A parent’s guide to entertainment
What’s a good kids’ film? One with a kid in it, right? Not necessarily. Just because Problem Child 2, Terminator 2, and Juice feature children or young adults in the cast doesn’t mean they’re good company for your little one. And just because Hot Shots! and The Rocketeer concern grown-ups doesn’t mean they’re not perfectly fine babysitters. Our latest Parents’ Guide to movies and video uncovers the real kid stuff.
What It’s About: Race car driver Emilio Estevez is sucked from the present into the year 2009 and a perilous existence in which he must run for his life from bounty hunter Mick Jagger
Will Kids Want to Watch It? For a nihilistic futuristic action flick, Freejack is surprisingly lightweight. The violence is comic-book style, harsh in parts but essentially unreal. Older boys will get into it, not distracted by that oldrock star their parents like.
Sex/Nudity: Emilio in underwear, scantily clad prostitutes, topless woman in bar.
Violence/Scariness: Four fiery car crashes, four people electrocuted, about 23 bad guys are shot to death, two are killed by a car, six are killed by explosion, a bad guy slugs a nun and she kicks him in a painful spot.
Profanity: About 32 futuristic obscenities.
Mature Themes: The homeless of the future.
What It’s About: Oliver Stone’s powerful probe of the JFK assassination and a possible conspiracy behind it, uncovered by true-blue Kevin Costner.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s a fascinating mystery that will intrigue teenagers as much as it does adults who remember the event. Any movie that gets kids excited about political history is worth a look, but parents should be warned that Stone selects facts to fit his views.
Sex/Nudity: Wild gay party scene, nearly naked woman dancer in bar.
Drugs: A couple of characters get drunk, plenty of pot and coke in party scene.
Violence/Scariness: The Zapruder film — in which you actually see JFK’s head blown off — is upsetting to a lot of adults, so try to predict your kid’s reaction when Stone replays it nine times. Also distressing are autopsy photos of Kennedy’s bloodied head, shown seven times. In addition to that: a prostitute thrown out of a moving car, a man having an epileptic fit, Oswald getting shot (shown twice), a cop killed (shown three times), a man hacked to death with a machete.
Profanity: 127 harsh words.
Mature Themes: Stone’s theory that our own government killed Kennedy and covered it up.
What It’s About: Four black friends on the tough streets of New York City and how one of them fights the pressure to go along on a holdup.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? As distressingly true-to-life as Juice may be, there are lots of mixed messages here: Before violence and petty crime are condemned, they’re made to seem awfully hip. Older teens may be able to separate the strands, but this Juice isn’t healthy for the younger set.
Sex/Nudity: A couple in bed (nothing shown).
Drugs: Smoking pot.
Violence/Scariness: Gangs and guns, shoplifting, a bar robbery,a fight among friends, a store robbery, an old man killed, two kids killed, a gun put to a kid’s head, some police brutality, a knife pulled, a gang beating up on a guy, two kids shot, a rooftop fight, a kid falls off roof.
Profanity: 223 obscenities (breaks The Last Boy Scout‘s record).
Mature Themes: Choose your friends wisely.
What It’s About: Not much of a treat. Less than top-drawer John Hughes fare about a bratty rich kid (Ethan Randall) who spends his visit home for Thanksgiving vacation fighting with Mom’s new boyfriend, Ed O’Neill (Married With Children).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Ed O’Neill is likable, but Randall’s character is such a jerk for so much of the film that he’ll probably lose as many viewers as he does friends.
Sex/Nudity: Racy deck of cards.
Drugs: A drunk coming out of a bar.
Violence/Scariness: A kid beats up Dutch with karate, golf club, and pellet gun, a guard throws a kid into a fence and beats Dutch with a club, Dutch punches kid’s father.
Profanity: About 16 harsh words.
Mature Themes: Plight of the homeless, learning respect for adults.
Drop Dead Fred
What It’s About: Misdeeds go to town as Phoebe Cates’ imaginary friend from childhood comes back to make her happy. He’s as obnoxious as ever.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Fred is so stupid, silly, and trouble-some that even kids might be embarrassed by him. Chances are, though, that boys will get a vicarious thrill out of Fred’s grungy, guilt-free pranks.
Sex/Nudity: A guy’s naked butt; looking under a girl’s dress.
Violence/Scariness: Fred hits Phoebe with a shovel, kicks her, gets run over by fire truck, smashes his head on window.
Profanity: Only six spoken obscenities, but Fred’s offensive actions speak louder than mere words.
