Live from Mount Olympus * A Refreshing Take on Greek Mythology with Witty Narration

Combining the talent of contemporary theater with the power of Greek myths, this podcast is an audio adventure for audiences of all ages. When young Perseus makes a rash promise to save his mother from the clutches of an evil king, he has to strike out on a dangerous quest. Hermes, god of luck and thieves (Hadestown’s André De Shields), is the host for this tale of terrifying monsters, powerful gods, and a brave girl who will change our hero’s life forever. This is a production of the Onassis Foundation.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Live from Mount Olympus is a fresh take on effervescent Greek mythology with witty narration and amazing production quality that is sure to hook any and all listeners and spark an interest in these ancient stories.” Alma K. adds, “The Live from Mount Olympus podcast is great. It’s really engaging and it follows one of my favorite topics — Greek mythology.” Kyla C. says, “Many traditional stories include mythical elements and Live From Mount Olympus uses plenty of these, including sea serpents, gorgons, gods, royalty and so much more. Along with these elements, realistic sound effects are used to pull you in so that you can’t stop hitting the next play button!” Avalon N. concludes with, “The message is to be careful what you promise to do and take things seriously when you are considering doing something.” See their full reviews below.

Live from Mount Olympus

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Live from Mount Olympus is a fresh take on effervescent Greek mythology with witty narration and amazing production quality that is sure to hook any and all listeners and spark an interest in these ancient stories.

This TRAX podcast, backed by the Onassis Foundation, centers around Perseus (Divine Garland), our young hero who you may know from the Medusa myth. Perseus makes a rash promise to save his mother from an evil king and embarks upon several crazy adventures along the way. The show is narrated by Perseus’ sibling, another son of Zeus, Hermes (André De Shields), god of luck and thieves. The podcast has everything mythology fans will love: terrifying monsters, rich plot lines, powerful gods, the quintessential Greek theatrical elements of family, love and discovering oneself and your capabilities.

Live from Mount Olympus is produced by the Onassis Foundation. Many of the individuals on the podcast’s team are Tony award-winners or Peabody-award winners, and their prowess shows. The brilliantly-designed audio blends rich, mellifluous background music with spry, enthralling and engaging narration. Perseus’ and Hermes’ witty repartee also invites even those who loathe mythology (who could?) to listen to the podcast. Even though it’s a podcast, I could visualize all the characters right in front of me, especially the Gorgons and other monsters. Overall, the voice acting and production quality combine to make this podcast an even more fun and enriching experience!

Live from Mount Olympus promotes messages of perseverance, courage and exploration – three key elements to any Greek hero. It’s a great podcast for young kids to listen to in their free time for entertainment purposes; they’ll surely pick up some positive qualities from the podcast.

I give Live from Mount Olympus 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18. Adults will enjoy this podcast as well. You can listen to Live from Mount Olympus on TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/live-from-mount-olympus

Live from Mount Olympus

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

The Live from Mount Olympus podcast is great. It’s really engaging and it follows one of my favorite topics — Greek mythology. The introduction introduces Perseus and it’s amazing how they bring this story to life! — even in the introduction.

The storyline follows Perseus, son of Zeus and princess Danae. Baby Perseus, due to a prophecy of him killing his grandfather, is locked in a wooden crate along with his mother and pushed out to sea. The crate lands on Seriphus, where Perseus grows up, oblivious to his destiny. When King Polydectes tries to force Danae to marry him, Perseus makes a crazy vow to save his mother from the evil king and it leads him on all sorts of quests. Medusa? Sea monsters? The titan Atlas? Bring it on!


I’ve read a lot of mythology and know that when a God has a child with a mortal, that child is considered a demigod. Demi means half, which means that person is half-god. The most famous demigods in Greek Mythology are Heracles and Perseus. This is a great introduction to the myth of Perseus. When I read about Perseus, his story is barely mentioned, because there was so much else to talk about. This podcast is a really nice presentation of Perseus’ story. It’s super engaging. I love how writers Alexie Basil and Nathan Yungerberg wrote it so it is very lifelike and you feel as if you are actually there watching it all. I also like the accent of Andromeda; when I heard that, I sort of perked up. It makes you pay attention. Tony Award-winner Andre De Shields voices Hermes, messenger of the gods and narrator of the show. He just makes you want to keep listening! The only issue I have is that sometimes the tone of the voiceovers doesn’t match the words they are saying. The entire podcast is super engaging. I don’t think I could imagine a better adaptation of the myth of Perseus.

