KIDS FIRST! Reviews

KIDS FIRST! is the media review initiative of The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media — a national, nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization, founded in 1991, whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critics take readers behind the scenes of Hollywood’s newest releases. Their team of 65 youth reporters, ages 9 to 21, give kids and families a kids’ point of view and interview ‘A’-list celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Shia LaBeouf, Trace Adkins, Eva Longoria, George RR Martin, Joe & Anthony Russo, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kelly Clarkson and more.

KIDS FIRST! interviews and reviews are published on the KIDS FIRST! website, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok), their YouTube Channel, their bi-weekly podcast and are published both online and in print. Their reporters have a combined social media reach of more than 5 million.

 

May 21, 2024

The Fall Guy

An Action Packed Blockbuster, Filled With Intensity And Suspense

After leaving the business one year earlier, battle-scarred stuntman Colt Seavers springs back into action when the star of a big studio movie suddenly disappears. As the mystery surrounding the missing actor deepens, Colt soon finds himself ensnared in a sinister plot that pushes him to the edge of a fall more dangerous than any stunt.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kendall B. comments, “The Fall Guy contains all the elements necessary in a wonderful movie such as comedy, romance, mystery, and most of all: action. With something for lovers of every movie genre, The Fall Guy is a great film to go watch.” Mikella G. adds, “The Fall Guy is an action packed blockbuster, filled with intensity and suspense. I really like this film because, despite the thrill, it is comedic and romantic all at the same time.” Daniel S. adds, “The Fall Guy is an absolute blast of film— incredible on the technical side, with great stunt work and action set pieces.” Arjun N. wraps it up with, “The Fall Guy is a love letter to the overlooked art of stunt work. While it may not be anything groundbreaking, the explosive mix of practical effects, comedy, and romance makes this an old-school summer blockbuster that I loved. This is a crowd-pleasing film that never takes itself too seriously.”

See their full reviews below.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16:

The Fall Guy is an absolute blast of film— incredible on the technical side, with great stunt work and action set pieces.

A big-screen remake of the 1980’s television series of the same name, The Fall Guy follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a stuntman who retires after a near-fatal accident. After being encouraged to return to the job for his ex-girlfriend’s new film by big time producer Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham), he accepts. Little does he know, he is tasked with solving the disappearance of the lead actor he doubles for, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). If he wants any chance of rekindling his love with director Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt), Colt must unravel Tom’s sudden vanishing so that production can continue.

The Fall Guy’s story unfortunately falls a bit flat, due to its overused story beats, and predictable twists. The story itself is completely distinct, but it consists of so much that is all too familiar. Some of the situations and surprises—down to even some lines of dialogue—feel unoriginal and foreseeable. The love story between Colt and Jody is especially stereotypical. The movie is mostly style over substance, but does it work? Answer: it does! The Fall Guy was made as a love letter to the dedication, hard work, and talent of all the regularly overlooked stunt workers in Hollywood. The film highlights stunt doubles, stunt coordinators, and more, in a self-aware commentary about audiences’—and even Hollywood’s—neglect of stunt people. It’s only fitting that The Fall Guy itself contains exceptionally impressive stunt work. Every fight scene is brilliantly choreographed, and the car stunts are astonishing. We get a peek behind the curtain at the true care that goes into this art. Speaking of car stunts, much of the action in this film involves characters in, or on, racing cars. These action scenes are so well executed—they feel grand in scope and adrenaline-inducing, and just so much fun. They are explosive, and encapsulate the true entertainment value of the action genre.

Although The Fall Guy’s story is somewhat of a letdown, it is an enjoyable blast due to its stunts and action. With a great love story, action, cast, and message of respect for stunt teams. The Fall Guy has something for everyone. Parents should be aware that the film contains violence and profanity.

I give The Fall Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.  It releases on digital platforms with an all-new extended cut on May 21, 2024.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 17:

The Fall Guy is an action packed blockbuster, filled with intensity and suspense. I really like this film because, despite the thrill, it is comedic and romantic all at the same time. There is a little bit of each genre, which makes it extremely enjoyable and helped keep my attention the entire time.

The Fall Guy is a film that highlights Stunt doubles, and brings them their much deserved attention. In this movie, Colt (Ryan Gosling) is known as one of the top stuntmen in the industry, but unfortunately he suffers a severe accident. After a year off, he is asked to join the set of a big studio movie, when the leading actor goes missing. Colt is thrown with numerous obstacles, and is put on a crazy journey, but in the end would do anything for its director and his ex-love Jody (Emily Blunt).

Major standouts in this film are the stunts. Ryan Gosling and his stunt doubles perform extremely high demanding stunts that completely elevate this film. The risk of each one had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The car flip stunt, specifically, is extremely entertaining. It really helps show what the character, Colt, is capable of, and just how impressive his skills really are. I also enjoyed e the locations. The big studio movie takes place in Australia so viewers get to experience the beautiful architecture of Sydney, as well as the desert and mountain sides. The major scenes take place in the sand dunes, and it’s really cool to see the behind the scenes aspect of a film with that large of a production. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline. It is creative and one of its kind. Stuntmen are rarely discussed in films, and definitely don’t get the appreciation they deserve. This movie brings the spotlight onto them, and does this in such a unique way. Witnessing their work up close, and just how demanding it is, has brought me a new found respect for this talent.

