9/11 from the President’s perspective, with exclusive access to information from the one’s that had to take decisions during the World Trade Center’s attack. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room was created.” See his full review below.
9/11: Inside The President’s War Room By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
In 2021, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the greatest American tragedies of the 21st century, the September 11 attacks. To help educate the public about exactly how this horrific event unfolded, the remarkably detailed documentary 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room was created.
Going minute by minute, hour by hour, 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room offers two narratives, following the president’s actions, thoughts, and movements, and the developing situation in New York City.
President George W. Bush was interviewed for this film and his impeccable memory of the day and skilled delivery make the documentary even more unique. His impassioned vow to bring Al-Qaeda to justice, his struggle to keep his anger in check, and his helplessness as he was flown around the country to avoid a rumored attack on Air Force One show exactly how novel this crisis was. The film includes high-quality archival footage and the perspectives of individuals like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Ted Olson, as well as the president and vice president’s chief of staff. I’ve never seen a more thoroughly researched and impeccably pieced-together documentary. The many perspectives from all these individuals contribute to a strong narrative that captures you from minute one. Each interview is compelling and the editing cuts between medium shots of the individuals and archival footage, creating an immersive and truly “in the room” experience. The background music complements the film’s somber tone.
9/11: Inside The President’s War Room is a portrait of resilience, tact, patience and leadership. There is some mild profanity in the film as well as some footage of the Twin Towers collapsing with screams in the background.
I give 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room is available now on Apple TV+
Continuing the dramatic tale of survival revolving around three families of meerkats who are descendants of the legendary meerkat matriarch, Flower. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.” See his full review below.
Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty (2021) By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Many of us live in areas where Mother Nature brings a variety of seasons which exposes us to a wide array of ecosystems. Because we’re used to this variety, we have become incredibly curious about areas of the globe whose ecosystems are perhaps not as vast; one area in particular is the desert. With its harshly hot and dry climate, we know that anything able to withstand such brutal weather has to be an amazing creature and that’s one reason we have completely fallen for the South African meerkat. The documentary series Meerkat Manor has entertained us for over 15 years and has brought the wondrous secrets of the Kalahari Desert right into our homes. The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.
Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty follows three families of the most charismatic desert mammals and showcases their family dynamics. In the spotlight of this series is Swift, the granddaughter of the original Meerkat Manor Whisker family matriarch, Flower. We’ve waited 12 years to catch up on what the Whiskers, Hakuna Mata and Ubuntu families have been up to and there are many surprises within this series as some things have changed. The new series continues to show us just how difficult life in the desert can be, yet with the perfect family dynamics and role assignments, animals can overcome these challenges. Just like in our own lives, people compete for space, food, and other resources, the meerkat families are no different. These episodes highlight that, despite the fact that the meerkats share a common bloodline, individual survival and the survival of their family is their main concern.
There are a lot of great things about this series, but my favorite part is the character led story telling by narrator Bill Nighy. The series humanizes the meerkats and gives each their own entertaining personalities. There are heroes, villains, babysitters, a Romeo and Juliet pair, and so much more. These personalities are hilarious and interesting to watch. The cinematography is also fantastic with its capturing of some of the most harsh weather conditions on Earth. I especially enjoyed the scenes where the camera was placed deep within the meerkat burrows. Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty is a captivating series about the natural world and I appreciate its educational value.
The message of this series is about teamwork. Of course, family, culture and perseverance are worth mentioning here also; however, if this species didn’t have a system of working together, they could not thrive within their harsh ecosystem. Each meerkat has a specific role to support its family. They work cohesively in a variety of ways to assure the success of their family. Whether their role is one filled with drama or with entertainment, one thing is for certain – these desert dwellers are sure to tug at your heartstrings.
I give Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults, especially animal lovers and nature enthusiasts, will also love this series. Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty is available now on BBC American and AMC+. Episodes 7 and 8 are coming out on September 4 and September 9, 2021.
