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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 9, 2000


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 for family viewing with reservations" and "not recommended for family viewing," with a description of content that led to that categorization.

Recommended for family viewing

THE FLINTSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS (PG) - The second live-

action version of the animated sitcom will be a decent video babysitter someday soon. No profanity or nudity, and a few tame sexual innuendoes. Violence is of the slapstick variety. The Rock Vegas setting allows for gambling gags that may not seem proper to some parents. Minor restless alert.

Recommended for family viewing, with reservations

BATTLEFIELD EARTH (PG-13) -- Humans in the year 3000 rebel against a 9-foot-tall alien played by John Travolta in an unappealing performance. The plot skips around and the special effects aren't flashy or frequent enough to keep youngsters occupied. Violence is mostly ray-gun fights and explosions, with a few cheesy-looking amputations along the way. A handful of moderate profanities, no nudity and only brief sexual innuendo. Mature themes.

CENTER STAGE (PG-13) -- This teen-dream drama set in a prestigious ballet academy should have great appeal for young moviegoers, especially those interested in dance. The PG-13 rating gets stretched a bit by harsh profanity, one sexual encounter and naughty behavior. No violence. Mature themes include adultery, homosexuality and eating disorders.

DINOSAUR (PG) - Walt Disney's new computer animation wonder has more intensely realistic scenes of rampaging carnivores than the original Jurassic Park. Small children could leave with inspiration for nightmares. Mature themes include a survival-of-the-fittest attitude that seems especially callous for a Disney flick. No profanity, nudity or sex, apart from a scene of lemurs going through mating rituals.

FREQUENCY (PG-13) - Teenagers are better-suited for this sci-fi fantasy featuring several mature themes. Minor profanity and no sex or nudity. Violence takes the form of a serial killer, with most murders off-screen. Photos of crime victims could be unsettling to children, along with the central themes of parents dying or in danger of being killed. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 (PG-13) - This sequel to the 1996 hit contains abundant violence, but more sound than fury or gore. The most graphic sights are bodies rotted by a virus tracked by Tom Cruise's secret agent character. A handful of mild profanities, no nudity and only suggestions of sexual activity. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

SHANGHAI NOON (PG-13) - Jackie Chan's martial arts comedy appeals to all ages, but the violence factor is something to consider. The fights here aren't very bloody, but kids certainly shouldn't be trying this stuff at home. Mild profanity, no nudity and very tame shenanigans in brothels and saloons. Two scenes of peace-pipe drug and alcohol abuse. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

SMALL TIME CROOKS (PG) - Woody Allen's latest contains mildly adult situations and is probably PG for its acceptance of crime. Although the content isn't objectionable, young children will unquestionably be bored.

U-571 (PG-13) - Inspired by true events, this World War II submarine adventure has enough action and stilted heroism to be an audience favorite. The film does contain an abundance of violence, smoothed over by the wartime setting and little gore. Machine gun fire and depth charge explosions, mostly. No nudity or sex, and only a handful of profanities.

Not recommended for family viewing

BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE (PG-13) - Martin Lawrence keeps his comedy riffs cleaner than usual, but there are still enough profanities and crude insults to make parents wary. Violence is low-key for a cops-and-robbers flick, with only a few karate kicks and pratfalls. The emphasis is on cruel humor especially aimed at overweight people. One scene features rear nudity from Big Momma herself. Several sexual innuendoes.

GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS (PG-13) - Crime doesn't just pay -- it looks sexy and fun in this remake of a 1974 car-heist flick. The moral implications of anti-heroes are always something for parents to consider for children. Moderate profanity, brief flash of nudity during one steamy, voyeuristic scene. Heavy violence throughout, from car crashes to automatic weapons blazing.

WHERE THE HEART IS (PG-13) - Natalie Portman is wonderful as Novalee Nation, a pregnant teenager maturing into womanhood. Mature themes (unwed pregnancy, domestic and sexual abuse, and assorted tragedies) are too strong for young children. No nudity, just a sweet, discreet bedroom scene. Profanity includes an f-word. Violence is primarily a barroom brawl and the effects of a vicious beating. Restless alert.

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