You can tell by the latest family films that we’re getting into summer’s dog days — not to mention pigs (Babe), whales (Free Willy 2), and elephants (Operation Dumbo Drop). On a steamy afternoon, older kids may opt to skip the cinematic trip to the zoo and set sail (Waterworld) or surf the Net (The Net, Under Siege 2). They might also think Kids looks cool, but for most teens, the movie’s too hot to handle.
What It’s About: This live-action film features an orphan piglet, Babe, who moves to the farm, befriends canines Fly and Rex, and decides to become a sheepdog.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, they’ll love the talking animals (their lips are convincingly coordinated with their speech) and the charming tale of this pig who dares to be different.
Violence/Scariness: Be prepared to answer questions when Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) debates who will be Christmas dinner. Young children may also be upset by several other scenes: Babe’s mom is taken away for slaughter; Fly’s puppies are sold; a sheep’s killed by wild dogs in a bloody scene; the farmer threatens Babe with a gun; Fly gets injured in a fight with Rex.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: None.
Lesson to Extract: You don’t have to conform to your expected role in society.
Appropriate Ages: 5 and up.
What It’s About: The life and clothes of fabulous and popular California high schooler Cher (Alicia Silverstone).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Like, sure. The movie is way funny, and Silverstone is a real babe.
Sex/Nudity: More talk than action.
Drugs/Alcohol: Beer and marijuana at a party; drinks at a teacher’s wedding.
Violence/Scariness: A mugger holds a gun to Cher’s empty little head, although the scene is offset with some humor.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 20.
Lesson to Extract: Giving your possessions to those in need can be more rewarding than buying things in the first place.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
What It’s About: Ex-Marine LouAnne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer) becomes an English teacher at an inner-city high school.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s doubtful. Teenagers might find it hard to believe that this tale of a devoted teacher who goes to extraordinary lengths is based on a true story.
Drugs/Alcohol: LouAnne drinks beer and wine.
Violence/Scariness: A student is shot and killed.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 80.
Lessons to Extract: A good teacher can make all the difference in a child’s life; if you want people to learn, communicate on their level.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home
What It’s About: Jesse (Jason James Richter) has a whale of a time helping his orca friend return to his family.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes. Despite its corniness, you can’t help getting caught up in the story.
Violence/Scariness: Willy’s sister almost dies after an oil spill; Jesse, his half brother, and a new friend get trapped in a fire on the sea; Jesse almost drowns.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Three.
Lesson to Extract: Everyone needs a family.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.