Come From Away is a 2021 American-Canadian musical film comprising a live stage recording of Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s 2017 musical of the same name, which tells the true story of 7,000 passengers who were stranded in a small town in Newfoundland, where they were housed and welcomed, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The film, produced in response to the shutdown of Broadway caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, was directed by Christopher Ashley and filmed in May 2021 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, featuring members of the Broadway cast. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch.” Avalon N. adds, “This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days.” See their full reviews below.
Come From Away By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch. Twenty years ago, on September 11, two planes crashed into the world famous twin towers in New York City, after they were high jacked. American air space was closed and all planes in the air were forced to land; thirty-eight of them were diverted to and stranded in Newfoundland, Canada. This story follows the passengers and crew from one of the planes as they come to terms with life in their new surroundings, while forming new relationships and bonding with the locals. This is the filmed version of the award-winning Broadway musical, filmed live on stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, which tells the story of those 7,000 stranded passenger. Throughout this film, twelve cast members each play a number of roles and it is very hard to single people out at times. All the characters are based on key individuals involved in the plane diversion. Some cast members who really stood out to me include: Jenn Colella who plays one of the pilots and a townsperson, Annette. She plays sets the bar very high for anyone who might play these roles in the future. Her amazing solos and riffs will knock your socks off. Sharon Wheatly plays Diane and Jim Walton plays Nick, two people who meet on one of the planes and, throughout their time in Newfoundland, start to feel a connection. Sharon and Jim are both very talented and share and amazing duet, “Stop the World.” The remaining cast members each bring something different to this amazing production in their own unique way, from comedy to heart-break. My favourite song is the opening song “Welcome to the Rock.” I love that it’s an upbeat dance number that introduces you to the cast and the characters they play. I don’t think I could choose a favourite part of the musical as all of it is just so interesting, moving and inspirational. The message of this film is to remember how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away or changed forever. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this tragic event over the past 20 years. I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It premieres September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.
Come From Away By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Come From Away is an amazing filmed version of the Broadway musical. With all the singing and dancing, this show is sure to get you up and dancing. This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days. This musical is different from most because there is no main character; every character is equally important. Also, all the actors play two roles, often both a passenger and a helpful Newfoundlander. The costume changes are incredible as they often do them while on stage, but that is so small that you might not notice it. Another cool thing is that in the back of the stage there is a door that some people walk through and then it shuts again, which I found intriguing. Some of my favorite characters are Kevin and Kevin, who are dating and Bonnie, who takes care of animals. One of my favorite scenes is when people are walking on chairs and others keep moving the chairs and the stage rotates so it looks like they are moving. It has so much music. I continued listening to it right after I finished watching the film and listened to it while i was writing this review. The message of this show is twofold. First, that you can make the best of any situation and second, when you can help others, try to help. I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It is available on Apple TV+ now.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a 2021 biographical coming-of-age musical comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Butterell (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Tom MacRae based on the stage musical of the same name, in turn adapted from the BBC Three documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. Despite obstacles, 16-year-old Jamie has the courage to fabulously follow his unconventional dream in this inspiring true story turned musical sensation.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the new musical film of the year! With music to get you on your feet and comedy that will make your stomach hurt, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is one to watch.” Eshaan M. adds, “A glittery, glamor-filled, unique and entertaining film, everyone is bound to be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie! The musical numbers, the classic plotline of a teen finding their place in the world, and lovely messages of having confidence in yourself and following your passion all make this production an especially fun watch. However, some directorial choices might cause you to divert your attention from what’s happening on screen.” Heather S. wraps it with, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the empowering spectacle everyone needs! With its amazing songs, incredible dresses and an iconic protagonist, the film will have you wanting to dance along at your nearest cabaret.” See their full reviews and talent interviews below.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Aged 12
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the new musical film of the year! With music to get you on your feet and comedy that will make your stomach hurt, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is one to watch.
Based on true events, the story follows Jamie New (Max Hardwood) , a sixteen-year-old boy with the passion to become a drag queen, and he gets help from a former drag queen. With his best friend, Pritti Pasha (Lauren Petal), he attempts to prove wrong the people who doubt him, including school bully Dean Paxton and his own father. Although his father has chosen to cut him out his life, his loving mother is always there to help.
