Family Movie Guide
By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 28, 2002
The Family Movie Guide should be used along with the Motion Picture Association of America rating system for selecting movies suitable for children. Only films rated G, PG or PG-13 are included in this weekly listing, along with occasional R-rated films that may have entertainment or educational value for older children with parental guidance. Compiled by St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall.
Big Fat Liar
(PG) -- Sitcom star Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) plays a student whose class essay idea is stolen by a Hollywood producer (Paul Giamatti) and turned into a movie. Muniz's popularity should draw young fans; the film's lack of objectionable material, except for some crude slang, should please parents.
Return to Never Land
(G) -- The sequel to Disney's classic animated tale Peter Pan is so overdue that it doesn't seem necessary. Probably just a fast stop at theaters before reaching video store shelves where sequels for Aladdin and now Cinderella went first. Mild scares from Captain Hook, but nothing objectionable.
(PG) -- Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a Miami dentist who inherits a team of sled dogs and leads them through the Iditarod. Affable comedy with some mildly crude humor. The cute canines make up for any offensiveness.
RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
(PG-13) -- Britney Spears makes her film debut as a honor-roll student road-tripping with two friends. The PG-13 rating results from a scene involving teens drinking alcohol and some sexual content when Spears' (clothed) character loses her virginity. Could be a bit risque for some parents' tastes, but just try to keep the mallrats away.
I Am Sam D
(PG-13) -- Sentimental, stacked-deck melodrama about a mentally challenged single father (Sean Penn). Mature themes include a custody battle that doesn't do justice to the legal system. Moderate profanity including one f-word. Too long and treacly for younger tastes. Some redeeming positive images of mentally challenged people.
A Walk to Remember
(PG) -- A preacher's daughter (pop musician Mandy Moore) falls in love with the son (Shane West) of the richest man in town. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (Message in a Bottle). Mature themes, mild profanity and some sensual elements, but suitable for girls over age 12.
A Beautiful Mind B+
(PG-13) -- Russell Crowe (Gladiator) shines in a biography of John Forbes Nash, a mathematician who could figure out anything except his schizophrenic psyche. Director Ron Howard's film deals with mature themes of mental illness and government intrigue that won't interest many small children. Moderate profanity, flashes of violence and brief sensuality also make this one for adults only.
(PG-13) -- Kevin Costner plays a doctor whose dead wife may be contacting him through his patients' near-death experiences. More supernatural stuff along the lines of The Sixth Sense and The Mothman Prophecies that could be too intense for young viewers. Mature themes include the death of a parent. Mild sensuality and profanity.
John Q C
(PG-13) -- Denzel Washington plays a father who takes hostages in a hospital to obtain a life-saving organ transplant for his son. Moderate profanity and violence, plus mature themes, including the use of such extreme means to get what you want. Prepare to do some explaining to children.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring B+
(PG-13) -- The boundaries of PG-13 violence are shattered by Peter Jackson's elaborate adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary adventure. The battle for control of Middle-earth features numerous bloody battles, decapitations, impalings and bone-bashings. Just because they usually happen to fantasy creatures rather than people doesn't make it different. Mild sensuality, mature themes and a 3-hour running time that may numb small children.
The Mothman Prophecies B-
(PG-13) -- Eerie yarn spiced with gruesome images of a supernatural being that warns of impending death. Brief sensuality with co-stars Richard Gere and Debra Messing. Moderate profanity including an f-word. Too intense for younger viewers and sinister enough to inspire nightmares in anyone of any age.
(PG-13) -- Violent tale of a futuristic sport mixing roller derby and motorcycles for bone-crunching entertainment. This remake of a 1975 film includes extreme sports acrobatics that children shouldn't try at home, moderately profane language, sensuality featuring Chris Klein and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and passing references to drug abuse.
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