Archives for June 2021

Penguin Town * You Will Laugh And Cry As You Discover Just How Human-Like Penguins Are

You’ve never met penguins like these before. Forget ice and snow, this rowdy colony of African penguins are hitting the sun-drenched beaches and breaking all the rules. Every summer, these tuxedoed birds vie for prime real estate on the sandy shores of Simon’s Town, south of Cape Town, and stir things up. While humans apply sun block and wax their surfboards, these endangered little guys, who have adapted to heat and can travel long distances, are causing traffic jams in the streets and bringing mayhem to this tropical paradise. Their mission: find a mate, make babies and not go extinct! Filled with boisterous shenanigans and loads of adorable penguins — from the troublemaking “Car Park Gang” to the sweet and cuddly newlyweds Mr. & Mrs. C. — this eight-part series about the real lives of African penguins brings flipper-flapping fun and drama. Join the ride … this town is going to get painted black and white!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S., comments, “I love Penguin Town! It has great narration, interesting stories and is educational. You will laugh and you will cry in this eight-episode docu-series. The messages here are: 1. protect and conserve wildlife, and 2. with the power of family, you can do anything. Tiana S. adds, “Penguin Town is far beyond just another penguin docu-series! It’s hilarious as well as being educational. After all, it is narrated by comedian Patton Oswalt. This film shows just how human-like penguins’ lives are when it comes to survival, searching for food and protecting their children. The only difference is that they are in a more hazardous environment.” See their full reviews and interview with the producer and director below.

Penguin Town

Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

I love Penguin Town! It has great narration, interesting stories and is educational. You will laugh and you will cry in this eight-episode docu-series.

This show follows the rowdy colony of endangered South African Penguins in the beautiful beach town, Simon’s Town, who forget the snow and flock to the sun. We follow the lives of newborns as they grow and then raise families of their own.

There are eight episodes in this show, each running about 25 minutes. Penguin Town is narrated by Patton Oswald, an excellent narrator who is goofy at some points and serious at others. The writing is very comedic, relatable and personifies the penguins. There are cliff-hangers at the end of episode, so you can’t wait to watch the next one. All the penguins have very clever names, based on where they live such as Car Park Gang, the Courtyards and the Wheelbarrows. My favorite penguin family is the Bougainvilleas because they would do anything for their kids.  

The messages here are: 1. protect and conserve wildlife, and 2. with the power of family, you can do anything. Of course, having kids is a LOT of work. There is some on-screen mating, sad parts and intense fights and deaths, so sensitive people may not like this.

I give Penguin Town 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8-18, plus adults. This show will be available on Netflix beginning June 16, 2021.

Penguin Town

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Penguin Town is far beyond just another penguin docu-series! It’s hilarious as well as being educational. After all, it is narrated by comedian Patton Oswalt. This film shows just how human-like penguins’ lives are when it comes to survival, searching for food and protecting their children. The only difference is that they are in a more hazardous environment.

Penguin Town is an 8-part documentary about the African Penguins, which are an endangered species of penguins that live in Africa. Each part of the series shows the experience of one of the penguin families named: The Bougainvilleas, The Courtyards, The Culverts and even Junior the “misfit” penguin. You get a close up view of how the penguins live, love, learn and grow. 

This series is very heart-warming but can also be heartbreaking due to some of the events in the penguins’ lives. My favorite thing about Penguin Town is how the filmmakers named the families based on their homes. For example, the Wheelbarrows live under a wheelbarrow; the Car Park Gang is a group of penguins who are loners, pick on other penguins and actually live in a car park. The camerawork in this film is astonishing. There are mind-blowing close-ups of the penguins, underwater scenes and lots of really cool shots of the penguins in their natural habitats. They truly incorporate plenty of human-like scenes, such as when a group of penguins walk into frame to some hip music as if they are a crew of cool penguins or when a female penguin shakes her head as if she is swinging her hair.

The message of Penguin Town is to not to give up; even if you fail the first time or are nervous, it’s okay! In the series, the penguins might fail at trying to swim the first time, but they keep trying and eventually succeed! A hidden message is how climate change and human activities such as fishing endanger the lives of the African Penguins. Parents should be aware of mild profanity and some intense fighting scenes.

I rate Penguin Town 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. If you are someone that loves penguins and want to know more about how they live, this is for you! Penguin Town premieres on Netflix, June 16, 2021.