Jamie New is a huge character. He has an answer for everything and always has some glitter to spare. As he attempts to become a drag queen he is more confident than ever. Hugo/Miss Loco Channel (Richard E. Grant) is a former drag queen who attempts to help Jamie as he sees him as the next generation and the future of drag. Pritti Pasha is definitely the brains of the duo. She is a high achiever and would never break the rules. The rest of the cast are incredible and every single character stands out.
The music in this film is from the original stage musical. My favourite song is the opening song, “And you don’t even know it.” It serves as an introduction to some of the characters and is an upbeat dance number that will have you dancing and singing along just like the rest of the soundtrack. My favourite part of the film is when Jamie realizes that all he wants is to be a drag queen and becomes Hugo’s trainee. As a result he starts saving for his very first drag queen dress – his mum already bought him the shoes.
The message of the film is to be who you want to be. Don’t let others pull you down from what you want to do, especially if it makes you happy. You should be aware that this film does contain very strong language.
I give Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie steps out of the darkness and into the spotlight on September 17, 2021 on Amazon Prime.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
A glittery, glamor-filled, unique and entertaining film, everyone is bound to be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie! The musical numbers, the classic plotline of a teen finding their place in the world, and lovely messages of having confidence in yourself and following your passion all make this production an especially fun watch. However, some directorial choices might cause you to divert your attention from what’s happening on screen.
The film follows Jamie New (Max Harwood), a gay 16-year-old boy from Sheffield, England, whose secret dream is to become a drag queen. His mom, Margaret (Sarah Lancashire), as well as his best friend and fellow outcast Pritti Pasha (Lauren Patel) support him, but his absentee father (Ralph Ineson), homophobic bully Dean Paxton (Samuel Bottomley) and future-focused career’s teacher Ms. Hedge (Sharon Horgan) all seem to be against Jamie. Mentored by former drag queen and current shopkeeper Hugo Battersby (Richard E. Grant), a.k.a. Loco Chanelle, Jamie embarks on a journey to discover his true identity, tearing down boundaries and burying toxic relationships along the way.
Max Harwood brings viewers along on his emotion-packed hero’s journey; he certainly steals the show. Besides Harwood, though, Lancashire’s portrayal of Margaret captures all of the motherly emotion that a sentimental coming-of-age story needs. The care between the two is palpable. Jonathan Buttrell makes his silver-screen directorial debut with this film, and his technique of capturing emotion is superb. Unfortunately, lighting, camera angles and focal choices leads to some distraction in some compelling moments. The score of the film, as with the musical version, is superb, but the sheer number of songs and usage of varied background tracks causes the film to drag as it nears the end. Nevertheless, the music is undoubtedly the highest point of the film.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie promotes acceptance, following your dreams and never being afraid to take a risk. There is some mild profanity in the film.
I give Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is available on Amazon Prime Video beginning September 17, 2021. Go check it out!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the empowering spectacle everyone needs! With its amazing songs, incredible dresses and an iconic protagonist, the film will have you wanting to dance along at your nearest cabaret.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the true story of Jamie New (Max Harwood) and adapted from the West End musical of the same name. Jamie was always taught to be conventional, to choose a “realistic” career and be basic like everyone else. On his sixteenth birthday, he realizes that’s not who he is, and decides to become a drag queen. The film has mind-blowing choreography with top-tier songs that pay homage to the musical.
This movie is a real Broadway show in your living room. The elaborate dance numbers with large groups of people, neon lights, phenomenal singing and fabulous drag dresses leave little to be desired. Jamie finds his way into the world with glamour and by making a statement. He encourages audiences globally to be yourself. Being a drag queen in the small town of Sheffield, England was very different. Jamie grows into the stunning personality of Fifi la True with the support of his amazing mother and friends. The film itself really proves how much effort the filmmakers put into their work. The movie shows the real truth of what it was like to be a drag queen in the past. Richard E. Grant is the best mentor Jamie could ever have. He explains his life in the 1980s reminding Jamie about the epic beginning of drag culture. He is so amazing; his fluid movements and the way he speaks just make you want to be his friend. Richard really worked hard on not making his character a parody of a drag queen, but reflect the beauty of a queen. He shows he has what it takes to be called Loco Chanelle, on and off the stage. The movie also has amazing cameos like the iconic queen Bianca Del Rio and Layton Williams, the star of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on West End.
