Archives for December 2022

Wildcat * Inspiring Documentary That Can Turn Your Heart From Empty To Full At The Drop Of A Dime

Wildcat follows the emotional and inspiring story of a young veteran (Harry Turner) on his journey into the Amazon. Once there, he meets a young woman (Samantha Zwicker) running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, and his life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery and healing.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D., comments, “Prepare to be inspired by a new documentary, Wildcat, directed and produced by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, leaves viewers in a whirlwind of emotions and can turn your heart from empty to full at the drop of a dime.” See his full review below.

Wildcat


By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Prepare to be inspired by a new documentary, !Wildcat, directed and produced by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost, which leaves viewers in a whirlwind of emotions and can turn your heart from empty to full at the drop of a dime. This is a film that you are not going to want to miss.

Struggling with depression and PTSD as a result from his time spent as a British soldier in Afghanistan, young Harry Turner attempts to escape his world in order to restore peace to his troubled life.  That escape lands him deep within the Peruvian Amazon where he teams up with American scientist Samantha Zwicker, and together they work diligently to save injured and orphaned wildlife at Hoja Nueva Rehabilitation Center. The film focuses mainly on the duo’s efforts to rehabilitate and “re-wild” orphaned ocelots, and their work seems to put purpose back into their lives. Harry continues with his mental struggles throughout the film and, although his efforts at Hoja Nueva are helping him overcome these challenges, the film highlights for us that these struggles may never truly be defeated.

There is so much to love and appreciate in Wildcat.  The cinematography is terrific as it takes us to one of the most remote and biodiverse places on our globe, allowing viewers to get close up views of some incredible species of animals. The story demonstrates that beauty can indeed be woven into the lives of those who have dark days.  And since I absolutely love cats and our family has been involved in cat rescue for many decades, I commend Harry and Samantha for their efforts in wildcat conservation and highlighting for us how difficult yet rewarding this line of work can be.

Wildcat is a true masterpiece. There are so many important thoughts to take with you after watching the film, and yet the film’s most important message is about hope and courage.  Mental illness is a life threatening disease, but, with some hope and a whole lot of courage, someone suffering from this condition can learn to cope with their disorder.  There is certainly also the message about the importance of conservation and the willingness to volunteer in order to protect and restore our fragile ecosystems.  We need more wildlife warriors and this film just may be a call to action for those conservation minded people. Parents need to be aware of some adult language throughout the film and at times some of the scenes display some very dark moments for Harry.

I give Wildcat 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Adults will also absolutely love this film. Wildcat releases on December 30, 2022, on Prime Video.

Trailer:

Rubio’s Launches Brand-New Taco on January 4

Taste a New Twist on The Original Fish Taco®

New year, new taco. On January 4, something that has never happened at Rubio’s before will take place. In celebration of their 40th anniversary this year, Rubio’s culinary team is introducing a new take on The Original Fish Taco®.

The new Baja Grilled Fish Taco launches in Rubio’s locations across California, Arizona and Nevada on January 4. Featuring grilled, wild-caught Mahi Mahi, the new Baja Grilled Fish Taco is topped with fresh-made guacamole, salsa fresca, cotija cheese, crisp cabbage and a new creamy Baja sauce, served on a warm stone-ground corn tortilla.

Also this month, every Rubio’s will hold a 40th Anniversary party on January 25. Rubio’s Rewards members can participate in a contest, both in-store and online, to win ’80s-inspired gear and free Rubio’s. Rewards members can earn entries for every visit the week of January 23, and 50 winners will receive a limited-edition Rubio’s bomber jacket.

Rubio’s guests can earn free drinks, desserts, tacos and entrées by joining Rubio’s Rewards. Members can sign up online or through the Rubio’s App, place an order and start earning points toward free food. Rubio’s offers take-out, express pick-up and delivery. For more information about Rubio’s Coastal Grill and to view the menu, visit Rubio’sFacebook and Instagram.

Credit: Rubio’s.

Laguna Art Museum Invites Guests of All Ages to Cultivate Their Creativity at the Museum!

Child looking into a tide pool.