Celebrate Pride Month with these Children’s books!

Here are two Picture books that I highly recommend! I’M NOT A GIRL by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi; illustrated by Dana Simpson (Roaring Brook Press, August 4, 2020, Ages 3-7): Based on a true transgender identity journey, the picture book I’M NOT A GIRL is an empowering story from writers Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi about a boy who is determined to be himself.

ODDBIRD by Derek Desierto (Feiwel & Friends, On Sale May 25, 2021, Ages 2-5): A picture book by New York Times bestselling illustrator Derek Desierto about a bird who doesn’t fit in…at first! The story was in part informed by Derek’s experience growing up as a gay individual and feeling pressured to dress, speak, and act like his peers. 

This next one is a great middle school age book!

SPIN WITH ME by Ami Polonsky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), November 10, 2020, ages 8-12): This is a thoughtful LGBT middle-grade novel that carefully traverses an early romance between a girl and a gender non-binary tween.

You can find all three books at https://us.macmillan.com/mackids/

Self Disclosure: I received copies of the above books to feature for the month of June. Cover images were also provided.

Dana Point Harbor Kicks Off Summer with Sidewalk Sale, Live Music, and Giveaways

Dana Point Harbor invites visitors to kick-off the summer season with the Harbor’s Summer Sidewalk Sale happening Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26 from 11 am – 3 pm. Each day, select Harbor shops and restaurants will offer special sales and giveaways for visitors, as well as live music from Olivia Ooms and Zach Churchill to entertain guests as they shop.

Participating retailers include Killer Dana Surf Shop offering 30-75 percent off select items and Bella Bazaar will offer sales on their coastal inspired gifts. Local surf enthusiasts can stop by Woody Hut to shop and receive a free gift with their purchase.

For Harbor foodies, Jon’s Fish Market will offer a sale on a variety of their fresh seafood including shellfish, crab, oysters, mussels and more, while visitors with a sweet tooth will receive a chocolate dolphin with every purchase made at Chocolate Soldier. Lil’ Skippers Snack Shack will offer specials on select drinks, snacks and treats for those who need a quick and delicious snack while shopping.

Visitors to the Harbor will also have the opportunity to schedule a 4th of July themed mini photoshoot with Style my Holidays on June 26 and 27. Don’t miss a chance to capture lasting memories with family and friends during a fun outdoor experience.

Guests who shop during the Summer Sidewalk Sale can enter to win a Harbor Prize Package including giveaways from Harbor retailers like Killer Dana Surf Shop and Jon’s Fish Market. Summer Sidewalk Sale shoppers are encouraged to email their receipts to info@danapointharbor.com by Sunday, June 27 to enter. Three winners will be chosen at random and contacted via email on Tuesday, June 29.

Celebrate the summer season at Dana Point Harbor and experience all of the adventure and fun this seaside destination has to offer. For more information visit DanaPointHarbor.com or connect with us via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Credit: Dana Point Harbor.

Dallas, June 24th Pet of the Week!

Meet a sweet, social fella with a heart as big as Texas! Dallas, an 8-year-old male Husky,has a calm, gentle personality and is as comfy on a leash as a cowpoke on a stallion. He’s an owner surrender, so he needs to get home on the range soon. Adoptions are now conducted through appointment only, so call 562-570-PETS or email PetAdopt@longbeach.gov to meet Dallas. Ask for ID#A499484.

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

The Paper Tigers * Engaging! Impeccable Stunts, Feisty Characters, Attention Grabbing Plot Twists

As teenagers, Kung Fu disciples Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) were inseparable. Fast forward 25 years, and each has grown into a washed-up middle-aged man seemingly one kick away from pulling a hamstring—and not at all preoccupied with thoughts of martial arts or childhood best friends. But when their old master is murdered, the trio reunites, soon learning that avenging their sifu will require conquering old grudges (and a dangerous hit man still armed with ample knee cartilage) if they are to honorably defend his legacy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “The Paper Tigers is such an engaging film with impeccable stunts, feisty characters and plot twists that grab your attention. You’ll feel like you’ve just witnessed these events happening in real life.” See her full review and interview link below.

The Paper Tigers

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

The Paper Tigers is such an engaging film with impeccable stunts, feisty characters and plot twists that grab your attention. You’ll feel like you’ve just witnessed these events happening in real life.

