Book of the week: A great book to boost young children’s confidence!

Try: Building Confidence for Children
Joseph S. DiMare
Illustrated by John Wilson

Try is a fun, uplifting, feel-good read with captivating illustrations and a positive message about trying new things. From tying a tie to climbing the highest mountain, kids are encouraged to try their best, no matter how big or small their dreams may be. Playful suggestions teach children to believe in themselves and help encourage curiosity without fear of failure. At the end of the book are special pages for readers to brainstorm and draw things they’d like to try, as well as what they’re proud of having already done. It also includes simple, step-by-step directions for some activities named in the book, such as baking a pie and catching fireflies. Try builds children’s confidence, feeds their curiosity, and expands what they imagine they can do. This is a really wonderful book for young children and I love the positive message!

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book and only feature books that I highly recommend! The image was also provided.

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.

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!

Playing With Fire * Great Family Friendly Movie With Message About the Importance of Family

When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters come to the rescue of three siblings, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet — babysitting. As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children — much like fires — are wild and unpredictable. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eva W. comments, “Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen!  It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message – family is the most important thing to help you keep going.” Ethan P. adds, “I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny.  Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans.  John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.” Leandro wraps it up with, “The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they are their kids and teach them what to do and not do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and they start to grow on each other.” See their full reviews below.

Playing With Fire

By Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen!  It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message – family is the most important thing to help you keep going. There is a lot of comedy in this movie that makes the audience laugh out loud.

The story line is both adventurous and exciting.  There is lots of action, but it is not violent. The characters are super funny and the acting is phenomenal! If I had to recommend any film to watch with friends and family, it would be this one. Some parts are sad, but there is also plenty of action and comedy to keep the audience engaged.

Playing With Fire is about four smoke jumpers, which is an elite team of fire fighters. Jack and his friends are specially trained to jump into dangerous wildfires, so they can rescue people and fight fires. Their lives are perfect, until they find three kids trapped in a fire and this special group of men is forced to hang onto them until they can find their parents. Until then, they have to fight fires and take care of the kids. What could go wrong?

The cast in this film is amazing!  The casting director, Rich Delia, not only picked some big names to be in this film, but also found some talented new-comers. The whole cast portrays their characters really well and they are hilarious too! Superintendent Jack Carson, head of the smoke jumpers, is played by John Cena, a well-known actor and WWE wrestler. Keegan- Michel Key, a famous comedian, plays Lieutenant Mark, a friend of the Superintendent and another smoke jumper.  Jack’s soft-hearted friend, Rodrigo, is played by John Leguizamo. Brianna Hildebrand plays Brynn, the oldest of the three kids. This film also has a dog named Masher, that is  Jack’s fierce firehouse dog. Masher is very well trained and his interaction with the kids is hilarious.  Andy Fickman directs the film.

I give Playing With Fire 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults Playing With Fire opens in theaters November 8, 2019!

Playing with Fire
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny.  Playing with Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans.  John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.

This movie is about four smoke jumpers played by John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane and John Leguizamo, who save three kids from a cabin on fire.  The three children are siblings and two of them, Will and Zoe, are under the age of 10. Their older sister Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand, X-Men) is taking care of them.  The smoke jumpers bring the kids to their depot until their parents can come to get them.  The kids constantly mess with all the equipment at the fire depot, which distracts the smoke jumpers from doing their jobs.

The storyline includes comedy and sometimes sad moments.  The visuals are perfect. The fire scenes looks real. The child actors are great at portraying their characters.  My favorite scene is when Will is feeding peanut butter to the smoke jumpers’ dog and he accidentally spreads it on the firefighter truck.  Will drops the industrial soap and takes the fire fighter hose to clean the mess and the truck makes lots of foam.

The moral of this film is that family fulfills your life, in addition to working hard to accomplish your professional goals.  Jake’s (John Cena) priority is his career.  He works hard to achieve and accomplish his title in the firefighter department and forgets to have fun or remember that there are people around him that love him.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18 and adults can enjoy it too!  Playing with Fire comes out in theaters on November 8, 2019.

Playing with Fire

By Leandro Ramirez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Playing with Fire is a funny and a fantastic Nickelodeon movie. It has so many humorous moments and cool stunts. There are some scenes that are very emotional. It is very fun and up beat. It is an enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch.

The storyline is about fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) and his elite team of firefighters, coming to the rescue of three siblings and realizing that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet – babysitting. The three siblings, Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Chrisian Convery) and  Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) cause trouble all over the fire depot and are uncontrollable, much like fires. There are lots of hilarious moments that everyone will laugh at, and sad moments where you might cry.