Here are some exciting upcoming events at the Laguna Art Museum, with opportunities for both kids and adults to foster their inner creativity at the museum. 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY! December 29 at 6:00 p.m. – Kids’ Night Out: Surfing Into the New Year

  • Celebrate the new year with a Kids’ Night Out! Kids take over the museum for a special, fun-filled night with dinner, art activities, and an interactive surf-themed scavenger hunt around the museum. Caregivers and parents can enjoy a night out, too, as our education team takes over to guide the young learners on an exploration of the museum exhibitions and provide opportunities for hands-on art making activities. More information can be found at this link

January 7 at 6:00 p.m. – Panel Discussion: William Mortensen

  • Join Guest Curator, Larry Lytle, as he moderates a panel discussion on the life, art, and influence of William Mortensen. Panelists include Dennis Reed, Michael Dawson and Stuart Balcomb. More information can be found at this link

Art & Nature Festival Programming! January 14 at 6:00 p.m. – Panel Discussion: Artists in Nature

  • Join the Laguna Art Museum for a panel discussion with artists who work outdoors and create art inspired by nature. Discover the challenges and rewards of working in the wild, and how these artists adapt to an ever-changing environment. Panelists include Rich German, Casey Parlette, and Jasmine Swope. More information can be found at this link

January 15 at 10:00 a.m. – Jean Stern Presents: The Life & Art of Franz Bischoff

  • In this illustrated lecture, Mr. Stern will discuss the Life and Art of Franz A. Bischoff (1864-1929), one of the most important California artists.  Born in Bohemia, Bischoff was trained as a china-painter before coming to the United States at the age of eighteen in 1882 and settling in Michigan.  Establishing himself as America’s premier porcelain painter, he eventually settled in Pasadena and turned to landscape painting.  Through the 1920s, he painted the coastal areas of Monterey and Laguna Beach, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the desert near Palm Springs. More information can be found at this link.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY! Art & Nature Festival Programming! January 22 at 3:00 p.m. – Tidepool Excursion

  • Discover the amazing world of tidepools during this educational excursion to Laguna’s Heisler Park Beach. Just a short walk from the museum, you’ll join the Laguna Ocean Foundation for an in depth look at the tidepools and the organisms that call them home. This program will require participants to maneuver the beach including sand and rocks, please wear appropriate footwear. This program is in partnership with the Laguna Ocean Foundation. Tickets can be found at this link.

Credit: Laguna Art Museum.

Jack, Dec. 28th Pet of the Week

If you think that Jack gives a whisker about Christmas being over, then you don’t know Jack. Jack goes with the idea that since some people don’t take down their holiday decorations until mid-January, why shouldn’t he keep extra toasty warm in his Santy suit? Jack’s only a year old, and he’s come a long way since he was brought in, scared and nervous, to the shelter. The volunteers have socialized him so well that he said fine, whatever to being dressed in a costume. How many cats do that? Shelter hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 7700 E. Spring St. at the entrance to El Dorado Park (no parking fee for shelter visitors). You can email PetAdopt@longbeach.gov to speed the process for adopting or fostering Jack. Ask for ID#A667915).

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

L.A. ZOO LIGHTS: ANIMALS AGLOW HOSTS PRIDE NIGHT ON WEDNESDAY, JAN. 4, 2023  

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham/GLAZA

The Los Angeles Zoo, in partnership with LA Pride, will host a family-friendly LGBTQIA+ edition of L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow on Wednesday, Jan. 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. The Zoo welcomes all LGBTQIA+ friends, families, and allies to celebrate the new year at the Zoo’s totally reimagined, wildlife-centric LED lights display showcasing over 30 of the Zoo’s most beloved animals including giraffes, elephants, orangutans, lemurs, koalas, and condors, along with other charismatic inhabitants.  

“We are so excited for this partnership with Christopher Street West and L.A. Pride,” said Denise Verret, CEO & Zoo Director, Los Angeles Zoo. “The L.A. Zoo is committed to creating a place for all the beautifully diverse communities of Los Angeles to feel welcomed and experience belonging while connecting with nature and biodiversity. I am thrilled to have members of our LGBTQIA+ community and their allies enjoy this special holiday tradition and establish lasting experiences and memories for years to come.” 

The 60- to 90-minute stroll through L.A. Zoo Lights takes guests through desert, garden, and jungle landscapes filled with larger-than-life glowing sculptures, magical lights, and immersive exhibits in a dazzling display of light and color. There are several animated and interactive displays and photo opportunities for family and friends to enjoy. They include a guest-activated kaleidoscope of lights; glowing ring swings; a wisteria tunnel that leads to a light fountain; a cherry blossom-lined path; and a giant alligator, peacock, and bird wings for a unique photo opportunity; and so much more. A full bar will be available for those 21+. Tickets to L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow start at $27 for children (2-12) and $34 for adults (13+). All ages are welcome. To purchase tickets, please visit www.lazoo.org/zoolights

Credit: L.A. Zoo.

