Archives for September 22, 2020

Candy Planet * Entertaining and Fun, Perfect for School-Age Kids

A getaway for an awesome summer vacation with Rainy and her mom turns into something else.  When Rainy’s mother is accidentally turned into a living candy it is up to Rainy to save her mom from a world of outrageous characters in the sweetest places – Candy Planet. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Candy Planet is an interesting animated movie that younger kids will definitely find entertaining. It is somewhat predictable and some of the characters are kind of strange. The dubbing is very good and lines up pretty well with the animation.” Leandro R. adds, “Candy Planet is a 3D animated movie with a unique story. It has great animation and lots of bright colors throughout. It is a fun movie with lots of emotion. Due to the short run time of the movie, it seems very fast paced, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good film.” Tor F., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “I enjoy the vibrant color scheme of the animated film, Candy Planet. There is a copious amount of neon and bright colors. It visually appealing to me, so I assume it will also be appealing for children.” And Lorelei T. wraps it up with, “My favorite part of the movie is the beginning when some cute animals are turned into doughnuts and taken to the candy planet. The animals are super cute and act funny. I enjoyed the way Cherami Leigh voices Rainie, because she really takes on her character and her vocal expressions relay her emotions perfectly.” See their full reviews below.

Candy Planet

By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Candy Planet is an interesting animated movie that younger kids will definitely find entertaining. It is somewhat predictable and some of the characters are kind of strange. The dubbing is very good and lines up pretty well with the animation.

This movie is aimed at a younger audience, because the humor is basic and the storyline is simple. Even though it is somewhat predictable, it is an original idea, and I appreciate that. The movie’s dialogue was initially in Chinese, so it is dubbed in English and it syncs up better than I expected. The animation is well produced. It looks similar to other animated movies, but has a uniqueness of its own. The characters are not very well-developed. There is little background on the characters and you have to guess what their relationships are. Speaking of characters, my favorite is Powderpup, the candy dog that they meet along the way. He is adorably cute.

The primary messages are about friendship and teamwork. Even though this movie is aimed at showing the importance of friendship, Rainie does make rude remarks towards her friends.

I give Candy Planet 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It is available now on Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms.

Candy Planet

Leandro R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Candy Planet is a 3D animated movie with a unique story. It has great animation and lots of bright colors throughout. It is a fun movie with lots of emotion. Due to the short run time of the movie (75 minutes), it seems very fast paced. But that doesn’t stop it from being a good film. I also really like the villain of the movie.

The storyline is about when a girl named Rainie (Cherami Leigh) and her friends get transported to a world that is inhabited by candy people after her mom gets turned into a candy. Rainie and her friends have to go through tests to turn her mom back into a human. The villain of the movie, Gordon (Todd Haberkorn), is the leader of the candy planet and is trying to get Rainie to lose her friends and hope in friendship. The only complaint I have with this movie is that it’s never explained how Rainie became friends with these blue jungle people. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story.

The voice actors in the movie are very good, especially Cherami Leigh who plays Rainie. She gives a fantastic performance and that’s probably due to her having a lot of experience in voice acting. I also really liked Robbie Daymond’s performance in the film as well. All the voice actors were the best part of the movie. They really stood out to me. The animation in the movie is excellent as well and I really liked all the colors in the movie. It makes the movie feel more fun and playful. I also really like movies that are 3D animated. My favorite scene is when they’re running on different planets, trying to get to the test.

The main theme of the movie is friendship and how important it is. Throughout the movie, Rainie is tempted by Gordon that she doesn’t need her friends and that they slow her down. Although friendship is a strong theme in a lot of animated movies, I think that Candy Planet utilized that theme particularly well. The film doesn’t have anything that parents would worry about except 1 or 2 fight scenes which aren’t too bad.

I give Candy Planet 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 10. You can find Candy Planet now on iTunes, Amazon digital, Google Play, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Candy Planet

By Lorelei Turgeon, KIDS FIRST! Reviewer, age 14

Candy Planet is an animated film that is perfect for younger kids who like a good adventure about friendship.

