User Rating: Excellent
Pros:Teaches morals, family friendly.
The Bottom Line: Children can learn about trustworthiness, citizenship, responsiblilty, fairness, caring and respect while singing along with Kids for Character: Choices Count!
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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Four or five years ago, while watching a Barney video, we saw advertisements for two videos that featured a few familiar characters and which claimed to teach good values. We soon ended up purchasing both the first Kids for Character video along with its companion video Kids for Character: Choices Count!
Our host is Tom Selleck, one of the co-founders of the Character Counts Coalition (http://charactercounts.org), the organization that produced this video. It begins with Selleck's message to parents, teachers and others involved in children's lives that children can and should be held accountable for their choices and the consequences of those conscious decisions.
Kids for Character: Choices Count! is a sixty-minute video that features The Kids for Character children who discuss the topics presented with Selleck between the six segments. Before the character videos begin the children are shown in a playground trying to decide what to play. Since they cannot agree, they sing a song about choices and implementing the "Six Pillars of Character": Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship
The first clip is from the Bananas In Pajamas television series and shows B1 and B1 (walking, talking bananas who wear pajamas) painting a park bench. They successfully stop one of their teddy bear friends from sitting on the wet paint, but two others come along and touch it, leaving a paw-print mark on the bench, and telltale yellow paint on their paws. They each try to hide what they did by covering it with the Wet Paint sign, but rather quickly admit to what they did and while they are retrieving more paint to fix what they did, the Bananas remark that they wish people would think before they did silly things...right before they both sit on the wet bench!
Next, children's entertainer Joe Scruggs is in a park doing a mini concert for a group of children and their parents singing about the six simple words that make you strong - which are the Six Pillars of Character. They then sing and dance to the "Six Pillar Shuffle".
In The Big Comfy Couch segment, Loonette the Clown breaks Granny Garbanzo's mailbox, and rushes to hide it before Major Bedhead (the deliveryman) arrives. Of course he notices the missing mailbox, so Loonette makes up a story about a huge purple elephant that took it. Snicklefritz the cat leads Major Bedhead to the mailbox who gets the truth out of Loonette who said she lied because she was afraid that Granny would be really mad at her. It turns out that the mailbox was already broken, but Loonette still learned the lesson that one should never lie. Later on in the video, we see Loonette do her famous "10 second tidy" where she rushes around her couch putting all of her toys away, with the film sped up.
We return to the park and this time Eddie Coker (whom I had never heard of before this video is shown littering, but does not skateboard when the sign says not to. When he puts on his earphones to listen to music, he hears his conscience, and we see it in the form of a second Eddie Coker dressed in all white and floating around the screen. He sings a song about listening to your inner voice before making any choice, and that you should not give into temptation or peer pressure.
In a quick clip from Wishbone, the detective terrier dog show, little Emily owns up to breaking her mother's vase, but only after she sees her older brother getting in trouble for it. She had hidden the broken pieces in a box, but now a 'feeling inside' made her tell the truth. Her mother explains that is her conscience and that she is proud of her for being brave and owing up to her actions.
In a Blues Brothers style song, two of children sing about fixing something if you break it, and apologize as well. In other words, "fess up when you mess up".
In between character segments, sometimes children are asked to name the Six Pillars, babies are shown discussing one of the six pillars via voice-overs, or game show host Duck Quick asks questions and children give one or two wrong answers before the right answer is given, such as What should you do if you find a wallet in the playground? The right answer is that it should be turned into your teacher.
This video ends with our six Kids for Character back in the playground they began in singing about the six pillars and they then join Eddie Coker and a crowd in singing "Choices Count". After all of the fun, some of the many national and local organizations that are a part of the Character Counts Coalition - such as the Red Cross, Youth Soccer League, and Boys and Girls Clubs - are mentioned. They are not just listed on the screen, but an announcer says each name, a child runs out onto a stage wearing a tee shirt from that organization.
This video is recommended for ages two to ten, and my children enjoyed it from about ages four to seven (preschool to about second grade), but after that they were not interested in watching cutesy characters teach them simple lessons. At about age five or six, they could understand the Six Pillars of Character and apply them to their own lives, even if in small ways.
My only "problem" with this video is that some of the characters are outdated. It was produced in 1997, and if my children did not know who some of the characters were four or five years later, children today, more than ten years later, will not know who B1 and B2 or Wishbone are. While my children knew some of characters in this video, they were more familiar with the characters in the first Kids for Character video that included Barney, Shari Lewis' Lamb Chop, Gullah Gullah Island, The Puzzle Place, Babaar and the Magic School Bus.
Unfamiliarity with the Bananas in Pajamas, Loonette or any of the other characters is only a minor issue as the messages set forth in the video still ring true, and the characters are still fun for children to watch. The use of children throughout the video intertwined with clips from television shows keeps children interested and not realizing that they are learning important lessons about their own character.
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8