Charlie’s Angels * Loving Remake With Some Neat Callbacks

Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska are working for the mysterious Charles Townsend, whose security and investigative agency has expanded internationally. With the world’s smartest, bravest, and most highly trained women all over the globe, there are now teams of Angels guided by multiple Bosleys taking on the toughest jobs everywhere. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “This film is a reboot of a very well-known franchise. Charlie’s Angels was originally a TV show in the 70s. While I knew very little about the franchise, my mom is a huge fan. From what I’ve gathered, this movie is a pretty loving remake, with some neat callbacks. This is definitely a film that can be enjoyed by people who aren’t fans. It is the perfect film for those who want a fun female-empowerment movie.” See her full review below.  

Charlie’s Angels
By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

This film was immensely entertaining and a joy to watch. While I’m unable to judge this film as a reboot, I can judge this as a girl power film.

The story follows a trio of women known as Charlie’s Angels as they attempt to track down a dangerous piece of technology that can kill people with electric pulses.

This film is a reboot of a very well-known franchise. Charlie’s Angels was originally a TV show in the 70s. While I knew very little about the franchise, my mom is a huge fan. From what I’ve gathered, this movie is a pretty loving remake, with some neat callbacks. This is definitely a film that can be enjoyed by people who aren’t fans. It is the perfect film for those who want a fun female-empowerment movie.

Speaking of which, this film is very much about the friendship between the three Angels – Jane, Sabina and Elena. Jane is played by Ella Balinska. Sabina is played by Kristen Stewart and Elena is played by Naomi Scott. The three have amazing chemistry, each with their own unique personality and characteristics. I love all three of them a lot. You really do buy that these women have become good friends and they work well together. Of course, the Angels aren’t the only amazing characters in this cast. Elizabeth Banks, who also wrote and directed this film, plays Bosley and she’s a really fun character. Elizabeth Banks plays a perfect mentor. There’s also Jonny Smith, who seems to be a throwaway character at first, but he is weirdly endearing. The actor, Chris Pang, is strangely charismatic and he ended up being one of my favorite characters in the film.

The film consists of a lot of awesome action and espionage scenes. There are some really impressive and honestly quite tense action segments and the espionage is really fun and clever. The gadgets they use are designed really well, in that they are both creative and stylish. Honestly, this whole film has a really nice aesthetic, especially the house where the final fight takes place. There are all these bright colorful lights and glass walls with images projected onto them that look amazing.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. It releases on November 15, 2019. Look for it.

Stuffed Puffs®S’mores Indoors will surely be a hit this holiday season!

This summer, the s’more, a century-old American tradition, was re-born when Stuffed Puffs® debuted at WalMart® to rave reviews. Using an innovative and proprietary manufacturing process, Stuffed Puffs puts the chocolate inside the marshmallow, so the chocolate melts while the marshmallow toasts, virtually guaranteeing a perfect s’more.

Stuffed Puffs puts an end to the frustration of juggling marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers around a campfire or hot grill. It eliminates the chunks of un-melted chocolate or uneven blending of chocolate and marshmallow that turns traditional s’more-making into a hit-or-miss adventure.

Now, in the spirit of making a good thing even better, Stuffed Puffs is introducing S’mores Indoors — turning a favorite taste of summer into a year-round treat. The introduction will feature a Stuffed Puffs S’mores Kit – a bag of Stuffed Puffs and 2 sleeves of graham crackers (no chocolate bars needed) – available in September, online and at WalMart.

My family had the opportunity to try this delicious kit and will definitely be buying one for the upcoming holiday season! This would also be perfect on a rainy day or when the kids are home on vacation!

Stuffed Puffs S’mores Kits are available online and at select WalMart stores across the country, priced at $5.48. Individual bags of Stuffed Puffs will still be available online and in-store at WalMart and other locations.  Shop online or find a store near you that carries Stuffed Puffs at www.stuffedpuffs.com.

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. The image was also provided.

Ticket giveaway opportunity for a holiday concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall!