The podcast teaches multiple lessons – think before you speak; listen to your parents; don’t make rash promises are a few.


I really like Live from Mount Olympus and rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s engaging; it’s amazing. I recommend it for ages 4 to 18, plus adults. If a person enjoys Greek mythology, this podcast is a must. Even my five-year-old brother was hooked! You can listen to Live from Mount Olympus on TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/live-from-mount-olympus

Live From Mount Olympus

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Live From Mount Olympus is an interesting podcast retelling the Greek myth of Perseus with a few flaws, but plenty of mythical elements, characterized voice acting, and nice sound effects. This is a great podcast for kids and young teens who love myths!

This podcast follows Perseus (Divine Garland) as he braves the quest of collecting the gorgon Medusa’s head. In addition to this mission, the episodes reveal some interesting relationships as Perseus journeys home. If you always wanted to know what happened from the time Perseus gets Medusa’s head to when he returns to his island, this podcast is for you.

Many traditional stories include mythical elements and Live From Mount Olympus uses plenty of these, including sea serpents, gorgons, gods, royalty and so much more. Along with these elements, realistic sound effects are used to pull you in so that you can’t stop hitting the next play button! Sound effects are vital because there is nothing on the screen to guide you. Natural sounds like birds, rushing water and wind are often in the background, making it more realistic. Sometimes podcasts only have background noises when it is important to the plot, but that is Live from Mount Olympus makes full use of them throughout each episode. Voice acting is the key aspect when creating podcasts and the actors have to use the tone of their voices to help the audience understand what’s going on. Most of these episodes have plenty of characterized acting, but in some action scenes it is hard to understand exactly what is happening. Sometimes the suspense level is low because I was not sure what was going on. For example, in Medusa’s cave, it is supposed to be a very breathtaking moment. I found that, because I was unsure where everyone is or what they’re doing, it lost some excitement. The characters are noticeably different in this podcast than in the original stories. This could be disappointing if you’re hoping for more character connections to those stories. Perseus does not have as much pride as his character originally had, and has other personality differences.

The message of this podcast isdo not let your pride get in the way. Showing how bravery is rewarded is another component. 

I give Live From Mount Olympus 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 13. Listen to Live From Mount Olympus on Trax at https://www.trax.fm/live-from-mount-olympus

Live From Mount Olympus

Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The podcast Live From Mount Olympus tells an intriguing tale filled with action and adventure, that is sure to leave you itching to hear the next episode.


The podcast is based on Greek mythology, narrated by Andre De Shields as the voice of Hermes, the ancient God of thieves, luck and much more. Divine Garland plays the role of a boy named Perseus, who is the son of Zeus, God of the sky and leader of the Olympians and Jullian Walker plays Danea. Perseus makes a rash promise to an evil king to save his mom and ends up embarking on a dangerous journey. 

This podcast is about characters from Greek mythology that go on a new quest which is not from the original Greek myths. The voice actors all make this feel like a story that is taking place. We hear a range of emotions in their voices from fear to annoyance, and more. They make this new story something that makes history believable. The sound effects are excellent and really enhance the story. This is a podcast where sometimes things get really fast and intense, but you can easily figure out what is happening – especially if you are into Greek mythology. It is an amazing podcast which I hope will have a sequel.

The message is to be careful what you promise to do and take things seriously when you are considering doing something. In this story, Perseus makes a rash promise without knowing what he has to do to save his mom. He ends up getting a task that some people think is impossible. If he had thought more about what he said, he might not have been stuck with the situation that he was.


I give Live From Mount Olympus 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to18, plus adults. I also recommend you review the original story of Perseus before you listen to this. This is an adventure you will not want to miss. You can listen to Live From Mount Olympus on TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/live-from-mount-olympus.

