It’s hot, and the family is happy to chill out in a theater to see why Honey, I Blew Up the Kid hit No. 1 at the box office in its first week, while Cool World has plummeted into a deep freeze. (The junior jury is still out on the new Bebe’s Kids, the first major animated feature with all black characters.) Which films can compete with a day at the beach? What new videos should you rent for the kids on those rainy days? We examine the summer’s latest sizzlers and snoozers.
BEBE’S KIDS *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Animated film based on the late stand-up comic and actor Robin Harris’ characters. The story is about Robin having to put up with Bebe’s three kids from hell in order to impress Jamika, Bebe’s fine friend. *WILL KIDS WANT TO WATCH IT? It’s always fun for kids to watch other kids, animated or otherwise, wreak total havoc. But this film, which is a bit too coarse for young children, gives off some bad signals in the process. There are some redeeming messages strewn about, but their impact is weakened by the squalor. *MPAA: PG-13. *SEX/NUDITY: One kid moons the other kids; one sexual reference. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Several scenes take place in a seedy bar where drunks abound. *VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: As in real life, the kids constantly hit one another, and occasionally they hit Robin as well; a girl is hit in the butt with a slingshot projectile; one kid on a roller coaster uses a switchblade to free himself from a seat belt; scary robots attack the kids; robots hold trial and sentence kid to death; kids on pirate ship open fire on grown-ups’ boat. *PROFANITY: None really. *MATURE THEMES: The difficulty of being a child in a poverty-stricken area and of being abandoned by a parent; taking responsibility for welfare of all children.
HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Remember Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? Well, it’s more of the same, except this time an inventor (Rick Moranis) accidentally blows up his 2-year-old son (played by Daniel and Joshua Shalikar)—in size, not pieces, and still gets a raise from his boss (Lloyd Bridges). Isn’t it every parent’s nightmare to be told, ”Your son has escaped, and he’s more than 50 feet tall!”? *WILL KIDS WANT TO WATCH IT? *Hey, they’re in the title. Besides, they will have almost as much fun watching this family comedy as they will trying to guess what the next installment will be: Honey, I Gave the Kids Away, or maybe Honey, It’s Your Turn to Do Something to the Kids. *MPAA: PG. *SEX/NUDITY: None. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: None. *VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: Though the movie is not really scary, the giant kid does terrorize Las Vegas (did Bugsy Siegel foresee this?!), the bad guy shoots giant tranquilizer darts at the kid, and Mom (Marcia Strassman) slugs the bad guy. *PROFANITY: Only the word nap. *MATURE THEMES: It’s hard to assert authority over a kid 10 times your size; it’s okay to be different.
COOL WORLD *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A human cartoonist (Gabriel Byrne) is sucked into Cool World, an animated nightmare he thought he created. Once there he’s seduced by the lovely Holli Would, who plans to use him as a means of escape to the real world. *WILL KIDS WANT TO WATCH IT? Yes, because they’re expecting another Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But, boy, will they be disappointed. This is to Roger Rabbit what Mobsters is to The Godfather. Besides, this world isn’t all that cool. It’s dark, violent, lascivious, and sleazy. You’re better off stick-ing to Wayne’s World. Now, that’s cool. *MPAA: PG-13. *SEX/NUDITY: Holli, both in animated form and as played by Kim Basinger, is scantily clad and overtly sexual; the cartoon Holli has sex with the human Jack, but nothing is shown.* DRUGS/ALCOHOL: A drunken driver, an animated Holli downing a bottle of liquor. *VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: There is a ton of your typically violent cartoon antics, though they are even darker here, plus some human violence such as: A drunk driver hits a motorcycle, killing a woman; Holli kicks Jack in the head and then pushes him from a speeding car; Holli pushes a cop off a building. *PROFANITY: About 17 off-color phrases. *MATURE THEMES: Don’t release a movie without viewing it first.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: During World War II most baseball players went to fight in a different World Series, so a women’s baseball league was formed to fill the void. This is a story of that league, and two sisters who play in it. *WILL KIDS WANT TO WATCH IT? Baseball pictures appeal to all ages, regardless of sex, and this one’s no exception. There’s plenty of baseball action; Tom Hanks from Big; Madonna, the biggest draw of all; and her team-mates, including Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, and Anne Elizabeth Ramsay. Jon Lovitz is the best thing in the film, but his coarse demeanor and one-liners are more for adults. * MPAA: PG. *SEX/NUDITY: The coach urinates in front of women (nothing shown, only heard), woman in a bra. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Hanks’ character drinks a lot in the beginning. *VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: Bus driver throws dirt in a woman’s face. *Profanity: About 14 fouls. * Mature Themes: Illiteracy, treating women as second-class citizens, the ugliness of jealousy, importance of being a team player.
