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Parents' Guide to Movies

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‘Tis the season for young moviegoers, as Hollywood spreads its own share of holiday cheer with a toy story (Jingle All the Way), a puppy-dog tale (101 Dalmatians), loony ‘toon hoop dreams (Space Jam), and a parable of peace (Star Trek: First Contact). And for more grown-up kids, Shine‘s yarn of a misunderstood musical genius is an inspiring tribute to the kind of gifts money can’t buy.

THE CRUCIBLE
What It’s About: Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) and her friends set off the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 when they’re found dancing and claim the devil made them do it.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe. Ryder’s presence may attract teens to Arthur Miller’s tale.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: The bare breasts and buttocks of a dancing girl; Abigail’s affair with John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) lies at the heart of the story.
Drugs/Alcohol: Raising of goblets.
Violence/Scariness: Innocent people are hanged; Abigail drinks blood; a girl is beaten.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Three.
Lesson to Extract: Hysteria can overpower common sense and compassion.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

101 DALMATIANS
What It’s About: A live-action (and nonmusical) version of Disney’s 1961 animated feature about fur-loving Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close) and the pups she wants to make into coats.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, and you’ll be seeing spots for months thanks to all the tie-ins.
MPAA: G.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.
Violence/Scariness: Familiar scenes from the animated video — the dognapping and Cruella’s heartless tactics — may seem much scarier to youngsters.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: None.
Lesson to Extract: Don’t be cruel to animals.
Appropriate Ages: 4 and up.

JINGLE ALL THE WAY
What It’s About: Tycoon Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) takes on his toughest job yet — competing with every parent in town (including Sinbad as psycho postman Myron) to procure the hot Turbo Man action figure he promised his son (Jake Lloyd) for Christmas.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, but you may regret it when the nonexistent toy shows up on their wish list.
MPAA: PG.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: Champagne at a party; Howard imagines his son hitting the bottle and drinks spiked coffee with Myron; Howard fills a reindeer’s bowl with beer.
Violence/Scariness: Howard fights a sleazy Santa (Jim Belushi), knocks out a reindeer, and sets a house on fire.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lesson to Extract: Do your shopping early.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.

THE ENGLISH PATIENT
What It’s About: Burned beyond recognition when his plane gets shot down by the Nazis, Hungarian Count Laszlo de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) recounts the details of his all-consuming love for another man’s wife, Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas), to his steadfast nurse, Hana (Juliette Binoche).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? If they have the patience to sit through all 2 hours and 39 minutes, older teens will get caught up in this beautiful love story.
MPAA: R.
Sex/Nudity: Katharine bares all in the bath and only her breasts while in bed with Almasy; during a love scene, Hana exposes a breast.
Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking; soldiers toast the war’s end.
Violence/Scariness: Almásy’s disfigurement; shots of wounded; a man’s thumbs are chopped off; many explosions and a fatal plane crash.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 15.
Lesson to Extract: In one’s final hours, love is what matters.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.

THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES
What It’s About: Dowdy professor Rose (Barbra Streisand) embarks on a platonic relationship with a colleague (Jeff Bridges) and then decides she wants more than companionship.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Older romantics may enjoy it, but most kids won’t be interested.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: All talk, no action.
Drugs/Alcohol: Liberal wining and whining.
Violence/Scariness: None.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 15.
Lesson to Extract: Because what should be the movie’s message — even a plain Jane deserves love and passion — gets overpowered by director Streisand’s obsession with turning Rose into a beauty, young girls may get the idea that as long as there are cosmetics, leafy greens, and aerobics, there’s no excuse for being plain.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

SHINE
What It’s About: The true story of Australian piano prodigy David Helfgott (Geoffrey Rush), who must overcome his abusive dad’s objections to his rare gift.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Mature youngsters may be intrigued and inspired.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: David often bares his behind in public and has sex with his wife under the sheets.
Drugs/Alcohol: Cocktails.
Violence/Scariness: David’s father often beats him; David faints after performing and ends up in a psychiatric ward.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: One.
Lesson to Extract: Talent that’s not nurtured properly can drive a person crazy.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

SPACE JAM
What It’s About: Michael Jordan teams up with Bugs and Co. in a high-stakes basketball game against would-be alien abductors who want to make them the victory spoils.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Although you may think the story weak, kids will have no such reservations.
MPAA: PG.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.
Violence/Scariness: The usual slapstick antics.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Three.
Lesson to Extract: Good guys always win, even if they’re Looney.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.

STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT
What It’s About: Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise crew battle the Borg, aliens bent on taking over the universe.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? You bet, and as the ads warn, resistance will be futile.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: Drinks in a bar and nightclub.
Violence/Scariness: Fatal explosions and shootings.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lesson to Extract: If we accept one another’s differences, the universe is big enough for all of us.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

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