Kids Special Edition -- A look at the newest entertainment for kids

By Lois Alter Mark
Updated March 15, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Movie

Kids Special Edition

March may have come in like a lion, but few movies this month promise a roaring good time for kids. There are some chuckles to be had from The Birdcage and romances both sweet (Up Close & Personal) and soured (Mr. Wrong). But beware: The movies most enticing to young ones may be those you’ll least want them to see, the martial-arts melee Rumble in the Bronx and the action blowout Broken Arrow.

What It’s About: Desperate to protect their son Jacob (Edward Furlong), Carolyn (Meryl Streep) and Ben (Liam Neeson) disagree over whether to reveal the truth about his involvement in the murder of his girlfriend, Martha.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? No. The movie is talky and slow moving, and kids won’t be interested in the family’s endless debates.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/ Nudity: Carolyn and Ben fool around, clothed; Jacob confesses to having had sex with Martha.
Drugs/Alcohol: Carolyn and Ben drink wine.
Violence/Scariness: Martha’s bloody corpse; a struggle involving a crowbar; Jacob burns his arm in a fire.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 25.
Lesson to Extract: The road to hell is paved with complex intentions.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

What It’s About: In this American take on the Gallic farce La Cage aux Folles, South Beach drag-club owner Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) and his gay lover, Albert (Nathan Lane), are sent into a frenzy when Goldman’s son announces that his fiancee’s ultraconservative parents are coming to visit.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably. The comic brilliance of Williams and Lane (in addition to a delicious script by Elaine May) makes The Birdcage a fun, fast-moving film. Some parents may be concerned about the movie’s homosexual themes, but the issues are presented humorously and affectionately.
MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: Many male and female buttocks in G-strings and a brief shot of a woman’s bare breasts. There’s an abundance of gay sexual innuendo but nothing physical.
Drugs/Alcohol: Wine and liquor are part of the atmosphere, as tensions mount, so does consumption.
Violence/Scariness: Many pratfalls.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 20.
Lesson to Extract: Be proud of who you are and where you come from, no matter what others may think.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.

What It’s About: Villainous stealth-bomber pilot Vic Deakins (John Travolta) leaves unwitting partner Riley Hale (Christian Slater) in the dust as part of a plot to hold the nukes aboard the plane for ransom.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? They won’t be able to resist this story of big boys playing with dangerous toys. The real question is whether they should see a gleeful Deakins exclaim, ”What a rush!” after he detonates a nuclear warhead.
Sex/ Nudity: None.
Drugs/Alcohol: None.
Violence/Scariness: Director John Woo’s signature action scenes include many explosions and shootings; a park ranger (Samantha Mathis) hammers one of Deakins’ cronies to death.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 65.
Lesson to Extract: A weapon is only as dangerous as the person using it.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.

What It’s About: Ne’er-do-well Lt. Commander Tom Dodge (Kelsey Grammer) is given command of a rusty submarine and a crew of losers.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably. Grammer has enough charm to rise above the shallow material, even though the jokes plunge into the depths of bad taste.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: Repeated references to a tattoo on Dodge’s private parts; numerous jokes at the expense of the lone female crew member (Lauren Holly).
Drugs/Alcohol: Officers share a drink, a crew member guzzles whiskey.
Violence/Scariness: Harmless slapstick.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 30.
Lesson to Extract: Character surfaces under pressure.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

What It’s About: A failed hockey player (Adam Sandler) strong-arms his way onto the pro-golf circuit with a killer drive and a brutish disregard for the rules of the game.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably. They don’t call Sandler’s bratty humor juvenile for nothing, but the story’s one-joke plot may have you teed off at having sprung for their tickets.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/ Nudity: The bare backsides of Happy and his caddy.
Drugs/Alcohol: Cocktails are served at a tournament reception; beer flows during a game; a champagne victory toast.
Violence/Scariness: Aside from the blows exchanged by Sandler and Bob Barker, stylized slapstick is par for the course. Very young children may find a subplot involving an abusive nursing-home orderly (Ben Stiller) disturbing.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 75.
Lesson to Extract: Being a good sport is as important as being good at a sport.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

What It’s About: Martha (Ellen DeGeneres) discovers that man-of-her-dreams Whitman (Bill Pullman) is her worst nightmare.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? No. This would-be comedy isn’t funny — if this were billed as a drama, Whitman would make a convincing stalker.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: Martha and Whitman have sex off screen.
Drugs/Alcohol: Guests drink at a wedding; Whitman spikes Martha’s drink with LSD.
Violence/Scariness: Martha gets hit by a flower truck and ends up in the hospital; Whitman’s jealous former girlfriend, Inga (Joan Cusack), ties her up and threatens to cut her heart out; Whitman breaks his own finger and shoots Inga.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lesson to Extract: First impressions can be misleading.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

What It’s About: The Muppets meet Robert Louis Stevenson as Captain Smollett (Kermit the Frog) and his pals set sail with young Jim Hawkins (Kevin Bishop) and the mutinous Long John Silver (Tim Curry).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Kermit will draw them in, but the grown-up humor and the surprising violence of some scenes won’t sit well with preschoolers.
Sex/Nudity: The requisite flirting between Smollett and Benjamina (Miss Piggy).
Drugs/Alcohol: Rum is served in a tavern; the Muppets sing an ode to margaritas.
Violence/Scariness: Gun-toting Muppets, sword fights, and the sight of Smollett and Benjamina strung up over the edge of a cliff may frighten younger children.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: One.
Lesson to Extract: Friendship is the most valuable treasure.
Appropriate Ages: 5 and up.

What It’s About: Hong Kong stunt meister Jackie Chan is Keung, defending his uncle’s Bronx grocery against a motorcycle gang and dirty-dealing mobsters.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe, given all the hype and the arcade-game feel to Chan’s martial arts moves. But the movie suffers from a paper-thin plot.
Sex/Nudity: A mobster moons Keung and one of the bikers drops his pants to demonstrate where he thinks Keung should kiss him.
Drugs/Alcohol: Drinks are consumed at a wedding and at clubs; a store owner has a beer.
Violence/Scariness: Nonstop. Though played for camp effect, the excessive gunplay, extended martial arts sequences, and a scene in which a gang pummels Keung with glass bottles are not for kids.
Objectionable Words/ Phrases: About 35.
Lesson to Extract: When in Rome, do as the Romans do — or else.
Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.

What It’s About: Local TV weather girl Tally Atwater (Michelle Pfeiffer) makes good as a respected network anchorwoman with the love — and sometimes overbearing support — of veteran newsman Warren Justice (Robert Redford).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe. While Pfeiffer and Redford’s romance may appeal to some teens, the love story keeps the movie from hitting the inspirational notes of, say, Mr. Holland’s Opus.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: Tally and Warren make love off screen.
Drugs/Alcohol: Tally and Warren have an occasional drink.
Violence/Scariness: Tally and her cameraman get trapped in a prison during a riot; a reporter is shot and killed while covering a story in Panama.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 35.
Lesson to Extract: Perseverance is the key to success; having friends in high places can’t hurt.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.

Before and After

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 108 minutes
  • Barbet Schroeder