The Paper Tigers is about three childhood friends named Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) who, as adults, reunite after their sifu (teacher) dies. As kids, they shared the love of Kung Fu, but after all these years they have moved on to not such bigger or better things. When they hear speculation from an old enemy that their sifu was actually murdered, they try to find the culprit to avenge him.  

The Paper Tigers is a movie centered on the martial art of Kung Fu, which means the stunts need to be executed just right for the action scenes to be believable. I found the stunts top notch; the stunt coordinators made the characters look like they are actually fighting. In fact, the entire crew working on this movie clearly put a lot of effort into making it realistic. In the film, Danny, Hing and Jim run into their old nemesis, Carter, and end up making a bet and getting into a brawl to get information about sifu. The guys are not in the best shape and haven’t fought a match in years so naturally, they have a tough time defending themselves. When they get hit, you can see blood coming from their faces, which looks scarily real. Kudos to the make-up team for creating such realism. Something else that makes The Paper Tigers unique is its comedic relief. Although the film has a very serious plot and the majority of the scenes are full of tension, the screenwriters added scenes where you can laugh, despite the violence. One of my favorite moments is when the three young disciple impersonators come to sifu’s funeral acting foolish. Being embarrassed, Hing says, “Let’s take these K-Pop rejects.” This sense of humor definitely makes Hing a more likeable character and lightens the mood.

The message of The Paper Tigers is that when you give someone your word, you need to honor it. Even though Danny, Hing and Jim left their master and got separated from each other, when it came down to it, they kept their promise. They gathered the courage to get justice for sifu and be true disciples. Parents should be aware that this film has some adult language and some martial arts violence.

I give The Paper Tigers 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to18 plus adults. Anyone that loves Kung Fu and action will enjoy this film. The Paper Tigers is available in theatres and on digital now, and on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 22, 2021. Make sure you check it out!

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway * Whimsical Animated Comedy-Adventure Film With Loads Of Laughs

Thomas and Bea are now married and living with Peter and his rabbit family. Bored of life in the garden, Peter goes to the big city, where he meets shady characters and ends up creating chaos for the whole family. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Calee N. comments, “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is a family-friendly comedy-adventure film. I loved watching whimsical animated film. It had me laughing from beginning to end. The crazy adventures of Peter and the animals are highly entertaining.” See her full review below.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

By Calee N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is a family-friendly comedy-adventure film. I loved watching whimsical animated film. It had me laughing from beginning to end. The crazy adventures of Peter and the animals are highly entertaining.

In this film, the characters you loved from the first movie are back. A beautiful wedding, a new business, and a perfect life on the farm appeared to be all Peter Rabbit and his family need, but things change when a book Bea wrote about the rabbits gets an opportunity to be published.

Director Will Gluck and screenwriter Patrick Burleigh bring back Peter Rabbit with a new adventure while maintaining what we love about the characters from the first movie. The talented voice-overs of Peter Rabbit (James Corben), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Cottontail (Aimee Horne), and Barnabas (Lennie James) bring life to the characters and laughter. Of course, a comedy-adventure is nothing without a proper soundtrack. The music by Dominic Lewis keeps up with the high-energy animal mischief and helps build emotion. Art directors Nicholas Dare and Sophie Nash create realistic computer-generated animals that could easily play the lead actors in any movie, including humans. Their personalities will have movie viewers falling in love with them and cheering their victory.

Through Peter Rabbit’s adventures on the farm and in the city, we learn that the importance of “family” is a continuous theme throughout the film. Unfortunately, Peter makes the mistake of letting the judgment of others question his character. However, the unconditional love from his siblings, cousin Bea, Thomas and the other animals helps him realize he doesn’t have to be perfect to be loved. Bea and Thomas finally understand that “family” comes in all shapes and sizes. 

I rate Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 18. Adults will also enjoy sharing laughs with their families. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway premieres in theaters June 11, 2021 and on Amazon Prime.

