With the big holiday season upon us, Hollywood is stuffing movie theaters with everything a kid could want. The local multiplexes are filled with lots of toys (Toy Story), games (Jumanji), dogs (Balto), and trains (Money Train). Here to help sort through the naughty (Sudden Death) and the nice (Father of the Bride: Part II) is our gift to you: EW‘s clip-and-save guide to the movies on your children’s wish list.
What It’s About: Wannabe sled dog Balto (voice of Kevin Bacon) takes the lead and treks 600 miles across the frozen Alaskan wilderness to get medicine for a sick little girl. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, they’ll want to follow the pack and mush out to see this animated tale, based on a true story that happened in 1925. MPAA: G. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: A young girl is dying of diphtheria, which could frighten every coughing child in the audience; Balto’s life is often endangered during his journey, as he almost drowns, faces a bear, fights another dog, and gets caught in an avalanche. Objectionable Words/Phrases: None. Lesson to Extract: Every dog has his day. Appropriate Ages: 4 and up.
Father of the Bride: Part II
What It’s About: George Banks (Steve Martin) prepares to become a dad again — and a granddad — after wife Nina (Diane Keaton) and daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams) deliver unexpected news. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Older ones might; the movie is sweet and Martin is charming. But pregnancy and a midlife crisis won’t interest younger kids. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: Champagne at dinner; George and Nina sip wine; the in-laws have a drink. Violence/Scariness: None, but young children may be disturbed by the women’s prolonged labors. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Two. Lesson to Extract: Having a baby is miraculous at any stage in life. Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.
What It’s About: With a roll of the dice, Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) returns home to continue playing a dangerous, mystical board game that left him stranded in the jungle for 26 years. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, despite the obvious animatronics, they’ll be game for this kid-size action-adventure film. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol Champagne at a Christmas party. Violence/Scariness: The movie is scarier than the award-winning children’s book, as the lives of Williams and the other players (Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, and Bradley Pierce) are imperiled by animals, monsoons, flowers, and a trigger-happy hunter. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Four. Lessons to Extract: Finish what you start; you have to face your fears to overcome them. Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.
What It’s About: New York City transit cops — and foster brothers — John (Wesley Snipes) and Charlie (Woody Harrelson) go underground, where things are not quite aboveboard. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, but don’t expect the crime-can-pay message imparted by this film to keep kids on the right track. MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: Some scantily clad exotic dancers; John and coworker Grace (Jennifer Lopez) make love in the shadows. Drugs/Alcohol: The brothers share a pitcher of beer; Charlie comes to work drunk; John, Charlie, and Grace have cocktails at a bar; policemen drink from a flask. Violence/Scariness: Two token booths are set on fire with people inside (an act that was recently copied in the New York subway system); a man is pushed in front of a train and another is set on fire and then run over; Charlie is beaten up for owing money; police shoot a mugger. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 200. Lesson to Extract: Just hop on the bus, Gus. Appropriate Ages: 16 and up.