The storyline follows a girl named Rainie (Cherami Leigh), on vacation with her mother, when a camera comes along and turns her mom (Dorothy Fahn) into a candy and takes her to a planet made entirely of candy. Of course, Rainie and her friends have to save her and due to a slight error in judgment, Rainie ends up having to save her friends along with her mom.

My favorite part of the movie is the beginning when there are cute animals that are turned into doughnuts and taken to the planet. The animals are cute and act funny. I enjoyed the way Cherami Leigh voices Rainie, because she really takes on her character and the expressions in her voices relay her emotions perfectly. The part of the movie that sticks with me the most is how all the voice actors convey emotion solely through their voices. The way Dorothy Fahn plays Rainie’s mother, you can hear the concern for her daughter. There are a few other actors in this movie that stand out to me. For example, the way Robbie Daymon, as Blue, changes his voice throughout this movie makes it come to life as you can hear his fear and excitement. This movie is made in 3D animation, which is very well made. The characters are clearly seen and the background doesn’t overshadow the characters. The sound effects sound real and make it sound like the cameras are taking pictures. With all of the action taking place, the sound effects are important to enhance the story. It is very well paced and keeps the viewer wanting to know how the characters will solve the next problem they face. The music throughout the film is suspenseful, which adds intrigue to the story as it develops. The colors are all bright and happy to reflect the candy and make it intriguing to young viewers. My eyes were drawn all over the place because it is all so bright and exciting.

The message of the film is about trusting your friends and working with them to complete a task. If you don’t trust your friends they will stop trusting you.

I recommend Candy Planet for ages 4 to 7 and give this 4 out of 5 stars. You can find this film on August 28, 2020. You will be able to find it on Google play movies, Prime video, Hulu, as well as Netflix.

Candy Planet

By Tor Ferrante, kf Adult Juror, age 22

I enjoy the vibrant color scheme of the animated film, Candy Planet. There is a copious amount of neon and bright colors. It visually appealing to me, so I assume it will also be appealing for children. Sometimes there are unnecessary scenes that slow down the pace of the high energy adventure. For example, when the film cross-cuts between the adventure and the residents of candy planet, I know it is necessary to show both places, but it seems as if the candy planet scenes are there to add runtime rather than give the viewer information.

The storyline is about a mysterious robot appearing and zapping Rainie’s mother, Eileen, into a piece of candy. Rainie and her friends follow the robot to discover it  is trying to take Eileen back to the candy planet. Along the way, Rainie and her friends discover the truth about candy planet’s existence and during their adventure, they learn the meaning of friendship.

I like how the viewer is omniscient while the characters are more restricted in their knowledge of the candy planet’s ruler, Gordon’s true intentions. This technique may reduce the surprise of the “big reveal,” but the viewer still experiences tension while the characters discover Gordon’s motive. The film starts in the middle of things, which makes the viewer intrigued instantly. Besides the extra added fluff, which can be easily looked over, it’s still a good storyline. Everything gets explained thoroughly.

This film is animated and doesn’t employ an array of varied camera angles. With the action scenes, of course we receive some medium and close-ups that connect us with specific characters emotions, but other than that the camerawork is fairly simple. The costumes that Rainie’s friends wear are ornate and correlate with her friends being from an otherworldly jungle, hence their skin is blue. I like the various different planets and how each one has a specific theme. One is frozen; one has attacking candies which resemble Venus flytraps; one is a molten lava planet. Each planet also presents a different obstacle the characters need to overcome.

The music and sound effects work well. Both appropriately connect to the scenes in which they are paired. The music in the dance scene that Rainie and Gordon share is upbeat; each time they step on a button it beeps to the beat. Fun fact, the character that voices Rainie, Cherami Leigh, is an adult and not a child. Leigh’s range in voice-acting is great. The key influencers are the editors and the storyboard creators. With animation, production process is a little wonky due to editors starting towards the beginning of the process rather than the end. Creating storyboards for any film is tedious, but especially with animation, because if someone decides to cut a single second out of the original storyboard, the creators have ultimately wasted time when it is cut. The same idea applies if something is added later.

