Archives for November 23, 2018

Instant Family: Deals With A Heavy Subject And Dives Right In! No Sugar Coating Here

When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “This movie deals with a very heavy subject – the foster care system. Foster kids go through a lot of terrible stuff, which greatly affects them psychologically. One thing I really like about this movie is that it doesn’t sugar coat the hard reality. It dives straight into the lives of foster kids, without simplifying what they’ve gone through.” See her full review below.

Instant Family
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Now, I must admit that I’m a bit biased. My mom has worked with foster kids for 20 years and I’ve helped out a charity that helps foster kids. So foster children are really important to me and this movie really reflects the truth about this system in an emotional and funny way.

The story follows Pete and Ellie, a couple who feel as though there is something missing in their life. They decide to adopt three siblings from the foster care system. However, they find that raising children is a lot harder than they thought.

This movie deals with a very heavy subject – the foster care system. Foster kids go through a lot of terrible stuff, which greatly affects them psychologically. One thing I really like about this movie is that it doesn’t sugar coat the hard reality. It dives straight into the lives of foster kids, without simplifying what they’ve gone through. I really like this as it breaks the impressions that a lot of people have about raising a foster kid – that it’s not as hard as raising your own kid. That is not the case and the movie perfectly shows this. It may seem like the kids are unlikable because of this, however, they grow on you. It took quite a while for Pete and Ellie to grow on me however. They’re very impatient and annoying for a lot of the movie. And, although they get better over time, it kind of takes a while.

This movie is a comedy. So how is the comedic aspect? Pretty good. However, in the beginning, there are lots of jokes about foster kids that feel very forced. While they technically have a purpose. They just weren’t funny to me. For example, there is a joke where Pete says one kid looks like she has fetal alcohol syndrome or was chained to a radiator her whole life. While there is a funny pay off, the implications kind of made me uncomfortable and it was part of the reason why I didn’t like Pete and Ellie.

I admit that when the film starts to get really emotional, it really hits hard. The acting is really great in the serious scenes, especially from Lizzy (Isabela Moner). Of course, I need to give a shout out to Octavia Spencer who plays Karen, one of the caseworkers. I really like Octavia Spencer and she makes every scene she’s in absolutely outstanding!

I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for ages 13 to 18. I would also recommend this movie for people who are considering becoming foster parents. If you want to mentor foster youth go to your local group home and help out. This movie is out on November 16, 2018. Look for it.

 

Photos © Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

 

Octonauts: Season Two – Whether You Love The Ocean Or Not, This Is Filled With Information In A Fun Way!

Dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explorers, the Octonauts! Join brave Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, medic Peso Penguin and the rest of the crew, as they explore the world s oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats – above and below the waves!<p>Based on the richly imaginative books by Meomi, this series combines immersive visuals and ‘submersive’ humor to transport young children into a world that is both real and fantastic, full of mysteries to unravel and surprises around every corner.<p>In this season set, encounter all types of creatures from the Great White Shark to Lionfish and more! The adventures don’t end there! Embark on an Amazon adventure with the Octonauts as they travel down the Amazon River in search of a lost city and Kwazii’s long lost grandfather, Calico Jack! So come aboard the Octopod for 24 exciting missions! Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10 comments, “The show is based on American-Canadian children’s books by Meomi Design Inc., which make it ideal for young kids! The series is very entertaining and educational. It contains lots of information and if you love the ocean, I definitely recommend this series.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer adds, “. One of my favorite things is how, at the end of each show, they give facts about sea animals such as the Great White Shark and Sea Snakes.” See their full reviews below.

Octonauts: Season Two

By Zoe Canella, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Octonauts: Season Two is a very cute children’s television series animated in Ireland and voiced by British actors. The show is based on American-Canadian children’s books by Meomi Design Inc., which make it ideal for young kids! The series is very entertaining and educational. It contains lots of information and if you love the ocean, I definitely recommend this series.

