Category: Entertainment + Media

The Lego Movie Review – A real block buster.

As the cultural discussion continues about building toys for girls and gender specific toy aisles, let me start by saying that my girls have been talking non-stop about The Lego Movie since they first saw a preview for it months ago. They are fans of everything Lego from the classic sets to the movie themed sets to Lego Friends, which means that sitting in the theater watching an early screening of the movie, they thought they died and went to block heaven. Now this movie could have been terrible. Really. In less adept hands it might be a pat, cheaply produced, plot-light franchise to...

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The best Super Bowl ads portraying parents this year. Because it’s 2014, not 1914.

We’ve come a long way, baby, from the days when Super Bowl ads necessarily meant the Swedish Bikini Team and disconcerting depictions of women with anthropomorphic animals (RIP Spuds McKenzie). Now, some of the best Super Bowl ads in 2014 portray parents in a progressive, positive way. That said, we haven’t come as far as we’d like. But in between a creepy candy bar threesome and Uncle Joey’s ploy to get a date to lick yogurt off his pants (or something) we found  a few bright spots.  Here, shout-outs to our favorite portrayals of parents among the 2014 assortment...

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The Sound of Music Live. Tonight. Without spending $450 on tickets.

As an avowed musical geek, I’m so thrilled about tonight’s daring production of the The Sound of Music Live on NBC.  Yes, live. I’ve got the inner track and the word is that Carrie Underwood is simply brilliant as Maria, if you can forgive her for not being Julie Andrews; Steven Moyer makes a big leap from True Blood’s Bill Compton to the decidedly un-bloodthirsty Captain Von Trapp; and the kids are all simply wonderful. Plus? Audra McDonald as Mother Abbess is an inspired choice. What I’m most excited about is the attempt to capture the same thrill of live theater–no do-overs, no...

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Free Birds movie review: Thanksgiving is not for turkeys.

Let me start out this review with a spoiler alert: although Free Birds is a buddy film and the buddies are dudes, the strongest and most intelligent character by far is a girl. And a turkey. And she has a lazy eye. And let me go on to say that I’ll definitely be taking my kids to see this movie in the theater. And that after hearing Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Woody Harrelson dish on their kids, I think we need to have a playdate. Keep reading if you want to know more about why turkeys can be...

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PEG + CAT adds up to a fun, smart math-based series for preschoolers

If you’re waking up this Monday morning with a busy preschooler to entertain, we’ve got some good news for you: PBS Kids has added a smart new show to their roster that isn’t just adorable to watch, but also will feed those growing brains with some fun math concepts that you can then incorporate into the rest of their day. Perhaps as in, You need to take one nap today, but you have so far taken zero naps. How many naps are left to take? Starring one precocious little girl named Peg and her sidekick Cat, each 11-minute episode...

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Got back to school questions? Ask us live today on Kids Place Live!

With summer almost over, our Editor Kristen and her daughter Quinlan are headed back to the SiriusXM Kids Place Live studios this afternoon to talk all things back to school! Tune in live today at 4pm ET to Channel 78. You’ll catch cool apps and websites for parents, healthy snacks and lunchbox tricks, plus lots of fun shopping tips and picks from our new 2013 Back to School Shopping Guide launching today. And even more fun, you can call in to The Absolutely Mindy Show and ask Kristen and Quinlan a question live! So set your alarm and make...

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Monsters University Review: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say, wait…was that a Carrie reference?

It’s an interesting thing, settling into a seat in a theater filled with squirmy, popcorn butter-fingered children for a G-rated movie, knowing that half the references will be to movies like Animal House,  Revenge of the Nerds and Back to School. And yet that’s exactly what Monsters U is: a witty, irreverent, sweet and frequently hilarious take on the classic college comedy. Only, you know. Animated. By Pixar. With monsters. But is it right for your kids? To be sure, my children, 6 and 8, adored Monsters University. And they’re not even super familiar with the original Monsters Inc.,...

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Epic Movie Review: Is it really epic?