The message of The Fall Guy is to always put yourself first, and that you can’t always trust the people you think that you can. You should be aware that one reason Gosling made this film is to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to add a category for stunt people.

I give The Fall Guy 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on digital platforms with an all-new extended cut on May 21, 2024.

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22:

The Fall Guy is a love letter to the overlooked art of stunt work. While it may not be anything groundbreaking, the explosive mix of practical effects, comedy, and romance makes this an old-school summer blockbuster that I loved. This is a crowd-pleasing film that never takes itself too seriously.

This storyline follows down-and-out stuntman Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) after he’s enlisted by his ex-girlfriend Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) to find the missing star of her directorial debut. On one side, lies his quest to win back his ex after abandoning her following a traumatic stunt mishap, but on the other lies a more urgent quest to find his colleague and lead actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) amidst a criminal conspiracy. Equipped with only brains and brawn, Colt must rise to the occasion for a new chance in life. Can he win back his ex and find the star of the movie? There’s only one jump to find out.

The cast is full of mainstream talent that carries the screen with their comedic and physical prowess. Ryan Gosling, as Colt Seavers, cements that he’s more than just a stoic and silent figure. Just like he did as Ken in Barbie, Gosling showcases a natural sense of humor that he’s truly grown into. All the while, he impresses with his stunts with each fall – his success is a big part of the film’s charm. Still, it’s his love story with Emily Blunt, as Jody Moreno, that is the heart of the film. This helps cover for some of the film’s opening jokes that don’t stick their landing so well. It starts out a bit slow, but thankfully kicks into high gear quickly with an effective blend of action and comedy. The criminal conspiracy overtakes the second half of the film presenting real and raw stakes; however, the mystery surrounding Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as Tom Ryder, is met with his bizarrely comedic presence. He might just be the highlight here as he hams the role up without ever seeming artificial. I didn’t know whether to be concerned by his mysterious notes on his fridge or laugh. These characters are nicely rounded out by a terrific supporting cast. Winston Duke, as Dan, provides a true friend for Colt as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of iconic film references. Stephanie Hsu, as Alma, helps Colt on his quest with her adorable dog. Hannah Waddingham, as Gail, weaves her real-life experience as a television presenter with her character’s larger-than-life screen presence. Lastly, a surprise cameo makes the cast come full circle in an unexpectedly hilarious manner. David Leitch helms the direction with fluid stunts that flow like water. They embody the feeling of being on a rollercoaster on a nice summer day. In particular, one sequence stands out where Colt is attacked by gun-toting henchmen. It’s a man versus a system as he employs creative use of his mobility and surroundings to evade bullets and manipulate their guns against each other.

The film’s message is that true love prevails. Although Colt estranged himself from Jody, it’s their communication that binds his mistakes and his regrets push forward his asking for another chance. It shows that anyone can make mistakes in love, but mistakes can be forgiven with a genuine attempt to change. After all, love is not a game; instead, it’s a poetic act that can face and overcome any obstacles. Despite the film’s playfulness, be aware that there is lots of violence, strong language, and infrequent drug content.

I give The Fall Guy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases on digital platforms with an all-new extended cut on May 21, 2024.

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13:

The Fall Guy contains all the elements necessary in a wonderful movie such as comedy, romance, mystery, and most of all: action. With something for lovers of every movie genre, The Fall Guy is a great film to go watch.

The story follows Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling), a retired stuntman who has come out of hiding to work on a movie in hopes of rekindling a year-old love story with the director Jody (Emily Blunt). After discovering Jody has left their relationship in the past, Colt is told that the lead actor Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has been involved with bad people and is sent on a mission by Tom’s producer, Gail (Hannah Waddingham), to find him and, although it won’t be easy, he can hopefully save Jody’s movie, while getting her to fall back in love with him.

All aspects of this movie are fantastic – something that really stands out to me is the music. Part of the reason it’s noticeable is because of the iconic tracks on this film. Viewers of all ages will recognize some of their favorite tunes while watching The Fall Guy. Not only is the music popular, but the use of these songs is unexpected while being perfect at the same time. An example of this is Kiss’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” which can be heard throughout the movie. It’s used in many different situations and you can tell the people behind the film knew what they were doing, choosing this as the main track for the film, because it goes so smoothly with the love story behind the mystery and comedy parts of The Fall Guy. The multi-genre part of this movie is also fantastic. Every type of movie lover can find something to enjoy while watching. Ryan Gosling’s laidback comedic personality really shines in his performance of Colt Seavers. Throughout the movie the audience will watch moments that are especially hysterical due to Gosling’s acting. Gosling and Blunt’s quirky, but loving chemistry is so entertaining. Every scene they are in together left me viewers laughing, crying, and swooning. My favorite scene includes a cameo with some Taylor Swift music when Colt replays his relationship with Jody in his head in a little highlight reel to “All Too Well.” Jody sees him crying in his car and goes to check on him. Obviously, Colt denies the accusations.

