HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T seem to have made any New Year’s resolutions: It’s still sticking to what’s always worked. Theaters are bubbling over with remakes (Sabrina), sequels (Grumpier Old Men), literary classics (Sense and Sensibility, Tom and Huck), and remake spoofs of literary classics (Dracula: Dead and Loving It). For kids, it amounts to a lesson in recycling: Everything old is new yet again.
CUTTHROAT ISLAND What It’s About: Pirate Morgan (Geena Davis) and crew hit the high seas in search of long-lost treasure. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Uh, no. This big-budget fizzle is Waterworld all over again, and kids will be justiÞed if they mutiny. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: Suggestive situations. Drugs/Alcohol: Yo ho ho, many bottles of rum. Violence/Scariness: Two hours of death and destruction by shootings, stabbings, hangings, explosions. Treasure maps are written on dead men’s scalps. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Five. Lesson to Extract: Trust must be earned. Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.
DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT What It’s About: Mel Brooks’ send-up of that bloodthirsty Transylvanian count (Leslie Nielsen). Will Kids Want to Watch It? You won’t need garlic or crosses to keep them away from this inane film. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: None, but the women are bountifully endowed, and so is the innuendo. Drugs/Alcohol: Guests sip champagne at a ball; a cemetery worker drinks on the job; Dracula has a glass of wine but prefers that other red liquid. Violence/Scariness: Mostly the usual Brooks slapshtick, but young children won’t get the spoof and may be frightened by the vampire’s bloody antics. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Four. Lesson to Extract: Everything looks better in the light of day. Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.
GRUMPIER OLD MEN What It’s About: Unneighborly neighbors ”Moron” and ”Putz,” a.k.a. Max (Walter Matthau) and John (Jack Lemmon), team up to sabotage new girl in town Maria (Sophia Loren) as she attempts to turn their favorite bait shop into a restaurant. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Surprisingly, they just might. Though Max and John are senior citizens, their behavior is juvenile enough to bridge the generation gap. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: Double entendres by the dozens. Drugs/Alcohol: The men down beers while fishing, while watching TV, in a bar; John’s dad (Burgess Meredith) has a beer with breakfast and wine with Maria’s mother (Ann Guilbert). Violence/Scariness: An elderly man dies. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 50. Lesson to Extract: Love makes you less grumpy. Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.
SABRINA What It’s About: Two wealthy brothers, all-work Linus (Harrison Ford) and all-play David (Greg Kinnear), fall for the chauffeur’s daughter (Julia Ormond) after she returns transformed from a trip to Paris. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, young romantics will probably be charmed by this comedy (and would probably enjoy being introduced to Audrey Hepburn in the original, too). MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: Champagne flows throughout; Sabrina drinks straight from a bottle of liquor, has a glass of wine with a French photographer and another with Linus; Linus drinks alone. Violence/Scariness: None. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Eight. Lesson to Extract: You have to strike a balance in your life. Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY What It’s About: Based on Jane Austen’s 19th-century novel about dowryless sisters Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet), whose suitors (including Hugh Grant) must decide whether to marry for love or for money. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes. Another film that will appeal to young romantics and may even inspire them to read the book. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: Wine accompanies meals. Violence/ Scariness: Marianne becomes ill. Objectionable Words/Phrases: None. Lesson to Extract: The head and the heart often lead you in two different directions. Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
TOM AND HUCK What It’s About: Young Masters Sawyer (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) and Finn (Brad Renfro) witness a murder. Will Kids Want to Watch It? No. The movie would have been fun if it had focused on the harmless mischief of the charismatic Tom. Instead, it revolves around a violent crime and the scary, mean-spirited Injun Joe (Eric Schweig). Buy ’em the books instead. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None, but Tom and Becky Thatcher (Rachael Leigh Cook) share a smooch that may embarrass younger kids. Drugs/Alcohol: A homeless man guzzles from a bottle; Injun Joe drinks in a tavern; Huck smokes a corncob pipe. Violence/Scariness: Injun Joe stabs two men to death; Tom almost drowns; Injun Joe throws knives at Tom; skeletons are found in a cave and in a graveyard; Tom and Becky get trapped in a cave. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Eight. Lesson to Extract: Right is right, wrong is wrong, and never the twain shall meet. Appropriate Ages: Eight and up.