The titles and trailers for this month’s movies would suggest there’s plenty for kids. But don’t be misled. The Basketball Diaries is no sports movie, Top Dog is far from warm and fuzzy, Village of the Damned is about young children but not for them, and The Cure raises issues too depressing even for some adults. The most kid-friendly flick is actually a modern-day fairy tale about grown-ups. Go figure.
The Basketball Diaries
What It’s About: The true story of neo-Beat poet Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his slide into drugs and debauchery.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? If they do, just say no. It’s more about shooting heroin than hoops.
Sex/Nudity: Carroll masturbates on the roof; a stripper dances in a peep show; the basketball coach (Bruno Kirby) tries to grab Carroll’s crotch; Carroll agrees to oral sex with a man who pays him.
Drugs/Alcohol: Everything from glue sniffing to mainlining heroin.
Violence/Scariness: A drug dealer is pushed off a roof; Carroll’s best friend dies of leukemia; Carroll’s habit takes a physical toll.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Well into triple digits.
Lesson to Extract: Drugs can destroy you.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.
What It’s About: Eleven-year-old Erik (Brad Renfro) befriends Dexter (Joseph Mazzello), a boy dying of AIDS.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably not, although it teaches affecting lessons about compassion.
Sex/Nudity: The boys thumb through Playboy.
Drugs/Alcohol: Erik’s single mom (Diana Scarwid) habitually drinks.
Violence/Scariness: The premise is harrowing.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 60 (mostly derogatory terms for homosexuals).
Lessons to Extract: You can’t contract AIDS just by being nice to someone; friendship can help even the sickest person feel better.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
What It’s About: Tough-guy crime fighter Jake Wilder (Chuck Norris) teams up with someone whose bite is as bad as his bark — Reno, a briard.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe, but it’s more an action film than a dog’s tale.
Violence/Scariness: Shooting, martial arts, and fatal blasts. The film revolves around a terrorist bombing by a hate group. In the wake of Oklahoma City, its release is in very poor taste.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 15.
Lesson to Extract: You must trust and cooperate with your partner.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
Village of the Damned
What It’s About: The women of Midwich become pregnant during a mysterious blackout and give birth to an alien breed of children.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably, because it’s a horror film, but it’s more laughable than scary.
Drugs/Alcohol: A school janitor drinks: cocktails at a party.
Violence/Scariness: The little monsters drive the adults (including Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley) to gruesome deaths.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Four.
Lessons to Extract: Love makes us human; inured to violence, mankind cannot survive.
Appropriate Ages: 16 and up.