Parent’s guide to movies
What It’s About: Gauzy vintage-Hollywood view of George Herman ”Babe” Ruth-the man, the athlete, the drunken adulterer. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Little kids will love this big kid, especially since he’s played by the guy they just voted as most resembling Mr. Potato Head (EW, 117). While not shirking from Babe’s less-sympathetic qualities, this zesty film is about as deep as a comic book. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: Babe’s extramarital wanderings, couple in a bathtub (nothing shown), Babe in bed with woman (not his wife). Drugs/Alcohol: Babe is shown drunk often, his wife takes pills. Violence/Scariness: Little Babe punches a kid and then gets whipped by a priest, Big Babe slugs an umpire, hangs his manager upside down from a train, throws dirt in an ump’s face, attacks a fan with a bat. Profanity: About 14 foul words. Mature Themes: How womanizing and drinking hurt Ruth’s career. The film seems to strive for a higher theme but comes up short.
What It’s About: Updated version of A Night at the Opera, only this time it’s a ballet broken up by three Marx Brothers wannabes. It’s still pretty funny. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Fast, silly, weightless slapstick that’s filled with one-liners — they’ll love it. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: Some sexual innuendo and double entendres, a nudie-magazine photo, a sexy woman in bed. Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: Other than a ballet star trying to force himself on his female costar, the violence is of the Three Stooges kind: Stylized smacking of a girl’s head on a door, kicking a guy in the groin. Profanity: None. Mature Themes: If there were any here, it would be by mistake.
FAR AND AWAY
What It’s About: Irish peasant farmer Tom Cruise and snobbish aristocrat Nicole Kidman head to America to claim a piece of that free land in Oklahoma, circa 1890s. Cruise uses his fists to get there and Kidman uses Cruise. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Aye, surprisingly enough, they will. This sprawling epic has fights, romance, action, and humor — something for every kid. True, it’s a bit too long, but it’s never boring. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/ Nudity: Brief glimpse of Kidman’s breast, partial exposure of Cruise’s butt, tame scenes in a brothel. Drugs/Alcohol: Several drinking scenes in pubs and bars, Kidman drunk, Cruise drunk. Violence/Scariness: Man dies after getting hit in the head with large rock, house set on fire, Kidman stabs Cruise in leg with pitchfork, gun explodes in Cruise’s face, man shot to death, eight bare-knuckle fistfights (one extremely bloody and brutal), house fire-bombed. Profanity: About 11 harsh words. Mature Themes: Following your destiny, bigotry, willingness to do whatever it takes to realize your dreams.
What It’s About: Sorry, kids, it’s not a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. Two friends join a dangerous expedition to climb the world’s second-highest mountain. Will Kids Want to Watch It? It may be a little heavy at times, but the action and photography are enough to grip any viewer’s attention. MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: Naked woman getting out of bed, a naked male butt. Drugs/ Alcohol: Strictly a Rocky Mountain high here. Violence/Scariness: An avalanche kills two climbers, several others are injured in fall down a & mountain, a bloodied and frostbitten man dies, another fall leads to a badly fractured leg, a climber is frozen to death. Profanity: About 44 cold, harsh words. Mature Themes: The exhilaration of conquering nature, the price of being totally self-absorbed, and ”I got everything I wanted, but I had to give up everything I had to get it. Is that winning?” Food for thought for all ages.
What It’s About: When a cranky dad dies, the rest of the clan has a high old time at his funeral. Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s contrived, uninteresting, not particularly funny — and most kids aren’t familiar with the subtleties of black comedy. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: Just some sexual talk and allusions to having an affair. Drugs/Alcohol: A drunken priest, some drug talk. Violence/Scariness: A man falls into a grave; he later gets hit repeatedly with a woman’s handbag. Profanity: About 19 obscenities.Mature Themes: There’s an unmarried pregnant teen — a situation which is not dealt with in any mature manner — and, of course, the big D itself.