RK/RKAY * A Mind-Bending, Multi-Layered Film, Shot And Edited With Meticulous Care

RK is a filmmaker, making a new film, in which he also plays the lead character of Mahboob. It’s a quaint film, like a tribute to the cinema of the sixties. People close to him are not really sure why RK wants to make this film. Edit begins and RK has a sinking feeling that this film is not going to come together, that this time he has really screwed up. His nightmares warn him of an impending disaster. Sure enough, one afternoon RK gets a call from the edit room- something terrible has happened. Mahboob has run away, run out of the film. Nobody can really understand why would he leave, where would he go. But he is not there anymore in the rushes- missing from the film negative as well. The fact is Mahboob was running away from his killers, and somehow he left the film and arrived in our world. RK finds him, brings him home- but Mahboob has no idea where he is from, or that he is any different from people around him. Slowly, he is told. They must convince him to go back to the film, so that RK can finish his film. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A mind-bending film; RK/RKAY is a multi-layered film, shot and edited with care for small details. You’ll be tuned in, trying to figure out where the plot will go next, throughout the duration of the film.” See his full review below.

RK/RKAY

By Eshaan Mani, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A mind-bending film; RK/RKAY is a multi-layered film, shot and edited with care for small details. You’ll be tuned in, trying to figure out where the plot will go next, throughout the duration of the film.

The storyline follows filmmaker RK (Rajat Kapoor) who is in the process of directing and starring in his film. He plays the lead character of Mahboob. The film opens with a nostalgic vignette for 1960s Bollywood films – the clamor on set, a high-maintenance actress as the female lead Gulabo (Mallika Sherawat) and a slight sepia tone. Everything seems to be going just fine when the editing for the film begins, but RK gets a call from the editing room. Mahboob has run out of the film and has somehow entered the real world, fleeing from the film’s cartoonish killers when RK finds him and brings him home to sort things out. RK must convince Mahboob to go back into the world of the film, as that is where he belongs.

RK/RKAY is a crowd-funded film, but you cannot tell from the incredible production quality. Director Rajat Kapoor is an experienced short and feature length film director and his expertise, even with a low budget, is evident. I am blown away by the cinematography, script and overall production quality. The film-within-a-film premise requires clear dialogue to avoid confusion, and RK/RKAY delivers. Even though it is a Hindi film, the subtitles are clear and you can easily follow what’s happening. I also love the cinematography; the film makes amazing use of light and shadows as well as colors. The film that RK is producing has a bit of a sepia or golden tint to it, as does Mahboob when he enters the real world. Depending on their mood, characters may be placed halfway, completely, or not at all in the shadow. Though the film tends to drag a bit in the second half, the whole production effort is impressive enough that one gets pulled back into the film.

RK/RKAY promotes messages of finding yourself, being dedicated to your projects, and staying true to love.

I give RK/RKAY 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18, plus adults. RK/RKAY premieres in the US and Canada on May 14, 2021, in theatres and virtually.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2 * Intriguing, Superb Cast, Great Music

In season two of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the East High Wildcats, who are preparing to perform “Beauty and the Beast” as their spring musical, face off against rival school North High to win a prestigious and cutthroat student theater competition. Wigs are snatched, loyalties are tested, and ballads are belted. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “I really like Season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series because it followed up with the first season’s plot, and really drew me in. I never wanted to stop watching! The storyline is very relatable, as well as the characters. The show throws in some interesting surprises, which keeps up the suspense.” Makena P. adds, “This show has many conflicts which keep the story interesting. There are so many emotions shown by the characters and they really start to really grow on you. You start rooting for them. I found myself shouting, “Go Ricky!” I really started to feel empathy for them, which is fun when watching a show.” Hazel A. warps it up with, “This series is truly light-hearted and fun. I was blown away by Sofia Wylie’s dancing, Dara Renee’s singing and each and every performance from the main cast. The dance numbers are perfectly choreographed and well executed. In this season we see many changes in the characters – primarily character development in EJ (Matt Cornett) and Gina (Sofia Wylie). Everyone has matured and is refreshed for the new twists and turns in this season’s storylines.” See their full reviews below.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

I really like Season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series because it followed up with the first season’s plot, and really drew me in. I never wanted to stop watching! The storyline is very relatable, as well as the characters. The show throws in some interesting surprises, which keeps up the suspense.

Season 2 continues with the second semester of the character’s school year. No time has passed, and they are now moving on to the spring musical. Due to high competition, the cast decides to perform an unexpected show. Instead of High School Musical 2, they do Beauty and the Beast. Throughout the season they deal with unexpected changes and complicated romantic lives. This includes when the main character Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) moves to Colorado to pursue her dream, which stirs things up between Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and her.

