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Parents' guide: March 1993

From ”Army of Darkness” to ”Wind,” here’s the scoop on which films are terrific for kids and which are duds

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Parents’ guide: March 1993

Can movies impart moral lessons? Take tolerance: Amos & Andrew is all about the consequences of judging a man by his color, and Army of Darkness deals with the issue of imposing your values on other people. But the ensuing mayhem obscures the message. For parents looking for pre-sweetened studies of some crucial real-life concerns, many of the films below can be handy examples.

Movies:

AMOS & ANDREW *What It’s About: Upper-crust types spot a black man (Samuel L. Jackson) in one of their town’s palatial homes and assume he’s a robber; he soon finds himself under fire by the local cops. When police chief Dabney Coleman learns the man is actually a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, he tries to save his own reputation with a convoluted scam involving Nicolas Cage. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Some of the Keystone Kops-type antics might appeal to young kids, and Cage is as watchable as ever, but the film’s bad-tasting premise and high dumbness quotient are likely to leave older kids cold. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: Just some sexual devices in a drawer. *Drugs/Alcohol: Cage guzzles some beer; two pot-smoking scenes. *Violence/ Scariness: Cops fire on Jackson (they miss); the chief hits Cage in the stomach with a rifle butt; Jackson knocks out the chief with a frying pan. *Profanities: About 10. *Mature Themes: We’ve still got a long way to go before overcoming racial stereotypes.

ARMY OF DARKNESS *What It’s About: A time-warped satire about a retail clerk who somehow gets transported back to medieval times, where he must battle the evil forces of darkness. Strange but fun. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s rated R, but today’s kids are used to levels of violence much worse than this. Though some of the bloodletting is pretty graphic, wacky humor permeates it all. Kids (and adults) will enjoy the snappy dialogue almost as much as the action. This is good family entertainment, especially if you’re the Addams Family. *MPAA: R. *Sex/Nudity: None. *Drugs/Alcohol: None. *Violence/ Scariness: A deranged man chainsaws off his own hand; men are whipped, stoned, and beaten by villagers; a man is thrown into a pit, then we see a geyser of his blood; a man is shot in the back with an arrow; our hero, Ash, is hit in the head with a rock; a brutal fight between Ash and a maniac; Ash chainsaws off maniac’s head and a ghoul’s hand; his ghoul friend is crushed between spikes; Ash fights with an acrobatic old witch then shoots & her; Ash is chased by some scary force and gets knocked off his horse; a miniature Ash is impaled; Ash steps on huge nail; Ash grows another head that separates into an evil Ash; evil Ash beats Up good Ash, then good Ash shoots evil Ash in face; Ash is attacked by a biting book; Ash assailed by cemetery skeletons, Three Stooges style; in a major battle with the army of the dead, 15 good-guy soldiers are killed and dozens of the dead are re-killed; another battle with an old witch, in which Ash shoots her many times. *Profanities: About eight. *Mature Themes: You can’t let other people fight battles for you, especially if the battles are against the dead.

RICH IN LOVE *What It’s About: From the folks who gave us Driving Miss Daisy, here’s a film that’s stuck in low gear — all about a Southern family and what happens to each member after Mom (Jill Clayburgh) takes a hike. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Although it does deal with young love, and young lovemaking, young viewers will have no patience for this stiff, plodding picture. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: A couple lying in bed (no nudity); some sex noises heard coming from a bedroom; young daughter Kathryn Erbe and suitor Ethan Hawke talk about the lovemaking they shared the night before (but it’s not shown on screen). *Drugs/Alcohol: There are three imbibing scenes with some drunkenness involved. *Violence/ Scariness: None. *Profanities: Just three. *Mature Themes: The pressures of an unwanted pregnancy, the fragility of the family.

UNTAMED HEART *What It’s About: Painfully shy orphan Christian Slater, who believes he has the heart of a baboon king, falls in love with My Cousin Vinny‘s girl, the bighearted Marisa Tomei. Who wouldn’t? This one’s a sweet tearjerker. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Slater’s still a heartthrob, Tomei’s about to become one, and the in-living-colorful Rosie Perez definitely influences many of today’s teen femme fatales, but the heaviness of this beautiful love story may be too much for the carefree set. And though the attempted-rape scene may serve as an effective caution to teens, it is both brutal and frightening. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: Tomei in bra and panties; Slater caressing her breast (though the entire breast is not revealed); the two in bed together (no nudity). *Drugs/Alcohol: Two jerks drinking and driving; some drinking in a nightclub. *Violence/ Scariness: A realistic scene in which two guys chase Tomei through a park and one tries violently to rape her; she breaks the nose of her attacker and he knocks her out; Slater beats the hell out of both guys; two guys beat up and stab Slater. *Profanities: About 15. *Mature Themes: The healing — and hurting — power of love.

Videos:

GUNCRAZY *What It’s About: Town slut Drew Barrymore falls for prison pen pal James LeGros, and together they consummate their love in a shooting spree. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? They may want to, but they shouldn’t. Barrymore has grown up since E.T., and so have her films. *MPAA: R. *Sex/Nudity: Barrymore has sex (not shown) with two schoolmates down at the town dump; Barrymore in her panties and bra; Barrymore’s breasts are seen through a wet T-shirt; when Barrymore and LeGros make love, we see Barrymore’s bare butt. *Drugs/Alcohol: Drinking and driving; smoking a joint. *Violence/ Scariness: Barrymore’s absent mother’s boyfriend rapes her (shown, but not in detail); Barrymore shoots him in the head (not shown); LeGros hits a prison inmate over the head with a shovel; a dead body in a freezer; a dead body thrown into a fire; two teenagers are shot dead; a snake bites a preacher’s face; LeGros pistol-whips a parole officer and a pimp; seven more people are shot dead. *Profanities: About 32. *Mature Themes: Happiness is a warm gun.

HONEYMOON IN VEGAS *What It’s About: Despite his fear of marriage, Nicolas Cage impulsively takes girlfriend Sarah Jessica Parker to Las Vegas to indulge in some nuptials, but loses her to James Caan — in a poker game. Then everything goes wrong as he tries to win her back. Plus there are lots and lots of Elvises. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? The humor is a bit too quirky for most kids. Moreover, the concept — which is not only kooky but misogynist in its depiction of a woman as a commodity — is inappropriate for kids, not to mention adults. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: Cage and Parker shown in bed together a couple of times — one time they’re naked under the sheets, but we don’t see any nudity; a naked man lying face down in a jail cell. *Drugs/Alcohol: Cage and Pat Morita drink at Peter Boyle’s hut. *Violence/ Scariness: Caan grabs a hotel manager by his cojones; Caan subtly threatens Parker. *Profanities: Roughly 26. *Mature Themes: Well, there’s the warning about losing one’s head (or fiancée) to the feverish addiction of gambling, but that’s about all.

LITTLE NEMO: ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND *What It’s About: A boy and his bed. Vintage comic-strip character Little Nemo is summoned to Slumberland by King Morpheus, who wants to make the little guy his heir. But Nemo lets out the evil Nightmare Land forces, and it’s up to him to save the day he just ruined. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Very young kids…maybe. But, ultimately, it’s neither funny nor entertaining. And for a kids’ cartoon, that’s bad. *MPAA: G. *Sex/Nudity: None. *Drugs/Alcohol: None. *Violence/ Scariness: Nemo falls from the sky, then is chased by a runaway train; evil Nightmare Land blob engulfs King Morpheus; the Princess punches Flip; attack by giant bats; Nemo dies but is brought back to life. *Profanities: None. *Mature Themes: The importance of keeping a promise; filmmakers shouldn’t underestimate children’s intelligence.

WIND *What It’s About: Two boat races and a ton of hot air. Matthew Modine plays a yachting fanatic who chooses a chance to compete in the America’s Cup over being with aerodynamics expert Jennifer Grey, loses the race, then tries to win back the girl so he can build a better boat and win the Cup back. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? The racing footage is exciting, but there are about 90 minutes of unedited tedium between regattas that’ll lose viewers of any age. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: Modine and Grey having non-graphic, no-visible-nudity sex; Modine and a different woman in bed together (no nudity). *Drugs/Alcohol: A couple of scenes with light drinking. *Violence/ Scariness: A crew member smashes against the mainsail; Modine punches his first mate. *Profanities: About 10. *Mature Themes: Make sure you have your priorities in order; otherwise you may end up starring in a movie like this one.

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