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Family Movie Guide

By STEVE PERSALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 7, 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 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

102 Dalmatians B

(G) Sequel to the 1996 Disney remake of a previously animated idea. Glenn Close returns as cackling Cruella DeVil, again stalking those cute, spotted pups for their pelts. Slapstick violence; no sex or nudity. Several scenes contain a doggie-endangerment factor that may briefly upset small children. There's never any serious doubt that things will turn out fine.

Amazon B+

(Not rated, probably PG) IMAX documentary takes viewers on a 40-minute tour of South American rain forests. Some children may be more enthralled with the immense IMAX projection format than the film's educational value. Brief nudity while showing indigenous tribes in their surroundings. No profanity, sex or violence.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas C

(PG) Dr. Seuss' popular children's book becomes a live-action showcase for Jim Carrey. The story is intact, albeit crammed into the final 20 minutes. The rest of the movie is frantic eye candy that should keep youngsters entertained. Nothing objectionable except a couple of mildly crude jokes and the exploitation of a literary icon.

Rugrats in Paris

(G) Nickelodeon's popular cartoon series gets another theatrical showcase for its toddler's-eye view of the world. Jokes are mostly tame, with toilet gags to be expected with so many diapers around. No sex, and violence is typical cartoon slapstick with a few tense, tame moments for these young heroes. No profanity, although some Rugrats dialogue winks at more mature sensibilities.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS

Dungeons and Dragons

(PG-13) -- Live-action version of the popular parlor game in which demons and wizards compete for control of a magic kingdom. The MPAA noted the film's fantasy-world violence -- but no sex or profanity -- when the PG-13 rating was announced. Expect lots of sword-swinging, supernatural mayhem.

The Legend of Bagger Vance C+

(PG-13) Robert Redford's 1920s golf fable moves at a pace too slow for small children. Even youngsters who appreciate the game may be bored. A handful of profanities, two heated scenes between Matt Damon and Charlize Theron and a flashback to World War I battle violence are included. Damon's character is an alcoholic, but that subject is nearly ignored.

Red Planet C

(PG-13) The usual science fiction stuff, with Val Kilmer and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) leading an expedition to colonize Mars. Violence includes a killer robot with crunching martial arts skills, carnivorous space roaches and lots of explosions. Not much blood. Brief shower-stall nudity from Moss. Profanity includes one f-word for humor.

Unbreakable B-

(PG-13) Ordinary guy (Bruce Willis) survives a train crash without a scratch. Eerie guy (Samuel L. Jackson) thinks the survivor is a comic-book superhero. Not as scary as The Sixth Sense, but a late twist includes a creepy home invasion, bondage and off-screen murder. Minor profanity. No nudity or sex. Mature themes include a troubled marriage with a child. Recommended for ages 13 and older.

Vertical Limit B-

(PG-13) -- Snowbound cliffhanger includes several tense scenes to upset anyone who fears heights or helicopter rotors. Violence is mostly humans-against-nature material, with nature winning in terms of crushed bones and frostbitten extremities. Profanity is moderate except for one "f-word." No nudity or sex, but a couple of suggestive wisecracks. Alcohol abuse.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Bedazzled C-

Brendan Fraser (George of the Jungle) plays a lovable loser selling his soul to a sexy devil (Elizabeth Hurley) in exchange for seven wishes. He wants a more exciting life to impress a co-worker (Frances O'Connor). Sexual and occult references throughout, with gunfire violence and moderate profanity.

Bounce C+

(PG-13) Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow fall in love on screen. No violence, only a smattering of profanity and just a hint of nudity. Alcoholism figures into a key character. The film's central, mature themes -- the death of a beloved father in an airline catastrophe and mother's new relationship -- could disturb some children, or else they may be bored silly by all this grown-up angst.

Charlie's Angels C

(PG-13) This remake of the 1970s television series is sexier and more violent than the original. Explosions and martial arts mayhem are bloodless, yet occur constantly. Much of the humor springs from erotic double entendres, and the new Angels -- Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz -- encourage gawkers with their revealing costumes and seductive ways. Brief nudity in a computer-enhanced special effect. Mild profanity.

Little Nicky D

(PG-13) Adam Sandler's new comedy casts him as Satan's son, sent to upper Earth to stop his wicked brothers from causing trouble. Numerous profanities (including an f-word) and crude comments. No nudity or sex, but they are occasional topics for jokes, including Jon Lovitz's turn as a peeping Tom. Violence of the hellfire and brimstone type but nothing rash. The occult subtext could offend some viewers.

Pay It Forward C

(PG-13) What begins as an inspirational tale of a child (Haley Joel Osment) making the world a better place dissolves into a bleak melodrama about adult issues. Mature themes include alcohol and heroin addiction, spousal abuse and a memory of vicious child abuse. Brief violence sneaks into the film, leading to a downbeat climax. Strong profanity and some sexual references, including an erotic dance club setting and a discreet tryst. Helen Hunt co-stars as Osment's mom.

The Sixth Day

(PG-13) Arnold Schwarzenegger battles evil cloning scientists. There's the usual Schwarzenegger violence factor, including fatal gunshots and a laser gun amputating fingers and legs. No sex, although brief nudity is shown when clones come to life. A standard amount of profanity for the PG-13 rating. The intensity of the violence makes it tough to recommend for family viewing.

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