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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 6, 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

Amazing Journeys A-

(Not rated, probably PG) -- IMAX-sized documentary tracing the migratory habits of zebras, crabs, whales and, most impressively, a blizzard of monarch butterflies. Beautifully photographed and informative without being too academic. Mild wildlife violence that could bother some children. Just tell them it's part of the "circle of life" routine Disney has been selling in The Lion King.

The Princess Diaries B-

(G) Nothing objectionable about this Disney confection, starring Anne Hathaway as an awkward teenager who learns she's royalty. Garry Marshall's movie is shamelessly old-fashioned, showcasing teens without vices and Mary Poppins herself -- a.k.a. Julie Andrews -- as a Pygmalion-style teacher for the budding princess.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

American Outlaws C

(PG-13) -- The legends of Jesse James and Cole Younger are revisited in this Western adventure. The MPAA rating is due to several scenes of gunfight and dynamite violence, plus a few flirty saloon girls. Mild profanity.

An American Rhapsody

(PG-13) -- Fact-based story of a Hungarian teenager (Scarlett Johansson) joining her immigrant parents in the United States, coping with culture shock. Some violent content and mature themes.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion C+

(PG-13) -- Woody Allen's humor typically sails over the heads of children, and this 1940s gumshoe yarn is no exception. Mild profanity and no violence, sex or nudity, but the filmmaker's knack for sexually suggestive one-liners is too mature for young viewers.

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.

Osmosis Jones B

(PG) -- Lively blend of Bill Murray and animated, irreverent lessons in human anatomy. Chris Rock is the voice of a white blood cell pursuing a deadly virus (Laurence Fishburne). No profanity, nudity or violence, just loads of crude humor about biological processes, at least those with PG-friendly body fluids. It's all in good, gross-out fun that some parents may not appreciate.

Planet of the Apes B+

(PG-13) -- Tim Burton's reinvention of the 1968 sci-fi classic contains more violence than the original, with some scenes rivaling the scary potential of Jurassic Park III. Mild profanity and a smidgen of sensuality.

Rat Race B+

(PG-13) -- Madcap blend of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Cannonball Run with ensemble loonies chasing $2-million in a cross-country race. Much of the humor is naughty, with moderate profanity and a few sexually themed punch lines. But they fly at the audience so quickly that young viewers may not notice. Brief nudity for laughs. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

NOT RECOMMENDED

America's Sweethearts B

(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.

Bubble Boy F

(PG-13) -- A young man (Jake Gyllenhaal) with a drastically deficient immune system devises a plastic bubble allowing him to pursue the girl of his dreams. The MPAA rating is due to profanity and crude sexual humor. The notion of a youth market comedy based on such a severe medical condition already has earned criticism for Disney's Buena Vista Pictures from real-life sufferers.

The Musketeer

(PG-13) -- Yet another version of Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling classic, this time with intensely violent martial arts action sequences rivaling the mayhem of The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. No profanity or nudity, but some lusty sexual situations that may make parents blush.

Rush Hour 2 C-

(PG-13) -- Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker team again for a crude-humored, violent cop adventure. Many of the jokes are steeped in racial stereotypes and sexism. Violence is mostly of the martial arts variety, with some gunfire and explosions added for good measure. Moderate profanity, brief rear nudity and sexual situations, including a brothel visit.

Summer Catch

(PG-13) -- Promising baseball pitcher (Freddie Prinze Jr.) falls in love with a debutante (Jessica Biel) during a minor league season in Cape Cod. The MPAA rating is due to sexual situations, profanity and alcohol abuse.

The Others B

(PG-13) -- This ghost story starring Nicole Kidman doesn't contain any violence, profanity or nudity, and only a brief bit of sensuality. But the plot hinges upon issues of child endangerment and mortality that could upset younger viewers. Slow pacing won't satisfy them, either, in a film that doesn't resort to cheap, crowd-pleasing shocks.

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