Archives for November 2020

The Croods: New Age * Sensational! Colorful and Clever Graphics; Funny & Realistic Conflicts

Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs. Unfortunately, they must also learn to live with the Bettermans — a family that’s a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. As tensions between the new neighbors start to rise, a new threat soon propels both clans on an epic adventure that forces them to embrace their differences, draw strength from one another, and survive together. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Bailey Rae F. comments, “The Croods: New Age is sensational because of the clever and colorful graphics, funny and realistic conflicts… The message in the film is that we do not have to look the same and we all have far more in common than we realize. It’s okay to look different.” See her full review below.

The Croods: New Age
By Bailey Rae F., KIDS FIRST!  Film Critic, age 10

The Croods: New Age is sensational because of the clever and colorful graphics, funny and realistic conflicts. 

The storyline is about the Bettermens not liking the Croods. They must learn how to get along with one another and they have many adventurous life lessons along the way. 

I like the story line because it’s relatable to real life. The family conflicts and differences make the movie unpredictable. The characters are well developed. The production is state of the art. It is highly colorful and engaging from start to finish. The film is a great follow-up to the first one. My favorite part is when the main characters, Phil Betterment and Grug, are in the Jacuzzi. 

The message in the film is that we do not have to look the same and we all have far more in common than we realize. It’s okay to look different.

I give The Croods: New Age 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. It releases in theaters on November 26, 2020.

Animaniacs * Fresh and Relevant Content, With the Same Hilarious Craziness as the Original Show

They’re back! The Warner brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and the Warner sister Dot, have a great time wreaking havoc and mayhem in the lives of everyone they meet.  After returning to their beloved home, the Warner Bros. water tower, the siblings waste no time in causing chaos and comic confusion as they run loose through the studio, turning the world into their personal playground. Joining Yakko, Wakko and Dot, fan-favorite characters Pinky and the Brain also return to continue their quest for world domination.

Animaniacs is an American animated television series developed by Steven Spielberg for steaming service Hulu. It is a revival of the original 1993 television series of the same name. The new series sees the return of the Warner Brothers, Yakko and Wakko and their sister Dot (voiceovers by Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille), and of Pinky and the Brain (voiceover by Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche). The first season is set to premiere on Hulu November 20, 2020. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Animaniacs is back giving us tons of entertainment! Don’t expect to see reruns with this rebooted animated series. Showrunner Wellesley Wild nails the creation of fresh and relevant content, while keeping the same hilarious craziness of the original series.” See her full review and interviews below.

Animaniacs
Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Animaniacs is back giving us tons of entertainment! Don’t expect to see reruns with this rebooted animated series. Showrunner Wellesley Wild nails the creation of fresh and relevant content, while keeping the same hilarious craziness of the original series.

The series is about the Warner siblings Wakko, Yakko and Dot who are crazy and wild characters found on the Warner Bros. Studio. The episodes follow them as they get into trouble running around the Warner Bros. Studio lot and while meeting other characters. The new season picks up 22 years later, after they were locked away. Now we get to see their new adventures as they learn more about the current world around them and all the changes that have happened. 

Director Steven Spielberg brings back the same characters and many of the original voice actors. The main characters are the Warner brothers and sister – Wakko (Jess Harnell), Yakko (Rob Paulsen) and Dot (Tress MacNeille). The setting for the series is the classic Warner Bros. Studio lot and the lot’s water tower. It’s hilarious to see the characters run around the lot learning about things that didn’t exist two decades ago like tablets, climate change, Ubers, cat-fishing, YouTubers and Amazon drones. Ralph the security guard (Frank Welker) even has new tricks he can use to catch the Warner siblings, such as a net connected to a drone. The show was updated to a wide-screen format and to make it more gender balanced and diverse. In the premiere episode, Dot points out that Warner Bros. now has a Black female CEO. Shorts like The Warner Kids and Pinky and The Brain also return with new content. It’s a clever way to see how the other characters are doing after meeting the Warner siblings.  

The Warner siblings and the rest of the cast always find a way to have fun in each episode. The message of this series is to find a way to stay fun, positive and happy despite the craziness in the world. I will note that there are some scenes or jokes that viewers may not get unless they followed the original series, but you will still laugh. 

Animaniacs is a great mix of kid-friendly education and slapstick comedy, deserving 5 out of 5 stars and a recommendation for ages 5 to 18. Adults are sure to love it too especially if they are fans of the original series. The new season of Animaniacs debuts on Hulu on November 20.

Collective * Chilling Reminder Of The Underhanded Dealings Of Modern Politics

In 2015, a fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv Club leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. Then a doctor blows the whistle to a team of investigative journalists. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces. Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “An electrifying and groundbreaking documentary, Collective is a chilling reminder of the underhanded dealings of modern politics. Shot in a rigorously observational manner, Collective covers an event that took Eastern Europe by storm and led to massive big pharma and government reform.” See his full review below.

