Gordon-Levitt.) Jiminy, the long-time fan favorite, is not only Pinocchio’s “guide” and sidekick, but Pinocchio also views him as a best friend. Jiminy’s ultimate goal is to help Pinocchio become a real boy. However, with Jiminy’s dedication to Pinocchio known to those who don’t agree with Pinocchio’s wish, such as Mangiafuoco, Jiminy becomes a threat which doesn’t make his job to help Pinocchio any easier. Even though he is put in multiple difficult situations, Jiminy still manages to always find a way out with Pinocchio and proves his unmatched loyalty and resilience. 

 My favorite part of Pinocchio is the moment Pinocchio and Jiminy reunite with Pinocchio’s father. It is the exact moment I feel a gush of hope and eagerness that Pinocchio will finally get his chance at his dream. Shortly after, this hope is diminished by uncertainty after his father is severely injured. However, through the power of his singing and with a single teardrop, Pinocchio is able to bring his father back—for me, those 15 minutes were the most aching and nerve-racking moments of the entire film. Finally, Pinocchio and his father embark toward home. Although he doesn’t get exactly what he wants, Pinocchio gets his family back.

Pinocchio has many unexpected moments that will inspire different emotions. The message of this film is: You may not always get precisely what you wish for, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and decide if what you want is what you truly need.

I give Pinocchio 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This film is set to be released on Disney + on September 8, 2022. Make sure to check it out!

Trailer:

Keywords: Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, keegan-Michael Key, Cynthia Erivo, Luke Evans, Lorraine Bracco, Kyanne Lamaya, Lewin Lloyd, animation, CGI

Movie Review: Growing Up * Very Touching, Well Thought Out Docu-Series With So Many Inspiring Stories

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Movie Review: Growing Up * Very Touching, Well Thought Out Docu-Series With So Many Inspiring Stories

Growing Up is an innovative hybrid docu-series that explores the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming of age stories. The series uses narrative, experimental, and documentary filmmaking to follow one casted individual, ages 18 to 22, as they tell their story. They represent a wide range of lived experiences, giving audiences emotionally powerful narratives that offer an engaging look at teenage-hood and the diverse social, familial, and internal obstacles young people face on their path to self-discovery and acceptance. Each 30-minute episode features one young person, or “hero,” and their experience growing up. Each episode is anchored by a deeply personal interview that allows our heroes to walk us through their childhood and teenage years. Alongside these interviews, creative cinematic reenactments help bring their major inflection points to life.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think. Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one’s younger self.” See her full review and interviews below.

Growing Up 

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

Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think.

This series, created by Brie Larson, is about a lot of different heroes including Gavin Arneson whose story is about poverty, Sofia Ongele whose story is about meeting expectations and Amiri Nash whose story is about growing up Black and gay, along with many others. They all share their stories of growing up that ranges from living in poverty, or depression, and of friendship. Throughout this series there are many different lessons and stories to be learned and shared.

Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one’s younger self. There is often an actor portraying the younger version of the person speaking and we see them hug or hold hands with each other. There are also many different reenactments that enhance the way the person’s story is told like a prom scene or a summer camp scene. One scene that is particularly striking is in the Gavin episode, the last episode of the season, when he gives his graduation speech. Instead of finding the actual people that were there, the other heroes are listening to him. Then, to top the whole scene off, we see actual footage from his graduation speech.

Another thing that impressed me is how these heroes are willing to share their stories. It can often be frightening to share your personal life story on screen for so many to see, and these heroes really stepped up to the plate. Another big part of this series is having a room where all the heroes sit to tell each other their stories; this room is shown repeatedly throughout the series and often heroes from different episodes talk to the hero currently sharing their story.

The message of this docu-series is to always be yourself, love yourself and know you are never alone.