The moral of this film is to always be yourself. Jamie never gave up on his dream of being a drag queen and most of all, he never gives up on being himself. He put in the effort of becoming an amazing queen, and working on himself. He always shines and never cares what others think.
I give Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 plus adults. It is available in theaters September 17, 2021.
The Croods: Family Tree continues the evolving story of the croods and Bettermans as they learn to live together on the most idle farm in prehistory. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: Family Tree is an amazing and hilarious show. With all the characters from the newest movie, this show is sure to get you laughing.” See her full review below.
The Croods: Family Tree By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: Family Tree is an amazing and hilarious show. With all the characters from the newest movie, this show is sure to get you laughing.
This show is about the prehistoric Croods living with the Bettermans. While the kids get along, the adults have their fair share of mishaps as they learn how to live together on a farm. In one episode they try to capture the punch monkeys; in another they get Dawn’s Grr back.
This show is so fun to watch because of its humor. No matter how many mishaps the make, they are always back for more and that makes this show engaging. It has an amazing group of voice actors. Tran reprises her role as Dawn; A.J. Locascio reprises his role as Thunk from Dawn of the Croods. The new voice cast features Amy Landecker as Ugga, Kiff VandenHeuvel as Grug, Ally Dixon as Eep, Artemis Pebdani as Gran, Darin Brooks as Guy, Matthew Waterson as Phil, and Amy Rosoff as Hope. All the voice talent excels at making the Croods sound prehistoric and the Bettermans sound “evolved,” as Hope would put it. Another great thing is the design of the farm they live on. It looks so amazing, like something you would want to live in, but if you look closer it is made out of things that were found in prehistoric times. The wall, the house and “The System” are made from bamboo and vines. The house is in a tree; so they live in a tree house. It also credits them with making a lot of things like windows, which are similar to TV and showers.
The message of this show is anyone can get along, no matter how different they are.
I give The Croods: Family Tree 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 6 to 14, plus adults can watch it with their kids on movie night. This is available on September 23th, 2021 on Hulu and Peacock.
Justin Bieber: Our World takes viewers backstage, onstage, and into the private world of the musical icon as he prepares for his unprecedented concert, “T-Mobile Presents New Year’s Eve Live with Justin Bieber.” After a three-year hiatus from a full performance, and with concert venues shut down due to the pandemic, Bieber delivers an electrifying show to close out 2020 on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests–and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. The film follows Bieber and his close-knit team in the month leading up to the show, as they rehearse and construct a monumental stage while adhering to strict health and safety protocols. The film also captures personal, self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Justin Bieber: Our World is one of the most immersive Belieber experiences out there – the film takes you backstage, onstage and into the private world of Justin Bieber in a beautifully produced 96 minute documentary.” Dominic D., adds, “There are many positive thoughts worth sharing about this film. First, I have a great deal of respect for Justin Bieber and his journey. He entered the industry as a child and dug his heels in to get where he is today. He has overcome many obstacles in his life, including performing for a world overcome by COVID, which is evident in this film.” See his full review below.
Justin Bieber: Our World By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Justin Bieber: Our World is one of the most immersive Belieber experiences out there – the film takes you backstage, onstage and into the private world of Justin Bieber in a beautifully produced 96 minute documentary. It’s certainly not a film to miss!
Viewers step into the shoes of Bieber and his team as they prepare for a record-breaking New Year’s Eve 2020 concert after a three-year hiatus. Due to pandemic protocols, Bieber plans to deliver his performance on top of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests and millions of fans watching via live stream. But setting the whole event up is certainly no easy task. Rehearsing, building a massive stage and light setup, and dealing with technology make the experience more than slightly stressful for the crew. The film also captures personal self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey through his own “vlog camera.” A good part of the film is composed of Bieber performing his songs.
