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Family movie guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 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 ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (PG) - No sex or nudity, or violence that anyone can take seriously in this funny, nostalgic movie. Only one very mild profanity and a couple of rude comments. Children may not understand all of the cultural references skewered with puns and sight gags. This one is for grown-ups, too.

CHICKEN RUN (G) - Why should parents cross the road? To get to the multiplex with their children to see this delightful movie. Doomed chickens stage a great escape -- much like those old World War II concentration camp movies -- with Mel Gibson voicing a heroic rooster. No profanity, sexual jokes or nudity, just every pun imaginable. Violence is mild slapstick with a dash of Indiana Jones tension along the way.

POKEMON THE MOVIE 2000 (G) -- Nothing objectionable here, unless parents are suspicious about the Pokemon toys and games phenomenon. No sex, profanity or nudity. Violence is Saturday morning cartoon material, with power rays that stun but never kill and a few explosions. Children older than 10 probably won't be interested.

Recommended for family viewing, with reservations

DINOSAUR (PG) - Walt Disney's new computer animation wonder has more intensely realistic scenes of rampaging carnivores than 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.

DISNEY'S THE KID (PG) - Bruce Willis plays a crabby image consultant confronted by himself as an 8-year-old boy (Spencer Breslin). The middle-age craziness angle will zoom over the heads of many children. Psychological scars causing it (one parent's death, another's abuse) are especially mature material for comedy fluff with such a name-dropping title. A few crude phrases; no nudity, violence or sex.

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.

TITAN A.E. (PG) - Exciting science fiction adventure of humans surviving after Earth is destroyed by aliens. Voices by Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore will be drawing cards for young viewers. No profanity, sex or nudity as in the Japanese anime films this one mimics. Violence is mostly bloodless outer space explosions. Some tense scenes and scary creatures that could frighten small children.

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.

X-MEN (PG-13) - The long-awaited movie version of Marvel Comics' most popular franchise contains several bone-crunching fight scenes, impalings and a few nasty, rapidly healed wounds. Some sights are nightmare material. No profanity, sex or nudity, although Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' costume lacks modesty. Mature themes includes psychological scars of the Holocaust, adolescence and dealing with mutant alienation.

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 60 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. Moderate profanity, a brief flash of nudity during one steamy, voyeuristic scene. Heavy violence throughout, from car crashes to automatic weapons.

LOSER (PG-13) -- Marketed as a lightweight teen romance, this movie is loaded with date-rape drug abuse, topless dance club atmosphere and an affair between a professor and student. Grades are obtained by blackmail, and parents are mostly walking ATMs. Profanity is moderate except for one f-word, yet the general tone of conversations merits R-rating consideration. No nudity or violence -- or sense of responsibility.

THE PERFECT STORM (PG-13) - This fact-based story of a doomed fishing expedition has limited appeal for young children. A moderate amount of profanity, including one f-word, and some intense scenes of seafaring danger are in line with the PG-13 rating. No nudity, although a few fairly raunchy lines of dialogue are used for sexual flavor. Probably too long and downbeat for anyone under 13. Restless alert.

WHAT LIES BENEATH (PG-13) -- This ghost story steeped in adultery is too scary and risque for young children. Violence includes a bloody chase. Frightening images include drowning and a decomposed corpse. Profanity includes one f-word. No nudity, although one steamy scene and a few foreplay discussions are more than many parents will want to share with youngsters. Restless alert.

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