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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 10, 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.


Agent Cody Banks B

(PG) -- Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz becomes an adolescent James Bond, echoing the secret agent misadventures of Spy Kids. Like that film and its sequel, Agent Cody Banks includes bloodless blow-'em-up violence and a few rude words but nothing to offend. Brief, mild sensuality from an adult spy (Angie Harmon) is harmless fun.

Ghosts of the Abyss

(G) -- Titanic director James Cameron revisits that historic tragedy by filming an expedition to explore the ship's wreckage. The result is an exciting 1-hour documentary filmed in 3-D (and IMAX-size proportions in other U.S. markets). Moderate true-life tension.

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 so that children may think they're watching 1967's original The Jungle Book.

Piglet's Big Movie

(G) -- Winnie the Pooh's tiny pal Piglet faces discrimination because of his size by the citizens of the Hundred Acre Woods, in a movie that will be on home video soon. Nothing objectionable except Disney's attempt to shove inferior projects into theaters for fast cash.

What a Girl Wants D

(PG) -- Fans of The Princess Diaries may enjoy this teen-girl fantasy starring Nickelodeon favorite Amanda Bynes. She plays a cute klutz meeting her biological father (Colin Firth) for the first time. Some parents may blush while explaining that to young children, but the film is essentially a harmless fairy tale with some mildly rude language.


Bend It Like Beckham B-

(PG-13) -- Teenage girls, especially those with athletic interests, should enjoy this British comedy about a young Sikh soccer player resisting her family's traditional role expectations for women. The humor includes some sexual suggestiveness, and a few rude works sneak into the hard-to-follow accents. But this is a nice piece of cross-cultural fluff, like Billy Elliot and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The Core D

(PG-13) -- The end of the world is coming, this time because Earth's core has stopped spinning. A team of terranauts travels to the center to detonate a jump-starting nuclear bomb. The MPAA rating is due to sci-fi tension and brief profanity, not to mention the wrong answers that could result on geology tests.

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 results from 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.


Anger Management B-

(PG-13) -- Adam Sandler has his share of young fans, but parents should know that many of the jokes in this film deal with crude sexual content and moderate profanity, including f-words. The film's MPAA rating was successfully appealed from its original R, but the film is still more appropriate for adults.

Bringing Down the House B

(PG-13) -- A lonely guy (Steve Martin) flirts on the Internet and meets an escaped convict (Queen Latifah) who adds spice to his dull life. Some of that fun comes in the form of sexual humor, punch-line profanity and drug references.

Chicago A

(PG-13) -- The Academy Awards' best movie 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.

Head of State C

(PG-13) -- Chris Rock's humor gets toned down a bit for this political satire, but there's still plenty of comical profanity, some sexual references and drug-related humor.

The Hours B-

(PG-13) -- Children generally won't be interested in this tale of three women 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.

View from the Top

(PG-13) -- Gwyneth Paltrow stars as a small-town refugee dreaming of becoming a flight attendant. Desperate lunges for humor include sophomoric sexual jokes, profanity.

Willard C+

(PG-13) -- The original shocker about a disturbed man and his deadly, obedient rats was nightmarish enough in 1971. Imagine the graphic deaths and horrific rat stampedes created with today's special effects for this remake, not to mention more sexual tension and profanity than in the first film.

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