I give Growing Up 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. This series begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

Keywords: movie reviews,by kids for kids, growing up disney +,Growing UP, Nicole Galovski, Kishori Rajan, Smriti Mundhra, Ashley Eakin, Gavin Arneson, Ekwa Msangi, Elegance Bratton, Amiri Nash, Vanessa Aryee, Rudy Valdez, Brie Larson, Alex Crotty, Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino, Emily Flores, Yara Shahidi, Sofia Ongele

Movie Review: Cars on the Road * Perfect For Younger Viewers – Colorful Animation, Short Stories And Catchy Tunes

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Movie Review: Cars on the Road * Perfect For Younger Viewers – Colorful Animation, Short Stories And Catchy Tunes

Set months after Cars 3, the new series follows Lightning McQueen and his best friend Mater on a cross-country road trip across the United States as they journey eastward to attend a wedding for Mater’s sister. The episodes depict the characters in various scenarios, for example, them being chased by dinosaur-like cars. It is set in new locations with a multitude of new characters, including their new friend Ivy, a girl monster truck who travels with them, as well as featuring the return of already established characters from the franchise.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “With nine episodes ranging around ten minutes in length, this show is perfect for pre-existing Cars fans and younger kids. The catchy tunes are a wonderful backing for the colorful animation and short stories happening on screen.” See her full review below.

Cars on the Road

By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 13

Get ready to go “Lightning” fast when you watch Cars on the Road, a new spinoff series from Disney/Pixar. With nine episodes ranging around ten minutes in length, this show is perfect for pre-existing Cars fans and younger kids. The catchy tunes are a wonderful backing for the colorful animation and short stories happening on screen. Get comfortable in your seat because Cars on the Road will keep you riveted with its action and adventure.

Cars on the Road follows Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as they go on a long road trip to attend Mater’s sister’s wedding. A distinct mini-plot takes up the majority of each individual episode, with the only overlapping plot points being the roadtrip. One of the best episodes involves a well-developed character who discovers her inner self and finds where she belongs. With appearances of other characters from the original Cars movies, as well as many brand new characters, Cars on the Road is sure to keep you watching.

Cars on the Road has some of the most real looking, 3D-seeming animation I’ve ever seen. In one of the episodes, Lightning and Mater arrive at a speed stop, where cars are getting attachments in order to drive faster. They stop to talk and there’s a building and trees in the background. It is truly stunning how much the cars look like they are popping off the screen. The animation throughout the show is also colorful and fun, setting a cheerful tone. However, when the show hits a couple of dark moments, that cheerful color vanishes, replaced by a dark and gloomy feel. So, not only is the animation pleasing for the eyes, it helps to tell the story with changes in moods. On the other side of things, the music is so upbeat and fun. It’s engaging and catchy. The theme song that plays at the beginning of each episode is the perfect short clip for this show. On top of that, there are a few other songs spread throughout that have to do with that episode’s story. They are naturally included, and I always look forward to when the next song will appear. The animated dancing that goes along with these songs is also pretty brilliant. To put a cherry on top, the acting performances are wonderful. A few of the original Cars actors star in this show, as well as plenty of actors new to the Cars world. They make their characters’ personalities funny, vulnerable, sweet and always lovable by kids. One character and acting performance that stands out as adding positive energy to the show is Ivy, who is played by Quinta Brunson. She gives the already lively character her own personal spark. Ivy truly shines throughout the show.

Cars on the Road is definitely a perfect pick for a young child. There are vital messages that are clearly conveyed in each episode. Sometimes, the characters even talk about that episode’s lesson and reflect on how they could’ve been a better friend or sister. Among many others, teamwork, healthy friendships and knowing that your opinion isn’t the only opinion are some of the primary themes of Cars on the Road.

I give Cars on the Road 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8.  Three-two-one-GO! have some fun watching Cars on the Road exclusively on Disney+ beginning September 8, 2022.