On a whim, my children and I wandered into the local theater and plonked down an absurd sum to watch Epic in 3-D, a movie I knew very little of at the time. All I had heard was that there was a strong female lead, a great voice over cast, and something about fairies, and all that seemed good enough for us on a hot afternoon. As it turns out, that was just scratching the surface. I’m not sure this is one that will stand the test of time the way The Secret World of Arrietty does (after a...

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Rock this summer on the radio with Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live

I am a pretty big fan of SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live for many reasons, but mostly because it is hands-down the best media outlet providing today’s family music makers the national exposure they deserve. The station brings the best in kindie rock and all-ages entertainment into the cars and living rooms across the country and save plenty of us parents from a backseat full of bored kids. The summer’s programming on KPL will feature three exclusive new series that are totally worth tuning into. Kids Place Live, if you haven’t yet discovered, is much more than a typical radio...

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The Croods movie review. Think of it as The Flintstones 3.0 in the hands of Dreamworks

Nose picking, blatant scratching, a thrilling chase, slipping on banana peels — all things my almost seven-year-old currently thinks are the most awesome and hilarious acts on earth, especially if there’s a fart joke in there somewhere. Cue The Croods. I will admit I’m less than thrilled by my son’s current choices in comedic relief, so when the two of us were ushered into an advanced screening of The Croods 3D I handed him his snacks with a stern warning to not get carried away by any caveman hijinks at home. And, sure, while the film delivers on a...

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¡Hola Mis Amigos! Hilarious Dora the Explorer miniseries begins today

When I saw College Humor’s “fake” trailer for a live-action Dora the Explorer movie, I joined the chorus of voices across the internet begging that this hilarious two-minute trailer be made into a real movie. And that wish has come true. Now along with no more diapers, teething, and 3am feedings, one of the best things about my kids hitting grade-school age is that they no longer subject me to nonstop episodes of Dora the Explorer. There’s only so much Swiper, No Swiping! a mama can take. However, this is different. College Humor will offer up a three-part miniseries,...

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The best new movies for kids? The NY International Children’s Film Festival lets you find them all in one place.

Watching The Academy Awards always gets me excited to watch more movies, but maybe not the best movies for kids. In fact I’m sure that 99% of them are way too much for little ones (and, often, me) to handle. But for you lucky New Yorkers–or those of you planning a trip to the city over Spring Break–set aside the month of March for “Extreme Movie Watching” because you’re about to get a whole bunch of reasons to hit the theaters with the kids. Or hey, even if you’re not NY bound, you can browse the site and start...

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Congrats to the Oscars 2013 best animated short: Paperman

Watching the 2013 Academy Awards last night, I was feeling bad about seeing a big fat zero of the nine Best Picture Oscar-nominated films, though I admit that after reading Liz’s amazing Les Miserables review, it was almost like seeing it myself. But hey, I did see the Best Animated Feature winner Brave and now also the Best Animated Short winner Paperman, which you can catch for free on Hulu. It’s a such a sweet film and certainly worth sparing seven minutes to watch. Congrats to them, and all the Oscar winners! -Kristen Looking for more of our movie...

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The Sesame Street Downton Abbey video. Hilarious!

Considering how addicted we are to Downton Abbey, we just couldn’t wait to tell you about the new Sesame Street Downton Abbey parody called “Upside Downton Abbey” that will air next week. The parody, which stars the Dowager Countess of Grantham and Carson the Butler at tea, is almost exactly like the real thing, complete with English accents and the drama that we all love, except with a hilarious Sesame Street twist. Enjoy the sneak peek. –Pilar Watch the full Sesame Street Downton Abbey when it airs Monday, Feb. 4. on...

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Les Miserables movie review: Quite easily the movie of the year

Let me start by saying I am not some Les Mis groupie. I have never seen the play or even read Victor Hugo’s book, so it’s not like I have childhood memories to stir up. That said, I cannot think of the last time I walked out of a movie saying, I can’t wait to see that again. And that’s exactly what you’d have heard me say immediately following a preview screening of Les Miserables. At least you might have heard it, if could understand me through the sniffles and the tears still running down my face. [Read on for...