The production quality of Justin Bieber: Our World is quite high, with candid perspectives captured in an organized fashion and organic cuts between songs and scenes. The genuine companionship and love Bieber’s crew has for him (and vice versa) shows on screen. It’s certainly heartwarming to see the small, sweet moments, like how Bieber’s choreographer is welcomed back on set after his quarantine.
Justin Bieber: Our World promotes teamwork, perseverance, patience and the importance of family.
I give Justin Bieber: Our World 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Justin Bieber: Our World premieres on Prime Video on October 6, 2021. Check it out!
Justin Bieber: Our World (2021) By Dominic DiGravio, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Last year was a year like no other. Humans across the globe had to adapt while taking a pause due to the pandemic and its lockdowns. For many of us, that was a difficult task. Many events came to a screeching halt including family and friend get togethers, holiday gatherings, and any entertainment outside the home. Life was as abnormal as it gets! We look forward to these events within our lives as they are what keep us laughing, smiling and connected to others. We had to get real creative in staying connected with love ones and that’s exactly what world superstar, Justin Bieber did in 2020 while ringing in the new year. Together with his dedicated team of music professionals, Bieber found a creative way to stay connected and share his talents with the world on a very special evening considering the strict guidelines of the pandemic.
Justin Bieber: Our World, is a new 90 minute documentary which highlights the recording of Bieber’s special evening and the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve concert. The film takes us behind-the-scenes and gives fans a look at the many efforts put forth by the Bieber team to produce an amazing show while following strict COVID health and safety procedures. The film documents a 30 day overview of the hard work and obstacles involved in the production of an event during this uncertain time. With little public entertainment going on during the pandemic, Bieber’s creative team found the perfect way to deliver this artist’s talents to fans globally in celebration of the New Year. Approximately 200 fans were able to view Bieber’s return to the stage from their socially distant balconies, while others around the world were able to watch a live stream of the concert from their homes. Above the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, this music artist did not disappoint his fans with his gift of 21 hits shared with the world.
There are many positive thoughts worth sharing about this film. First, I have a great deal of respect for Justin Bieber and his journey. He entered the industry as a child and dug his heels in to get where he is today. He has overcome many obstacles in his life, including performing for a world overcome by COVID, which is evident in this film. The film highlights so many of the moving parts that are put into play to produce entertainment. I appreciated seeing how all the various teams of professionals came together in order to put create such an amazing show. Most notable in this documentary are the choreography and dancers. A big “thumbs up” for Nick DeMoura, the lead choreographer on the Bieber Team, who created masterpiece dance routines for this concert. The dancers stole the show! As I’m more than a casual fan, I had hoped that this documentary would reflect more on the personal life of Bieber, rather than the film being almost entirely about this concert. There’s no doubt that Justin Bieber was born with a true gift and he’s a very talented individual, so whatever he is able of sharing with his fans – we’ll take it!
The message in Justin Bieber: Our World is the importance of teamwork and loyalty. Bieber’s team has been together since he became a super star and it is obvious that they have formed connections that are much more than professional. They work together through challenges and hard times, but always find ways to laugh and to build on their friendships. The message is also about commitment and mutual respect. These are two qualities which are desperately needed within this industry. Justin Bieber makes it very well known through his words and actions in the film that he values his team.
I give Justin Bieber: Our World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults and all Bieber fans will especially enjoy this documentary. Justin Bieber: Our World is streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Friends Marshall, Gilbert, and Amy accidentally revive and release a mummy from its sarcophagus in the days leading up to Halloween. At first terrified, they quickly learn that the Mummy who they affectionately name ‘Harold’ is actually very sweet and in dire need of assistance. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella M. comments, “Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel’s new Under Wraps movie! It’s got everything – action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!” See her full review below.
Under Wraps By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10
Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel’s new Under Wraps movie! It’s got everything – action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!
This storyline follows three friends, Marshall, Gilbert and Amy, who mysteriously find a mummy in their neighbor’s basement. Accidently bringing it to life, they discover he is a kind mummy. Most films describe mummies as horrid, brain-eating, dead monsters. But this movie is special because, its mummy is not like the others. He is a kindhearted, affectionate and friendly mummy, ready to help his friends with anything that may come next. Upon finding out that their new friend Harold, the mummy, will turn to dust if not put back in his sarcophagus by midnight on Halloween, the three friends do everything to save their new mummy friend.
