We tell you whether or not recent flicks are suitable for children, from ''Dave'' to ''The Sandlot''

By Jeff Menell
Updated May 14, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Kids special: What to watch

It’s not quite blockbuster season yet — the big-budget releases are still a month away — but as the weather gets warmer and lessons lessen, films about fun are already overtaking issues films. Cases in point: Indian Summer, The Sandlot, and the video version of A River Runs Through It. If you and the kids don’t want to canoe, play baseball, or fish yourselves, at least you can watch without risk of sunburn.


American Heart What It’s About: Tough, grueling, depressing account of ex-con father (Jeff Bridges) hooking up with estranged son (Edward Furlong). Will Kids Want to Watch It? No, and you won’t want them to, even though this downbeat film will make them appreciate life at home. It’s a somewhat arty movie with too much hard-core realism for kids. MPAA: R. Sex/ Nudity: Young prostitutes and transvestites on the Seattle streets; Bridges and girlfriend in bed post-sex (no nudity); sex palace with G-stringed, topless dancers. Drugs/Alcohol: Bridges drinks constantly and gets drunk several times; the kid has a beer; Bridges finds some joints in the kid’s pocket. Violence/ Scariness: A street punk beats up on Furlong; scary scenes of life on the street; Bridges hits his son and kicks him out of the house; a man propositions Furlong; a kid gets shot while robbing a house; Bridges beats the daylights out of his former partner; the partner shoots Bridges. Profanities: About 46. Mature Themes: Sometimes fate won’t cut you any slack; where there’s love, there’s hope for parent-child relationships.

Dave What It’s About: Kevin Kline is perfectly cast in a dual role as the arrogant, corrupt President of the United States and the sweet guy — he just so happens to look and sound like the President — who takes over and makes a few changes in the country after the real President has a stroke. Not a documentary. Will Kids Want to Watch It? This one’s the exception to the rule that kids will stay away from anything political. Despite the movie’s cynical (though realistic) attitude about politics and our government, Dave has a child’s innocence and lightness of heart. Everyone will love this new President. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: The (real) President goes into a coma while having sex with a female aide (no nudity); Kline’s bare butt in the presidential shower. Drugs/Alcohol: Just one guy having one drink. Violence/ Scariness: None. Profanities: Seven. Mature Themes: Politics is almost inherently corrupt, though it retains the potential to spur constructive change.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story What It’s About: Hollywood bio of Bruce Lee, the Muhammad Ali of martial arts, who, like his recently deceased son, Brandon, died mysteriously at a very young age. Jason Scott Lee (no relation) plays the legendary pioneer of Jeet Kune Do, a martial-arts form that revolutionized the ancient field and made enemies for Lee. Will Kids Want to Watch It? For a while, anyway. It starts out like a Bruce Lee film, with some fantastic, impossibly acrobatic fight scenes. But this is no teenage mutant ninja flick. Many kids may get bored as the focus changes from fighting to Lee’s career and interracial marriage. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: Bruce pulls down a woman’s panties just before having sex (not shown, no nudity); wife Linda (Lauren Holly) in a bra; Bruce and Linda make love (no nudity); Bruce and Linda in shower (nothing revealed). Drugs/ Alcohol: Some drunken sailors in a bar. Violence/Scariness: A nightmare in which Bruce is attacked by a blade-wielding, armor-wearing demon; Bruce beats up five sailors; Bruce has brutal fight with four angry chefs brandishing cleavers; Bruce’s arm is slashed; a bout with five jocks (four of whom later become his students); demon beats up on Bruce again; Bruce temporarily paralyzed after vicious fight with dirty opponent but gets revenge in later battle; a rousing fight on a movie set; final, scary showdown with demon. Profanities: About 13. Mature Themes: Fighting racial prejudice; overcoming adversity and defeating our secret fears; the price of fame.

Indian Summer What It’s About: You can’t go home, or to camp, again. Seven adults are invited back to Camp Tamakwa by owner Unca Lou (Alan Arkin) 20 years after they last attended. Maybe they never passed their swimming test. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Kids love Indians and summer, but they’re not likely to love this movie. If it were a camp full of kids, maybe, or if Jason were there to kill off the adults. There is some sophomoric humor, but this type of self-indulgent, soul-searching Big Chill stuff doesn’t appeal to kids, not to mention most adults. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: One guy recalls his first erection; a woman in a bra; a couple having sex under the covers (nothing shown); one of the women canoes topless, but we only see her from the back and side. Drugs/Alcohol: Several beer-drinking shots; a scene where all the friends are smoking pot. Violence/Scariness: A friendly boxing match; a not-so-friendly boxing match. Profanities: Some 13. Mature Themes: Racial intolerance; the foolishness of treating a woman like a possession.

Lost In Yonkers What It’s About: This film version of Neil Simon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play follows two young brothers, who are left with their oppressive grandmother (Irene Worth) while widower dad goes off to earn some money. Meanwhile, their childlike aunt (Mercedes Ruehl) is courted by a simple-minded suitor (David Straithairn). Will Kids Want To Watch It? They’ll enjoy the first half, which is sweetly funny. But once the aunt starts talking about her needs, the story turns maudlin, and kids’ll be lost in daydreams. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: A gangster slaps around the older brother and points a gun at him. Profanities: Just two. Mature Themes: The damage done by a cold, domineering mother; the mistake of viewing people with learning disorders as retarded.

The Sandlot What It’s About: New kid on the block befriends eight local boys who play baseball every day in a run-down sandlot. On the other side of the fence lives a giant beast of a dog that supposedly eats baseballs and kids. When they unknowingly hit a ball signed by Babe Ruth over the fence, they are faced with a hairy problem indeed. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Does George Steinbrenner fire managers? This one’s a lot of fun for boys of all ages. You’ve got wisecracks, baseball, a foxy lifeguard, Karen Allen as a great mom, Denis Leary as an aloof stepdad, and the Beast. Girls in the audience, though, will wish for a few female characters to root for. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: Just chewing tobacco, which makes the boys spew. Violence/Scariness: The Beast allegedly killed two junkyard thieves (tamely shown in flashback); a scary moment when the Beast is face to face with a boy called Yeah-Yeah. Profanities: About three. Mature Themes: Never steal your stepfather’s baseball, especially if it was signed by Babe Ruth.


A River Runs Through It What It’s About: Robert Redford’s beautiful, heavily symbolic — but slow — tale of a minister’s two sons and their enduring love of fly-fishing.* Will Kids Want to Watch It? Only those fascinated by fly- fishing. There’s far too little action to keep them hooked. MPAA: PG. Sex/ Nudity: Two naked butts, one male and one female. Drugs/Alcohol: Teens getting drunk; a couple passed out; the brothers drink boilermakers. Violence/Scariness: Three fistfights; a scary ride in a rowboat down a waterfall; someone drives a car on railroad tracks. Profanities: About seven. Mature Themes: The tensions within a religious household; racial prejudice; the death of a family member.