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Pixar’s animated shorts collections will make your little movie lovers smile

I still remember the very first Pixar short film I ever saw, way back in 1986. It was called Luxo Jr. and told the story of two lamps playing with a ball. Such a simple story, from the little start-up animation company that grew big. Fast forward a whole bunch of years, and Disney PIXAR feature films are now among every kid’s favorites, but the short films are no less compelling. Which is why this new collection makes a fabulous holiday gift. Pixar Short Films Collection 2 pulls together a dozen animated shorts for your family to enjoy in one...

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Hotel Transylvania Review: Velcome to Fun

The second my girls saw the very first ad for Hotel Transylvania, they were begging to see it. At 5 and 7, I wasn’t quite sure if I should get their hopes up or not–after all, stories about monsters not of the Sesame Street variety generally don’t suit their age group. Remarkably, even my 5-year-old wasn’t scared a bit. Okay, so there were a couple of tense moments in which she gripped my hand a little tighter, and it’s possible that she’s a tougher little girl than most. But when I asked them at the end if it was...

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Before Rowling there was Tolkien

This week, at their father’s insistence, we introduced the kids to Lord of the Rings–he wanted to get a head start before The Hobbit finally comes out. Well, my older daughter is now officially obsessed, roleplaying Frodo at every turn. (She didn’t want to be Arwyn, surprisingly. Kind of cool.) If you’ve got a kid who’s smitten with Tolkien, but you’re not ready to fill their room with giant full-color posters of Orcs, this minimalist design option is awesome. Designer Jamesy has created this lovely Minimalist Lord of the Rings series of posters. I think the Fellowship of the...

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Circus Smirkus – the must see kids tour of the summer

Last year for the first time, I discovered the genius that is Circus Smirkus, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that my kids have been counting the days for an entire year until we could return. Well, we did. And you can too, now that they’re on tour again for their 25th annual summer (wow). There’s a whole lot of great reasons to nab your family some tickets for this special show this year. The non-profit Circus Smirkus is everything kids inherently love about the circus–acrobatics, humor, clowning, aerial stunts, hula hoops–only all performed by a cast of...

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Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure – yes, it’s all that

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I take my Disneyland fix quite seriously and I love Mickey Mouse. So, you can only imagine my excitement when I was invited to check out the grand opening of the new Cars Land area of Disney’s California Adventure. I must admit, my expectations were high. Sky high, actually. And let me tell you, Pixar delivers. Imagine that you are sitting down with your wee ones watching Lightning McQueen on the big screen. Now picture yourself walking through the flat screen TV into that world–that’s truly what Cars Land is. Radiator...

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Pixar’s Brave review – A princess movie without a handsome prince

It’s kind of hard to believe that Disney produced the wonderful new “princess” movie Brave. After all, there’s no handsome prince, no fantasy dance scene in a sweeping gown, and no dead mother. What there is is a strong (super strong) female lead, and a lot of big bears. Also, boys will like it too. Seriously. My girls, 5 and almost 7, simply adored Brave and so did their mama. It’s beautifully produced, funny on both a kids’ and an adult level–something John Lasseter is pretty awesome at–and dramatic enough to keep you interested right through the very end....

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It’s a small world in The Secret World of Arrietty

Want to know why we’re in love with The Secret World of Arrietty? Family Movie Night in our house usually means the kids pick an animated-to-the-gills cartoon that tries to make itself relevant to “all ages” with lots of double-entendre, fast-paced action scenes, and mildly suggestive sexual tension. (I’m looking at you Puss in Boots.) So how refreshing to find a G-rated movie that has our all-ages audience riveted without a single car chase, animal hip-hop number, or over-their-heads joke. Having never read The Borrowers, I came to The Secret World of Arrietty with little knowledge of the story...