Los Angeles Children’s Chorus
PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

LOS ANGELES CHILDREN’S CHORUS, LED BY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR FERNANDO MALVAR-RUIZ, PRESENTS BRITTEN’S BELOVED A CEREMONY OF CAROLS IN FEATURED HOLIDAY CONCERT ONLOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC’S “SOUNDS ABOUT TOWN” SERIESSunday, December 8, 2019, 7:30 pm Walt Disney Concert HallConcert Features Harp Virtuoso Cristina Montes and Marks Work’s Disney Hall Premiere

The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC), led by Artistic Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, rings in the season with A Ceremony of Carols, one of Benjamin Britten’s most beloved works, in the sparkling acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s prestigious “Sounds About Town” series on Sunday, December 8, 2019, 7:30 pm, at Disney Hall. Harp virtuoso Cristina Montes joins the chorus as a special guest. Written for treble voices and set to a range of medieval texts written for the Advent season, the carols each have their own identity and color, creating a delightful sense of discovery as the timeless masterpiece unfolds. (No children under six years old will be admitted.) LACC adds a unique twist to A Ceremony of Carols with Malvar-Ruiz interspersing between its 12 movements accompanying works that link either musically or thematically to the movements they proceed. Among the companion works are Swedish composer Jan Sandsrom’s ethereal 1990 choral arrangement of Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming; National Medal of Arts recipient Morten Lauridsen’s quintessential setting of O Magnum Mysterium; Ola Gjeilo’s stunning soundscape Tundra, set to lyrics by Charles Anthony Silvestri written specifically for the work to reflect the barren and beautiful Norwegian mountain plateau where the composer’s father grew up; and Ēriks Ešenvalds breathtaking Stars, a setting of words by Sara Teasdale composed in 2011 for choir and water-tuned glasses. In addition, LACC has commissioned a new arrangement of Silent Night from award-winning Spanish composer Juan Colomer, which is being premiered at the concert. “I can’t think of a more perfect setting to perform A Ceremony of Carols than Walt Disney Concert Hall during the holidays,” says Malvar-Ruiz. “To hear children’s voices raised in song there, especially during the Christmas season, is pure sonic delight. LACC’s contemporary commentary on the work is intended to build a unique, joyful and uplifting experience centered around a piece that has been a staple for the holidays since its creation.” Six of LACC’s choirs are featured in the program, including the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Mixed Choir, under the direction of Malvar-Ruiz; the Young Men’s Ensemble led by Dr. Steven Kronauer; the Intermediate Choir, led by Mandy Brigham; and the Apprentice Choir, led by Interim Conductor Eric Lifland. Tickets are $17, $34 and $45.  For tickets and information, visit www.lachildrenschorus.org or call (626) 793-4231. Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC), widely recognized for its agile bel canto sound and artistic excellence, has been lauded as “hauntingly beautiful” (Los Angeles Times), “astonishingly polished” (Performances Magazine) and “one of the world’s foremost children’s choirs” (Pasadena Star News).  Founded in 1986 and led by Artistic Director Fernando Mulvar-Ruiz, who began his tenure in August 2018, LACC presents its own concerts and regularly performs with such organizations as LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale and Jacaranda.  The Chorus serves 400 children ages 6 to 18 from in seven choirs – Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Mixed Chamber Choir, Young Men’s Ensemble, Intermediate Choir, Apprentice Choir and Preparatory Choir – and a First Experiences in Singing program and First Experiences in Choral Singing Ensemble for 6-8-year-olds.  LACC, recipient of Chorus America’s 2014 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, tours internationally, is the subject of three documentaries and has appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” PBS’s “Great Performances,” BBC Radio, Public Radio International’s “From the Top” and is featured on John Williams’ latest recording, John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection.  www.lachildrenschorus.org

Credit: The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.

We have teamed up for a giveaway! One winner will win 2 tickets! To enter please leave a comment below! The winner will be chosen on November 25th at 8 pm.

Inland Pacific Ballet Celebrates 25th Anniversary with the Returns of its Spectacular Production of The Nutcracker

Photo Credits: E.Y. Yanagi

Inland Pacific Ballet, Southern California’s premier professional ballet company presents The Nutcracker!