I really enjoyed the storyline from this season. The plot is constantly changing and evolving and most characters go through a lot of development. You can see them growing from the first season to the second. I also love the songs and performances. Even though it’s a TV show, it feels like you are really there, watching them perform live. This is so important, because live performance can really capture the audience and make people want to keep watching. Lastly, this show can be very inspiring to young people. The plot is very relatable, which allows viewers to make a connection with it.

The message of this show is to always be yourself, and never give up on your dreams. This show does not have any profanity or inappropriate content.

I give High School Musical: The Musical: The Series 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It premieres May 14, 2021 on Disney Plus.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2

By Makena P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2 is an intriguing show and is well-directed. All the characters like Nini (Olivia Rodrigo), Ricky (Joshua Bassett), EJ (Matt Cornett) and others play their characters with great personality. They have many emotions and they work so well together.

Episodes one through three are about students at East High that strive to be cast in the upcoming musical Beauty and The Beast. Nini has decided she is moving from East High to the Youth Actors Conservatory and Ricky doesn’t take it well. They planned to try a long-distance relationship, but they both miss each other dearly. A new girl comes to East High (Olivia Rose Keegan), but she doesn’t get cast in the play and becomes very angry and wants to do something about it.

This show has many conflicts which keep the story interesting. There are so many emotions shown by the characters and they really start to really grow on you. You start rooting for them. I found myself shouting, “Go Ricky!” I really started to feel empathy for them, which is fun when watching a show. Connecting to the characters makes all the difference. The costumes really fit the scenes and I love the costumes that the trio, Ashlyn (Julia Lester), Gina (Sofia Wylie) and Kourtney (Dara Renne) wear for their audition, they are very 90s and pop out amongst the others. The big auditorium where they hold the auditions is such an amazing set; it looks so intriguing. This show has lots of characters, which is great. There are ten main ones. 

This show has many conflicts which keep the story interesting. There are so many emotions shown by all the characters and they really start to really grow on you. You start rooting for them. I found myself shouting, “Go Ricky!” I really started to feel empathy for them, which is fun when watching a show. Connecting to the characters makes all the difference. This show has lots of characters, which is great. There are about ten main ones.

The message is about how following your dream is hard and will never be easy, but you should remember what you want and stay strong. If you doubt yourself during the process, you’ll get stuck. You have to work hard to achieve what you want.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. This series premieres on Disney + on May 14, 2021.  

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2
By Hazel Avila, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series had a very successful Season 1 that revived the movie trilogy High School Musical. As successful as the first season was, buckle up wildcats for an even better Season 2. While watching the beginning of this season, I found myself having a great time as there was never a dull moment. This musical mockumentary style show is relatable, comedic and has a little slice of drama.

Season 2 starts with a recap of the previous one. We find the main gang, including Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) and Ricky (Joshua Bassett) back and better than ever. The students are getting ready to start the new semester and work on the spring musical. Ricky plans to have an amazing semester with his girlfriend Nini, but it turns out she has other plans that take her far away from East High. Everything doesn’t go as perfectly as everyone expected, but they try to do what they can to make things work.

This series is truly light-hearted and fun. I was blown away by Sofia Wylie’s dancing, Dara Renee’s singing and each and every performance from the main cast. The dance numbers are perfectly choreographed and well executed. In this season we see many changes in the characters – primarily character development in EJ (Matt Cornett) and Gina (Sofia Wylie). Everyone has matured and is refreshed for the new twists and turns in this season’s storylines. Something that I like about the show is that it has a fun and light-hearted comedic side, but it can also get serious and relatable. It gives the show balance. If you enjoyed Season 1 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series you are going to enjoy Season 2 a whole lot more! I have nothing but praise for this series that is current with trends and what teens are into these days.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2 lets the audience see the dramatic lives of high school theatre kids. With musical dance numbers and an amazing plot line, this an addicting show that somehow had me asking for more.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Season 2 gets5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18. You can watch Season 2 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series starting May 14, 2021 on Disney Plus.

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Book of the Day: A Book about Mom with Words and Pictures by Me

Workman has published an adorable new fill-in book for creative kids and their Mom- A Book about Mom with Words and Pictures by Me, (On sale now, $9.95 each; Hardcover; ages 5–12). This book is perfect for Mother’s Day or any occasion (there’s never a bad time to tell Mom she is a superstar!), this sweet book will make treasured memories, wonderful gifts, and great fun for budding authors and illustrators.

