A guide to video and movies for parents
Maybe they’re not signs of Pretty Weird Things to Come. Then again, the front-running films of the New Year — including the Steven Spielberg fairy tale that elevates horsing around to splattery anarchy and the Bruce Willis Boy Scout movie that’s definitely not for little boys — could be early warnings that parents had better think carefully when they plan their kids’ entertainment this year.
What It’s About: Warren Beatty as mobster Benjamin ”Bugsy” Siegel, Annette Bening as doxy Virginia Hill, and a costly vision that became Las Vegas.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Lots of boys love gangsters and guns, though this mob movie has too much romance, not enough action, for them.
Sex/Nudity: Making love on the floor (nothing shown).
Violence/Scariness: Bugsy shoots a fat man six times, torments an underling, and beats Virginia’s ex-lover to a pulp. A guy gets thrown through a ground-floor window, and a gangster gets shot nine times.
Profanity: 92 obscenities.
Mature Themes: Never lie to your gangster friends.
Father of the Bride
What It’s About: Steve Martin’s daughter is getting married and Dad’s not too happy about losing his little girl, or about the cost of a wedding.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? They’ll probably RSVP ”No” to this one. Despite a PG rating and Martin’s likable goofiness, this upscale comedy of manners will appeal mostly to grown-ups.
Mature Themes: Letting a child grow up.
What It’s About: A grown-up, yuppified Peter Pan (Robin Williams) returns to Neverland to rescue his children and his own youth from the clutches of the evil Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Have them examined if they don’t. Though there is a lull or two, kids will be in Spielberg heaven. But beware the ”rowdy is right” message.
Violence/Scariness: None of the violence feels real, but: Two pirates are shot, Peter is roughed up by Lost Boys and hit in the head with a baseball, there’s a big fight with pirates — the movie has lots of swordplay — and one boy is killed.
Mature Themes: Immaturity is this theme, as if kids needed to be told that it’s okay to be kids.
The Last Boy Scout
What It’s About: Depressed private eye Bruce Willis and disgusted ex-football star Damon Wayans team up to fight the bad guys in this fast-moving but ultraviolent flick.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Boys will definitely want to, but parents should be aware that there is a ton of rough stuff in this film.
Sex/Nudity: Naked breast and butt at poolside, a sexy dancer’s naked butt, a man rubbing a woman’s breasts, another trying to force a woman to perform fellatio.
Drugs: Popping pills during a football game; Wayans almost snorts cocaine (but doesn’t).
Violence/Scariness: About 15 fights resulting in much pain, a man shot through the hand, a woman almost drowned, a guy cut with glass, a woman being whipped, a guy knocked out by a stun gun, a man thrown over a railing, a knife stuck into a man’s knee, and no fewer than 30 deaths — 21 by gunfire, 4 by car explosion, 1 by being crushed by car, 1 by punch to nose, 1 by fire, 1 by briefcase bomb, 1 by helicopter blade.
Profanity: About 205 obscene words — a Parents’ Guide record!
Mature Themes: An antidrug message, as well as one about the corrupting power of money.
Start Trek VI-The Undiscovered Country
What It’s About: The Federation tries to make permanent peace with the Klingons, and Spock volunteers Kirk and the Enterprise to lead the way. Fortunately, things don’t go so smoothly.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Warp speed, Klingons, beaming up — what’s not to love? A new Trekker is born every day, even if these fogies are a little slower on the phaser draw than the Next Generation crew.
Violence/Scariness: A Klingon burning up, seven killed by phaser fire, an alien’s arm shot off, an alien vessel exploding, an alien thrown out of window, a Klingon’s chest opened.
Profanity: Possibly in Klingonese.
Mature Themes: Being blinded by prejudice.
What It’s About: Pompous doctor Michael J. Fox, on his way to fame and fortune in Beverly Hills, breaks down in small rural town and finds values, love, and a pig. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Fox is no longer TV’s cute Alex Keaton, though he may still be appealing to some teen girls. The story’s nice but moves too slowly for youngsters.
Sex/Nudity: Naked woman emerging from lake, Doc and woman urinating in field (though not much is exposed).
