PBS Word World: It’s Time for School

A few months ago I received a request from PBS. Their PBS team had been introduced to Happen’s Kid Film Critics by way of Cincinnati Family Magazine (CFM). This year CFM created a dedicated page on their (CFM) website to publish the monthly Happen Kid Film Critics reviews. The CFM website will receive 100,000 visits just this month, now giving our critics a chance to reach thousands and thousands of families. PBS requested that the Happen Kid Film Critics also review their upcoming programming. I’m very proud that our critics have caught the attention of so many readers and now even PBS that provide educational television programs that we all have grown up watching. Thank you to TT Stern-Enzi (from WatchWriteNow), parents, sponsors, volunteers and congratulations to all the kids critics for making it Happen.  – Tommy Rueff

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PBS: Word World – It’s Time for School (Disc 1)

Happen’s Kid Critics kick off the summer with educational programming from PBS. Their series, Word World – It’s Time for School, might seem to be an odd choice, but it serves to remind everyone that learning never needs to take time off. Lessons arrive tailor-made with elements of jazz/ragtime and electronic/dance vibes to engage the bodies and minds of young viewers. Taglines fly throughout the segments, each geared towards easy enrichment – It’s time to build a word! and The place where words come alive! – and populated by barnyard animal characters with bodies composed of the letters spelling out their names. The Kid Critics sampled “Shark’s First Day of School,” “Sandbox Surprise,” “Totally Terrific Duck,” and “Dog Wants to Play Ball.” Check out their reactions and see if Word World might be a suitable destination for your eager young wordsmiths-in-waiting this summer. (TT Stern-Enzi)

Word World is a PBS animated show that is aimed for younger viewers.  Word World is both educational and entertaining!  Kids will enjoy the show and maybe learn a few new things.  – Henry

Word World is PBS educational show aimed to target children learning to read. I would say that Word World is right on the money for young kids, but it’s some what annoying for parent, supervisors, or older siblings.  The voices of the characters are…let’s face it….. a bit obnoxious.  The plots can be repetitive and seem frustratingly long.  However the show is geared towards children about ages 1-6.  It’s supposed to be groundbreaking.  It’s supposed to teach kids how to read and I’d say it preforms the task admirably and in a creative way. – Luci

The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series

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Happen’s Kid Critics offer their esteemed opinions on The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series. The release marks the first time the classic cartoon from 1972 has ever appeared on DVD. The show, which graced the small screen during the run of the live-action family sit-com, focused on the exploits of the six Brady children and their collection of animal friends. The original cast members gave voice to their animated counterparts, but the series was best known for its groovy appeal along with its ability to send the siblings on any number of outrageous and down-right loony adventures, which included special guests like Superman, the Lone Ranger, and Wonder Woman, who made her first animated appearance ever on the show. The real question is, does the series hold up for contemporary audiences, and that is what the Kid Critics are here to tell you.

-TT Stern-Enzi

 ***

Families will bond over this series because it will remind them of there childhood.  It may not be as good as the original Brady Bunch series, but it will surely bring back memories.

– Henry

 ***

I didn’t like the picture that much.  I love how they made the songs.  I liked the adventures.  I liked the jokes.  I liked the pandas, Ping and Pong.

– Cole

***

I thought that majority of the jokes were cheesy and obvious, and it was very cartoonish, even for a cartoon.  I found the characters perennially cheerful voices very annoying and it lacked subtle nuances or anything beneath the thin surface of bad jokes and irrelevant, nonsensical singing.  The plots also didn’t make much sense, they seemed more like a series of anecdotes than one big storyline, especially in the first two episodes, and they just sort of plodded along.  They didn’t really have exciting bits, and it was hard to take the characters seriously (even when they were being serious ) because they smiling, literally, all the time.  Although all the things I just complained about, I guess, are to be expected, because in 1972, there was very little else in the way of good cartoons for kids.

– Eliza

***

Compared to The Brady Bunch, it was not the same in my opinion.  It’s super good!

 – Oscar

Extraordinary Tales

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After months of reviewing horror comedy mash-ups (Abbot & Costello encountering classic movie monsters) and short television movie adaptations from a contemporary master of the form (Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes), Extraordinary Tales offers the chance to delve into the work of the legendary Edgar Allan Poe, using a mesmerizing mix of animation styles and the vocal talents of A-list performers like Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Guillermo Del Toro, and Julian Sands. This new DVD/Blu-Ray release from GKids and Cinedigm arrives courtesy of the producers of the Oscar nominated animated features Ernest & Celestine and Song of the Sea and Happen’s Kid Critics are here to tell you if this anthology will leave your hearts cold with fear. Prepare for creepy re-imaginings of The Tell-Tale HeartThe Fall of the House of UsherThe Masque of the Red DeathThe Pit and the Pendulum, and The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar.

-TT Stern-Enzi

***

This breathtaking animated film focuses on the dazzling stories from Edgar Allen Poe.  Mixed with violence and grim stories, this film is a remarkable glance at his work.

– Henry

 ***

The tales that Poe made were quite unusual, but also very clever.  The artwork and music were really good.

– Cole

 ***

Extraordinary Tales brings Edgar Allen Poe’s best stories to life using different mediums and narrators.  I’ve never been one for horror, but these retellings definitely make it a thrill to watch.  I am torn between scared, awed and deeply respectful for Edgar Allen Poe.  Extraordinary Tales has completely blown me away.

– ­­Luci

***

I loved the way they changed the graphics with each story.  The tales were slightly predictable and hard to understand.  I recommend this for people who love dark and creepy (not scary) stories.

– Maxwell ­

 ***

This movie really captured the Edger Allen Poe aspect of the story they were copying off of.

– Gwen

Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The End of the Whole Mess

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This month, the Happen’s Kid Critics get a second look at one of the primary names in horror – Stephen King – thanks to this 2006 TNT mini-series adaptation of Nightmares and Dreamscapes his short story collection. As most adult readers (as well as film and television audiences) know, King is the living master of supernatural and psychological horror, with a role call of novels (CarrieCujoThe Shining, and Misery to name a few) that have become cultural touchstones as a result of a plethora of adaptations. To introduce the Kid Critics to our latest installment in this series, I posed a couple of key questions. The first, if you could change any one thing about the world, what would it be? And the follow-up question was, what would be the negative consequences of your proposed change? “The End of the Whole Mess” presents the story of filmmaker Howard Fornoy (Ron Livingston) who documents the tragic journey of his genius-level younger brother Robert (Henry Thomas), after he attempts to use his great intellect to solve a major global and societal challenge. The critics tackled this “Mess” with sharp insight.

-TT Stern-Enzi

***

Different from all the monster horror, this film focuses on the horrors that some people may be living. It points out all the problems of today and puts them into a long, depressing, boring mess. The film focuses so much on the messages it forgets to make it interesting for the audience.

-Henry

 ***

“The End of the Whole Mess” centers on humanity’s flaws and how the greatest danger is often the one that lies within human nature. The story centers on two brothers, one a genius, the other a prodigious filmmaker who grew up amongst a world of violence, pain and cruelty, and who work together to create world peace, unaware of the consequences it will bring about. The actors, soundtrack, and visual effects all work together to make you feel like everybody is doomed. Nevertheless, I found the movie worth watching and I came away from it depressed but glad that someone out there knows that happy endings aren’t always satisfying.

***

-Eliza

This film is interesting and dark. It makes you think about humanity on a more personal level – for example with all the violence and war now what would happen if it all ended and what the consequences be. While gloomy and morose, the film is also about hope and love between the two brothers, with guilt playing a part as well.

-Luci