This is small, but having the main character be a young girl and not a young boy can potentially inspire young girls to lead and embark on their own heroic journeys. One of the simpler messages is of friendship. Working together with people that care for one another, through the good and bad moments, results in a stronger and more loving friendship. An implicit message of this film is karma. Whether that be good or bad, like Gordon reluctantly becoming a piece of food, which he turned people into for years, unwillingly. A positive example of karma is when Rainie’s mother explains to her that since she has a kind heart, she’ll attract kind people in her life. What you put out in the world, positive or negative  effects you, so you might as well make it a positive. One other message is that you can’t subdue your emotions or bad experiences. The more you suppress them the bigger it explodes in the end. If Gordon communicated with his brother about how he genuinely felt, Rainie and her friends would have never endured his wrath.

There are a couple of fights, but they are more like tackling between the antagonist and the other characters. There is no graphic violence. My favorite part is the ending because Gordon receives karma. He’s turned into a piece of food, which is what he was doing to other people for years. A lot of the characters in this film are voiced by actors with a long list of prior work such as  Cam Clarke, Robbie Daymond and Dorothy Elias-Fahn.

I give Candy Planet 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 3 to 10. It is a cute, adventurous film and it actually presents important messages.

Camp Arrowhead

19-year-old Sophie Walker attends a summer camp to help her get over the loss of her mother. She attends as a worker and is initially made fun of by some rich girls at the camp. But when the rich girls realize they need another girl for the archery team, they invite Sophie to join. Meanwhile, Sophie has met a mysterious man in the forest named Percy who claims to be an archery coach. Sophie gets Percy the job as team coach and Percy proceeds to turn the girls into lethal archers. Along the way, Percy also helps Sophie come to terms with the loss of her mother – in an unexpected and magical way. Enjoy Carlee S.’s review of Camp Arrowhead. 19-year-old Sophie Walker attends a summer camp to help her get over the loss of her mother. She attends as a worker and is initially made fun of by some rich girls at the camp. But when the rich girls realize they need another girl for the archery team, they invite Sophie to join. Meanwhile, Sophie has met a mysterious man in the forest named Percy who claims to be an archery coach. Sophie gets Percy the job as team coach and Percy proceeds to turn the girls into lethal archers. Along the way, Percy also helps Sophie come to terms with the loss of her mother – in an unexpected and magical way. Available now on ITunes, Amazon digital, Google Play, Vudu and Fandango Now. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “Camp Arrowhead is a heartwarming film with an inspiring message. It is a story about overcoming tragedy and never losing hope. When you have friends and you work together, sometimes miracles happen. It is a fast-paced film with lots of laughter and adventure.” Katie F., adds, “The production is very professionally made and the cast are incredible. Chloe Lukasiak (Dance Moms) plays her performance as the stuck-up, posh and snobby brat, Devon Dupree, especially well. Tori Keeth (Henry Danger) takes on the lead role as the heart broken Sophie Walker, with great emotion and feeling.” Calee N. adds, “Camp Arrowhead is a family-friendly film filled with laughs, drama and the hope that you have an open-mind.” Sammi B. wraps it up with, “The message in this film is that kindness and forgiveness (especially of yourself) will make everything better. It feels religious by using symbols such as a cross and angel and talking about heaven. The message is positive. I just don’t like that everyone’s problems are solved so easily at the end.”

Camp Arrowhead
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Camp Arrowhead is a heartwarming film with an inspiring message. It is a story about overcoming tragedy and never losing hope. When you have friends and you work together, sometimes miracles happen. It is a fast-paced film with lots of laughter and adventure. 

The storyline is about 19-year-old Sophie Walker (Tori Keeth) who recently lost her mother and volunteers at a summer camp to avoid staying with her cousins.  A kind and mysterious man named Percy (Donnie William) gives her and her friend archery lessons and they both become ace archers. The camp bully, Devin Dupree (Chloe Lukasiak), really wants to win the archery competition and she is determined to win the competition no matter what. Along the way, Sophie comes to terms with her loss, in an unexpected and magical way.