Ring in the New Year at L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow, The Los Angeles Zoo’s Breathtaking New Lights Display Happening Through Jan. 22, 2023 

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Zoo

Celebrate the last night of 2022 with the entire family with the specially ticketed Family New Year’s Eve experience at L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow. This not-to-be-missed all-ages celebration includes express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow, buffet dinner with soft drinks and dessert, a kid-friendly dance party and games, fun photo ops, live broadcast of the Times Square ball drop, and a New Year’s toast with complimentary champagne for adults (21+) and sparkling apple cider for kids. A cash bar is available. 

A night like this only comes around once a year, so gather the family for the ultimate way to experience L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow, the Zoo’s nighttime spectacular featuring beautiful lantern sculptures of animals among blooming flowers, towering trees, and more. This reimagined, wildlife-centric LED lights display showcases over 30 of the Zoo’s most beloved animals including giraffes, elephants, orangutans, lemurs, koalas, and condors, along with other charismatic inhabitants. The 60- to 90-minute stroll through L.A. Zoo Lights takes guests through desert, garden, and jungle landscapes filled with larger-than-life glowing sculptures, magical lights, and immersive exhibits in a dazzling display of light and color. There are several animated and interactive displays and photo opportunities for the family to enjoy. They include a guest-activated kaleidoscope of lights; glowing ring swings; a wisteria tunnel that leads to a light fountain; a cherry blossom-lined path; and a giant alligator, peacock, and bird wings for a unique photo opportunity; and so much more.  

Family New Year’s Eve guests have exclusive access to a dedicated area in the heart of the L.A. Zoo Lights route. Dinner will be served from 6 to 8 p.m. and holiday desserts served from 7 to 9 p.m. Family New’s Eve guests are welcome to explore L.A. Zoo Lights until closing at 10 p.m. Tickets are $100 for adults (18+) and  $75 for children (2-17); children younger than 2 are free. All ages welcome. Ticket sales end Dec. 23. To learn more, visit www.lazoo.org/zoolights

Credit: L.A. Zoo.

Sonic Prime * An Entertaining Series Filled With Lots Of Adventures And Universe Hopping

It’s the Sonic you know and love until an incredible twist thrusts Sonic into a new adventure featuring a reinvented cast and Sonic like you’ve never seen him before, where the fate of the multiverse rests in his gloved hands. Sonic’s adventure is about more than a race to save the universe from the evil machinations of his longtime nemesis Dr. Eggman and his army of badnik robots, it’s a race to save his friends, friends that he took for granted.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Giana N. comments, “Sonic Prime is an entertaining eight episode series with a lot of adventures, including traveling through different universes and meeting different versions of Sonic’s friends. If you are a Sonic the Hedgehog fan or are looking for an enjoyable show to watch, check this out.” Hanadie K. adds, “Video game fanatics, does Netflix have a treat for you. If you value nostalgia in the form of binge spree TV series, sit back and prepare to catch some as Sonic rings in this new adventure-filled, action-packed, family-fun animated series.” See their full reviews and interviews below.

Sonic Prime

Giana N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Sonic Prime is an entertaining eight episode series with a lot of adventures, including traveling through different universes and meeting different versions of Sonic’s friends. If you are a Sonic the Hedgehog fan or are looking for an enjoyable show to watch, check this out.

This series is about Sonic (Deven Mack Jr.), Tails (Ashleigh Ball), Amy Rose (Shannon Chan-Kent) and Knuckles (Adam Nurada) as they fight crime together to keep the town safe. As they are fighting Doctor Eggman (Brian Drummond), Sonic accidentally gets sent to a new universe, one where no one talks and no one knows who Sonic is, even though Sonic knows everyone there. Even in the new universe, it is up to Sonic to keep a new city safe.

I like how in almost every episode Sonic ends up in a new universe, every one of which is different. There is a universe where there are cavemen; a universe where there are pirates; and more. My favorite episode is episode seven, “It Takes One to No Place,” because it’s the most entertaining episode, ending with a great cliffhanger leading to the next episode. It made me want to continue watching more episodes.  Watch out because you might not want to stop! My favorite character is Sonic, because he learns from his mistakes and he perseveres. These are great characteristics for anyone to have and it’s why Sonic succeeds so much. Also Sonic is a really funny character and I like that.

The message of Sonic Prime is that mistakes can be fixed; you just have to fix them the right way. In the beginning, Sonic makes the mistake of not listening to people around him and he ends up in a parallel universe. He has to work with what he gets along the way and he fights to make it back to his universe. This show is very kid-friendly.

I give Sonic Prime 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Sonic Prime is available now on Netflix. Be sure to check it out!

