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Film

Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 20, 2003


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.

RECOMMENDED

Coral Reef Adventure A-

(Not rated, probably G) -- This IMAX-sized documentary contains impressive underwater sights, making a compelling argument for conservation. A few briefly tense moments but nothing objectionable.

The Jungle Book 2 C

(G) -- Only a few instances of mild peril make this Disney sequel questionable for small children. Otherwise, it's monkey (and tiger and bear) business as usual. So much, in fact, that children who love 1967's original The Jungle Book may think they're watching the same movie.

The Lion King A

(G) -- The Disney animated classic returns in the IMAX format. The screen image is larger and the music louder, but the film's fun and inspiring themes remain intact. Mild peril and veiled violence, mature themes, including the murder of a parent and subsequent misplaced guilt.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

Antwone Fisher A-

(PG-13) -- Denzel Washington directs and co-stars in an inspiring, fact-based tale of a Navy seaman whose childhood abuse led to counseling and a search for his biological parents. Tough material handled delicately includes mental, physical and sexual abuse. Mild sensuality. Moderate profanity, including two f-words. Brief fisticuffs.

Catch Me If You Can B

(PG-13) -- Leonardo DiCaprio may attract young viewers, but parents should be ready to discuss the consequences of his character's teen crime spree, during which he posed as a lawyer, a doctor and an airline pilot to cash bogus checks. Steven Spielberg's film makes crime look like great fun, even paying off by the end credits. Moderate profanity, sexual situations, mature themes, including divorce and adultery.

Daredevil C

(PG-13) -- The slam-bang action of last year's Spider-Man is comparable to this live-action version of another Marvel Comics superhero, a blind lawyer (Ben Affleck) with hypersensitive senses. The rating is due to violence that surpasses Spider-Man (including graphic stabbings and a gruesome death by subway train) and the sensual presence of Jennifer Garner (TV's Alias) as Daredevil's rival, Elektra.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets B

(PG) -- Everyone's favorite junior wizard returns in the second film based on J.K. Rowling's popular book series. This time, Harry and his friends endure a scarier adventure than in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, including nightmare-inspiring creatures and malevolent adult authority figures. The film contains more intense violence, including Harry's bloody duel with a monster and an attacking tree. Harry's involvement with occult practices may concern some parents. The movie's 161-minute running time can test the patience of small children.

Kangaroo Jack

(PG) -- This comedy about a kangaroo stealing mob money and the klutzes (Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson) who retrieve it received a PG rating, but reasons for the rating -- "language, crude humor, sensuality and violence" -- sound more like PG-13 material.

Shanghai Knights C-

(PG-13) -- Jackie Chan is popular with children, but this isn't his TV cartoon series. The Western spoof includes plenty of martial arts violence that shouldn't be attempted at home, plus a few profanities and a dollop of sexual situations and double entendres.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Biker Boyz B-

(PG-13) -- Laurence Fishburne leads a motorcycle club composed of African-American businessmen who swap their suits for leathers after work. The MPAA rating is due to violence, sexual content and profanity.

Chicago A

(PG-13) -- The best film of 2002 isn't for children. Director Rob Marshall turns the Broadway musical into a steamy bump-and-grind with mature themes, including infidelity, using sex to get ahead, murder, corruption and all that jazz. Moderate profanity, brief violence.

Darkness Falls

(PG-13) -- A winged creature called the Tooth Fairy terrorizes teenage lovers and the girl's younger brother. Intense terror and grisly images, along with brief profanity, are reasons for the rating.

Gods and Generals

(PG-13) -- The MPAA rating is due to "sustained battle sequences" although the Civil War violence isn't graphic, since Gods and Generals was produced chiefly as a television miniseries. Also sustained is a running time -- nearly 4 hours counting intermission and previews -- testing the patience of any child and many adults.

The Hours B-

(PG-13) -- Children generally won't be interested in this tale of three women in various centuries suicidally influenced by Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway. The film's pacing and mature themes -- including lesbianism, infidelity, AIDS and suicide -- are too downbeat for young attention spans. And for some adults. Moderate profanity.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers B

(PG-13) -- The second installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy features the same qualities as last year's The Fellowship of the Ring that may not appeal to small children: a three-hour running time, too many talky passages between violent battles and thousands of scary creatures.

National Security

(PG-13) -- Loud, persistent violence, some sensuality and Martin Lawrence's potty mouth are reasons for the rating.

The Recruit B

(PG-13) -- A CIA expert (Al Pacino) coaches a rookie agent (Colin Farrell) in spy games, then uses him to identify a double agent. Moderate violence, sexuality and profanity.

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