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Parents' Guide

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Given the recent glut of gore and ”mature” mayhem in theaters, you may have thought your kids would never eat movie popcorn again. At last, the dry spell ends, as April brings a shower of films both classic (Jane Eyre) and not so (Sgt. Bilko). And for those with sentimental favorites, some beloved dogs return (Homeward Bound II, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2). Once again at the movies, kids are reigning.

ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN 2
What It’s About: Celestial canines Charlie (voice of Charlie Sheen) and Itchy (Dom DeLuise) have a devil of a time when they’re entrusted to return to earth to fetch the angel Gabriel’s stolen horn.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Good heavens, yes, though taking them may have you feeling a little like you deserve a few extra stars in your crown.
MPAA: G.
Sex/Nudity: A torch-singing dog is subjected to the harmless catcalls of some admiring mutts.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.
Violence/Scariness: A small boy gets kid-napped and locked up, and Charlie makes a pact with the devil.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: None.
Lesson to Extract: You will always find paradise wherever your loved ones are.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.

EXECUTIVE DECISION
What It’s About: Intelligence consultant Maj. David Grant (Kurt Russell) and Lieut. Col. Austin Travis (Steven Seagal) try to rescue passengers on board a hijacked plane.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes — and you just might let them. The movie is suspenseful and smart, and although violent acts occur, actual gore is kept to a minimum.
MPAA: R.
Sex/ Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: Cocktails at a reception and during the flight.
Violence/Scariness: Many fatal shootings; a stewardess and members of the rescue team are killed.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 55.
Lesson to Extract: Most successful missions are best accomplished via teamwork.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.

A FAMILY THING
What It’s About: After good ol’ boy Earl Pilcher Jr. (Robert Duvall) learns from the white woman who raised him that his real mother was black, he goes to Chicago to meet his half brother, Ray (James Earl Jones), and his blind aunt (Irma P. Hall).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? No; they probably won’t be able to relate to this sometimes sobering tale of self-discovery.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: A glimpse of Earl’s mother’s bare bottom during childbirth.
Drugs/Alcohol: Drinking in bars and at a grave site.
Violence/Scariness: Earl’s mother and stepmother die; Earl is held at gunpoint during a carjacking.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 75.
Lesson to Extract: Sometimes identity is only skin-deep.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

HOMEWARD BOUND II: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO
What It’s About: Precocious pets Chance (voice of Michael J. Fox), Sassy (Sally Field), and Shadow (Ralph Waite) must find their way home again — this time from the big city.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes. Though even more manipulative and product-plugging than the original, all that animal magnetism will have kids giving Homeward Bound II the old paws up.
MPAA: G.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.
Violence/Scariness: Dognappers capture Chance; a little boy is trapped in a fire; a puppy is abandoned.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: One.
Lesson to Extract: You can go home again.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
What It’s About: A lonely orphan flees his evil guardians and hitches a ride to the Big Apple with some friendly insects aboard a magical 20-foot peach.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? The filmmakers’ fuzzy thinking makes it iffy. Kids old enough to appreciate the highly stylized effects (à la creators Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) may have already outgrown the Roald Dahl story adapted here.
MPAA: G.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: James’ aunts Sponge and Spiker drink wine with dinner.
Violence/Scariness: Young children may be frightened by James’ mean, creepy-looking aunts and the rhinoceros that allegedly gobbled up his parents.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: One.
Lesson to Extract: Friends make life peachy.
Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.

JANE EYRE
What It’s About: Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel of a poor, orphaned governess (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who turns the head of master-of-the-house Rochester (William Hurt).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Older girls might. Despite Jane’s more somber tones, those who liked Sense and Sensibility will probably enjoy this, too, especially given the tale’s timeless love story and its independent, intelligent heroine.
MPAA: PG
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: Rochester enjoys his spirits on more than one occasion.
Violence/Scariness: A young Jane (Anna Paquin) is tormented by her cousins and gets locked in a room by her aunt; a schoolgirl is whipped for having dirty fingernails; Jane’s young friend dies; a madwoman sets the house on fire, injuring Rochester; two women fall to their deaths.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: One.
Lesson to Extract: Even a plain Jane can find love and happiness.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

OLIVER & COMPANY
What It’s About: A rerelease of Disney’s 1988 animated version of Charles Dickens’ Oliver with a twist: A naive kitten (voiced by Joey Lawrence) takes the title role, and the band of pickpockets he falls in with are friendly pooches.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, and the spunky characters, streetwise story, and slick soundtrack featuring Huey Lewis, Bette Midler, and Billy Joel (who also does the voice of Dodger) will have them clamoring for more.
MPAA: G.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.
Violence/Scariness: A little girl gets kidnapped; the evil Sykes sics his bully dogs on the mutts.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: None.
Lesson to Extract: Without friends, you might as well pack it in.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.

RACE THE SUN
What It’s About: A bunch of outcast Hawaiian high school students become winners when they build a solar-powered car and enter it in a big race.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Doubtful. Since the movie never picks up speed, the only thing it will have kids racing for is the exit.
MPAA: PG.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: Parents have cocktails while watching their children on TV; a girl gets thrown off the team for drinking; teachers (Halle Berry and James Belushi) toast.
Violence/Scariness: The car malfunctions and catches on fire.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 25.
Lesson to Extract: Nothing fuels a dream like the support and encouragement of others.
Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.

SGT. BILKO
What It’s About: Steve Martin reprises Phil Silvers’ TV role as a hustling Army man whose credo is ”Bet all you can bet.”
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes. It’s silly and predictable, but children will enjoy Martin’s unconventional military maneuvers, like turning his barracks into a casino and renting out his company’s tank for joyrides.
MPAA: PG.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: Soldiers enjoy beer, champagne, and cocktails.
Violence and Scariness: None.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lesson to Extract: Rules were made to be broken.
Appropriate Ages: 10 and up.

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