Sonic Prime

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 11

Video game fanatics, does Netflix have a treat for you. If you value nostalgia in the form of binge spree TV series, sit back and prepare to catch some as Sonic rings in this new adventure-filled, action-packed, family-fun animated series. It’s back to the 90s with as Sonic and some of Sega’s most memorable console characters returning in the new series Sonic Prime where they travel about multiple universes trying to protect their home.

Sonic Prime takes viewers on a thrilling ride as they watch Sonic (Deven Mack) and his friends’ trusted companions warp in and out of new universes to protect their home from the iniquitous Dr. Eggman (Brian Drummond). Sonic must advance through the Shattervierse into new terrifying dimensions to locate pieces of the shard of the Paradox Crystal. Prepare to be astonished as Sonic encounters various versions of his friends and new enemies, including Tails (Ashleigh Ball), Knuckles (Adam Nurada), Big the Cat (Iam Hanlin, Amy Rose (Shannon Chan-Kent) and Rogue (Kamuzi Evans). Sonic is determined to gather all the missing shards, so Tails can put them together and save them.

This eight-episode arcade-inspired remake is “to the brim” with speed and action. Sonic is known for his incomparable speed, ability to curl into a ball and use himself as a weapon, and his lionhearted personality. This CGI animated series does not neglect to include these notable unforgettable qualities in every episode. There are some genuinely magical otherworldly moments in this series; one being the sound effects. Memorable moments such as Sonic traveling to new universes or collecting his golden rings are amplified by high-quality sound effects. Some mind-blowing action moments accommodate the nature of this series as well. This is a fast-paced series; the camera work and animation bring this production together in a delightful way.

Sonic Prime offers a message of resilience and friendship. This series depicts the dedication of friends and the power of unity and Sonic and his friends make a great effort to save their world and protect others. While this series makes your head spin faster than Sonic himself, some people may be disappointed by the ending. If you despise cliffhangers, brace yourself.

I give Sonic Prime 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus loyal Sonic fans. This animated series is designed with game lovers in mind. Sonic Prime releases on Netflix on December 15, 2022.

Trailer:

Fantasy Football * A Comical, Family-Friendly Movie. With The Potential To Become A Perennial Favorite

Photo: Nickelodeon/Paramount+© 2022 Paramount Global. All Rights Reserved.

In this hilarious and heartwarming father-daughter sports fantasy, everything changes when Callie A. Coleman (Marsai Martin) discovers she can magically control her father, Bobby’s (Omari Hardwick) performance on the football field. When Callie plays as her dad, a running back for the Atlanta Falcons, in EA SPORTS Madden NFL 23, Bobby is transformed from a fumblitis-plagued journeyman to a star running back bound for superstardom alongside his daughter and wife Keisha (Kelly Rowland). With the NFL Playoffs looming and the pressures of Callie’s new commitment to her friends on the robotics team mounting, the two must forge ahead to keep the magic a secret as they juggle the highs and lows of their newfound success, all as they rediscover what it really means to be a family.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N., comments, “Fantasy Football is a film that has the potential to become a favorite. Since American football is one of the most popular sports in the world, what could be better than to combine a seasoned cast with beloved sport in a new movie?” See her full review and Gavin S.’s interview below.  

Fantasy Football

Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 15

Fantasy Football is a film that has the potential to become a favorite. Since American football is one of the most popular sports in the world, what could be better than to combine a seasoned cast with beloved sport in a new movie? 

The storyline follows Bobby Coleman (Omari Hardwick), an NFL running back constantly hit with misfortune on the field. As his life fills with questions, he and his daughter Callie (Marsai Martin) argue and Callie’s discovers she can control Bobby’s playing through a video game. You have to watch the film to find out if Bobby is able to use this to his advantage, or if it creates more trouble for everyone.

Fantasy Football is a comical, family friendly movie. Bobby’s big problem is that he cannot keep the football in his hands long enough to land himself a starting spot or make a positive impact on any team. Although actual NFL players may not be in the exact same circumstance as Bobby, this movie nicely represents what their real experiences may be like. For me, it was fascinating to see what the life of a professional athlete might look like. The actors express multiple emotions, and their ability to drop hilarious lines and make faces that catch the audience’s attention is what makes this so much fun.  The dynamics and banter between Bobby and Anderson (Rome Flynn) helps carry the movie, and make it one that I would watch more than once. Led by Sekinah Brown, the costume designs display dedication and attention to detail. The uniforms that Bobby and the players wear look identical to actual Atlanta Falcons’ uniforms.

The message of Fantasy Football is that nothing worth having comes easy. Bobby has had the worst luck in the NFL, after not breaking the rushing record, but all of his struggles become worth it when he finally gets his opportunity to shine.

I give Fantasy Football 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. Fantasy Football is available now on Paramount+. Make sure you check this out!

Trailer: