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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 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. Compiled by St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall.

RECOMMENDED

Recess: School's Out C+

Grade-school children will enjoy watching the misadventures of freckle-faced T.J. and his pals, a multicultural gang foiling a scheme by an former principal (voice of James Woods) out to destroy summer vacation. Nothing here to seriously offend anyone, but educators might not be keen on the antagonistic behavior demonstrated by these well-intentioned students. Adults may be entertained by classic rock hits on the soundtrack.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

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.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon A

(PG-13) No profanity or nudity in Ang Lee's exciting martial arts epic, and sex is limited to post-coital cuddling. The violence factor should be considered by parents for its volume, rather than graphic intensity. Fists, feet and weapons fly constantly, although without much blood or grisly sound effects. The plot's strong female characters and accent on honor could be inspirational. However, a long running time and English subtitles could frustrate younger viewers.

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. 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 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 C-

(PG-13) Initially mismatched couple (Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey) find romance between wisecracks in a fluffy comedy. Lopez dresses more conservatively than her 2000 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

Down to Earth C-

(PG-13) Chris Rock's abrasive stand-up comedy is toned down, but some of the jokes in this Heaven Can Wait remake still may be too rowdy for young viewers. Several running gags contain sexual themes. Mild, brief violence and profanity. No nudity.

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. Juliette Binoche plays a stranger opening a candy shop in a French village. No nudity, but the candy inspires sensual feelings. Violence includes a scene of domestic abuse. Mild profanity.

Monkeybone C+

(PG-13) A cartoonist (Brendan Fraser) lapses into a coma and is spirited to nightmarish Dark Town, where his famous creation, a impish chimp named Monkeybone, causes trouble. Henry Selick's movie bursts with strange, unsettling creatures a la Tim Burton that could frighten young viewers. Some of the material is aimed at adults with sexual innuendoes and moderate profanity. Violence is harsh, but slapstick in nature. No nudity, but this one is definitely for grown-ups.

Saving Silverman D

(PG-13) -- How this raunchy comedy escaped an R rating is a mystery. Sure, it doesn't contain any nudity or graphic violence, but the movie is loaded with alleged humor that's steeped in unsavory themes. Power games involving sex, a nun about to take her final vows, gay stereotyping and unflattering depictions of women are just a few. Moderate profanity, cruel slapstick violence and plenty of crude gags about body parts and functions.

See Spot Run D-

(PG) -- A sheer lack of originality and a shortage of good ideas are the most offensive things about this insipid comedy concerning a klutzy mailman (David Arquette), a cute kid and a drug-sniffing FBI dog on the run from Mafia thugs. Boys of a certain age, say 6 to 8, might be amused by the dog poop and body-odor jokes, but everyone else will go home wondering how this mangy mutt was unleashed in the first place. Bathroom humor and slapstick violence kept this pointless time waster from getting a G rating.

Sweet November (PG-13)

Charlize Theron plays a free-spirited woman who takes a different lover each month and gives them self-confidence. Keanu Reeves co-stars as Mr. November, who doesn't want to leave. Profanity and sexual situations notwithstanding, this remake of a 1968 film starring Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley is a grown-up love story that won't interest many children.

What Women Want C+

(PG-13) Mel Gibson stars as a man gifted 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, no nudity and only a smattering of profanity.

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