Enjoy a treasured holiday tradition with family and friends at southern California’s most spectacular production of The Nutcracker from critically acclaimed Inland Pacific Ballet. Celebrating 25 years, Inland Pacific Ballet’s The Nutcracker comes to life with this magnificent ballet comprised of beautiful sets, dazzling costumes, and more than 80 dancers on stage. This annual performance tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Toy soldiers, life-sized dancing dolls, and a fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the delightful Sugar Plum Fairy stir the imagination. Meet the cast after the performance for photos and autographs. This is family entertainment at its best.


Back by popular demand! Since its debut in 2004, audience members have delighted in The Nutty Nutcracker, which comes to the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga for the first time, and returns to Riverside’s Fox Performing Arts Center and Claremont’s Bridges Auditorium for one performance at each venue. A hilarious send up of everyone’s favorite holiday ballet, The Nutty Nutcracker features a zany storyline loosely based on the traditional Nutcracker. Follow Clara and her offbeat cousin, Anya as they witness hysterical antics and unexpected visitors in the Land of the Sweets. Get ready for sidesplitting surprises and wacky characters in this comic version of the holiday classic.


Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739


Saturday, November 30; 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 1; 2:00 p.m.

Friday, December 6; 7:30 p.m. – *The Nutty Nutcracker


Saturday, December 7; 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 8; 2:00 p.m.


Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501


Friday, December 13; 7:30 p.m. – *The Nutty Nutcracker


Saturday, December 14; 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 15; 2:00 p.m.


Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 450 North College Way, Claremont, CA 91711


Friday, December 20; 7:30 p.m. – *The Nutty Nutcracker

Saturday, December 21; 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 22; 2:00 p.m.

Information & Tickets:  IPBALLET.org; tickets from $25; senior/child/group discounts available.


Inland Pacific Ballet is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Season and was founded in 1994 by Southern California natives Victoria Koenig and Kevin Myers, and quickly become one of Southern California’s cultural jewels. Its mission is to build and sustain a professional ballet company in the Inland Empire of Southern California, committed to producing exquisitely staged productions of full-length classic story ballets, presenting the best in contemporary choreography, and providing an essential training ground for serious young dancers.


During the past 25 years Koenig and Myers have built Inland Pacific Ballet into the premier ballet company in the region, enjoying critical acclaim while performing the largest and most varied repertoire in the area. The Company’s repertoire includes such classics as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, Graduation Ball and Swan Lake Act II. Full length classical masterpieces include Giselle, Coppélia and a lavish production of The Nutcracker. Contemporary classics include masterpieces by the legendary George Balanchine including Serenade, Concerto Barocco and Who Cares? and a growing body of original work which includes creative adaptations of much-loved stories such as The Little Mermaid, CinderellaDracula and Beauty and the Beast.

Credit: Inland Pacific Ballet.

Last Christmas * Entertaining Christmas Themed Musical With Thoughtful Performances

Kate (Emilia Clarke) harumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jangle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom (Henry Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate’s barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart … and you gotta have faith. Starring Emilia Clarke (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson. Directed by Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Spy, Bridesmaids).  Screenplay by Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Baby) and playwright Bryony Kimmings. Featuring the music of George Michael, including the bittersweet holiday classic of the film’s title. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “For a film that hinges much of its story on a single Christmas song, I found myself unexpectedly moved by it. It has a touching story about doing good for others, which we’re all capable of, and not letting hardship keep you from reaching your full potential.” See his full review below.

Last Christmas

Benjamin Price, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Last Christmas is a Christmas tale with an out-of-place musical hook that works better than it should. For a film that hinges much of its story on a single Christmas song, I found myself unexpectedly moved by it. It has a touching story about doing good for others, which we’re all capable of, and not letting hardship keep you from reaching your full potential.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) finds her life at a standstill, mostly homeless and frequently drunk with a loss of ambition or drive. She is about to get fired from her job as an elf at a Christmas-themed store when she meets the jovial, yet mysterious Tom (Henry Golding), who helps usher her into a new era of her life. Kate begins to help those she has done wrong and view the world in a more positive light as the Christmas holiday draws near.

Emilia Clarke gives a surprisingly layered performance as Kate. Her character is written fairly blandly, but Clark gives it depth when the screenplay doesn’t. Henry Golding plays Tom with exuberance and energy. His thoughtful approach to life makes him a nice foil to Kate’s blatant cynicism. Emma Thompson puts on a Slavic accent in a scene-stealing comedic performance as Kate’s painfully honest and worrisome mother. There are some moments in this film that are painfully reminiscent of other films in the rom-com lexicon, but there’s a consistent charm here throughout, more earnest than contrived. This charm is amplified by the likability of its two leads, Clarke and Golding.