Collective

By Eshaan M. , KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

An electrifying and groundbreaking documentary, Collective is a chilling reminder of the underhanded dealings of modern politics. Shot in a rigorously observational manner, Collective covers an event that took Eastern Europe by storm and led to massive big pharma and government reform.

On October 30, 2015, a deadly fire in Colectiv, a popular nightclub in Bucharest, Romania killed 64 and injured 146. Of the 64 killed, 38 died in the hospitals. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered they were in close contact with some of the most resistant hospital bacteria on the continent, which festered in their uncleansed wounds. In the first part of the film, Catalin Tolontan’s journalistic crusade is detailed, as he embarks upon a journey to uncover the negligence, corruption and political machinations that plagues the Romanian health system as a whole. Vlad Voiculescu is introduced as the new minister of health, and he looks to take Romania in a new direction for health and safety but faces massive backlash. Watch Collective to find out how this crisis is solved.

A widely-known Romanian journalist at the Gazeta Sporturilor, Catalin Tolontan, together with Vlad Vioculescu, ex-minister of health and patients rights activist, are featured in Collective. Tolontan colleagues Mirela Neag and Razvan Lutac are captured in the newsroom, printing papers and delivering fiery questions at press conferences. I especially enjoyed their portion of the film, possibly due to my interest in journalism, but also because of Tolontan’s unique approach to tackling this case – calculated vehemence. Even Voiculescu’s segment is intriguing, albeit a little more morose and harder to follow. Honestly, you can’t help but feel bad for Voiculescu, the one upstanding politician who cares for people more than for the money in his pocket, especially in the tense election scenes. Tedy Ursuleanu, a burn victim, is also featured in this film. Her story is not illustrated in great detail, but featuring her is, to me, a massively positive step for Nanau to take. It adds a whole new level of ‘wow, this is real’ to Collective.

The cinematography in this film is absolutely stunning; the camera team uses dimly lit, low contrast scenes to drive home the intensity of the incident and harshly lit closeups in telling the story of the people that Collective follows. The lack of ambient noise filtration in press conferences helps the viewer really jump into the story. Besides the plot, this has got to be my favorite part of the entire documentary.

Collective promotes freedom of speech, government transparency, and valuing lives over profit, which are all positive morals. There are political elements in this film as well as rather graphic scenes depicting burn victims, that you should be aware of. Also, there is some bad language and the whole plot is unsuitable for younger audiences. Nanau successfully calls viewers to action to speak out against corruption.

I give Collective 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Collective is in theaters and on-demand November 20, 2020.

Introducing you to a new website to check out!

Learning to play an instrument is a long and formidable process. Whether you are just a beginner or continuing on your years-long journey it is nice to have some assistance along the way. Incitemusic.com aims to be a site that helps you to be the best musician you can be.

Music is an excellent way to express yourself and learning an instrument can also help you become more disciplined, happier, and to have a more open outlook. It can also afford you an awesome lifestyle. 

“Doing something you love for a living means you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

This is particularly true if you can promote an inward passion for your craft. All of the performing arts are awesome for this and the sense of community that comes from working as part of a band or show is amazing. Yet, starting out is often the hardest part of picking up music. Incite Music has plenty of reviews for the best gear to get you started as well as plenty of tips to keep you motivated and focused. 

Photo Credit Rachel Loughman – Unsplash

They also have articles to help parents get their kids excited about music. Starting to learn an instrument at an early age has many benefits for children. It is also a great way for parents to

build a stronger relationship with their kids. However, it can sometimes be a difficult process, especially if you don’t play an instrument yet yourself. Incite music has plenty of ideas pertaining to how to keep learning fun and engaging for your little ones and to stop you from pulling your hair out.

Whether you’re just starting out, looking to move from a bedroom musician, a loving parent of a budding artist, or a seasoned professional there will be something on there for you to improve your craft. 

Credit: Chris Daniel is the owner of incitemusic.com and is an experienced working musician, high school teacher, and elementary school teacher.

Looking to start a new Holiday Tradition?