The cast of Playing with Fire, especially John Cena, Keegan Micheal Key, John Leguizamo, and Brianna Hildebrand, elevates the film and makes it amazing. They all put there own little twist on there character and it is really cool how they performed all of their stunts. The cinematography and special effects is fantastic as well. The director, Andy Fickman, did an outstanding job directing everything and everyone. The screenwriter, Dan Ewen, also wrote a funny and a great script.

The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they are their kids and teach them what to do and not do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and they start to grow on each other.

I recommend this movie for ages 6 to 12, as well as adults. Younger audiences will find it more fun and exciting than teens will. I give this movie 4 out of 5 star rating. You can find this movie in theaters on November 8, 2019, so go watch it.

Books of the Week! Thanksgiving suggestions for young children!

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is almost here? Here are a few great book suggestions for the younger children this upcoming holiday!

BE THANKFUL POUT-POUT FISH by Debbie Diesen; illustrated by Dan Hanna: Mr. Fish learns that he has a lot to be grateful for—a message that kids and parents will love to share through the fall season and beyond.

This one is such a fun story with the delightful Pout-Pout Fish! I highly recommend for ages 2- 4 years old!

BAD KITTY DOES NOT LIKE THANKSGIVING by Nick Bruel: Kitty does not like Thanksgiving. Kitty LOVES Thanksgiving. Specifically, Kitty loves turkey . . . and will do anything to get her paws on it.

If you are looking for a book that is for the little older children, this one is sure to be a hit! I highly recommend for ages 5-8.

RY BREAD by Kevin Noble Malikkard; ilus by Juana Martinez Neal:A poignant family story of a beloved food that brings people together across generations. Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family and perfect for families to share.

This one is a delightful story for young children of all ages! A wonderful story for the whole family!

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of all the books featured. I receive many books and only feature those that I recommend. Images were also provided.

Lady and the Tramp * Beautiful Re-telling of the Disney Animated Classic

Lady and the Tramp tells the story of an upper-middle-class American cocker spaniel named Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) who meets a street-smart, downtown stray Schnauzer called the Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux), and the two embark on many romantic adventures including that iconic spaghetti smooch scene. Directed by Charlie Bean and written by Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film is a live-action adaptation of Walt Disney’s 1955 animated film of the same name, which was based on the Cosmopolitan magazine story of “Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog” by Ward Greene. It is dedicated to Chris Reccardi, co-creator of the Modifyers, and a storyboard artist who died in May 2019. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C., comments, “The original film was the 15th animated Disney movie and the first on cinemascope. This 2019 remake is Disney’s first film in a new format called Univisium. I have never watched the original, but this new live-action version is absolutely worth seeing.” See her full review below.

Lady and the Tramp (2019)

By Zoe C. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 11

Lady and the Tramp (2019) is a beautiful re-telling of the Disney animated classic from 1955.
Lady, a Cocker Spaniel loves the comfort of home and lives with a nice family, but after the arrival of a baby, she feels left out. Tramp, a Scottish Terrier, is a street dog who loves to be free and believes he knows humans (or at least he thinks he does). They are not loyal like dogs. The two meet when Tramp is running away from the dog catcher Elliot (Adrian Martinez). Tramp advises Lady of a terrible rule: when the baby moves in, the dog moves out.

When Lady’s owners leave the house, she is under the care of a family member, Aunt Sarah, who is not into dogs and Lady ends up in the street. Tramp saves her from a dangerous situation and both dogs develop a friendship. They embark on an adventure and, despite their differences, they get to know humans better and understand the value of home.

The original film was the 15th animated Disney movie and the first on cinemascope. This 2019 remake is Disney’s first film in a new format called Univisium. I have never watched the original, but this new live-action version is absolutely worth seeing. The characters are very well cast, both humans and dogs. The film was shot in Georgia and the locations are beautiful. The art direction and photography create a warm and romantic atmosphere and recreates the U.S. in the beginning of the 20th century.

My favorite scene is definitively the spaghetti scene. It is romantic. The way the restaurant owner and server treat Lady and Tramp with a special dinner and serenade is delightful. I can understand why is so iconic; it represents a genuine bond between two characters and how they come closer, despite their differences. It is also overwhelming how the humans, which are not owners, manifest their love for dogs.

The voice-over actors give great personalities to their characters and the animators make the scenes real and believable using CGI. Elliot (Adrian Martinez) is very determined as a dog catcher and Martinez captures the perfect tone to make this character unique. I also love Ivette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah. She plays a sort of villain character in a very realistic way as well. I love the music from composer Joseph Trapanese, it suits nicely the film well and transports the audience into the era this takes place.

The message of the film is: dog’s love is unconditional and they all deserve a home. I give Lady and the Tramp 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18 and adults as well. Lady and the Tramp starts streaming on November 12, 2019 on Disney+.

Photos: © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.