We let you in on the new arrivals
It’s hard for parents to understand that children often like movies with no redeeming qualities. The dumber the jokes and grosser the violence, the higher the youth appeal. Critics may hate any movie that stars Rodney, Chucky, or a Saint Bernard, but don’t tell that to the little ones. Here’s what you really should tell them — or at least know in advance — about some new arrivals in movie theaters and video stores.
Newsies * What It’s About: Upbeat, fact-based turn-of-the-century musical about New York City newspaper boys’ daring 1899 strike against the powerful Joseph Pulitzer, played by Robert Duvall. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? The commercials push the Disney brand name and make this uneven, often cumbersome film seem like much more fun than it is. * MPAA: PG. * Sex/Nudity: None. * Drugs/ Alcohol: None. * Violence/Scariness: A boy on crutches is led away for a beating; there’s a big rumble where adult goons pounce on kids; two goons beat up on a girl. * Profanity: None. * Mature Themes: Political corruption, the power of the press.
Beethoven * What It’s About: Grumpy Charles Grodin unwillingly adopts a slobbering Saint Bernard for his family, but eventually falls for the big pooch while battling an evil veterinarian. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? Without a doubt. It’s cute, funny, and sentimental, even if a few of the scenes with the big bad vet might unnerve the very littlest. Tell Tchaikovsky the news. * MPAA: PG. * Sex/Nudity: None. * Drugs/Alcohol: None. * Violence/Scariness: A dognapping, talk about shooting a dog in the head. A little girl almost drowns, a vet hits a dog, Grodin punches the vet, a dog attacks bad guys, a little dog bites the vet in groin, the vet gets stabbed by syringes, bad guys get mauled by two Dobermans. * Profanity: None. * Mature Themes: Importance of family over material success, good versus bad, to drool or not to drool.
Ferngully — The Last Rain Forest * What It’s About: Pleasant animated tale about a boy, Zak, and the fairy Crysta, in tiny FernGully, who try to stop humans and the evil Hexxus from destroying the forest that is their home. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? Absolutely. FernGully‘s environmental message is effectively sugarcoated in this funny (thanks largely to a truly batty bat voiced by Robin Williams), song-filled, entertaining movie. MPAA: G. * Sex/Nudity: Of course not. * Drugs/Alcohol: None. * Violence/Scariness: Characters discuss lab experiments on animals, a tree-cutting machine almost snags Zak and Crysta, Zak is nearly crushed by tree. * Profanity: Zip. * Mature Themes: Preservation of the rain forests, good versus evil.
The Cutting Edge: * What It’s About: Injured Olympic hockey star (D.B. Sweeney) gets second chance at the gold by teaming up with prima donna figure skater (Moira Kelly). Arguments, great skating, and love follow. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? This sappy love story is perfect for teens, but tykes might yawn. * MPAA: PG. * Sex/Nudity: Couple in bed (nothing shown), much sexual innuendo. * Drugs/Alcohol: Girl gets drunk on tequila. * Violence/Scariness: Sweeney’s head smashes against a hockey-rink wall. * Profanity: About 18 harsh words. * Mature Themes: The pain caused by a demanding parent, the determination to go all the way.
Ladybugs * What It’s About: The Bad News Bears without the Bears. Rodney Dangerfield agrees to coach a girl’s soccer team to make his boss happy, but of course he knows nothing about soccer. In desperation he gets his girlfriend’s soccer-star son to dress as a girl so he can play on the team. It’s weird. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? This one’s very dumb and ridiculous, but kids will find some of it funny. Rodney is such a loser here that it’s hard not to feel compassion for him. * MPAA: PG-13. * Sex/Nudity: Hand on clothed butt, some tasteless incest humor, sexual double entendres. * Drugs/ Alcohol: Rodney has a few drinks in a bar. * Violence/Scariness: Minor soccer brawl. * Profanity: 17, not counting Rodney in shorts. * Mature Themes: The usual — getting one’s pri-orities in order.