Young children will be excited about this early Christmas gift! Reindeer In Here– is an early holiday gift from Santa that includes a Christmas friend, book and plush set. Children are excited to receive Reindeer In Here, and they get to pick the reindeer’s name, gender, and take them everywhere with them, including bedtime. Parents love this stress-free Christmas tradition, and can finally ditch Elf on the Shelf for a magical reindeer that is meant to be cuddled and loved during the holiday season. I never really was crazy about that Elf anyway! A California-dad created Reindeer In Here for his children so that they would have a positive Christmas tradition. In just a short amount of time, Reindeer In Here has become the most awarded Christmas tradition brand. This is how it works: each night, the reindeer communicates your child’s wishes to Santa, and on Christmas Eve, children put their reindeer under the tree so Santa can take it back to the North Pole, where they’ll live until their return early next December. Reindeer In Here is proud to celebrate that being different is normal. The cuddly reindeer has one antler that is smaller than the other, meant to represent the uniqueness of every child. This year, more than ever, children, may be missing family and friends, and their Reindeer In Here can make an early appearance to boost everyone’s mood and celebrate! More information: www.reindeerinhere.com and available on Amazon. $29.99  

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this holiday post. Images were also provided.

Countdown to the Holidays with PLAYMOBIL’s Advent Calendar!

Looking for a fun advent calendar for the children? They will love this one! I recommend for ages 4+.

PLAYMOBIL Advent Calendar – Christmas Toy Store (70188): Find all the best gifts and toys for the holiday season in The Advent Calendar – Christmas Toy Store. It contains twenty-four surprise items for each day leading up to Christmas. Once all the pieces are revealed, you can make your shopping list, play in the shop, and take a photo with Santa. Set includes Christmas Toy Store backdrop, four figures, Christmas tree, snowman, gift boxes, tricycle, skateboard, and tons of other toys and accessories.

Retailer: Playmobil.us          Retail Price: $24.99

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

A must-buy this holiday season!

“The Flintstones: The Complete Series” Available on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Yabba-dabba-doo! America’s favorite modern stone-age family, The Flintstones, is available on Blu-ray. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released all six seasons of the classic, animated Hanna-Barbera television series in one set on October 13, 2020. Enjoy prehistoric fun in high-definition with 166 episodes featuring the lovable caveman Fred Flintstone and his wife Wilma, and their neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble as they embark on entertaining adventures in their home town of Bedrock. Titled The Flintstones: The Complete Series, this collection also features two bonus movies, including The Man Called Flintstone and The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! The Flintstones: The Complete Series will retail for $84.99 SRP ($99.99 Canada). The Flintstones: The Complete Series, is available to own on Digital HD for $74.99 SRP (US and Canada). The Flintstones: The Complete Series is boulder-sized fun for the whole family. Fans of all ages will crack up at the misadventures of the Flintstones and Rubbles, who consistently find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Living in the suburbs in the town of Bedrock, Fred Flintstone is a devoted husband who is employed at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company. He is married to Wilma, a smart, strong-willed red-headed beauty. Their next-door neighbors and friends are Barney and Betty Rubble. The four of them are always involved in variety of hilarious shenanigans of every-day living. Although they live in pre-historic times, they have modern conveniences but they are made from stone age materials and mainly powered by animals.  Since the stone age, The Flintstones has delivered entertainment that never shales to delight each new generation. And now, all 166 episodes are available for the first time in high definition. So grab a Bronto burger and Cactus Coola, and settle in to watch the first primetime animated television series and celebrate 60 years of history in the making. The Flintstones first premiered on ABC in 1960 and became a hit. It was the first animated series to air in primetime on US television and was the first adult-targeted cartoon on TV. At one point, The Flintstones was the longest-running series of its genre and was the first animated series to be nominated for the Primetime EmmyÒ Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. After the show’s initial run ended in 1966, The Flintstones continued to appear on television in subsequent series and specials including The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm ShowThe Flintstone Comedy HourThe New Fred and Barney ShowThe Flintstone Kids and many others. Episodes of the original series aired in syndication continuously for decades after the show’s initial run. 

I was thrilled to check this one out since I grew up watching the Flintstones! It would make a great gift this holiday season!

Self Disclosure: Information and images were provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. I also received a free sample to facilitate this post.

Holiday Gift Guide Suggestions #1!

I can’t believe it’s that time of the year! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it’s time for the Holiday Gift Guide #1. Here are some of my favorite gift suggestions this season!

Little girls ages 6 and up will go gaga over these! GoGo Gachas brings the fashion and fun to toys with its fashionable accessories dispensed in every kawaii capsule! (Available Now at Target, MSRP: $9.99, Ages: 6+) These fashionably charmed vending machines really work! Each is loaded with 4 surprise charms that are totally on-trend. Just press the button to dispense one of the disco balls- then open it up to find out which fashion charm you gacha! Each charm is perfect for accessorizing on the included charm bracelet. Now you’re ready for a glam squad dance party! Collect all 3 machines! 

This next one…well…not sure if it should be wrapped up for Dad or for the kids! If you grew up in the 70’s (like I did!) you may remember Evel Knievel! I know my younger brother had one of these! This definitely is a retro throwback to my childhood days!

The father of extreme sports, the daredevil show man himself—the man, the myth, the legend, Evel Knievel has launched onto the toy scene again with the re-release of the iconic 1970’s Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle.