Mature Themes: Enjoy life to the fullest.
What It’s About: Airplane! meets Top Gun, with Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes in the cockpit. It’s a match made in the heavens in this wacky tale of naval pilots.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Some of the goofy humor will go over kids’ heads, but there’s enough slapstick and jet fighter action to keep them glued to the set.
Sex/Nudity: Woman in a bra, a couple in bed after a food/sex scene that amusingly spoofs9 1/2 Weeks (nothing shown).
Drugs: Inhaling helium.
Violence/Scariness: The film is loaded with Three Stooges-type physical humor (most of it involv-ing the hilarious Lloyd Bridges) that no kid would mistake for real violence. Also: A barroom brawl, blood squirting from an arm.
Profanity: About eight minor offenses.
Mature Themes: Of course not. But it’s never too early to introduce kids to satire.
Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear
What It’s About: Lieut. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and his Police Squad wreak havoc and laughter as they take on the oil, coal, and nuclear energy commissioners.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Adults may laugh harder, but kids will enjoy the slapstick antics.
Sex/Nudity: A breast pinched by a lobster, two naked male butts, Priscilla Presley reaches down Frank’s pants and pulls out clay, she grabs his butt.
Violence/Scariness: Kids will recognize that this physical humor isn’t real violence. But it’s too funny not to mention: Barbara Bush gets smacked around, body parts explode, Frank explodes a bad guy with a water hose, two bad guys get knocked out, O.J. Simpson smashes into a wall, a bad guy falls off a building and is eaten by a lion.
Profanity: About 2 1/2 words.
Mature Themes: A nice pro-environment message for those who care to look.
Problem Child 2
What It’s About: Dad and Junior (John Ritter and Michael Oliver) move to a new town only to discover that Junior hasn’t changed. He terrorizes his new neighbors and ruins all of Dad’s dates.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Not even a mother could love this child, but kids do. He does everything they’re not allowed to, and seldom, if ever, has to pay a price. You may not want to give the little yard-apes any ideas.
Sex/ Nudity: Babysitter and biker boyfriend in bed (nothing shown), hand on butt.
Violence/Scariness: Satellite dish falls on Dad’s head, Dad’s date’s ex-husband smashes a waiter and Dad with pipe, Junior electrocutes another of Dad’s dates, kids throw M-80 in the toilet, woman crushed by giant rock.
Profanity: 11, not counting Junior.
Mature Themes: Nope, unfortunately.
What It’s About: In 1938 L.A., a pilot (Bill Campbell) finds a rocket-pack and finds himself running (and sometimes flying) from the FBI, the mob, and the Nazis.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Boys sure will. There’s less action than there should be, but enough to keep them rooting for the good guys.
Sex/Nudity: None, though Jennifer Connelly plays up the heavy-breathing sexiness as the love interest.
Violence/ Scariness: Seven bad guys get shot, two plane crashes, a car explodes, a pilot knocks himself out, a couple of fights with a really big man, bad guys try to shove good guy’s face onto a hot grill, a girl gets chloroformed, three Nazis fall out of a zeppelin, another Nazi blows up, the zeppelin explodes and kills a bad guy
Profanity: One minor one.
Mature Themes: Good vs. evil (i.e. Us against the Nazis).
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
What It’s About: Arnold’s back, this time as a good cyborg out to save Linda Hamilton and son from a smaller but much badder Terminator, the T-1000.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably 24 hours a day if you let them. But even if kids know this isn’t reality, there’s a ton of real-looking violence and harsh language — not to mention, in one unnervingly convincing sequence, the End of the World As We Know It. Proceed with caution.
Sex/Nudity: Two male butt shots.
Drugs: Drinking tequila from a bottle.
Violence/Scariness: Okay, here goes: Four guys are killed by robot gun fire, the T-1000 kills five people, Arnold beats up nine guys (breaking many bones), shoots 10 guys (only wounding them) and cuts synthetic skin from his arm, Linda beats up five people, shoots a scientist (wounding him), gets shot and impaled, and has a nightmare about nuclear holocaust where women and children burn to a crisp. There’s a scary scene where the T-1000 chases after the kid, some wild fights and shoot-outs between Arnold and Mr.T-1000 (Arnold gets his metallic butt kicked), 15 major explosions, and a swim in molten steel. Whew!
Profanity: 50 profanities from both humans and machines.
Mature Themes: We’re responsible for the future of our planet; stand by your mom, even if she’s been locked away for predicting a war between humans and robots.