Dreams Are Worth the Challenge in New DVD ‘American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars’
By Ranny Levy, Founder/President of Kids First!
American Girl. The name is familiar to millions who either own an American Girl doll or have wished for one. American Girl characters also populate a line of books that have earned the loyalty of millions of girls as well as praise and trust from grandparents and educators.
A new American Girl, aspiring gymnast McKenna Brooks, comes alive in An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars, released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment just in time for the Olympic Summer Games. On Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD, the American Girl release is available only at WalMart, American Girl retail stores and americangirl.com, or the film may be purchased via digital download through a variety of online retailers.
In recommending the film especially for girls ages 5-12, KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Camille Bajema, age 10, shares, “McKenna has difficult choices to make, but chooses to support her friends, and her friends support and inspire her as well.”
Camille also shares a one-on-one interview with McKenna star Jade Pettyjohn as the KIDS FIRST! youth film critic joined some of the movie’s stars at the Olympics gymnastics trials last week.
An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars
Reviewed by Camille Bajema
(See her full review on video.)
An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars is a new, direct-to-DVD, Universal Studios Home Entertainment film. I really like this movie because it’s a story about friendship and working hard to achieve your dreams.
This film is an adaptation of the American Girl McKenna stories by Mary Casanova and is about a girl named McKenna Brooks (played by Jade Pettyjohn) who is trying to balance the pressures of her life: family, friends, school and gymnastics. McKenna’s favorite gymnastics event is the balance beam, and the balance beam is a metaphor for the balance we all try to find in our lives.
McKenna has many setbacks while working hard to qualify for the regional competitive gymnastics team. She has trouble in school and has to be tutored. She’s very embarrassed about needing a tutor (Josie, played by Kerris Dorsey) and doesn’t want her friends to find out. She also struggles with her friendship with her best friend, Toulane (played by Ysa Penarejo), and doesn’t always want to listen to her gymnastics coach. Coach Isabelle is played by Cathy Rigby, the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics. McKenna’s parents (played by Ian Ziering and Nia Vardalos) and teacher, Mr. Wu (played by George Chiang) are very supportive of her. McKenna has difficult choices to make, but chooses to support her friends, and her friends support and inspire her as well. She learns many lessons in this film. She learns that it’s OK to ask for help when she needs it, to accept others despite their differences, and to overcome her fears and work toward her dream one step at a time.
My favorite scene in this film is where Toulane is sleuthing around to see what McKenna is really up to. I really like this scene because it’s funny and Toulane incorporates gymnastics into it. My favorite character in this film is Josie. I like Josie because she really believes in McKenna during their tutoring sessions and is also very kind to her. The music in this movie is very catchy and had me singing along!
This movie was filmed in Winnipeg, Canada, and the screenplay was written by Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin. Vince Marcello directed McKenna Shoots for the Stars and Steven Brown, Deborah Martin Chase, and Gaylyn Fraiche produced this film.
I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because, overall, it’s very well done and has positive messages. I recommend this film for girls ages five through twelve.
Look for this fabulous film An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars on Blu-ray and DVD after July 3.
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