One of my favorite parts of the film is the talent show scene. The songs are beautifully written and performed.  Sophie sings a heartfelt song that touches everyone dearly. The emotions she expresses and the lyrics of the song really pull you in and grab your attention. Percy sings an upbeat song that leaves everyone feeling good and lifts the mood. Other characters also give talented performances.  Chloe Lukasiak portrays her role as the bully in a believable way.  Jennifer Aquino who plays Candace and Carter Southern who plays Tyler also bring their characters to life. The campground setting is perfect for the film. The natural setting, the camp buildings and the archery equipment really makes it all seem very real. I really enjoyed watching the characters develop and grow while they at camp. 

The messages in this film are about forgiveness and love always prevail. Forgiveness allows peace and love and leaves viewers with hope.

I give Camp Arrowhead 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this movie to ages 7 to 16, plus adults. This film is available now on digital channels including iTunes, Amazon digital, Google play, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Camp Arrowhead

By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I really enjoyed this fun and adventurous movie! Camp Arrowhead is set in an authentic American summer camp. The actors all give genuine and believable performances. The film delivers a positive emotional message and feel-good factor.

This story follows 19-year-old Sophie (Tori Keeth), whose mother has recently passed away and she hasn’t been the same since. She joins her best friend, April (Joy Regullano), to work at Camp Arrowhead as her father thinks it would be a good idea for her to work through her grief. She wanders into the wood and meets an unusual old man who might just offer the help she needs and, when the archery team require some new recruits, Sophie and April are up for the task. They join the archery team and learn about the importance of family, friendship and teamwork. 

The production is very professionally made and the cast are incredible. Chloe Lukasiak (Dance Moms) plays her performance as the stuck-up, posh and snobby brat, Devon Dupree, especially well. Tori Keeth (Henry Danger) takes on the lead role as the heart broken Sophie Walker, with great emotion and feeling. Donnie Williams plays the role of Percy, a character who is mysterious and helpful in a warm and friendly manner.  The supporting cast are great and each plays their role to a high standard, adding to the overall performance.  The set is very realistic and in keeping with the storyline.  I especially love the cabins. They look so warm and cozy. The music helps set the scenes whilst not distracting from the movie, and the character performances. My favorite part is towards the end of the film when Percy leaves a surprise gift, that leads Sophie to a very special place. I don’t want to spoil it for you all, so can’t say any more than that. 

The message of the film is of uplifting friendship, and that time helps to heal emotional pain. We watch the girls struggle through a social divide, initially clashing, then put their differences aside and forming a bond through teamwork. It also teaches us the importance of forgiveness, no matter what you’ve done. 

I give Camp Arrowhead5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 15, plus adults. This film is available now on digital channels including iTunes, Amazon digital, google play, Vudu , and FandangoNow.

Camp Arrowhead

By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Camp Arrowhead is a family-friendly film filled with laughs, drama and the hope that you have an open-mind.

With Sophie’s dad going away for work all summer long, she decides to work at Camp Arrowhead with her close friend for the summer. Camp life has its challenges, especially since Sophie’s mom died just a few months ago. With the help of new friends and a mysterious older man named Percy, Sophie learns the art of competitive archery and the gift of being able to communicate with her mom. 

I enjoyed this movie because the plot is unpredictable and has a happy ending. Directors Timothy Armstrong and Fernando De La Cruz created a movie that generates a range of emotions. The magical theme was a surprise and includes some plot twists. Actor Donnie Williams’ performance as Percy makes the magical character believable, while at the same time creating a well-loved movie character. Tori Keeth, who plays Sophie, creates a character that you hope will be able to find happiness.  With the strong supporting cast you find yourself  rooting for multiple people. The cinematographer, Ferguson Sauve-Rogan supports the film’s message by creating authentic settings that carry the magical and realistic theme throughout the movie.

A common theme of the movie is to believe in yourself and have faith. Many of the characters in the movie confront and overcome difficult obstacles. Although the movie promotes many positive messages, some subtle racial inequity exists. Most likely this is not what the producers wanted, but it provides a good opportunity to bring awareness to discrimination in films and creates the chance to have an open and honest conversation about racism.

I rate Camp Arrowhead 4.5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14. You can watch Camp Arrowheadnowon iTunes, Amazon digital, Google Play, Vudu and FandangoNow.