The film’s soundtrack is from the music catalog of singer George Michael. They serve as a smooth transition between scenes, but at times feel tacked-on and gimmicky and don’t fit in with the rest of the film. Last Christmas has a third act that turns the movie on its head and, while the shift isn’t shockingly surprising, it’s well-executed and re-contextualizes much of what has come before.

I give Last Christmas 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18 due to sexual references and language. There’s nothing too scandalous, but it’s still worth noting. If you’re a fan of this genre, you’ll probably love this film and its holiday charm is hard to resist. In the end, we go to the movies to be entertained and in that respect; Last Christmas certainly gets the job done. This film comes out in theaters everywhere November 8, 2019. Look for it.

Frozen II * Beautiful Sequel To One of the Greatest Animated Films Ever Made

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In Frozen, Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In Frozen II, she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen 2 opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “Frozen II is a beautiful continuation of one of the greatest animated films ever made. We know the story and characters from the 2013 film, so it’s not as original, surprising and innovative as the first one, but as the story evolves so does the animation.” Lindalee R. adds, “I love Frozen II so much, because the animation is so fantastic and it is so great to see all the characters come back together for a whole new adventure.” Will C. chimes in with, “The message of this film is that when you feel that you’ve lost all hope, you should do the next right thing.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, wraps it up with, “I must admit. I love Disney. I loved the very original Frozen and love Frozen II! The music is captivating, as are the loveable characters we fell in love with when Frozen debuted in 2013. When it comes to music, I predict “Into the Unknown” is going to become this year’s “Let It Go.” See their full reviews and interviews from the premiere and junket below.

Frozen II

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Frozen II is a beautiful continuation of one of the greatest animated films ever made. We know the story and characters from the 2013 film, so it’s not as original, surprising and innovative as the first one, but as the story evolves so does the animation. The characters grow in their arc, becoming more mature, with stronger relationships and technically, Frozen II is a much better film than its predecessor.

Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven have become a family. Now, they try to discover the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their Kingdom because it seems as if Elsa has awakened some powerful spirits. They leave Arandelle, their hometown, and embark into a Nordic odyssey, in the impetuous fall, where they will face dangers and will meet new characters. 

During the film’s 103 minutes, we are delighted with seven new songs, most of them as iconic as those in the previous film and 19 score tracks. “Into the Unknown” stays with you and I’m sure we will hear this beautiful composition at the Oscar ceremony. Frozen II feels like a musical at times and that just makes the movie better.

The story is well narrated and easy to follow for little ones. Sisterhood is a powerful force and the bond between Anna and Elsa only strengths during the whole movie.

Frozen II is absolutely eye candy with a beautiful color palette similar to the original adding the warm tones of autumn. The filmmakers traveled to Finland, Iceland and Norway for inspiration. They consulted with a botanist in Oslo to make sure the forest resembles the authentic vegetation there. The animation is not just beautiful, but also a great representation of the Nordic folklore and the geography of the places. 

We can also appreciate the advances in technology in the new characters. Among the most challenging to animate are Nokk, the water spirit and Gale, the wind spirit. The costumes are very detailed and gorgeous and, even Olaf gets to wear one!

The actors from the original cast reprise their roles and Jason Ritter makes his Disney debut as the voice of Ryder. My favorite characters are Brunni, the salamander and Olaf played by Josh Gad. Olaf is very funny and his character becomes bigger in this sequel. My favorite scenes are the ones where the characters are discovering the elements in the forest, because each one represents a new challenge.

The message of the film is about creating your own destiny and not being afraid of growing up.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16, as well as adults. Frozen II opens November 22, 2019. Be sure to check it out!

Frozen II

By Lindalee R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I love Frozen II so much, because the animation is so fantastic and it is so great to see all the characters come back together for a whole new adventure. In the first movie Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) rediscovered being sisters. In this movie, which takes place three years after the original, their closeness as sisters is stronger than ever. 

