"Up" Gets A Lift From Reviewer, Age 9

The new animated movie "Up" soared off with $68 million this weekend, winning the box office race and coming in far ahead of last week's leader, the "Night at the Museum" sequel.

"Up" got a boost from rave reviews, including one California writer who called it "amazing" and gave it four and a half starfish out of a possible five. Other big films have had to face the starfish test too, as CBS news correspondent Ben Tracy reports.

In the movie world the critics hold a lot of power. But very few hold their mom's hand when they show up at the theatre.

"I'm the only nine-year-old film critic here," says third-grader Perry Chen, attending a screening of the new "Night at the Museum" film, where he has a reserved press seat alongside dozens of other (more established) critics.

Perry has composed more than 20 movie reviews using his signature rating system - one to five starfish.

"They can't all be good movies - otherwise everyone would be rushing to the movie theatre and nobody would be doing anything else," Perry says.

His role as reviewer was encouraged by his teacher. She realized Perry was using high school level words.

"He would watch a movie, write a review, and I would respond," said Joli Harris, a third grade teacher at Torrey Hills Elementary School.

But this is more than just a class project. Perry's reviews have now been published in community papers here in San Diego with more than 50,000 readers.

"Filled with humor and adventure, 'Monsters vs Aliens' is a delightful experience for the whole family," Perry says, reading from a recent review.

He also has his own Web site, Perry's Previews, and he was recently invited to meet the producers of "Up."

Perry gets to see new films before the public does. At least the ones for kids - "Because I wouldn't be allowed to watch R movies"

But this pint-sized critic brings something bigger to his reviews: the moral.

It began with his favorite movie of all time, "Charlotte's Web."

Asked "What is the moral of Charlotte's Web?" he replied immediately: "Even death can not break the bond between two friends."

Now that's a thought worth holding onto.
  • Ben Tracy

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