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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001


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. Films are categorized as "recommended" for family viewing, "recommended with reservations" and "not recommended" for family viewing, with a description of content that led to that categorization. Compiled by St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall.

RECOMMENDED

102 Dalmatians -- B

(G) Sequel to the 1996 Disney remake of a previously animated idea. Glenn Close returns as cackling Cruella De Vil, again stalking those cute spotted pups for their pelts. Slapstick violence; no sex or nudity. Several scenes contain a doggie endangerment factor that may briefly upset small children. There's never any serious doubt that things will turn out fine.

The Emperor's New Groove -- B-

(G) Nothing offensive in this uninspired Disney animated throwaway. David Spade and John Goodman lend their voices to a South American fantasy that feels like a home video release waiting to happen, but small children will be moderately entertained.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- C

(PG) Dr. Seuss' popular children's book becomes a live-action showcase for Jim Carrey. The story is intact, albeit crammed into the final 20 minutes. The rest of the movie is frantic eye candy that should keep youngsters entertained. Nothing objectionable except a couple of mildly crude jokes and the exploitation of a literary icon.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

Antitrust -- C

(PG-13) Computer programmer (Ryan Phillippe) learns that his boss (Tim Robbins) uses deadly measures to eliminate business competition. Phillippe is a favorite of the younger set, and this film is reportedly less offensive than his R-rated Cruel Intentions and The Way of the Gun. Moderate violence and profanity.

Cast Away -- A

(PG-13) Tom Hanks stars as a workaholic stranded on a deserted island after an airplane crash. Robert Zemeckis' film traces his primal survival and emotional return home with pacing that may not satisfy younger viewers. This isn't a cutesy-pie Robinson Crusoe tale. Mild profanity, no nudity or sex, but Hanks wears a skimpy loincloth. No violence, although the air disaster and natural perils are perhaps too intense for children.

Dungeons and Dragons

(PG-13) Live-action version of the popular parlor game in which demons and wizards compete for control of a magic kingdom. The MPAA noted the film's fantasy world violence, but no sex or profanity, when the PG-13 rating was announced. Expect lots of sword-swinging, supernatural mayhem.

The Family Man -- B-

(PG-13) Playboy executive (Nicolas Cage) gets a glimpse of what life could have been, thanks to a spiritual guide (Don Cheadle). Moderate profanity and discussion of mature themes. Mild sexuality; brief, discreetly concealed nudity. Children probably aren't as interested in midlife crises as their parents are.

Finding Forrester -- B-

(PG-13) Young, African-American private school student (Rob Brown) discovers that a reclusive white author (Sean Connery) lives in his Bronx neighborhood. Both outcasts help each other cope with a world outside their own. Moderate profanity and rude-speak. No nudity, sex or violence. Some positive ideas about the importance of literacy sneak through the melodrama. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

Miss Congeniality -- B

(PG-13) Sandra Bullock plays an FBI agent going undercover as a beauty pageant contestant. Moderate profanity and gender-baiting remarks. Violence includes an introductory shootout and bomb threats. No nudity, but anatomical references are common in this comedy. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? -- A-

(PG-13) Escaped convicts (including George Clooney) become country music stars on the lam in this Depression-era comedy from the Coen brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski). Moderate profanity. No nudity or sex, although temptation is discussed. Violence is limited to gunfire that misses its targets and a clubbing by a bully (John Goodman). Mature themes include spoofs of the Ku Klux Klan. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

Thirteen Days -- B

(PG-13) The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 is revisited with admirable detail but an intrusive performance by Kevin Costner. History buffs can appreciate the intelligent debates among President John F. Kennedy and his advisers, but the film is too wordy and slow-paced for younger tastes. Profanity is fairly mild. No sex or nudity, and violence is minor and bloodless. Mature themes include the potential end of humanity through nuclear war.

The Wedding Planner

(PG-13) Initially mismatched couple (Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey) find romance between wisecracks in a fluffy comedy. Lopez dresses more conservatively than her Grammy Awards attire, yet there's no way of concealing her sensuality, or McConaughey's sex appeal, for that matter. No nudity, but several sexy interludes and punch lines. Moderate profanity, no violence.

NOT RECOMMENDED

All the Pretty Horses -- B

(PG-13) Not much action here to interest children, despite the cowboy motif. Matt Damon plays a Texas wrangler falling in love and in trouble in Mexico. Mild tough talk. A glimpse of nudity during a sensual scene with Damon and Penelope Cruz. Violence is a constant companion on the trail, including two brutal stabbing attacks in prison and a gunfight. Too slow for young viewers.

The Amati Girls -- D

(PG) This paper-thin slice of Italian life won't keep children interested, or many adults, for that matter. It's a loud, treacly family drama about four sisters and the men in their lives, written and performed on the level of a bad TV movie. Mature themes include divorce, death and mental retardation. A handful of mild profanities and veiled jokes about a possibly gay ballet teacher are the only objectionable parts. Unless you count the time wasted by watching the show.

Chocolat -- B-

(PG-13) Even with English dialogue, Lasse Hallstrom's film has the earmarks of a foreign film, and not many youngsters are interested in those yet. Juliette Binoche plays a stranger opening a candy shop in a French village. Her treats tempt villagers during Lent, so religion is a key theme. No nudity, but the candy inspires some sensual feelings. Violence includes a scene of domestic abuse. Mild profanity.

Dude, Where's My Car?

(PG-13) Twentieth Century Fox prevented critics from seeing this juvenile sex-drugs-rock 'n' roll comedy, but preview trailers and the MPAA report plenty of marijuana and alcohol abuse, close calls with strippers and general disrespect for authority.

Save the Last Dance

(PG-13) White girl (Julia Stiles) moves to Chicago and impresses everyone with her hip-hop dance moves, especially an African-American boy (Sean Patrick Thomas). Their interracial romance is one of several mature themes. The MPAA also noted the film's violence, sexual content, profanity and drug references in explaining its rating decision.

What Women Want -- C+

(PG-13) Mel Gibson stars as a man bestowed with the power to read the minds of women, and most of their thoughts are about sex. One scene features Gibson and co-star Marisa Tomei feigning post-coital pleasure. Others include discussions of orgasms, penis envy and Nick's childhood among Las Vegas showgirls. Helen Hunt also stars. No violence, which may be a first for a Gibson flick. No nudity and only a smattering of profanity.

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