THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, HOCUS POCUS & COCO – Returning to Theatres Next Weekend!!!

For “The Nightmare Before Christmas” tickets and information visit https://regmovi.es/2MhfWu0

Tickets are now on sale at select Regal theaters. Participating theaters include locations in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Check local listing for participating Regal theaters.

Additionally, for the first time ever, the film spirals into life through the vivid and dazzling effects of 4DX exclusively in six Regal cinemas:

  • Union Square 14, New York City
  • E-Walk 13 &RPX, New York City
  • LA Live 14, Los Angeles
  • Pointe 20 & IMAX, Orlando
  • Meridian 16, Seattle
  • Gallery Place 14, Washington, D.C.

Members of Regal Crown Club and Disney Movie Rewards loyalty programs can get rewarded for seeing Disney movies at Regal theaters when they link their accounts. Members will receive 25 Disney Movie Rewards bonus points for linking. For information on Disney Movie Rewards linking with Regal Crown Club loyalty program visithttp://www.DisneyMovieRewards.com/LinkMe

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

I am extremely excited to share that this Halloween weekend, Friday, October 26th – Wednesday, October 31st, you can bewitch your Halloween holiday with Disney’s beloved classic HOCUS POCUS which returns for a limited engagement exclusively in over 300 AMC cinemas locations nationwide!

For Hocus Pocus tickets and information visit https://www.amctheatres.com/participating-theatres/hocus-pocus

BUT THAT’S STILL NOT ALL!

I am ridiculously excited to share that next weekend, Friday, October 26th – Thursday, November 1st, The Academy Award® winning film (Best Animated Film, Best Original Song) COCOis back in theatres for a limited engagement exclusively at Cinemark theatres!

For Cinemark tickets and information visit https://www.cinemark.com/coco

Happy Halloween!

Self Disclosure: Information and images were provided to share with my readers. 

“If You’re Shy and Need Some Nerve, Talk Like a Pirate!” Swab the deck clean with new sea-worthy songs from Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers: ‘IF YOU WANT TO BE A PIRATE: Songs for Young Buccaneers’

Ahoy there! Whether you’re just a wee scallywag or an old salt, your day will most certainly improve by donning a tricorn hat and eye patch and singing a sea shanty or two.  You’ll be lucky this Talk Like a Pirate Day when a new album of original piratical songs sets sail from Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers. Digital editions of If You Want To Be a Pirate: Songs for Young Buccaneers is available now for a few doubloons, from Amazon, iTunes, and direct from the captain’s quarters. Physical CDs are available now.

Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers is a wild band of Nashville musicians who dress like pirates and play a rollicking mix of piratical sing-alongs, rousing historical rave-ups, Afro-Cuban tinged ballads, Cajun sea shanties, and bluesy Irish jigs, all celebrating the days when the seas were ruled by great sailing ships. If You Want To Be a Pirate is their fifth studio album, inspired by the band’s legions of younger hearties from their tours through North America, Europe, Australia and beyond.  Favorites of the tall ships and pirate festival circuits, the band will perform for the fourth time in a row at  Pilgrimage Music and Culture Festival, and they plan to invade more ships and stages in the coming months.

The songs are enhanced by multilayered instrumentation – from accordions to violins – and jolly harmonies. If You Want To Be a Pirate launches with the aspirational and welcoming title track. Next up, the song “It’s a Lot of Work To Be a Pirate,” confirms the deck-swabbing reality of life aboard a bilgey sailing ship. Listeners meet “Kristofer the Kindly Kraken” and “The Parrot of a Pirate,” a and a curiously “Invisible Crew.”  There’s no sign of rum (exactly) in the kids’ version of the Blue Buccaneers hit “In the Drink.”  While quite a rowdy bunch, Cap’n Tom and his crew bemoan the state of the world’s oceans and “messy humanity” when “You Can’t See the Treasure through the Trash.”  Meanwhile, all “lusty lads” and “lively lasses” can instantly “Talk Like a Pirate” (a song written with Talk Like a Pirate Day co-founder John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur). Time moves swiftly in a pirate’s life. Before you know it, you’re “Sailing On” with the wind.

Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers have been performing together since 2010. Over the past few years, they’ve performed kid-friendly shows at libraries and other venues. The idea of recording songs for kids surfaced in response to the audience. “As a band of pirates, we’ve spent a lot of evenings getting adults to get in touch with their inner child,” explains Mason. “I thought it was high time we helped kids do the same.  It’s natural for both children and adults to be self-conscious and fearful, and all that shyness melts away when people pretend to be pirates.” For more information and the latest concert news from Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, please visit www.tommason.net, and join the crew on the band’s Facebook page.

Credit: Sugar Mountain PR.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (music from the soundtrack) by Composer/Performer Vince Guaraldi Available for the first time ever on CD and digital Halloween Giveaway Opportunity!

   

CD OFFERINGS INCLUDE AN INTRODUCTION FROM PEANUTS EXECUTIVE PRODUCER LEE MENDELSON AND LINER NOTES FROM PEANUTS HISTORIAN DERRICK BANG

One of the most sought-after soundtracks in the beloved collection of music from the iconic Peanuts animated TV specials, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is being made available for the first time ever on Friday, October 5 via Craft Recordings. Featuring music by GRAMMY®-winning composer/performer Vince Guaraldi, the CD package includes a new introduction from the TV show’s executive producer Lee Mendelson and insightful liner notes by Derrick Bang, Peanuts historian and author of Vince Guaraldi at the Piano.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Music from the Soundtrack) features some of the most iconic tracks in pop culture, including the instantly recognizable “Linus and Lucy,” as well as the languid, lyrical “Great Pumpkin Waltz.” The music was recorded on October 4, 1966 at Desilu’s Gower Street Studio in Hollywood, California by Guaraldi (piano) and his longtime friends and trio sidemen — bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey — joined by Emanuel Klein (trumpet), John Gray (guitar) and Ronald Lang (woodwinds). The entire scoring process was overseen by composer, arranger and conductor John Scott Trotter, well-known for a three-decade run as Bing Crosby’s music director and close friend.

Following the astounding popularity of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip and the first two successful Peanuts television specials — A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown’s All-Stars — It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown debuted October 27, 1966 with a phenomenal 49 percent audience share, meaning 49 percent of the people watching television during those 25 minutes had tuned in to see Charlie Brown.

“This is the quintessential Vince Guaraldi for our Peanuts’ specials…some of his best atmospheric jazz,” Mendelson shares. “Vince’s score carries the gang with the autumn leaves, through the scary and cold Halloween night. This music comforts the indomitable faith of Linus, still waiting for his hero since 1966 — forever in our ears, hearts and memories.”

“Guaraldi had a strong sense of how music could — and should — be employed to maximize the viewing audience’s emotional response,” writes Bang. “[He] emphatically established the Peanuts ‘musical personality’ with this third outing, and all subsequent prime-time specials owed much to the groovin’ atmosphere that is so prevalent in Great Pumpkin. Guaraldi had a gig for life…and his legacy lives on, expand[ing] by the year, thanks in great part to the jazz swagger given to an insecure blockhead and his lovably crazy beagle.”

Track listing:
1. Linus and Lucy
2. Graveyard Theme
3. Snoopy and the Leaf/Frieda (With the Naturally Curly Hair)
4. The Great Pumpkin Waltz
5. Linus and Lucy (Reprise)
6. Charlie Brown Theme/Happy Linus
7. The Great Pumpkin Waltz (Reprise)
8. The Red Baron/Military Drum March
9. The Great Pumpkin Waltz (2nd Reprise)
10. Trick or Treat
11. Fanfare/Breathless/Trick or Treat (Reprise)
12. Charlie Brown Theme (Reprise)
13. Breathless
14. It’s a Long Way to Tipperary/There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding/Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag/Roses of Picardy
15. Trick or Treat (2nd Reprise)
16. Linus and Lucy (2nd Reprise)
17. Charlie Brown Theme (2nd Reprise)

I received a copy of this CD and if you are a Peanuts (SNOOPY!) fan…this CD is a must-buy! I absolutely love this and it’s great for all ages! 

For more info, visit Craft Recordings and on Facebook.

We have teamed up for a Halloween Giveaway! One winner will win their own CD! Simply leave a comment below telling us your favorite Peanuts character! (I love Snoopy!)  Deadline to enter is October 26th, 2018 at noon PST. One winner will randomly be selected.

Credit: Press info/Images Craft Recordings. Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the CD and one to send to the winner. No other compensation was received. 