You’ll love the main characters. Marshall (Malachi Bartoh) is a sci-fi, monster enthusiast. Gilbert (Christian J. Simon) is a scared, yet honest friend. He is always trying to help his friends and embraces people for whom they really are throughout the movie. Amy (Sophia Hammons) wants to solve mysteries and get the inside scoop. She dreams of becoming an investigative journalist. Even though she’s the new kid in town, she is bold and is not afraid to stand up for what is right. Malachi Barton connects with his character, Marshall, in a believable way. Christian J. Simon’s Gilbert is very funny; Christian is funny in real life as well. He makes giving a solid, amazing, thorough performance look easy. Sophia Hammons gives a dynamic, well thought out performance and shows the variety of ways she can connect with different emotions while portraying Amy. The costume for Harold is well thought out, with incredible special effects. He looks and seems like an actual mummy. My favorite character is Amy because she is very brave, incredibly smart and she is not afraid to speak her mind.
This message is to embrace people’s differences and to not judge a book by its cover. When Harold is brought back to life after thousands of years, people seem to fear him – when he’s really trying to help them out. You discover that all Harold wants is a friend and our three friends learn to accept him for who he is on the inside, beyond his wrapped-up-mummy-outside.
I give Under Wraps 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Under Wraps is available now on Disney Channel and Disney plus. This is a movie you don’t want to miss!
David Giovanni is living on the streets of New York, determined to stay together with his beloved cat Lucky. When he’s finally granted a spot in a transitional housing facility that accepts cats, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating medical diagnosis puts his future together with Lucky in doubt. David’s journey is interspersed with portraits of other “cat dads” from all over the country and some who struggle to navigate the unprecedented events of 2020 with their little furry friends. They include a group of firefighters, a stunt man, a truck driver, a Bay Area tech worker, a schoolteacher whose cat becomes a viral sensation, and an actor/Instagram influencer. These men couldn’t be more different, but they share an unconditional love of their beloved pets. Cat Daddies is a refreshing and timely exploration of modern masculinity and the unlikely bond between man and cat. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like the documentary Cat Daddies because it documents different cat adoptions or rescues, especially by men, and each one of their stories is a heartwarming story that touches you. I liked seeing each one of these men and their cats bond and their journey.” See his full review below.
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 13
I like the documentary Cat Daddies because it documents different cat adoptions or rescues, especially by men, and each one of their stories is a heartwarming story that touches you. I liked seeing each one of these men and their cats bond and their journey.
This documentary is about different men or “cat dads” rescuing or adopting kittens from the streets. The film takes place in different states including California, New York, South Carolina and Arizona. You will enjoy different stories of an actor who adopts four cats and becomes an influencer by posting about his cats on social media, a fireman who adopts a cat that now is part of their crew and more. This film also documents the journey of a homeless man named David who suffers from cancer, and his cat Lucky. David became so selfless that it takes him a lot of thinking to go take care of his cancer in order to not leave Lucky unattended. Cats, like dogs, are good companions and can be supportive animals as well. Cats can feel when you are sad and they express their love in different ways from dogs, but that doesn’t mean the love they offer is less. We often see movies or stories of men and their dogs, but have you ever watched a heartwarming movie or film about men and their cats? Well, this is your chance! My favorite story is David’s. His love for his cat, Lucky, is bigger than himself. Before David admits himself to the hospital to take care of his tumor, he makes sure Lucky is in good hands. He misses Lucky terribly while he’s at the hospital. This film is a reminder that if you are looking to adopt a pet, remember there are plenty of adorable cats and dogs in shelters waiting for a warm, cozy and loving home. Why go to pet stores and buy a pet when you can rescue them? At the end of your journey you will ask yourself, “Who rescued whom?”
The message of this film is about how men express their masculinity as they melt with love and compassion over cats.