STEPHEN KING’S SLEEPWALKERS
What It’s About: Mother (Alice Krige) and son (Brian Krause) sleepwalkers — nasty, metamorphing creatures that feed on virgins — become unpopular by killing their neighbors. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Older kids who love scary movies sure will (as for wee ones — are you nuts?). The morphing effects are cool, and it’s actually less scary than most flicks in this genre. Still, the rape attempt in the graveyard is pretty intense, and the incestuous stuff could lead to some awkward questions. Parents beware. MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: Mother and son making love (nothing shown), several other intimate incestuous moments, a brief glimpse of a naked breast. Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: A total of 12 startling ”boo!” moments, plus: A cop shoots a boy and then gets shot dead in return; Mom smashes two cops’ heads together, throws a woman through a window, slugs a girl, kills a cop with corn on the cob, bites off a cop’s fingers, sets a cop on fire, then impales him on a fence. Moral: Don’t mess with Mom! Profanity: About 30 bad words. Mature Themes: The difficulties of being the new kid in town. And oh, yes, incest.
THE BUTCHER’S WIFE
What It’s About: Blond, clairvoyant Demi Moore mistakes butcher George Dzundza for the man of her dreams, then realizes it’s shrink Jeff Daniels who’s really her dream lover. Will Kids Want to Watch It? The sweet romance angle will appeal to some teens while gagging others. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: Demi in slightly sheer nightgown. Lesbian subplot handled with admirable lack of hysteria. Drugs/Alcohol: Butcher goes to a bar. Violence/Scariness: Walking barefoot on the streets of New York City. AHHHHH!!! Profanity: About eight harsh words. Mature Themes: Lesbianism, lots of unfaithfulness going on, listening to your heart instead of your shrink.
What It’s About: Jay Leno, teamed up with Japanese cop Pat Morita, is a cop investigating international auto-industry espionage. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Leno is likable enough, but it’s hard to take him in an action flick — especially when the action’s not all that great. MPAA: Not rated. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: Leno and Morita get drunk. Violence/Scariness: A guy dies of fear, three people get shot dead, a woman gets mugged, a grenade blows up some bad guys, a wild car chase ends in a bloody crash, Morita karate-kicks a bad guy through a windshield. Profanity: About 30 obscenities. Mature Themes: There’s some Japanese bashing, not that anything here is really meant to be taken seriously.
What It’s About: Entertaining rise and fall of an Irish band that specializes in American soul music. Will Kids Want to Watch It? This flick’s youthful energy is contagious, and the killer tunes will appeal to any kid who’s ever dreamed about being in a band. Great soundtrack, fun film. MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: One love-making scene (nothing shown). Drugs/Alcohol: A drunk at a wedding, lots of scenes in bars with pints of ale. Violence/Scariness: Guitarist gets electrocuted but is okay, a bar fight, a dead horse on the street, and several fights among band members, including one bloody one. Profanity: About 166, but they might be more disguised by the heavy brogues. Mature Themes: Poverty-stricken life in Dublin and the spirit needed to rise above it.
What It’s About: Tim Burton’s dark, clever, funny slant on the Frankenstein monster story brings the family dog, Sparky, back from the pet cemetery. Will Kids Want to Watch It? You bet. Most kids have seen at least one Frankenstein movie (preferably the 1931 Boris Karloff original that Burton parodies so cleverly), and this is nowhere near as scary. Still, you may want to hide the battery cables, just in case. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. ! Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: A dog is killed by a car (not shown), we see the patched-up dog after an experiment brings him back to life, a windmill with the boy and dog inside is set on fire, the dog is killed again. Profanity: None. Mature Themes: The supernatural power of a boy’s love for his dog.
HOUSE PARTY 2
What It’s About: When Play loses Kid’s college tuition, he decides to throw him a jumpin’, jammin’ jam party to raise the money. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Judging from the first party’s success, it seems a safe bet those same teens will RSVP yes to No. 2. It’s a lot of fun, but not for the very young ones. MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: There are three sex scenes with a girl’s naked butt shown in one, crotch grabbing, butt grabbing, a lot of sex talk. Drugs/Alcohol: Just one shot of a guy drinking out of a flask. Violence/Scariness: Rapping security-guard brothers punch Kid and roommate, Kid and Play fight, one guy keeps getting slapped, Kid gets punched, a woman get knocked out, there’s a major slapstick brawl, Kid and a guy duke it out. Profanity: Exactly 89 profanities. Mature Theme: The importance of education, especially for black youths, is emphasized.