The message of this film is that there’s always more than meets the eye. This message can be applied to many different situations, both in life and in the film. Colt talks about how stunt people are the ones who take the falls for the actors and the actors are the ones who win awards and get to be in advertisements. Somebody watching the film would never notice a stuntman because that’s his job, to go unnoticed. One reason that Gosling made this film is to appeal to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish an award for stunt people.

I give The Fall Guy 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It releases on digital platforms with an all-new extended cut on May 21, 2024.

 

May 16, 2024

Home Sweet Rome!

Imagine A Young Teen Adjusting To Living In Rome When Her Dad Marries A Famous Italian Popstar

Home Sweet Rome! is a coming-of-age comedy series about Lucy, a 13-year-old girl who moves from California to Rome with her father, an archaeologist, and stepmother, an Italian popstar. Lucy must adjust to her new city, school, and life with her famous stepmother, while also dealing with the challenges of being a 13-year-old girl and her best friend, Kyla, who is 6,000 miles away. The series features original music, relatable mishaps, heartwarming connections, and stunning Italian vistas.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Home Sweet Rome! is an incredible TV series with some very important messages as Lucy adjusts to living in Rome when she is forced to move away from her home and her best friend. A lot of teens and tweens have experienced similar events in their lives and this show can help them feel less alone.” Ari P. adds, “Home Sweet Rome! is a fun coming-of-age comedy series set in Italy’s capital, with breathtaking views, funny scenes, and heartwarming moments.”

See their full reviews below.

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15:

Home Sweet Rome! is an incredible TV series with some very important messages. It ties together a lot of different components that make the series unique.

The plot of this series is that of 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) moves from the US to Rome because her father (Darrin Rose) marries an Italian popstar, Francesca (Eleonora Facchini). The series follows her life as she learns to live and go to school in Rome without knowing any Italian. Along the way she meets many good people and learns to appreciate the life she’s been given.

There are many incredible parts of this series. One of the main ones is how very relatable it is to teens and tweens alike. Lucy is forced to move away from her home and her best friend, Kyla (Ava Ro). Her dad marries new woman and she doesn’t want to forget her mom. A lot of teens and tweens have experienced similar events in their lives and this show can help them feel less alone.

Another fantastic thing about this show is the location. It is set in Rome! And, it was filmed entirely on location in Rome rather than in a studio with green screens, which makes it very authentic. The cast and crew flew to Rome about four months to film the show and shot all of it in and in front of actual buildings all around the city. Another interesting thing to note is that, other than a few background actors, most of the tourists in the background of outdoor shots are real tourists just enjoying their vacations.

The message of this series is to always be true and genuine to yourself because that’s ultimately the most important thing.

I give Home Sweet Rome! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch this series on Max starting May 16, 2024.

By Ari P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14:

Welcome to Rome! Home Sweet Rome! is a fun coming-of-age comedy series set in Italy’s capital, with breathtaking views, funny scenes, and heartwarming moments. 

This show takes place in Rome, where 13-year-old Lucy (Kensington Tallman) moves to after her dad Will (Darrin Rose) marries Italian popstar Francesa Fortuna (Eleonora Facchini). As Lucy tries to find her place in her new school, she embarrasses herself a lot, which leads to her struggling to make new friends, other than a boy named Nico (Christian Monaldi), and her long-distance best friend Kyla (Ava Ro). And while Lucy goes through this tough change, Francesca and Will try to help her through it, as they both know what it’s like to face life-changing events. 

The scenery in this show is absolutely incredible — all of it, from the fountains, to the bridges, to even the interior of Lucy’s apartment. One example is when Lucy and her dad are talking by the hotdog stand, and in the background, there is an amazing view of the city. Another part I adore is the choice in fashion. The clothes are stunning, especially with their unique patterns, color combinations, and style. I love how the fashion choices for Francesca’s character match her so well, since they show that she is a popstar, but also has an incredible taste in clothing, in general. My favorite characters are Kyla and Francesca. I love Kyla, because of how supportive she is of Lucy and how she always knows what to say when Lucy is upset. For example, when Lucy is upset and crying, Kyla sings a song they created together and tells her to talk to her dad. I also love Francesca because although she is a famous singer in Italy, she shows that she cares about Lucy and wants her to live the best life she can. An example of this is when Lucy wants to make her late mom’s famous mac-and-cheese for Thanksgiving, and Francesca decides to take Lucy to the market to try and find the necessary ingredients. 

The message of this show is it is always important to be close with your family and friends. When Lucy goes through the normal ups and downs of moving to a new place, she learns that she has people around her that love and care for her, and will always help her when she needs it the most.

I give Home Sweet Rome! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12, plus adults. This series will be released on Max and other streaming platforms on May 16, 2024.