Trailer:

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Movie Review: Songbirds * Touching Documentary About The World’s Largest Collection Of Vintage Guitars Housed In Songbirds Museum In Chattanooga, TN

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Movie Review: Songbirds * Touching Documentary About The World’s Largest Collection Of Vintage Guitars Housed In Songbirds Museum In Chattanooga, TN

The Songbirds guitar museum hosted the world’s largest collection of vintage guitars. Covid-19’s devastating blow to the music industry forced the museum to permanently close. This documentary film explores the final hours and cultural impact of this special collection.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “Songbirds is a touching documentary film about the world’s largest collection of vintage guitars housed in the museum of the same name located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The film is written and directed by Dagan Beckett, who has a special connection with the place and was able to write, produce and film the documentary in record time: just two weeks before the museum closed its doors in 2020.” See her full review and interview below.

Songbirds

By Zoë C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Songbirds is a touching documentary film about the world’s largest collection of vintage guitars housed in the museum of the same name located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The film is written and directed by Dagan Beckett, who has a special connection with the place and was able to write, produce and film the documentary in record time: just two weeks before the museum closed its doors in 2020. The result is a love letter to the guitars, to his hometown and to a legacy that extends the life of the museum in a sort of digital memento.

Beckett is a professional musician and also a filmmaker, so combining both disciplines generates a fascinating work for all music lovers, young and old. Over 1,500 guitars, including rare and vintage are part of the collection and displayed throughout the film. The narration combines interviews with historians, artists, visitors and workers with footage of the museum with music clips of live bands that performed at the venue. The audience discovers how guitars are made, how they change through the years and why they mean so much to artists. Opened in 2017 and closed due to the pandemic, Songbirds was a museum like no other, but the maintenance of these relics requires a lot of effort and the operative cost was impossible to maintain during the pandemic, forcing Songbirds to close and relocate the guitars.

What I love the most is how Songbirds captures the emotion of how visitors experienced the opportunity to visit, work or simply be around this unprecedented collection of guitars that hold so much history and beauty. The documentary provides the viewer with the joy of discovering all these treasures, and the stories behind them, which produces a connection to these guitars through images and testimonies. For musicians like Joe Bonamassa, Vince Gill, John 5 and John Schneider, among others, Songbirds was like an artist’s playground—while having all these special guests in the film sharing their thoughts was another challenge for the director.

Songbirds has received five awards including a regional EMMY in the Documentary Film-Topical category and is part of the official selection of multiple film festivals around the world. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.  Songbirds is now available on multiple streaming platforms in VOD including iTunes.

Trailer:

Keywords: movie reviews,by kids for kids, songbirds, songbirds documentary, Dagan beckett, beckett media productions, beckett, Joe Bonamassa, Vince Gill, John 5,John Schneider, sdfguitars, guitar museum, Chattanooga Tennessee, documentary, Emmy

Movie Review: Gigi & Nate * Uplifting Movie With An Encouraging Message And Elicits A Range Of Emotions

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Movie Review: Gigi & Nate * Uplifting Movie With An Encouraging Message And Elicits A Range Of Emotions

Nate Gibson’s life is turned upside down after he suffers a near-fatal illness and is left a quadriplegic. Moving forward seems impossible until he meets his unlikely service animal, Gigi – a curious and intelligent capuchin monkey – who helps Nate find what he needs most: hope.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Gigi & Nate is an uplifting movie with an encouraging message. This movie will put you through a range of emotions, and may even bring on the “waterworks.” See her full review and talent interview below.

Gigi & Nate

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

Gigi & Nate is an uplifting movie with an encouraging message. This movie will put you through a range of emotions, and may even bring on the “waterworks.”

After barely surviving a tragic accident that left him paralyzed, Nate Gibson (Charlie Rowe) has nothing worth living for, until he meets Gigi, a capuchin monkey. The two develop an inseparable bond, but not everyone’s a fan of the relationship. Can Gigi and Nate stay together?   

