A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shopkins: Chef Club is the first Shopkins DVD release from Moose Toys (Australia), the toy company that created and markets a vast array of brand merchandise, including dolls and play sets, books, web videos, trading cards, and related products directed at very young consumers. This 44-minute video, which follows several "seasons" of two-minute YouTube webisodes, promotes these very small (one-inch-by-one-inch) toys, most of which give life to everyday grocery items ("Apple Blossom," "Kooky Cookie," "Nina Noodles"). In this story, a group of the Shopkins auditions for membership in the mall's Chef Club. Most of the characters and the recipes they follow relate to sweets ("a chili, chocolate, leaning tower of licorice" and "gum gum fruit stuffed with gum gum fruit"). A smattering of messages (for examples, discouraging cheating and cautioning against a frantic need for compliments and approval) is introduced, and there's nothing really objectionable about the story itself (no villains or scares). Little kids will be engaged and will like the comic but slight characters. Parents who are considering the Shopkins brand for their kids should be aware of the company website's description of their product: "Let's go shopping! Shopkins are the super cute, small characters that live in a BIG shopping world! There's hundreds of Shopkins to collect from all sorts of fun themes! So grab your shopping cart and start -- because once you shop, you can't stop! Collect them all and build your Shopkins world."
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What's the story?
In SHOPKINS: CHEF CLUB, the three central human characters, Jessicake, Donatina, and Bubbleisha, assemble teams of their little Shopkin grocery-item buddies, including Kookie Cookie, Libby Lips, Cheeky Chocolate, and Miss Sprinkles, to join the local cooking academy, the Chef Club. Peppermint, the Club's leader, wants each team to create four fantastical recipes (including Upside Down Ruby Huby Soup and Spaghetti-and-Meatballs with Popcorn) to become members. Not all the Shopkins are comfortable in a kitchen, so chaos is unavoidable. Despite exploding spaghetti sauce, a fuddy-duddy gum-gum tree, a daring cookie rescue, and a monumental cleanup job, the Shopkins work together to make their club membership a reality. Peppermint proves to be right all along -- cooking is an adventure, and it's best when friends do it together.
Is it any good?
Commercially motivated cuteness teamed with everyday products assures that most kids will respond to another toy brand, another invasion of "collectibles," and another routine cartoon. What 4- or 5-year-old wouldn't laugh at exploding spaghetti sauce, characters based on snacks, sweets, and makeup, and a kitchen covered wall to wall with spilled food? It's surprising that given an opportunity to provide some simple truths about healthy eating and smart consumerism for even the youngest kids, this brand mainly focuses on what kids already love but is not always best for them. With its colorful silliness, generic music, and a little obvious messaging, Shopkins: Chef Club is harmless (except for the very young who aren't ready for one-inch-by-one-inch dolls) but unremarkable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that Peppermint's goal for the Chef Club was to promote friendship in Shopkins: Chef Club. Did she succeed in her goal? What is the purpose of a club?
How does a company benefit when they release certain dolls or toys for a limited amount of time, labeling them "rare," "ultra rare," or "special edition"?
What did Bubbleisha learn about getting compliments from others? There are rewards received both from doing a job well and getting thanked for it. Which is most important to you? Why?
How is this movie designed to make you want to buy things?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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