Spooktacular Halloween Fun -“Happy Haunted Halloween” by Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies

Chicago’s most energetic band that rocks for kids, the award-winning Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies, goes all out for the season of ghosts and goblins with their fourth album, Happy Haunted Halloween, set for release on October 5, 2018.

With plenty of treats and maybe a few tricks up its sleeve, Happy Haunted Halloween offers something for everyone who loves Halloween: spooky songs about haunted houses, ghost towns, crawl spaces, and monster hunters; sweet songs about gathering with friends, dressing up as a cuddly bunny, and counting trick or treat loot; and even an historical song about the brilliant teenage author, Mary Shelley, plus a dance number inspired by her novel Frankenstein.

Children will love this fun holiday CD!

Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies are the husband-and-wife team of Neil and Kerry Firstenleit (Mr. Singer” and “Kerry Appleberry”), along with dynamo drummer Michael Massett (“Marius Mustard”). The band’s rocking, electric sound has been described as “like June & Johnny Cash playing the Clash while riding unicycles through the zoo!”

Both onstage and in the studio, Mr. Singer and the Sharp Cookies specializes in fresh, positive, high-energy music at kid-friendly volumes, sneaking a little mischief, a little sweetness, and a lot of fun into their clever originals.

Notes Neil Firstenleit, “Halloween is my favorite holiday, and inspiration always strikes around that time. Each year for the past fifteen years or so, I’ve written Halloween songs for kids. Happy Haunted Halloween comprises the fourteen best songs of the collection; it’s a fun album you could play on your porch as kids come trick-or-treating, at Halloween parties, or in the car anytime you want to get psyched for Halloween.  It was a blast recording this album, especially experimenting with eerie sounds and song arrangements!”

Happy Haunted Halloween kicks off with “Happy Halloween,” a truly happy, upbeat dance number about the excitement kids feel before going trick-or-treating on Halloween night. “Ain’t Scared of Nuthin'” is a little bit of Halloween bravado and some “I’m not so sure about this!” set to a Bill Haley-type boogie-woogie, featuring guest artist Mr. Nick Davio. “Grandpa’s Ghost,” about a grandpa whose life is saved by the harmonica in his pocket, is straight-up country, while “Dream of the Bonfire,” a melodious ode to bonfire celebrations, overflows with all the good things about spending Halloween with friends.

If Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song with Danny Elfman, the result might be “She Writes Frankenstein,” the ballad of author Mary Shelley told to stormy sound effects and spooky music, encored by “Insane Scientist Victory Blitz,” a super-wild dance song inspired by Frankenstein that will put a smile on monsters large and small. Then there’s the psych-punk “Something Sweet for Halloween,” whose opening lines say it all: “These are scary times we’re living in, and it appears the bad guys have begun to win/So I’m not gonna be adding to the fear, I’m gonna be something sweet for Halloween this year.” Happy Haunted Halloween dances to a splendid finish with “Haunted Halloween,” which just might possibly inspire a little howling at the moon.

Previous albums by Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies include Going to a Party! (2017), Bouncing Ball of Energy! (2012), and Muddy Water Beaver Dam (2005).

Happy Haunted Halloween will be available at all digital retailers, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, CDBaby, and more.

Visit the Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies website HERE.
Mr. Singer & the Sharp Cookies on Facebook.
Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Information and images provided by Waldmania PR.

First Man: The Man Behind One Of The Most Famous Events In Human History

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie explores the sacrifices and the cost – on Armstrong and on the nation – of one of the most dangerous missions in history. Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the drama is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle and Gosling. Isaac Klausner (The Fault in Our Stars) executive produces. DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Along with its main focus on the intense, action-packed mission, First Man explores many avenues that include dramatic and intense moments which spawn from the heart-wrenching grief of losing a child to the intricate and beautiful romance with his wife, Janet (Claire Foy). Much of the movie has emotions that are quite far from being out of this world, specifically in its massive focus on the family.” See his full review below.

First Man

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Easily one of the most famous events in human history is centered on a singular man, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling). Behind the Apollo Mission that landed the first human on the moon, Neil is a man with conflicts, a man with a history and a man with a mission.

