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Film

Family movie guide

By Times Staff
Published May 20, 2004

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

Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius

(PG) - Biography of 1920s golf legend, played by Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ). Brief profanity is the only questionable material for children, although the inspirational story of an impetuous youth who conquers anger has merit.

Ella Enchanted

(PG) - A fractured fairy tale based on Gail Carson Levine's popular novel. Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) plays a girl escaping a spell with the help of ogres and elves. Why recommend a film that received a grade of F? Despite its mildly rude humor and a couple of minor profanities, this ill-conceived fantasy has a sweet nature. And there are precious few films to recommend for children these days.

Home on the Range

(PG) - This Disney animated film is enjoyable if uninspired, a true "cartoon" for kids about heroic farm animals. Appropriate for all ages, it has little of the wink-wink innuendo that occasionally spices today's animated fare.

Mickey

(PG) - Novelist John Grisham (The Firm, Runaway Jury) gets his first official screenwriting credit with a family-friendly story and its Little League baseball backdrop. The MPAA rating results from "thematic elements."

New York Minute

(PG) - Rival siblings (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) bury the hatchet during a hectic day of making their dreams come true. The twin stars' enormous popularity makes this a must-see for many young girls. Parents need worry only about brief puppy-love sensuality and some dumb crime themes.

Shrek 2

(PG) The sequel is funnier and livelier than the 2001 original. Much of the humor is on the same multigenerational level with a few flatuence jokes and mild cartoon violence, but nothing for parents to fret over.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

13 Going on 30

(PG-13) - Jennifer Garner plays the magically matured version of a teenage girl. Puberty and sexual inexperience are the crux of much of the humor, making at least one parent squirm alongside her young daughter at a sneak-preview screening. Brief drug references aren't anything to worry about, but the film's eventual message - that a young girl's dream isn't as important as the nerdy boy she left behind - is debatable.

Connie and Carla

(PG-13) - Nia Vardalos follows the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a gender-bending comedy in the tradition of Some Like It Hot. She and Toni Collette co-star as women escaping the mob by pretending to be female impersonators. The drag gags occasionally skirt stereotypes of gay and lesbian culture, but no more than Will & Grace on TV. Mild profanity and bloodless mob violence. Suitable for ages 13 and older.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Breakin' All the Rules

(PG-13) - A jilted author (Jamie Foxx) writes a guide to breaking up relationships, escalating the battle of the sexes. The MPAA rating is due to sexual material and profanity.

(PG-13) - Friendship ends when an inventor (Jack Black) makes a fortune for an idea his neighbor (Ben Stiller) thought was lousy. That the product makes dog excrement disappear is evidence of the film's crude humor. Some jokes are sexually charged and profanity is common.

Hellboy

(PG-13) - A demon (Ron Perlman playing another beast) raised by Nazis is rescued by the Allies and uses his superpowers for good. Loads of sci-fi action violence and frightening images that may disturb young viewers.

Laws of Attraction

(PG-13) - Young viewers generally won't find romance between divorce lawyers (Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore) much fun. The divorce angle may even disturb children in troubled homes. Profanity and sexual content make this an open-and-shut case of adults-only entertainment.

Mean Girls

(PG-13) - High school campus comedy starring Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday) as an outcast student. The MPAA singled out "teen partying" as a reason for the rating, along with sexual content and profanity.

Van Helsing

(PG-13) - Hugh Jackman (X-Men) plays a fearless vampire hunter who must also contend with Frankenstein's monster and Wolfman. The monsters are portrayed as vicious sorts in computer-enhanced detail that will be nightmare material for some young children. Violence is relentless and grisly, and sexual tension between Jackman and Kate Beckinsale is strong.

[Last modified May 19, 2004, 15:42:14]


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