Fatherhood * Heartwarming Family Film With Kevin Hart Showing A Serious Side

Fatherhood is an upcoming American comedy-drama film directed by Paul Weitz from a screenplay by Weitz and Dana Stevens, based on the 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin. The film stars Kevin Hart, Alfre Woodard, Frankie R. Faison, Lil Rel Howery, DeWanda Wise, Anthony Carrigan, Melody Hurd, and Paul Reiser, and follows a new father who struggles to raise his daughter after the sudden death of his wife.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Expect the unexpected with Kevin Hart’s new drama film, Fatherhood! The comedian takes his acting to another level and shows us a more serious side, still with a little humor, while delivering a heartwarming, tear-jerking family film.” Apurva S. adds, “Who doesn’t love a good drama film? I know that I definitely do. Fatherhood is such a great one. It has family comedy, portrays a realistic way of life, and the acting is stellar.” See their full reviews below along with Benjamin’s interview with Melody Hurd who plays Maddy.

Fatherhood
Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10


Expect the unexpected with Kevin Hart’s new drama film, Fatherhood! The comedian takes his acting to another level and shows us a more serious side, still with a little humor, while delivering a heartwarming, tear-jerking family film. Fatherhood is based off the 2011 memoir Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matt Logelin and highlights the challenges and triumphs of being a single parent.

In Fatherhood, Matt Logelin (Kevin Hart) and his wife, Liz (Deborah Ayorinde) welcome a baby girl named Maddy (Melody Hurd) into the world. A day after giving birth, Liz passes away from complications, leaving Matt as a single parent raising his daughter.  He has no idea where to start, but, with the help of his family and friends along the way, he has to figure out a way to raise her.

The main characters in this film are Matt, Liz, Maddy, Lizzie “Swan” (DeWanda Wise) and Marian (Alfre Woodard). My overall favorite part in this film is how Matt and Maddy’s relationship grows as they go along. Usually, the parents are the ones teaching the lessons in life, but it was nice to see Maddy also be able to teach her father. Maddy is actually my favorite character for this reason. I enjoyed seeing her help Matt become a better father throughout the film. Even though this film is a drama, the director, Paul Weitz, uses creative ways to add humor. For example, there is a scene where baby Maddy looks back and forth between two “crazy” people talking and the camera pans back and forth showing us the scene from her perspective.

The message of this film is that you should not be afraid to ask for help when you need it, especially from your family and friends. Matt refuses help because he thinks he can handle everything by himself, even though he has no idea what he is doing. But eventually realizes maybe he does need some help to get him on the right track. Parents need to be aware of adults drinking and mild profanity and themes about death.

Fatherhood is a very uplifting film that will tap into your emotions. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 11 to 18. Adults will enjoy it as well. Fatherhood comes out June 18, 2021 on Netflix.

Fatherhood
Apurva S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12


Who doesn’t love a good drama film? I know that I definitely do. Fatherhood is such a great one. It has family comedy, portrays a realistic way of life, and the acting is stellar.


The storyline follows a dad, Matthew Logelin (Kevin Hart), who recently lost his wife Liz (Deborah Ayolinde). He must now raise his daughter (Melody Hurd) by himself, even though no one believes he can.

The best parts of this movie are the acting, the comedy and the drama. Kevin Hart really brings every emotion to life – when his wife dies, his crying shows us his grief. The comedy in this movie is subtle and it is frequent enough to make you laugh. I really enjoyed the comedy as it reflects funny family moments that we all go through. And the dramatic parts really show how a single parent, especially a father, might act upon losing his wife. Though the story is a bit slow at times, many may be able to relate to it and find it compelling. Fatherhood is based on a true story of a man who was forced to raise his child on his own following his wife’s death.

The message is that there’s nothing that a child needs more than family. Be aware that there is quite a lot of profanity used and there are many references to intimacy, that makes it inappropriate for younger kids. 


I give Fatherhood 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Fatherhood premieres on Netflix on June 18, 2021.

Last-Minute Gift Idea for Dad!

Game nights, movie nights, and snack attacks, Sweet Chaos has dad covered! From sweet to savory, Sweet Chaos has a gluten-free choice for everyone to snack on and enjoy. Sweet Chaos hand pops their NON-GMO kernels in coconut oil for a creamy richness while skipping the nasty, artificial stuff. This is one snack that will add a little sweet to the chaos! The exciting flavors include Honey Chipotle, Chaos Mix, Movie Theater Butter, Sea Salt, Jalapeno Blue Cheese, Kettle Corn, and White Cheddar.  My personal favorites are the Kettle Corn and the Honey Chipotle flavors. Look for it at Amazon.com, some Walmart locations & some specialty stores.

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