Along with its main focus on the intense, action-packed mission, First Man explores many avenues that include dramatic and intense moments which spawn from the heart-wrenching grief of losing a child to the intricate and beautiful romance with his wife, Janet (Claire Foy). Much of the movie has emotions that are quite far from being out of this world, specifically in its massive focus on the family.

The film begins up close and personal seeing Armstrong in his daring mission on the rocket-propelled plane, the X-15. Immediately, the story shows just how dangerous space exploration can be and how close those who brave exploring the final frontier get to never returning home. It follows Neil and his story intimately from the X-15 mission to the loss of three astronauts (close friends of Neil’s) in Apollo 1, the near-lethal mission of Gemini 8 and, of course, the incredibly daring mission of Apollo 11, that landed the first people on the Moon. Throughout these milestones in space exploration, the story pauses to look at the relations and life of Neil, truly unveiling the blueprints showing who he was as a man.

While incredible in revealing a massive side of this well-known historical event, the film attempts to focus so much on a story that has little to tell. The length clocks in at just under two and a half hours, which feels very stretched after the adrenaline of the exciting opening scene wears off. Neil Armstrong is portrayed as a deep man with little visual emotions mixed with dramatic internal conflicts. While this decision allows for excellent character design, it makes him rather boring at times. It seems the writers wished to divide First Man into three stories – one, the story of Neil as a man; two, the story of Neil as a father and three, the story of Neil as an astronaut. All three have their pros and their cons, but mixed together, the film becomes daunting and stretched.

The cinematography sadly could have been better. Only a handful of camera shots do not shake. In most shots, the camera moves constantly or jitters. In the beginning, with the X-15 mission, this effect adds to the entertainment of the film. The audience quickly becomes sucked into the important and lethal mission with dangers at every corner. After two hours of shaky camera shots, that excitement changes to annoyance. While a mix would be ideal, and in more intensive scenes a camera shake would be appropriate, having the entire runtime featuring shakiness as well as many blurry shots, looks amateur and comes off as poor execution of what should be an interesting and captivating story.

However, the film does go beyond the moon in many ways – predominantly, in the acting. Neil Armstrong has deep faults and that stands as a challenge to any actor. Ryan Gosling nails the role in what turns out as an Oscar©-worthy performance of the famous astronaut. Others, including Claire Foy, also deliver extraordinary performances bringing each character to life. Despite the fact that no one can hear you scream in space, the sound design really belongs out of the world due to the quality and complexity of the sound effects. Much of First Man contains loud, intricate sound effects that vary and cover a massive spectrum. Perhaps more powerful would have been the use of silence in the most dramatic moments, sending chills to the entire audience.

My favorite scene is one of these moments of eerie silence. In this scene, three members of the Apollo 1 mission do a test in the Apollo capsule. It goes horribly wrong and the interior of the capsule catches on fire, sadly, resulting in losing the lives of all three. Yet, the film takes this a step further, as the three fallen heroes are not new in this scene. The viewer gets time to like them, understand them and befriend them – just as Neil did in real life. This makes their sudden and dramatic loss nothing short of shocking and cold, replicating the real-life impact it had on Armstrong.

Although, First Man has a strong beginning, a strong ending and many high points throughout, it also has many mistakes and things that could be improved that simply negate the extraordinary story of this story. For that reason, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The story is quite intensive and is best suited for older audiences that will understand the impact of the events so I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. This film opens nationwide in theaters on October 12, 2018 so, look for it. If you are a fan of space exploration, it is sure to make an impact, but even if you aren’t you will learn something new.

 

Photos: ©2018 Universal. All rights reserved.

 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Hallow – Funny, Spooky, Mysterious and Fun

While collecting junk one day, best friends Sonny and Sam meet Slappy, a mischievous talking dummy from an unpublished “Goosebumps” book by R.L. Stine. Hoping to start his own family, Slappy kidnaps Sonny’s mother and brings all of his ghoulish friends back to life — just in time for Halloween. As the sleepy town becomes overrun with monsters, witches and other mysterious creatures, Sonny joins forces with his sister, Sam and a kindly neighbor to save Sonny’s mom and foil Slappy’s plan. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “The movie is funny and spooky in equal amounts. There is mystery and discovery all combined in the storytelling.” See her full review below.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

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

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is spooky, fun and creative! It is very engaging and entertaining throughout the whole film.