In this unique and colorful fill-in book, kids follow prompts—sometimes imaginative, sometimes funny, and always heartwarming—to create a personalized memento Mom can cherish. Using their own words and drawings, kids can tell the story of their family, from lessons they’ve learned from Mom to the adventures they hope to have together. The book also has a sheet of full-color, illustrated stickers, and a die-cut cover where kids can draw a picture or glue in a photograph of the parent of honor to customize the book even more! Right now you can find it on Amazon for $8.95!

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book to facilitate this holiday post, Cover image was also provided.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines * A Must-See, Animated, Action-Packed Comedic Film

A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a must-see animated, action packed, comedic film! It’s complete with robots, evil smartphones and one crazy unexpected family adventure to save planet Earth. The fight scenes and special effects are literally out of this world.” See her full review below.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a must-see animated, action packed, comedic film! It’s complete with robots, evil smartphones and one crazy unexpected family adventure to save planet Earth. The fight scenes and special effects are literally out of this world.

The storyline follows protagonist Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), a creative outsider who is looking forward to meeting “her people” at her new film school. Her dad, who just wants to keep his family together, decides to go on a cross-country road trip to take her there instead of Katie flying, so they can bond one last time. On the way, the family ends up in the middle of a robot uprising and now it’s up to the Mitchells to work together to save the world.

The main characters in this film are Katie, her dad Rick (Danny McBride), little brother Aaron (Michael Rianda), mom Linda (Maya Rudolph) and family dog Monchi (Doug the Pug). This film is all about connecting. Its director, Michael Rianda, uses every part of the creative process to make sure the audience relates to the characters. The storyline and the Mitchell’s road trip are based on a real road trip some of the staff took while not using cell phones and just connecting. I love how the film combines both an illustrative, hand-painted approach and realism animation style to help develop the characters. Rianda helped develop Katie’s character by making her love for filmmaking a focal point throughout the movie. There are hilarious freeze-frame moments where Katie is writing on a screen, it’s almost as if she is the narrator. One of my favorite scenes is when Linda turns into a “super” mom and takes on the robots to try to protect her kids. I also like that Rick and Katie’s family song “Live Your Life” by T.I. and featuring Rihanna is used to represent their relationship and wrap up the theme of the movie.

The message of this film is that everyone in a family has their own personality and you should just let people be themselves and focus more on understanding and connecting to them. In this film, Katie is considered a “weirdo” because she isn’t like everyone else. The film shows how you should embrace your “weird” qualities, because that’s what makes you unique. 

I rate The Mitchells vs. The Machines 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults.  It releases April 30, 2021 on Netflix.

From Cradle To Stage * The Ultimate Rock-umentary!

Directed by Dave Grohl and inspired by his mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, and her critically-acclaimed book, From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars, the Live Nation Productions FROM CRADLE TO STAGE is a dynamic personal exploration of the special relationship between successful musicians and their moms. The six-part series will debut exclusively on Paramount+.

Honest, humorous and emotional, each episode features a famous performer and their mother, alongside Dave and Virginia, as they take an impassioned journey home and explore each artists’ upbringing and the tools they received as a young talent to survive the turbulence of success. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “This show is so creative. Virginia’s and David travel around the United States to learn more about their musical friends. It’s so interesting seeing rare videos and pictures of the stars, along with first-hand stories about their formative years. From Cradle To Stage shows how the love of music runs in the veins of these artists from an early age. You see how Virginia’s love of music spread to David, who grew up surrounded by music.” See her full review below.

From Cradle To Stage

By Heather Suarez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

From Cradle To Stage is the ultimate music documentary series! From rock, to country, to pop, we learn so much about our favorite musicians and the women that raised them.  A plus is that we get to see their adorable baby pictures.

This new series is based on the book by the same name written by Virginia Hanlon Grohl, mother of David Grohl, drummer of Nirvana and guitarist for the Foo Fighters. The two discuss what it was like raising and being raised as a rock star. They also team up with Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Pharell Williams, Miranda Lambert and their mothers to talk about the childhoods of these incredible artists. The show answers a loaded question, “What was it like to raise a musician?”

