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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 19, 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

Cats & 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-size 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.

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.

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.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within C

(PG-13) -- The popular video game becomes the most lifelike animated film produced so far. The story is pure science-fiction hogwash with plenty of outer space violence. The process of creating human "actors" that look this genuine is impressive. No nudity or sex, but Dr. Aki Ross (voice of Ming Na) is another in the Lara Croft vein of shapely heroines in skintight costumes. Mild profanity.

Jurassic Park III C+

(PG-13) -- Children love dinosaurs, and most don't mind being frightened by them, judging from the appeal of the first two Jurassic Park movies. This one contains more prehistoric creatures and science fiction violence than either preceding film. Several intense dinosaur confrontations could inspire nightmares in sensitive children. Otherwise, it's the same roar-and-rumble fun as the original.

Legally Blonde B-

(PG-13) -- Dumb-blond stereotypes are the root of this college-age comedy starring Reese Witherspoon. The image of blonds takes a beating until one sorority queen (Witherspoon) wows the professors at Harvard Law School. Moderate profanity and a few sex-related wisecracks, but no nudity or violence.

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 that in 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.

America's Sweethearts

(PG-13) -- Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack form an unlikely Hollywood love triangle in this adult-minded comedy. Mild slapstick violence and moderate profanity, plus some crude humor and sexually charged material. Inside jokes about movie studio egos won't register with many children, and mature themes including infidelity could raise uncomfortable questions for parents.

Crazy/beautiful B-

(PG-13) -- Teenage love affair between a white girl on the skids (Kirsten Dunst) and Hispanic 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.

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.

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