A Place for Kid Critics

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It’s obvious that kids like movies for different reasons adults do, so that’s why one nine year old boy created a website where kids can be their own movie critics. Cole McNamara, with the help of his sister, Riley, and mom, Tara, created Kidspickflicks.com so kids could ignore the middle-aged critic’s review and decide for themselves whether a movie is good or not.

It started in 2004 after Cole had seen Van Helsing.

“I liked it but it got panned by critics and I didn’t think it was right that they critiqued a movie that wasn’t meant for them,” says the now 15 year old creator of the site. Critics were reviewing it like an adult movie and it made Cole realize that kids needed a place to make their voices heard.

“There are forums, but they’re not dedicated, so we’re the only site for kids to write about how they liked a movie,” he says.

Cole, Riley, and Tara go see new movies either before or at their premiers then write critiques and parent reviews for them. Once their reviews are up others can add their own reviews or they can review a movie that the creators haven’t seen yet.

The kids who visit the site range from 8 to 16 years old. Riley, who is 8 covers the kids’ movies, Cole covers the PG 13 movies, and Tara does the parent reviews, telling parents if movies are appropriate for their kids.

Asides from movie reviews the site has lots of other fun features aimed primarily at tweens.

“We have stories about what’s going in the movie industry, reviews from when we started, videos of red carpet events, and polls that are just fun,” says Riley Roberts, the president and face of the website. It’s her responsibility to speak with young stars from Disney or Nickelodeon for their webisodes. Riley wanted to do on camera interviews to make it more fun since she “didn’t want to write reviews all the time.”

This site “makes studios more aware that kids have a voice,” says Tara.  Cars was nominated for an Oscar, but kids thought the movie was just okay overall, and Furry Vengeance, which doesn’t even have a two on ten rating on IMDB, was loved by kid critics.

If there’s one thing that they all learned from their experience it’s that “kids are more sophisticated than you might think,” as Cole’s mom Tara McNamara put it. “They’re seeing some films that really aren’t made for them.” Tara says the theatre is filled with kids when she goes to see a romantic comedy, and she also mentioned that a kid sent in a review for Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Kids like all sorts of movies so it’s hard for adults to understand what goes on in their minds. This site allows kids to share ideas with other kids, so it works because they all understand each other.

“Cole had this idea when he was nine and he has stuck with it. Riley started reviewing films when she was four. I’m consistently watching them grow. Everything we set out to do it happening. Kids are writing and responding and thinking and it gives me a huge sense of pride,” says Tara, and her two children both agreed that not only is the site helping them learn, grow, and express themselves, but it’s fun and they encourage kids to go on and have fun too.

– Jillian Zacchia

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