You don’t need to watch Season One to understand Season Two. From the very first episode, you are immersed in a colorful underworld, discovering the adventures of the very likable characters. The intrepid Octonauts travel in nautical spaceships and the Octopod and will remind parents of Star Trek and the expeditions of French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. I like that they work as a team and how they respect each other. Each character brings something different; they have different specialties and each one is unique.

My favorite characters are Peso, the penguin and Barnabas the polar bear captain which I found very classy. But, all six adventurers are fun to watch – Kawazii (the cat), Inkling (the Dumbo octopus), Shellington (the sea otter), Tweak (the rabbit), Dash (the dog) and Tunip (half animal, half vegetable). They are not only adorable, but it is easy to relate to them. They all have different accents and, by the sound of their voices, they are different ages too.<p>Everything is very interesting in this show. Each episode follows a different mission where you learn fascinating information about the ocean and marine life in a very fun manner. Each episode is based on one particular sea creature or animal and the Octonauts not only explore the ocean but also protect their habitat. The technology in the series is imaginary, but the creatures are based on real ones.

The show’s color palette is beautiful with lots of light blues and greens. It’s quite refreshing and calms you down, which I think is ideal for little ones. I really like the animation, especially the graphic transitions at the end of each episode as it gives a recap (Creature Reports) to the episode and additional information about each animal.  Each episode is also focused on a particular conflict or problem, but you can enjoy them individually since there’s no sequence between them.

Season Two comes with two discs, with 12 episodes each and 12 Creature Reports, which are music videos about the animals featured in that episode. This gives a nice recap on that segment. The message series is “explore, rescue, protect.” There’s a whole ocean out there to discover, but we have to care and preserve our nature for future generations and ourselves. <p>I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, but parents watching with their little ones will enjoy as well. It’s available on DVD now, so look for it. Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Octonauts, Season 2
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

It’s the Octonauts to the rescue! Well, they actually do more than just rescue, but I really enjoyed the rescue. They also explore and protect and I can add another one – they educate young children.  The characters are extremely likable and engaging. There are so many different adventures in this season’s collection. I especially enjoyed the one about the Great White Shark which the group needed to rescue and at the same time had to be very careful so they didn’t end up as the Great White Shark’s lunch! The underwater scenes are fun to watch. The dialogue is creative. I highly recommend this for ages 3 through 7. One of my favorite things is how, at the end of each show, they give facts about sea animals such as the Great White Shark and Sea Snakes. I give this 4 stars out of 5 stars for its entertainment and educational aspects.  Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness – Unique and Unexpected with a Spiral of Surprises!

All Little Wolf wants to do is stay at home with Mum, Dad and his brother, Smellybreff. However, Mum and Dad are worried that their precious son, Little Wolf, is not as bad as a small wolf should be. So they decide to send him off to Cunning College in Frettnin Forest to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Bigbad. Uncle Bigbad is a hopeless teacher, but armed with determination and native wit, Little Wolf thinks things out for himself. Sent out by his Uncle to round up a troop of boy scouts to eat for supper, Little Wolf discovers that the scouts have many useful skills that Little Wolf can learn from them. In the end, Little Wolf decides not to follow outdated rules of proper wolf behavior but to be true to himself. As a result, he inherits his Uncle’s fortune and becomes master of Cunning College. Based on a world-famous series of best-selling Little Wolf story books, this one-off is a treat for the whole family! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “With its spiral of surprises, I never could predict what would happen in the next scene. The story also puts a twist on common fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.” Dariana A. adds, “Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a very odd type of film. It’s not your typical Dora the Explorer type of kids’ show, which is good because there are too many of those types of shows out there.” Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “! I love the fact that this is a little story where we actively see a child decide who they want to be and being so proud of themselves. This is the kind of feel good story that every child needs to watch.” See their full reviews below.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness, directed by Karsten Kiilerich, is unique and unexpected! With its spiral of surprises, I never could predict what would happen in the next scene. The story also puts a twist on common fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.

The story follows Little Wolf (Alexander Pownall), who is not bad enough for his family. So his Mum (Lucy Whybrow) and Dad (Richard Hope) send him on a journey to Cunning College to learn from his Uncle Bigbad how to be a true bad wolf. On his quest, he learns the ‘Nine Rules of Badness.’