This movie is inspired by the organization Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled which helps to match people with disabilities to monkeys who will help them in their day to day life. The special effects are so impressive as I could barely tell when it switched from CGI to real life. Allie (who plays Gigi), the adorable capuchin monkey, makes her acting debut in this movie, and she is trained incredibly well. Too bad for Allie that there aren’t Oscars for animals, because she would win one! Kudos to Allie’s trainers for making her actions seem so organic and natural! The chemistry with Charlie Rowe (Nate) and Allie feels so real that sometimes I forget I’m watching a fictional movie and not a documentary.                        

The primary message of Gigi & Nate is to never give up – whether that means on yourself or on something you believe in. This movie has some profanity, alcohol consumption and attempted suicide.

I give Gigi & Nate 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Gigi and Nate comes out in theaters September 2, 2022.

Trailer:

Keywords: Nick Hamm, David Hudgins, Rene Beson, Piers Tempest, Charlie Rowe, Josephine Langford, Zoe Margarat, Marcia Gay Harden, Jim Belushi, Diane Ladd, Olly Sholotan, Kevin J.O. Connor, Hannah Alligood, Welker White, Mishel Prada, Tara Summers, Hannah Riley, Deja Dee, Maria Howell, Sasha Compere, Emilion Garcia-Sanchez, Sarah Stouffer, Gillian Rabin

Movie Review: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law * An Adrenaline-Fueled, Adventurous Journey That Jumps Into Action From the Get Go!

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Movie Review: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law * An Adrenaline-Fueled, Adventurous Journey That Jumps Into Action From the Get Go!

In Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) –an attorney specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases –must navigate the complicated life of a single, 30-something who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sydney S. comments, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a series that jumpstarts into action. It’s an adrenaline-fueled, adventurous journey that ties into Marvel superhero movies. The series tells the engaging story about a lawyer who might lose her job due to some very interesting conditions.” See her full review below.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a series that jumpstarts into action. It’s an adrenaline-fueled, adventurous journey that ties into Marvel superhero movies. The series tells the engaging story about a lawyer who might lose her job due to some very interesting conditions.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law features Jennifer Walters, an attorney living in Los Angeles. Jen happens to be the cousin of Bruce Banner (the Hulk). Unexpectedly, Jen and Bruce got into a car crash. After the crash, some of Bruce’s blood got into Jen’s wounds, which caused her to transform into an adapted version of the Hulk—hence, the name She-Hulk. 

The main characters in this series are She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga), Titania (Jameela Jamil) and Abomination (Tim Roth). These actors impersonate their characters incredibly well. Additionally, the sets and animation are extremely realistic. When there is a fight, the animation made my heart beat super fast. In the first episode, my favorite part is when Bruce is training Jen to learn how to control the intense amount of strength she has. After demonstrating how to throw boulders, for example, she adapts quickly, and sometimes even does the exercise better than the Hulk himself. I also appreciate the quote when Bruce proclaims that what triggers turning into a hulk is anger and fear, and Jen responds, “Those are like the baseline of any women existing.” It’s hilarious and also true. I would recommend watching previous Marvel movies, especially the ones that include the Hulk. However, it’s not a necessity, although it would help knowing the backstory of how hulks were created.

The message of this series is that females can be strong, too. I believe that the “She-Hulk” nickname isn’t merely random, but has a meaning to it, which is female empowerment. Furthermore, this series establishes that women’s emotions are normal, and that it is okay to have strong feelings, including anger. There is a lot of fighting and violence, and it has rough language. If young kids have seen other Marvel movies with parent/guardian approval, they should be fine watching this series.

I give She-Hulk: Attorney at Law 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law begins streaming on Disney+ August 18, 2022. Each upcoming episode streams every Thursday after that.

TRAILER:

Keywords:  Kat Coiro, Anu Valia, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winder Baum, Kat Coiro, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth, Benedict Wong, Jameela Jamil, Josh Segarra, Ginger Gonzaga, Jon Bass, Renée Elise Goldsberry

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