This show is so creative. Virginia’s and David travel around the United States to learn more about their musical friends. It’s so interesting seeing rare videos and pictures of the stars, along with first-hand stories about their formative years. From Cradle To Stage shows how the love of music runs in the veins of these artists from an early age. You see how Virginia’s love of music spread to David, who grew up surrounded by music. It’s very insightful to watch how a mother’s love and support encouraged her child to pursue a mutual love for music. Although worrisome, these mothers always encouraged their children to pursue doing what they love. It’s heartwarming to gaze upon the mothers’ collection of framed platinum records and Rolling Stone magazines.

The moral of the series is to always have your child’s back. In the music industry, where some become famous Grammy winners and others are not as lucky, these mothers always supported their children. Whether or not the parents supported the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and fame their child pursued, they always put their child’s happiness first. Always asking, “How can we help?” There are some warnings for this series in regards to adult language and mentions of alcohol and drugs.

I give From Cradle To Stage 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for older teens plus adults. It is available on Paramount+ May 6, 2021.

Crappy Mother’s Day * If You Think Your Family Is Crazy, Think Again!

Three generations of women come together on Mother’s Day. Things don’t go as planned. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “If you think your family is crazy, think again. When three generations of women, Sarah (Kristen Krak), Totie (Jackie Debatin) and Grandma (Vivien Landau) attempt to celebrate Mother’s Day, things go from bad to worse – immediately. From a senile grandmother to whacky uncles to a grandpa who is buried in the backyard, keeping the family together for a single day proves a difficult task, especially when Sarah brings her fiancé into the mix. You don’t need to be a master chef to figure out that this is a recipe for a really “Crappy Mother’s Day.” See her full review below.

Crappy Mother’s Day

By Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Crappy Mother’s Day is sure to get some laughs out of you and it comes out just in time for Mother’s Day.

If you think your family is crazy, think again. When three generations of women, Sarah (Kristen Krak), Totie (Jackie Debatin) and Grandma (Vivien Landau) attempt to celebrate Mother’s Day, things go from bad to worse – immediately. From a senile grandmother to whacky uncles to a grandpa who is buried in the backyard, keeping the family together for a single day proves a difficult task, especially when Sarah brings her fiancé into the mix. You don’t need to be a master chef to figure out that this is a recipe for a really “Crappy Mother’s Day.” 

Director Dan Karlok lets go of the reins and allows slap stick comedy to insert itself at every turn of the movie. Though the comedy is hilarious, some of the scenes are a bit longer than needed and a bit random. The acting is wonderful, making this family look absolutely wacky and wild. None of the relationships seem normal. Kristen Krak, as Sarah, really appears to be the only normal person in the family. Addison Anderson, as James, plays a very fun character that breaks out of his shell as the movie develops. Bill Rutkoski, the crazed fiancé of Totie, is very believable. I certainly wouldn’t want him for a stepdad. Vivien Landau plays the perfect mean, old grandma. John Rutkoski and Mike Rutkoski, as Uncle Lenny and Uncle Donny respectively, nail the Planet of the Apes-obsessed uncles. My favorite characters are Grandma and Aunt Sonny (Marie Lenzie) because they are the most entertaining. They are always arguing and fighting in humorous ways, like two old, senile bats that love tormenting each other.

The message that is your family is the only family you have and, as crazy as you think they might be, they love you. Also, when getting married, be prepared for your newly expanded family and find something in common, even if it’s just Planet of the Apes boxers. There is profanity, some mature topics and heavy drinking.

I give Crappy Mother’s Day 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on VOD May 4, 2021

That’s Totally Normal! * Frank Discussions About Puberty And All That Comes With It

Yes, this is the podcast about the science of puberty. As soon as we’re born our bodies are constantly growing, changing, breaking and at times, confusing us. And the biggest changes, growths and confusions seem to come when we’re young, vulnerable and easily embarrassed. Yes, we’re talking about puberty. And yes, it sometimes can be hard to talk about. But, it doesn’t need to be. Put on some headphones and lean in as we break down the biology, chemistry and health topics of growing, changing and going up. The host is Dr. Tessa Commers a board-certified pediatrician (MD, FAAP) based in Seattle, WA. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “Puberty, sex and ejaculation? These words used to make me cringe, but that is because I didn’t know what they actually meant. Now I know That’s Totally Normal!” Makena P. adds, “I learned things that I didn’t know but, I thought I knew. The film talks about a variety of topics and it’s nice to choose what you want to listen to hear other people’s point of view. I could relate to the things that these women are talking about.” Mikella G. wraps it up with, “This podcast helps inform kids about puberty and the changes that their bodies are going through. Lastly, it does not contain inappropriate content, but does discuss topics that some viewers may be uncomfortable with.” See their full reviews and interview with the host, Tessa Commers, below.