The story is about a young boy, Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his best friend, Sam (Caleel Harris) who finds a book. When they open it, a doll called Slappy comes out! The boys lose the book, but keep Slappy. The friends are very surprised and a bit scared when they discover that the doll can talk. He seems nice at the beginning. He wants to have a family. But later, the boy, his sister Sarah (Madison Iseman) and his best friend realizes he is strange and doesn’t want him to be part of their family anymore. Slappy has his own personal agenda and decides to create his own family. He makes Halloween come to life as he invades the whole town with monsters and all the creatures as allies. This is a very scary Halloween for the town of Wardenclyffe, where the story takes place, as all creatures make real chaos. Sonny, Sam and Sarah team up with neighbor Mr. Chu (Ken Jeong) to find the book that Slappy from to figure out how to stop him. They discover that the book can suck up monsters and they are determined to save the city.

The story is based on R.L Stine’s books. This is where Jack Black comes in as he reprises his role from the 2015 film, playing the writer who came to help. His performance as the author is excellent. I love his voice work giving life to Slappy the Dummy.

The movie is funny and spooky in equal amounts. There is mystery and discovery all combined in the storytelling. There’s kind of a homage to horror films, as we see some classic monsters. My favorite scenes are the ones with the Halloween decorations coming to life in the store and the fight with the gummy bears that become real and attack Sonny and Sam.

The effects are very well done. This story focuses on the 3 main characters and the actors did a good job carrying the film. There’s a tribute to the books and literature. There’s a beautiful metaphor with the blank pages in the book which is powerful. It is so interesting and kind of reminded me that reality is scarier than fantasy and there will be more stories to be written. The message of this film is, “when we face our own fears we learn how not to be scared.”

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween opens October 12, 2018, and is the perfect movie for kids this Halloween. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 6 to 13 and grown-ups as well.

Photos: © Columbia Pictures

 

 

Children’s Books that are a must-read for Halloween!

Halloween is almost here! Can you believe it?! These two books are a must-read!

This first one would be a hit for the little ones! I like it because it is a fun read and not too scary! 

SKELLY’S HALLOWEEN by David Martin; illustrations by Lori Richmond (Henry Holt and Co. BYR, August 7, 2018, Ages 4-8)

 The holiday’s name is in the title! Focusing on what kids love most about Halloween–the candy–the book steers away from the spooky side of the holiday, focusing instead on the silly, sweet side and making it perfect for young readers. David Martin is a Parents Choice and Oppenheimer Choice award-winner and has written over 25 picture books for early readers.Lori Richmond is at the beginning of her career, with two books out so far but many more to come. Her illustrations are just the right balance of playful and cute.

The next one is a great one for children who are reading chapter books!

I like this one because it’s a little scary but a fun read too!

BABYSITTING NIGHTMARES by Kat Shepherd (Imprint, on sale 6/5/18, ages 8-12) 
The Babysitter’s Club meets Goosebumps as a diverse group of friends encounter supernatural problems on their babysitting gigs. Perfect for readers of both contemporary friendship novels and scary tales, the series is a new and original concept that’s sure to captivate audiences from the start! The main characters are four diverse 12-year-old girls: Rebecca has both Jewish and Chinese-American heritage, Clio is African-American, Tanya is Mexican-American, and Maggie is Caucasian-American. They each have varied interests, including history, theater, engineering, and baking. The chilling supernatural mysteries propel the plot, but each story is centered on the emotional connections between the girls, and the highs and lows of their friendship.

Self Disclosure: I received free books to facilitate this post. Images and information were also provided. 

The Rack Pack: Enjoyable watch for anyone looking for that nostalgic 80s goodness

A children’s storybook author reminisces about his childhood adventures with his brothers and friends. In a time before kids spent hours watching television, on the computer, playing video games and texting, they went to the park to play with their friends. As military brats, these kids lived their own adventures. They lived a different sort of childhood that challenged their imaginations to soar to a different level. Following in their parents footsteps, they pretended to be soldiers as they played army in the woods. Life seemed simpler back then, until danger came to town. In our story, a cynical man comes across a Civil War General’s old map that may lead to long lost treasure buried deep in a mining tunnel. The kids come across the man and his team and learn about the treasure. Our heroes come up with a plan to try to find it first. Things take a serious turn when the kids are discovered. The thieves up their status and become kidnappers as they take one of the children’s fathers hostage. The kids, in full army gear, set out for a rescue mission. As they learn more about each other they form a bond of brotherhood and friendship called …THE RACK PACK. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “This is sure to be a enjoyable watch for anyone looking for that nostalgic 80s goodness.”  Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror adds, “The Rack Pack is a funny film that pays respect to our military, all while expressing independence for the youth. I appreciate the diversity and persistence of these school-aged children.” See their full reviews below.