Alexander Pownall, the voice actor for Little Wolf, creates personality through his voice. His voice is high, making it sound like that of a young child. As Little Wolf ventures through the woods to reach Cunning College, I heard the fear in his voice and sympathized with him. When he writes letters back to his family and reads them, I heard the unwillingness to be where he was and the sense of defeat just through his voice. Michael Gambon, voice actor for Uncle Bigbad, has terror in his voice that gave me goosebumps. For example, when he is first introduced and he speaks, I knew Little Wolf was going to have a tough time in Cunning College.

The animation is dark but appealing. It sets the tone of the movie as it reflects Little Wolf’s feelings. For example, when Little Wolf feels that his trip was a waste of time and nothing good will come out of his journey, the scenery is dark, it is raining and there are shadowy clouds looming above him. The costume designs add to the personalities of each character. For example, Little Wolf has simple clothes that are similar to a schoolboy’s outfit, reflecting what his purpose is in the movie. Uncle Bigbad wears a grey suit, with a yellow shirt and blue tie which reflects his personality as an evil wolf but also one who has the potential to have color or goodness in his life.

My favorite part of this show is the animation. The type of animation that is used made me feel as if I was watching my own imagination. The message here is that goodness will always outshine darkness. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 15. This is available on DVD now so check it out.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 11

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness is a very odd type of film. It’s not your typical Dora the Explorer type of kids’ show, which is good because there are too many of those types of shows out there. This is a story and a good story at that. It teaches kids through a wolf who is supposed to be bad, but wants to be good.

The storyline is about Little Wolf who just wants to stay at home with his family, but his parents don’t think he’s bad enough to live up to the Wolf family name. So, they send Little Wolf to Cunning College to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Big Bad. But it turns out Uncle Big Bad isn’t such an amazing teacher after all.

As I said, the show is pretty great. The animation is wiggles a bit, even when they are standing still. This is probably intended, but it is kind of distracting. One of the things I really like about this show is its plot and the simple way it shows the lessons they are trying to teach without even saying so. This is what makes it a different type of kids’ film. It is also very slow paced. There isn’t very much action. One thing I wondered about the whole time is why Little Wolf always sneezes when he’s around Mr. Twister. Is he allergic? Michael Gambon, the voice talent for Big Bad is really cool. David Thewlis voices Mr. Twister, which is pretty awesome. I know and like both Gamgon and Thewlis from the Harry Potter films. Another thing I really enjoyed about this film is how scary they make Big Bad. I really was kind of scared when the character Big Bad came on and yelled at Little Wolf. That is probably my favorite scene because it really shows who Big Bad truly is.

The message this film teaches is that, even if you’re bad or scary, that doesn’t mean that you are happy. I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars because it has a cool, different way of teaching kids. I recommend this film for ages 2 to 6. This film is available now on DVD so, go check it out.

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness
By Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

This is one of the absolutely cutest stories I have ever seen. I have read several of the short stories that spawned this movie and loved all of them. In this Little Wolf Adventure, his family is concerned that perhaps Little Wolf isn’t as big, bad and tough as he should be. Their reaction to this is shipping him off to Cunning College to learn the Nine Rules of Badness from his Uncle Bigbad, who is voiced perfectly by Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter film series). During his time at the college he continuously struggles with the ideas of being such a bad wolf, but at the same time he just wants to make his family proud. At one point his uncle gives him the terrible task of fetching some unsuspecting boy scouts to gobble up. Little Wolf sees all of these things that the scouts do and decides he wants to learn to do all of these amazing things himself. He may not be a bad wolf, but he sure is a big wolf now! I love the fact that this is a little story where we actively see a child decide who they want to be and being so proud of themselves. This is the kind of feel good story that every child needs to watch. This is great for ages 7 to 11 and I give it 5 out of 5 stars for being so cutely inspirational. Reviewed by Rachael V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror.