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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 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.

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

Cats and Dogs C+

(PG) -- The rivalry between canines and felines goes high-tech, with talking animals involved in spy games. No profanity, nudity or sexual themes. Violence is mostly slapstick, but it's occasionally disturbing to see household pets catapulted into the air or smashing into walls and telephone poles. Parents should remind children that Fido and Whiskers at home can't do those tricks.

Cyberworld B+

(G) -- Harmless assortment of computer-generated doodles looking more impressive in IMAX 3-D. No sex, violence, nudity or profanity, but a few mildly scary creatures are included. Most of the animation is abstract and elaborate, although a scene from Antz and some escapades with The Simpsons are tossed in for audience appeal.

Journey Into Amazing Caves A

(Not rated, probably PG) -- True-life perils of scientists exploring caverns are expanded into IMAX proportions at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. Nothing objectionable, although tense situations and the sensory overload of IMAX-sized sight and sound could upset some viewers. Overall, a fine documentary filmed underneath Arizona, Greenland and Mexico.

Shrek B

(PG) A gently mocking animated fairy tale about an ogre (voice of Mike Myers) rescuing a spellbound princess (Cameron Diaz). Viewers will hear a few mild profanities and sexual innuendoes that will sail over the heads of children. Violence is minimal, although some effects might frighten youngsters. Shrek is short (89 min.) and sweet.

Spy Kids B

(PG) Harmless blend of James Bond gizmos and Willy Wonka fantasy from director Robert Rodriguez, much tamer here than in his calling cards El Mariachi and From Dusk Till Dawn. Violence is bloodless and played for humor. No profanity or nudity and only a whiff of sexual innuendo. Frantic enough to occupy children and frisky enough for parents.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

Atlantis: The Lost Empire B+

(PG) -- Disney's summer dose of animation doesn't contain cute talking creatures, and nobody breaks into zip-a-dee-doo-dah tunes. It's an old-fashioned adventure along the lines of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or any Indiana Jones flick. The lack of slapstick and plush toy heroes could disappoint young viewers. Also, the violence factor is higher than usual, with more gunfire than in any previous Disney 'toon. Mild profanity.

A Knight's Tale B

(PG-13) -- Lively mix of medieval jousting and modern rock 'n' roll that should be a hit with young viewers. Not much here to offend; even glimpses of rear nudity are played for laughs. Mild profanity, minor sexual tension. Violence is restricted to tournament jousts and swordplay with only smidgens of blood.

Driven C-

(PG-13) -- Sylvester Stallone plays a retired CART racing champion back for one more lap around the track. Moderate profanity among combative drivers and their love interests. No sex or nudity. No violence per se, but director Renny Harlin fills his movie with chilling racing stunts that could either give young viewers nightmares or bad ideas when they get their licenses.

Dr. Dolittle 2 C

(PG) -- Crude humor about bodily functions and animal husbandry make Eddie Murphy's latest comedy a questionable choice for children. No profanity, but several stoops to toilet jokes and sexual innuendo. No violence, nudity or overt sexuality.

Pearl Harbor B-

(PG-13) -- Nearly 90 minutes is used to depict the Pearl Harbor bombing that ignited World War II. That kind of relentless violence, although not as graphic as Saving Private Ryan, could be disturbing to young viewers. Same with the film's bloody images of casualties. Brief sensuality and moderate profanity. Patriotic, heroic themes can make parents feel better about their children watching.

Tomb Raider C-

(PG-13) -- Parents concerned about video game influences on impressionable minds should be wary of this one. Tomb Raider is one of the most popular video games ever, with loads of battling creatures and an impossibly busty heroine. In this live-action version, Angelina Jolie may not be sexy enough to satisfy some fans. Plenty of violent confrontations, nightmarish monsters and sensuality.

NOT RECOMMENDED

A.I. Artificial Intelligence B

(PG-13) -- Steven Spielberg's futuristic twist on Pinocchio, with a robot child (Haley Joel Osment) yearning to be a real, live boy. The movie is too long (145 min.) and complex for small children, with gruesome images of maimed androids to inspire nightmares. Sexual situations include a robotic male prostitute (Jude Law) at work. Moderate profanity. Mature themes include mortality issues and social allegories that may sail past youngsters.

The Animal

(PG-13) -- Former Saturday Night Live comedian Rob Schneider plays an auto accident victim whose internal organs are replaced by animal parts. Just another lame excuse for tasteless jokes about bodily functions, bestiality and toilet-and-groin humor. Children will see it on video soon enough.

Crazy/Beautiful B-

(PG-13) -- Interracial teenage love affair between a white girl on the skids (Kirsten Dunst) and Latino boy (Jay Hernandez) with a dream. That mature theme is handled with care, along with the story's responsible outlook toward drug and alcohol abuse, strong sexual tensions and moderate profanity. For mature older teens only.

Evolution D

(PG-13) -- Ghostbusters-style comedy with more crude humor and scary science fiction special effects than that comedy classic had. Gnarly, violent space creatures threaten Earth, and Mr. X-Files himself, David Duchovny, slouches to the rescue. Moderate profanity, sexual humor and lowbrow jokes make this questionable for children of any age. The nightmare factor is high for impressionable youngsters.

The Fast and the Furious B-

(PG-13) -- Gangs of larcenous street racers breaking every traffic law known to mankind aren't good role models for young viewers. Especially with some of the profane language, sexual situations, violence and brief nudity involved in their daily decadence. However, teenagers are likely to enjoy this movie as a forbidden fruit fantasy. That means parents should discuss the advantages of responsible driving after the show.

Moulin Rouge B

(PG-13) -- Baz Luhrmann's scandalous Parisian fantasy is too sophisticated for young viewers with its wildly original cinematic style and bawdy material. Nicole Kidman plays a singer whose prostitution is a key element of the plot. Sexual situations include Cabaret-style decadence, strong suggestions of rape. Mild profanity and violence.

The Mummy Returns C

(PG-13) -- Sequel to the 1999 adventure The Mummy is crammed with violence (albeit bloodless) and frightening images. There are more gunshots, slashings and bashings here than in most R-rated movies. Creature effects, including pro wrestler the Rock transforming into a giant scorpion, are the stuff of nightmares. Minor profanity, mild sexual heat, no nudity.

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

(PG-13) -- Martin Lawrence's penchant for crude sexual humor and profanity surfaces again, as he plays a thief rivaling mobster Danny DeVito. Minor violence, no nudity, no jokes. What's the use?

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