I give Cat Daddies 5 out of 5 stars and recommended for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It is playing now at select film festivals, so look for it. By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE, a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila–his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities–possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate–and mankind’s–hangs in the balance.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Starring such talented actors as Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, the film is inspired by the famous theme park ride and liberally incorporates details from it as well, like the boat captain’s terrible puns and a reference to the “back side of water.” It’s a great family film!” Calee N. adds, “I love how the Jungle Cruise makes the magic of the riverboat attraction from Disneyworld come alive. The humor and adventurous nature of the movie held my attention throughout the film. Movies with bold and funny female leads have always been my favorite.” See their full reviews below.
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Take a trip to the Amazon Rainforest in Disney’s new, beautifully produced film Jungle Cruise. Starring such talented actors as Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, the film is inspired by the famous theme park ride and liberally incorporates details from it as well, like the boat captain’s terrible puns and a reference to the “back side of water.” It’s a great family film!
Set in 1916, Jungle Cruise opens in London, during a meeting of scientists. McGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) is presenting to the crowd as his sister, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), goes about her mission to collect a precious artifact from the archives. She ropes her brother, a rare gay character in the Disney universe, into the adventure she’s been chasing since her childhood, determined to journey into the Amazon to an area called Lágrimas de Cristal and find a magical healing tree called the Tears of the Moon. Lily hates the rough-around-the-edges, scam artist Frank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) as soon as she sees him, but she grudgingly agrees to employ him as their skipper down the Amazon, with the conniving German aristocrat Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) nipping at their heels. Many adventures follow and the characters, as different as they may seem, grow close as a chosen family. There’s also a pretty unusual supernatural backstory.
As with any Disney film, the production quality of Jungle Cruise is incredibly high; each and every small detail in regards to the graphics and overall look of the film has been addressed thoroughly. This film’s previously-mentioned punchy one-liners delivered by Dwayne Johnson allude to this film’s origins in the theme park ride. The Rock undoubtedly, unquestionably puts on the best performance of the film, and his chemistry with Emily Blunt’s character is what truly carries the film through some slow moments when the script seems to lose purpose. Viewers begin to forget the overall goal of the mission as plots and relationships mix. However, this problem only shows up in the last third of the film. Another major star in the film is Jack Whitehall. His character is especially significant given that it’s one of the few instances where you can see an LGBTQ+ character on screen, and his struggles coming out in a rigid, heteronormative society are beautifully represented in a heart-to-heart with Frank. In summary, the cast and production quality take this film to a new level, while the script tends to bog it down.
Jungle Cruise promotes teamwork, grit, the victory of good over evil, and, my favorite message, that no matter how different we are, there’s always something we can unite over. We’re always stronger together.
I give Jungle Cruise 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Jungle Cruise premieres on July 30, 2021, in US theaters and for a fee on Disney+.
By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
I love how the Jungle Cruise makes the magic of the riverboat attraction from Disneyworld come alive. The humor and adventurous nature of the movie held my attention throughout the film. Movies with bold and funny female leads have always been my favorite.
In the Jungle Cruise, Lilly Houghton (Emily Blunt) searches for an Amazon legend called the Moon’s Tears. Her goal is to find the legend in order to advance modern medicine. Lilly’s fearlessness takes her to the Amazon River, where she meets and hires the comical skipper, Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), to take her on her quest. They soon realize that they are not alone in their pursuit of the Tears. Together they face the dangers of the Amazon River and encounter the supernatural.
The academic world did not support Lilly’s pursuit of the Moon’s Tears and she could not find funding or support. Her perseverance leads her on an adventure that she never envisioned. Although her strong willpower may be challenging to handle, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) and Frank accept her for whom she is. We also learn that Lilly’s brother rejected the calling of many females because he had other interests, and Lilly was the only person who embraced him for being himself. I applaud director Jaume Collet-Serra for creating a high-energy, action-adventure film with a fun twist. The talented cast with Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson and Jack Whitehall are all superb. The music by James Newton Howard helps brings accentuate the action of the film. The Amazon River scenes and supernatural characters are very realistic looking, thanks to the camera work by Flavio Martinez Labiano and art direction by David Lazan.
The messages of this film are about determination and acceptance.
I give Jungle Cruise 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Jungle Cruise premieres in theaters and on Disney+ July 30, 2021.
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