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Lollipop Theater Network – Bringing movies to kids who can’t go themselves

As a music therapist working with kids in the hospital, I saw that one of the biggest challenges parents faced (among the many) was providing their kids with as much of a typical every day experience as they could. From keeping up with school work to listening to music with friends, it’s so important for parents, therapists and staff to work together to help bring normalcy to kids’ lives, not just for their own development but for their morale as well.  So, when we got wind of what the Lollipop Theater Network does for kids, we just had to...

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Science rocks in Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention

Long before I had children, I fell in love with the clay stop-motion characters of nerdy inventor Wallace and his lovable dog Gromit. And now that I’ve succeeded in bringing three more over to Wallace & Gromit fandom, I’ve found a fun little series that couples our love of these characters with stories about the coolest-of-the-cool inventions from around the world to get kids excited about science. Six episodes of Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention have been neatly packaged for us here in the states since we didn’t catch them when they originally aired on the BBC1. Wallace, the...

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Why PBS should bring this circus to your town

Last summer, our editor Liz gushed about the wonders of Circus Smirkus, the amazing single-ring circus whose performers are all kids. And for those of us in the New England or upstate New York areas, every summer brings us another chance to catch this innovative circus, now approaching its 25th year. But for those of you in other parts of the globe, and for those of us who adore these young performers and want to see more, more, more, there is a way to bring the circus right into your home. The new documentary Circus Dreams, A Movie Journey...

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Fighting evil with rock ‘n’ roll, Aquabats style

The minds behind Yo Gabba Gabba! are not content to settle with one successful kids show. In fact, they have just hooked themselves a certain daughter I know with a brand-new show–and some truly awesome rock music. And I’m betting a lot of other daughters and sons will be hooked when this new show premieres today. “The Aquabats! Super Show!” (I bow down to the generous-yet-not-totally-annoying use of exclamation points) focuses on a band of crime-fighting musicians who are on a mission to vanquish evil using the power of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s totally comical and campy in a...

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Get your popcorn ready: New York’s International Children’s Film Fest is Coming.

Film fans in the New York area are preparing for the New York International Children’s Film Festival and we are too! Over the past 15 years, the NYICFF has become a huge family event, and a great chance to expose our kids to more than 100 films from 34 countries, that obviously go beyond your usual big box-office fare. If you’re thinking about going (and make your reservations now, it sells out!), the festival runs from March 2-25. And if you need some help figuring out what to see and what your kids will love, we’ve got the scoop–straight...

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The Lorax movie review: Is it every bit as awesome as the book?

I am absolutely smitten with The Lorax, one of Dr. Seuss’ most powerful characters. The book has such a strong environmental message that continues to resonate within me and so many of Dr. Seuss’ fans, so I must admit that I had very high expectations for The Lorax movie, especially knowing the Despicable Me creators were behind the production. Could it possibly get the message across in a new and entertaining way while remaining authentic to the original intent? I caught a screening of it, and my answer, with complete certainty, is yes. The Lorax on film delivers in...

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Star Wars in 3D gives everyone a chance to see it on the big screen

My seven-year-old can tell you whose lightsaber is purple (Mace Windu) and what sound a Droideka makes (em! em!), but he’s never been able to sit in a movie theater and see one of his beloved Star Wars movies on the big screen. Until now. The two of us were fortunate enough to be invited to spend an out-of-this world weekend with other media types at Skywalker Ranch and the Presidio in advance of the big release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D.  If you have a young (or old) Jedi who is quaking in their...

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Big Miracle Review – and a little of the celebrity gossip you’re hoping for

Like me, you may have seen the Big Miracle ads on TV and thought–hmm, that could be kinda cheesy. So I was frankly a little surprised to find myself at a preview screening, laughing out loud, wiping tears (shhh) and thinking, wow, my kids are going to love this. The film is based, with surprisingly little dramatic deviation, on the true 1988 story of a family of three grey whales trapped under the ice in frigid, sleepy Barrow, Alaska, and how an unlikely crew of ratings-hungry journalists, Inuit whalers, oil moguls, Greenpeace and even the government converge on the...

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