Straight Talk * What It’s About: Dolly Parton poses as a radio psychologist and becomes a huge hit. Reporter James Woods doesn’t buy it, but falls for her anyway. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? Not likely. It’s certainly clean-cut, though the humor isn’t aimed at kids. * MPAA: PG. * Sex/Nudity: A hand on a clothed butt and breast, sex talk, making love off screen, and of course plenty of very serious cleavage. * Drugs/Alcohol: None. * Violence/Scariness: A guy punches Woods in the nose. * Profanity: About 10 harsh words. * Mature Themes: Lying can get you in all kinds of trouble, but can also make you all kinds of money.
Child’s Play 3 * What It’s About: The extremely bad ”Good Guy” doll Chucky is back again, paying another horrifying visit to his young ”friend,” who is now at military school. Chucky performs some unique drills of his own. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? Somehow, teens just love the walking, talking, killing Chucky — despite (or because of) how terrifying and gross he is. * MPAA: R. * Sex/ Nudity: None. * Drugs/Alcohol: None. * Violence/Scariness: You get what you . pay for: Chucky attacks a toy-company president with toys, golf club, and darts, then strangles him to death; he crushes a man in a garbage truck, severing an arm in the process; he slashes a sadistic barber’s throat. Also, a cadet is shot dead, and a boy dies by jumping on a grenade. * Profanity: About 42 obscenities. Chucky has one foul little plastic mouth. * Mature Themes: None.
Curly Sue * What It’s About: Homeless Alone. Predictable John Hughes fare about penniless James Belushi raising too-cute Alisan Porter, and how their con- artist ways are changed when they meet rich lawyer Kelly Lynch. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? Sure. Young kids may identify with appealing Porter. She’s no Macaulay Culkin, though. * MPAA: PG. * Sex/Nudity: None. * Drugs: None. * Violence/Scariness: Belushi gets punched, thrown against a van, and hit by a car twice. * Profanity: Four offensive phrases. * Mature Themes: Homelessness, surviving any way necessary, doing the right thing.
Mobsters * What It’s About: The alleged early days of mobsters and apparently best friends Lucky Luciano, Ben ”Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer Lansky, and Frank Costello. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? There’s a lot of machine-gun fire, so you can be sure young action addicts will get into it. And teen girls love heartthrobs Christian Slater and Richard Grieco. But parents beware: This is a brutal film that glorifies killing and crime. * MPAA: R. * Sex/Nudity: One sex scene (little seen), scantily clad dancers, two shots of naked female breasts. * Drugs/Alcohol: One guy gets drunk. * Violence/Scariness: 18 guys killed by machine-gun fire, stabbing, and being dropped out of a window. * Profanity: About 39 obscenities (although some more might have slipped by in Italian). * Mature Themes: Loyalty among friends, even if they’re cretinous killers.
Pure Luck * What It’s About: Weird premise finds investigator Danny Glover and accident-prone accountant Martin Short hired to find missing girl, who also has a penchant for mis-haps. Based on a French hit comedy, as if kids would care. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? Short’s slapstick antics will appeal to children, but there’s too much filler that may lose them. * MPAA: PG. * Sex/ Nudity: None. * Drugs/Alcohol: None. * Violence/Scariness: Much slapstick such as walking into doors, falling off balconies. Also, a girl is knocked unconscious then robbed and kidnapped, and a kidnapper is shot to death; Short has an allergic reaction to a bee sting and looks disgustingly bloated. * Profanity: Maybe five harsh words. * Mature Themes: None.
Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead * What It’s About: Irresponsible mom goes away for two months, leaving a Hitler-like baby-sitter in charge of her wild brood of five. Guess what happens to the baby-sitter. Then big sis Christina Applegate takes over and turns into a better mom than the original. * Will Kids Want to Watch It? We all know by now that it’s every kid’s fantasy to have a parentless house for a while. Though Applegate is appealing, the rest of the kids are mostly unlikable until the end, by which point your kids will most likely be bored. * MPAA: PG-13. * Sex/Nudity: Just some suggestive dialogue. * Drugs/Alcohol: Two pot-smoking scenes, teens drinking beers on roof. *Violence/Scariness: Dead baby-sitter (not really scary); three drag queens steal Applegate’s car. * Profanity: About 23 harsh words and gestures. * Mature Themes: The importance of setting a good example for your kids and the price for setting a bad one.