The movie starts off in the past with Anna and Elsa’s parents telling Anna and Elsa about the enchanted forest. Their mom sings them a lullaby about a secret place full of magical powers. Then we fast forward to present time and Elsa hears a mysterious voice that calls her into the North Woods and the adventure begins. Along the way they meet the Northuldra, a tribe of people who live in the enchanted forest that are connected with the elements. On this journey Anna and Elsa find out about their parents’ past and Elsa finds out who and what she really is.

Frozen II has seven new original songs and all new characters that help Elsa on her journey to discover who she is and the origin of her powers. “Lost in the Woods” sung by Kristoff; it is so funny because it has all these inside jokes from old music videos. There are also two great songs sung by Elsa – “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself.” Plus, Olaf (Josh Gad) also has a really fun song called “When I am Older’’ and Anna sings a song too. 

Throughout this movie Olaf become smarter and much funnier. It’s a really great experience to see that happen to our favorite little lovable snowman. This movie has a lot of comedy, adventure and touching moments.

The message of this film is to follow your heart and listen to your gut, because if you do, there could be a huge adventure waiting for you. Another important message in the movie is that family is important and will always be there for you; so don’t ever turn them away when they offer to help.

I give Frozen II, 5 out of 5 snowflakes and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults will love it too! You can catch it in theaters November 22, 2019. Look for it.

Frozen II

By Will C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Frozen II is an exciting animated adventure with lots of laughs! The bright, lively animation really gives character to everyone in this movie. The new songs and exciting story make this film a great choice for the whole family.

Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) set off on a quest with their friends Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and trusted reindeer Sven. They’re following a mysterious voice that only Elsa can hear; in hopes of finding the enchanted forest their father told them about when they were kids. Along the way, they encounter spirits of air, water, earth, and fire, and they learn of a mysterious fifth spirit that they must find. Elsa and Anna work together to right a wrong from the past, even though this may mean sacrificing everything.

Frozen II has lots of great new songs that help tell the story, but nothing as catchy as those in the original film. There is no main villain or antagonist, just a lot of angry spirits to deal with. The audience at the screening I attended really loved the sequence where Olaf treats some new characters to a hilarious recap of the first Frozen movie. The costume designers must have had a lot of fun designing the intricate costumes and Elsa and Anna both change clothes lots of times throughout the film. The animators have done some pretty incredible things, from making a horse out of water, to creating a flaming salamander. My favorite part is a funny song Olaf sings about how everything will make sense when he’s older.

The message of this film is that when you feel that you’ve lost all hope, you should do the next right thing. Parents should be aware that some beloved characters are in grave danger and young children might be upset by what befalls them. There are some really dark moments when even the usually optimistic Anna thinks all is lost. However, there are some great messages about bravery in the face of danger and doing the right thing despite the cost to yourself.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for children ages 6 to 12 and I believe adults will like it too. You can see Frozen II in theaters everywhere starting November 22, 2019.

Frozen II
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I must admit. I love Disney. I loved the very original Frozen and love Frozen II! The music is captivating, as are the loveable characters we fell in love with when Frozen debuted in 2013. The core characters, Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf and Sven are back and living seemingly normal, happy lives in Arendelle. Olaf ratchets up the comedy and has a plethora of entertaining lines and musical trips down memory lane.


Everyone has grown-up a bit since we last saw the fine people of Arendelle. Kristoff can’t get out of his own way in his desire to propose to Anna and life seems to be merry for all, until a calling is felt by Queen Elsa and the group goes in search of answers in the Enchanted Forest, a forbidden place. Along the way, we meet new characters including Mattias (Sterling K. Brown), Yelana (Martha Plimpton) and Honeymaren (Rachel Matthews). They all have a part as Anna and Elsa’s quest to learn their family history begins and it gets a little dark as many ventures into the past can be.

When it comes to music, I predict “Into the Unknown” is going to become this year’s “Let It Go.” I’d be willing to predict the Golden Globe and the Academy Awards nomination for Best Original Song. I also predict Disney will sell millions of iguanas over the holidays. Disney’s sequel to Frozen has a built-in fan base, and the Disney marketing machine partnered with the world to ensure we know the film opens just before Thanksgiving, in plenty of time to entertain the entire family!