Violence/Scariness: An emergency room scene (not too bloody), a guy vomits on Doc, an old doctor has a heart attack, a painful childbirth scene, a truck smashes a car.
Profanity: About a dozen harsh words.
Mature Themes: Sorting out one’s life priorities, the importance of love and friends.
What It’s About: Movie special-effects guru Bryan Brown is brought out of retirement to help a girlfriend’s ex-husband, but once again he gets thrown into dangerous territory.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Kids relish special-effects magic, especially when they’re used to fight bad guys. There’s plenty of action and fast-paced fun.
Sex/Nudity: Fake female breast, naked woman in shower.
Violence/Scariness: A man thrown through window, an android shot to pieces, a picture of a bloody victim. Three guys get knocked out, one gets shot, two men catch on fire, a plastic bag is sealed over a guy’s face. Total of five deaths — four by gunfire, one by throat slashing.
Profanity: About 45 profanities.
Mature Themes: Loss of father.
What It’s About: Bruce Willis plays the world’s greatest burglar who, just after being released from prison, gets caught up in a scheme that involves the Mafia, two billionaires, the CIA, and the Vatican.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? The overplayed action, the stupid one-liners — and, oh yes, the ridiculous plot — are on a child’s level, although the foul language and gratuitous violence earned the film an R rating. Just one more mistake by those involved with this turkey.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of posed snapshots of sexual doings.
Violence/Scariness: About 27 comic- book-type fights, hypodermics shoved into a man’s face, a fake shooting, a dog catapulted over a cliff, and about 14 deaths — 3 by gunfire, 3 by explosion, 2 by ambulance crash, 2 by crossbow, 1 by beheading, 1 by throat slashing, 1 by electrocution, 1 by scalding.
Profanity: About 49 obscene words and gestures.
Mature Themes: None.
Only the Lonely
What It’s About: Amiable cop John Candy caters to bigoted, domineering mom until funeral home cosmetician Ally Sheedy comes along, causing him to dream of liberation from mother.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Kids expecting a funny, slapstick Candy will be disappointed. This is a low-key romantic comedy. Plenty of dead-body jokes to unnerve wee ones, too.
Sex/Nudity: Talking about sex, naked male butt (fortunately, not Candy’s) in shower.
Violence/Scariness: A corpse in a bar, a corpse in a casket, a corpse falling out the window. Candy has the following daydreams: Mom falls through manhole, Halloween maniac shoots mom, mom dies in fiery car crash.
Profanity: About 15 harsh words.
Mature Themes: The importance of living one’s own life, the ignorance of prejudice.
What It’s About: Tough, cocky cop Brian Bosworth goes undercover to bust murderous motorcycle gang.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Motorcycles are cool. So are ex-football players. Boys eat this stuff up, but this film is crude and violent.
Sex/Nudity: Boz in bikini underwear, a nude woman in bed, bottomless/topless dancers, a nude woman showering, a woman’s naked breasts while she shoots pool, another bare butt.
Drugs: You know there are some, but they aren’t visible.
Violence/Scariness: About 11 fights causing much bodily harm, a hostage taken at gunpoint, a hand put into motorcycle wheel’s spokes, a biker charred by a grenade. In all, about 43 deaths — 38 by gunfire, 1 by bomb, 1 by fiery crash, 2 by truck explosion, 1 by helicopter explosion.
Profanity: About 91 profanities; pretty tame for bikers.
Mature Themes: Good versus bad — nothing too deep.
What It’s About: Boys’ school for rejects gets taken over by terrorists and it’s up to the kids to save the day.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? This is every boy’s gung ho action fantasy — to play soldier and be a hero. But parents should note that the violence looks very real and one of the teen stars gets killed.
Sex/Nudity: Phone sex, teen boys in underwear, bare male butt.
Drugs: Discussed, but not shown.
Violence/Scariness: Two car explosions, two teachers punched, a kid hit with a rifle, a boy whipped by a wire antenna, two bad guys knocked out, four good guys hurt by a grenade, and 16 deaths — 13 by shooting, a woman pushed out of window, a judge shoved out of helicopter, a man’s throat cut.
Profanity: About 39 profanities.
Mature Themes: Good guys against bad guys, international terrorism unit.