That’s Totally Normal!
By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17

Puberty, sex and ejaculation? These words used to make me cringe, but that is because I didn’t know what they actually meant. Now I know That’s Totally Normal!

The podcast That’s Totally Normal! explores all of those uncomfortable and embarrassing topics we would rather not talk about or educate ourselves about. However, it is done in such a way where, not only is the audience comfortable, but more informed. On average, each episode is eleven minutes in length or substantially less.

Host and writer Dr. Tessa Commers, known to us as Dr. T, has a youthful and reassuring voice. As a board-certified pediatrician and the writer of this podcast, the information she provides can be trusted and taken to heart. Editor and Sound Designer John Ross make the entire podcast come together by adding whimsical and funny sound effects that make the information easier to take. My favorite episode is “Acne,” where Dr. T discusses the world of zits, pimples and even bacne.

The positive and uplifting message of the podcast That’s Totally Normal! suggests that “we are all in this together.” While our bodies may be different, together we experience many of the same things.

That’s Totally Normal! gets 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 10 to 18, as well as adults. You can find the podcast That’s Totally Normal! on TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/thats-totally-normal

That’s Totally Normal

By Makena P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I like the podcast That’s Totally Normal. It is informational and enjoyable. I learned things that I didn’t know but, I thought I knew. The film talks about a variety of topics and it’s nice to choose what you want to listen to hear other people’s point of view. I could relate to the things that these women are talking about.

Hosted by a female doctor, each episode in this podcast addresses different topics. I listened to “Where’s My Period, And When Will It Be Regular,” “The Erection Episodes” and “Hair Down Where?” They discuss different things like odor, acne, periods, body image and etc. We learn what causes these things, how normal they are and how they happen to everyone. Also, there are youth guests on the show so you can listen to a kids’ point of view.

I learned more about guys’ and girls’ bodies how they work. There are many cool facts on this podcast that interest me and make me want to learn much more about my own body. My favorite episode is “The Erection Episode.” It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my curiosity about boys. I’m sure other girls my age have questions about these same things. It helped learning more about boys’ bodies and how they deal with them.

The message of this podcast is that our bodies are normal and, in my case, every girl is going to experience what I am – periods, body image, boys, drama and more. In the case of boys, every guy is going through the same sorts of things – enlargement, insecurities, odor and such. Everything going on in your body is normal and you don’t need to be ashamed because the person standing next to you or your friend is going through the exact same things that you are. Our bodies are normal. This podcast talks about things that people might be uncomfortable talking about and that some kids might not be ready for but are curious about. It is very informational and could help lots of people that are thinking about their bodies constantly, wondering what is going on.

I give That’s Totally Normal 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. You can find this podcast online at TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/thats-totally-normal

That’s Totally Normal!

By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The podcast That’s Totally Normal is interesting. I liked it because it has many elements to it, and discusses multiple things that kids have questions about. It’s especially important for those who don’t have anyone to ask them too. Furthermore, it is extremely well organized and thought-out.

This podcast is hosted by a doctor, Dr. Tessa Commers, known on the show as Dr. T. She talks about Puberty and various aspects of it. Each episode features a different topic and she answers questions from young people. Everyone is anonymous, which is important for those that are uncomfortable with the concept. The host goes into debt with each answer and explains each thing to the best she can.

Something that I enjoyed from this podcast is its organization. Each episode talks about different things and is no more than 20 minutes long. This is important because many people have short attention spans. If the host takes forever to get to the point, they may lose their audience. However, this was definitely not the case in this show. Something else that I enjoyed about the podcast is the Q and A format. In each episode the host talks about the topic by answering questions that kids have send to her. This is a smart way to connect with the audience, and adds to its success. Lastly, the audio clarity is great.

This podcast helps inform kids about puberty and the changes that their bodies are going through. Lastly, it does not contain inappropriate content, but does discuss topics that some viewers may be uncomfortable with.


I give That’s Totally Normal! 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 14. You can listen to That’s Totally Normal! on TRAX at https://www.trax.fm/thats-totally-normal.