Imbued with all the charm and high-powered performance of the original, this reissue is ready to introduce the fun of revving, jumping, and crash landing to a whole new generation.  One of my favorite things is that its Low tech design does NOT require batteries, apps, or wifi access!

  • Comes with the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, signature Red Energizer, and Evel Knievel Action Figure
  • Retails for $39.95

It is definitely fun for all ages and he Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle can be purchased at www.evelknieveltoys.com as well as on Amazon and Walmart.

Looking for a unique gift suggestion this holiday season? MagicWeightedBlanket– The ultimate way to make kids feel cozy and safe is through a Magic Weighted Blanket that makes kids feel like they are getting a hug every time they use it. MagicWeightedBlanket.com is the world’s first and original weighted blanket. The company started way back in 1998 when weighted blankets were a novel concept. Since then, there have been plenty of companies who caught onto the popularity and benefits offered from weighted blankets, but none that compare to the original. Not only do weighted blankets reduce stress and anxiety, but many kids report  that they are able to sleep better with them. Starting at $110; https://magicweightedblanket.com/.   I love how comfy and cozy these are!

Chalk of the Town is a line of chalkboard products ranging from T-Shirt and Long Sleeve Kits to Tote Bags to Patches, allowing both kids and adults to create and design their own wearable fashion using Chalkboard markers. PLUS they’re both erasable and reusable so you can design again, again, and again! I love the creativity! Available on Amazon

Holiday Poppers – Hog Wild brings you your Holiday Poppers as part of its POPular Poppers line! This one will be a hit! Available on Amazon for $9.99.

Marshmallow Blaster – Bow & Mallow Blaster – The big brother of the Mini Bow & Mallow, the Bow & Mallow Blaster continues to bring food and fun together — thanks to its edible ammo! With launching distances of up to 30 feet, your marshmallows will soar through the air! Available on Amazon for $25.99.

The #UpsideDownChallenge Game – This game literally flips your world upside down! Players wear goggles that flip their vision — and then attempt to compete seemingly easy challenges like writing your name and connecting dots. Sounds easy, but it’s a challenge! Available on Target for $19.99.

Pizza Party Throwdown – In this frantic, fun action game players race to see who can fling the most pizza toppings on the spinning pizza pie game board before time runs out! Available on Target for $19.99.

DinoMazing Egg Decorator – DinoMazing Egg Decorator allows kids to color and create their own dinosaur eggs using a mechanism that spins the egg while you decorate! Plus, inside each Dino egg is slime and your own collectible dinosaur! Available on Amazon for $27.99.

Comic World Viona Surprise Set –  PLAYMOBIL is expanding the magical world of EverDreamerz with the new Comic World line!! We’re offering a BRAND NEW Surprise Set where you can search for twelve magical characters from Comic World!  Each mystery box has five surprises inside.  You might even meet Colorista, a new limited edition character! A perfect stocking stuffer. 🙂 Available on playmobil.us

Treemendous Ornament Decorating Kit – From the creators of the original EggMazing Egg Decorator…the perfect DIY craft to embrace the holiday season. Place one of the ornaments included with the kit into the tree-shaped decorator and let the fun begin! The machine holds and spins the ornament while the markers are used to create stripes, line and other designs! Available on Amazon for $19.99.

This next one is great for outdoor fun, especially during this pandemic! Pickup Sports have fun, sports boxes that include everything you and your kids need to learn a new sport. Starter boxes include age-appropriate equipment, access to weekly live virtual coaching with parent-child games, and expert-created curriculum based on years of research. When kids learn from their parents/caregivers they are more likely to have fun, want to keep playing, and more likely to stick with it and stay physically active. Available sports include basketball, flag football, soccer, tennis, baseball & softball, and volleyball. Starter boxes are currently priced at $45. The best part—for every box purchased, the company donates one to kids with limited access. More information: https://pickupsports.co/; also available on Amazon.   I love the Basketball one!


Storymakery
 is a one-stop-shop where kids can create a character, write a story, design illustrations, and print their book – a total hands-on, exciting, educational experience! In addition to customized in-store experiences at their Laguna Hills storefront, Storymakery also offers a captivating assortment of unique virtual workshops and private 1:1 virtual sessions that delight (and educate!) kids 5+ years old. 
For younger kiddos, Storymakery also offers personalized books that you can create online and ship to your loved ones – some of the titles include ‘My Mermaid Muse,’ ‘My Fairy Friend’ and ‘It’s A Pirate’s Life for Me!’
Gift cards can be purchased through their website.

Happy Holidays! Stay tuned! Next week Holiday Gift Guide #2 will post!

Self Disclosure: I received samples of the items above to facilitate this Holiday Gift Guide. Images were also provided.