The Rack Pack
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

The Rack Pack makes fun of its goofy 80s vibe, but ultimately falls a bit flat with its underdeveloped plot. However, the acting and cohesive script provide vibrant energy. This is sure to be an enjoyable watch for anyone looking for that nostalgic 80s goodness.

The story follows the adventures of military nerd brothers Darrell (Nico Ford), Gerald (Hunter Lee Manning), and Loren (Wyatt Walter). Their escapades take a dangerous turn when they come under the contact of a Civil War treasure map. To compete, the cynical duo Ted (C. Thomas Howell) and DJ (Nick Vernon) race to obtain the map and sell it to criminals. However, the boys slip themselves to the thieves leading to their own dad (David Schifter) getting involved and kidnapped. In a race against time, the boys must save both their dad and map all while earning the legendary name The Rack Pack.

Nico Ford, as Darrell, excels with his sharp, yet reckless thinking. His banter with Tammy also adds one of the movie’s funniest dynamics as she continuously dupes him. Hunter Lee Manning, as Gerald, sells the eldest brother dynamic with his wise mentorship even if he can come across as disloyal. As well as Wyatt Walter, as Loren, who wonderfully presents his cute youngest brother self always following his elders into trouble. David Schfiter, as Mr. Rackley, excels with his fatherly presence as he holds the family together through tough times and is always willing to take risks to save lives.  C. Thomas Howell and Nick Vernon, as Ted and DJ, allow for a charismatic villainous presence, with DJ being my favorite character as his comedic timing was perfectly handled. Last but not least, Cece Kelly, as Tammy, accelerates a fun side-plot as her biting remarks never got old.

Thomas J. Churchill talentedly directs the movie with great 80s gags and adventure with the Goonies being a big influence. My favorite scene is when the boys attempt to stop the duo’s perilous plans which result in some truly hilarious scenes as they rely on outsmarting than violent means. However, my problems with this movie stem from the plot of the movie in general which feels devoid of any emotional appeal or development. At times, it feels like there is zero plot. Thankfully, the movie’s quirky characters are able to hold attention as their wise cracks always bring something new to the table.

The message of the movie to always trust in your team as the Rack Pack always powers through and fights for what is right. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 10 as some scenes can come across as intense. The movie is available on DVD, so check it out.

The Rack Pack
By Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror

The Rack Pack is a funny film that pays respect to our military, all while expressing independence for the youth. I appreciate the diversity and persistence of these school-aged children. Yes, some rules are broken, pranks occur and sometimes a skunk just needs to let one rip. But, overall this movie makes your inner child smile. One of the most appealing things is finding out who the pack includes and why they were given this name. I like that there’s a bit of rebellious behavior, taking charge of adults and how the humor is all kid-friendly.

The film flows well. I like seeing the diversity in both race and genders, when it comes to forming a team – on both the child and adult side. I was drawn in from the beginning to the end. There are various characters and scenes that involve bullying. Some of that goes unresolved or are dealt with retaliation. There are moments when kids get revenge on adult thieves, but it is handled in a more imaginary and comedic way.

As a viewer, I wanted to see how the kids would find the villain and recover the treasure. The way the kids handle the situation lines up with what a tween or young teen would do if they were trying to confront a thief. I found the production value of this film above average for a lower budget film. I watched an online screener which included bonus footage showing bloopers and behind the scenes content on which was enjoyable.

The message of this film is that children can join forces and fight for not only their community, but for being respectful human beings. Children of all types can be their own advocates and fight for what they believe in. I think those are compelling messages to learn.

I love action films. There’s something about being covered in dirt and playing outdoors or “members only” zone where you can just let loose and be yourself. Self-evaluation, action and adventures are a big part of this film. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 14. I do suggest parental guidance since there are some mild examples of fighting and weapons. Reviewed by Elle S., KIDS FIRST! Juror.