The Blair Witch Project / R
IN A NUTSHELL Three student filmmakers head into the Maryland woods to shoot a documentary about a horrific local legend, and are never heard from again.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT? Yes. This hip indie chiller has already inspired major cyberbuzz.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL The three drink beer and scotch.
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS One of them disappears and a gooey body part is found.
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES As their fear and frustration deepen, their language coarsens.
THE VERDICT The movie is frightening because of what it leaves to our imaginations, and this lack of on-screen blood and gore actually makes it a refreshing change from recent scare fare.
APPROPRIATE AGES 15 and up
The Haunting / PG-13
IN A NUTSHELL A doctor (Liam Neeson) who’s researching fear lures a group of strangers to a mansion that he doesn’t realize is actually possessed by the souls of dead kids.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT? Yes. A haunted-house movie from the house of Spielberg. Can you say Poltergeist?
SEX/NUDITY Some curvy statues
DRUGS/ALCOHOL Wine with dinner
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS Things that go boo in the night; a bloody eye and hand; a decapitation
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES A little bisexual banter, otherwise nothing too harsh
THE VERDICT Coming in the midst of a climactic F/X blowout, the movie’s message (for the sanctity of family, and against the exploitation of children) sounds ridiculous.
APPROPRIATE AGES 12 and up
Eyes Wide Shut / R
IN A NUTSHELL After his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to a sexual obsession, a curious Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) goes on a temptation-laced journey.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT? You’d think. They may hope to see some celebrity skin.
SEX/NUDITY A great deal of both; a long orgy sequence in which masked couples have sex
DRUGS/ALCOHOL Alice and Bill share a joint; a cocaine/heroin overdose
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS A near gay-bashing; the corpse of a woman in the morgue
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES Alice lets out a profane mouthful during an argument with Bill.
THE VERDICT There’s a reason the movie barely escaped an NC-17 rating — its own obsession with sex (including a dad who pimps his daughter) should make it off limits to children.
APPROPRIATE AGES 17 and up
Drop Dead Gorgeous / PG-13
IN A NUTSHELL Things turn ugly at a teen beauty pageant when Becky (Denise Richards), the daughter of the pageant maven, realizes she may have competition from trailer-park talent Amber (Kirsten Dunst).
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT? High schoolers may be snared by Richards and Dunst and the promise of catfights.
SEX/NUDITY None, but one girl makes out with her boyfriend; a judge leers at the young women.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL A pregnant teen drinks.
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS One contestant is killed in a farm mishap, another in an explosion; a spotlight falls on a girl.
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES The mayor makes an obscenity-laden speech; the moms have a few choice words to say.
THE VERDICT The film pokes mean fun at Midwesterners, anorexics, the mentally ill, and homosexuals; that a local gun club is the group to join seems beyond tasteless.
APPROPRIATE AGES 13 and up
Inspector Gadget / PG
IN A NUTSHELL Security guard John Brown (Matthew Broderick) gets transformed into a leaping, stretching robotic cop whose high-tech chip is sought after by a greedy tycoon (Rupert Everett).
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT? Yes, especially if they’ve been saying ”Wowser” to Disney’s trailers for months.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL Champagne at a party
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS Mostly pratfalls and slapstick of the crotch-bopping variety
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES None
THE VERDICT The action may be a bit frenetic for very young children, but most will just love the cool special effects.
APPROPRIATE AGES 6 and up