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By Belinda Acosta, March 14, 2008, Screens

Some Assembly Required

D: Dori Berinstein

This feel-good documentary about children who take part in the annual TOYchallenge competition can't help but make you laugh. Launched by former NASA astronaut Sally Ride (who executive produced), the competition encourages fifth- through eighth-graders to learn about science and engineering through collaboratively designing a toy or game. Berinstein's cleverly crafted film (toys from yesteryear mark the film's act breaks) follows eight diverse teams from across the U.S. as they prepare for the national competition. The toys are interesting, but it's really all about the kids. Wacky, earnest, beguiling, and often witty beyond their years, the film is reminiscent of previous documentaries in which kids deliver more than even their adult mentors dared to imagine (Spellbound, Mad Hot Ballroom). Some Assembly Required is also appealing for its unintentional message: In spite of the burdens of adulthood, there's always time for play.

Thursday, March 13, 11am, Paramount

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