I give this film 4.5 of 5 stars for its beautiful animation, music and comedy.  I would have loved more character development, especially for the new characters.  This film will appeal to ages 3 to 18.  There is one segment that may appear scary to younger children. Frozen II opens in theaters November 22, 2019. See it!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood * Timely Message About Forgiveness and Redemption

Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “It’s definitely A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when Tom Hanks portrays the iconic Mister Rogers.  The message is timely and needed now more than ever.  This movie is not what I expected. You learn about Mr. Rogers’ through his relationship with a man who didn’t want to be his friend or neighbor.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He seemed like the nicest man on the planet. Casting the nicest actor on the planet as Fred Rogers was brilliant. Mr. Hanks brings the deliberate-speaking teacher to life in a way I can’t describe.” See their full reviews below.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11 

It’s definitely A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when Tom Hanks portrays the iconic Mister Rogers.  The message is timely and needed now more than ever.  This movie is not what I expected. You learn about Mr. Rogers’ through his relationship with a man who didn’t want to be his friend or neighbor.  It’s a message that we all need to hear.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on a true life story about the relationship that develops between Fred Rogers and a cynical reporter who is loath to interview him for a piece on American heroes.  In the movie, the reporter is Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) who gives an amazing performance.  Through his interactions with Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), Vogel begins to understand that part of him is broken.  The healing process begins as their friendship develops and you see Fred Rogers teaching him to understand, accept and voice his emotions and feelings.  It is beautiful.  Tom Hanks is masterful in this role at bringing out the transformation of his friend.

In addition to Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys, the cast has other powerful performances, notably Chris Cooper who plays Lloyd’s dad, Jerry Vogel.  Christine Lahti, as Lloyd’s Editor Ellen, pushes him to work on the hero piece and adds a touching element to the movie as well. The film is directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.  Music plays an important role in this movie and is by Nate Heller.  The scenes of Mr. Rogers playing the piano along with the behind-the-scenes of the television show during filming of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood are particularly moving. 

The message of this film is that anyone can change the world with words.  It’s a powerful message that we often forget.  Listen and think before you speak, as your words impact others.  Fred Rogers finds a positive way to help others express their feelings, which is not an easy thing to do, although he makes it look easy.  Forgiveness and redemption are another theme in this film.

I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 and adults will love it as well.  The film opens in theaters November 22, 2019 so don’t miss it this Thanksgiving season!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He seemed like the nicest man on the planet. Casting the nicest actor on the planet as Fred Rogers was brilliant. Mr. Hanks brings the deliberate-speaking teacher to life in a way I can’t describe.  I’m betting Tom Hanks will be nominated for many awards for this role. He becomes Fred Rogers in the film.

Kindness is so simple. This film is a beautiful and timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. In the film his character is named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and he is grumpy and not interested in an assigned puff-piece profile of Fred Rogers. Throughout the film, he works through his skepticism, and learns kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor.

The real lesson is learned by Lloyd as he works through issues of fathers, his own (Chris Cooper) and his new role as a father.  The film is moving and brings forth many emotions – from grief to sadness to joy, and everything in between. Lloyd’s wife, Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) is the bridge between Lloyd’s family pain and his future as a better Dad.

Lloyd spoke to my heart and begs the audience to feel emotions and be kind, clean up family messes and listen to others when help is needed. I believe every person who sees this film will be moved. The depth of Fred Rogers reach is felt on a public subway. I have not been able to forget this scene since I screened the film.

I give this film 4 of 5 stars for its beautiful theme, set design and character development.  At times, it is slow, yet is parallels Mr. Rogers’ pace so I’m not sure if this was intentional or a flaw.  This film will appeal to ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens in theaters on November 22, 2019. See it!

Kobe, Nov. 21st Pet of the Week!

Pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie, pumpkin room spray—it’s all seasonal. Unless, of course, it’s a pumpkin-color cat! That’s Kobe, a 2-year-old pumpkin-and-white girl with a mustache that looks as if she’s been lapping up a pumpkin latte! Kobe’s unbelievably friendly and of course, absolutely adorable, and she’ll be so all year round! Make Kobe’s Thanksgiving happen—meet her on the shelter side of the Companion Animal Village at 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A632809.

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

Credit: Courtesy of the Companion Animal Village.