Camp Arrowhead
By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Camp Arrowhead is a new feature film aimed at tween girls about friendship and loss that reminds me of a Disney Channel movie, but falls short. I wanted to like this film, but the pacing feels slow and the writing is awkward. The movie also solves all of its characters’ problems too easily.

The storyline is about a 19-year-old girl, Sophie Walker (Tori Keeth), whose mother died a few months ago. She is angry at herself because she argued with her mom before she died and Sophie never had a chance to make up. Her friend is going work at Camp Arrowhead and invites Sophie to join her. At camp she ends up making friends with the rich mean girl campers, finds romance with the camp director’s grandson who is in a wheelchair, and makes peace with her mom’s death with help from a special friend.

The sets and locations are realistic. The costumes quickly identify teen girls at a summer camp. There are some special effects at the end, but they are not very high tech. My favorite character is Sophie’s friend April (Joy Regullano), who is very upbeat and nice to everyone. The other lead character is Devin (Chloe Lukasiak), who is a stereotypical mean rich girl who is under lots of pressure to win at archery from her mean mom. She changes after she invites Sophie and April to join the archery team and they become friends. The movie has a strong moral message that is delivered through an older character, Percy, whom we later learn is not what he first appears to be. My favorite part of the film is the montage where Percy teaches the girls archery.

The message in this film is that kindness and forgiveness (especially of yourself) will make everything better. It feels religious by using symbols such as a cross and angel and talking about heaven. The message is positive. I just don’t like that everyone’s problems are solved so easily at the end. Most of the negative behavior such as revenge and cheating is handled when characters apologize or have consequences like getting disqualified.

I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 through 14.  This film is available now on digital channels including iTunes, Amazon digital, google play, Vudu, and FandangoNow.

This Fall Plan a Happy Life!

I’m excited to share that Stephanie Fleming, Co-Founder at Me & My Big Ideas, parent company of The Happy Plannerrecently released a new book Plan a Happy Life. You may remember that I featured her Planners awhile back. These are now the only planners I will use! I recently purchased one for going back to school. But, let’s talk about the book!

Today’s everyday life can be busy, but it doesn’t have to be mundane or chaotic! The creators of the Happy Planner know that the secret to living a happy life is all in the planning. A life bursting at the seams with meaning, fun, and work worth doing doesn’t just happen: you have to plan for it.

Plan a Happy Life includes strategies, systems, and methods for permanently getting organized, prioritizing what’s most important to you, and living intentionally. Here you’ll find great ideas for:

  • Celebrating the ordinary (dance party in the kitchen, anyone?)
  • Discovering new ways to serve others (that will fit into a busy schedule)
  • Finding your happy even on the tougher days
  • Making the most effective lists (hint: it involves stickers)
  • Filling your life with gratitude
  • Controlling your calendar so you can live each day fully–and colorfully! (a step-by-step guide)
  • And much more happy planning (seriously, you have to plan fun in your life!)

Seriously this is the best book for being organized and being positive!

Retail Price: $19.99

Shoppable now at The Happy Planner Website

The book is also available at Michaels Online and at Michaels brick and mortar stores nationwide and in Canada.

There is also a Plan A Happy Life Product Collection! I simply love this collection and it would also make a great gift for your friends! The holidays are approaching! Hint! Hint!

More about Stephanie Fleming:

Stephanie Fleming is a creative entrepreneur, speaker, optimist, and wellness seeker. Most notably, she is the cofounder of me & my BIG ideas, creators of the Happy Planner. The business that began twenty years ago as a tiny garage-based business is now an industry-leading lifestyle brand that offers a wide variety of products that inspire customers to Live Creatively® and Plan a Happy Life™. Stephanie lives happily in her dream-come-true California beach house with her husband (and business partner), Kevin. She has two grown children, two stepchildren, and four amazing grandsons. It is her mission to create a Happy Life Movement by empowering people everywhere to take control of their own happiness by embracing planning, positivity, and all things creative! For more ideas and inspiration for your happy life, connect with Stephanie at on Instagram @stephanie_fleming or check out her Plan A Happy Life podcast here.

Stephanie Fleming

Self Disclosure: I was very happy to receive samples of this amazing collection and the Plan a Happy Life book. Images were also provided.