MOM AND DAD SAVE THE WORLD *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz again), ruler of the idiot planet Spengo, plans to marry already-married earth-ling Marge (Teri Garr), then destroy Earth. But Marge’s lazy, complaining husband, Dick (Jeffrey Jones), finds a hero buried deep inside himself and attempts to save our world and his wife. *WILL KID WANT TO WATCH IT? A tough call. Lovitz is so uninhibitedly silly that kids of all ages can’t help but laugh at him. But (and as Pee-wee Herman once said, ”There’s always a big but”) the jokes are so bad (occasionally so bad they’re great), the pro-duction values so cheap, and the material so transparent, that even the great Lovitz can’t save this film. *MPAA: PG. *SEX/NUDITY: None. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: None. *VIOLENCE/ SCARINESS: A frightening electric shock mind-meld treatment, a shoot-out with ray guns; one guard is killed, two others shoot themselves in the head with ray guns. *PROFANITY: Just two mildly offensive words and smells. *MATURE THEMES: ”Just because you’re stupid doesn’t mean you can’t rule the world.”
THE ADDAMS FAMILY *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Unfortunately, the story line is ooky. The family (headed by Raul Julia’s Gomez and Anjelica Huston’s Morticia) gets conned by a fake Fester but refuses to cry uncle. *WILL KIDS WANT TO WATCH IT? With ghoulee. The knowing, gruesome humor is aimed right at the same part of a child’s brain that appreciates Darkwing Duck. *MPAA: PG-13. *SEX/NUDITY: None. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: None. *VIOLENCE/SCARIENSS: Wednesday (Christina Ricci) beheads a doll in a guillotine; a sword fight between Wednesday and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) results in a comic amputation that spurts fake blood all over everyone. Generally macabre tone inverts all-American wholesomeness and may disturb oversensitive kids (more likely their parents). *PROFANITY: None. *MATURE THEMES: It’s okay to follow a different drummer, especially if he’s dead.
HOOK *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A grown-up, yuppified Peter Pan (Robin Williams) returns to Neverland to rescue his children, including his son (Charlie Korsmo), 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. *MPAA: PG. * NUDITY: None. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: None. *VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: None of the violence feels real, but two pirates are shot, Peter is roughed up by the Lost Boys and hit on the head with a baseball, there’s a fight with pirates (the movie has lots of swordplay), and one boy is killed. *PROFANITY: None. *MATURE THEMES: Immaturity is okay—as if kids needed to be told that it’s all right to be kids.
WAYNE’S WORLD *WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey)—two terminal couch spuds from suburbia—take their cable-TV show out of Wayne’s basement and into the world, where a sleazoid producer (Rob Lowe) tries to make them go mainstream. *WILL KIDS WANT TO WATCH IT? Much of the humor is aimed at older teens and young adults, but kids will love these guys. They’re nice, funny, and totally uncomplicated. Now that it’s on video and likely to be as big of a megahit at home as it was in the theaters, kids can watch it in the base-ment, the room whence Wayne and Garth emerged. *MPAA: PG-13. *SEX/ NUDITY Wayne in underwear in bed with a bodacious babe, Wayne (still in underwear) gives himself a wedgie as he humps a statue, a sexy woman (Tia Carrere) in a rock video, some heavy cleavage. *DRUGS/ALCOHOL: One friend seems to be zoned out on drugs. *VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: All slapstick: A guy shoves Garth, Garth stun-guns him; there’s a ballroom brawl; a couple falls through a roof skylight; Garth is flung into a pole by love vibes from his dream girl (Donna Dixon). *PROFANITY: About 10 offensive words. *MATURE THEMES: Not!