Parents' guide to summer movies
Our guide tells how kid-friendly the vacation-season blockbusters are, from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery to Warriors of Virtue
Parents’ guide to summer movies
Before Hollywood unleashes the vacation-season blockbusters, it’s giving kids time to play outdoors by offering… reruns? There’s a big-screen version of a TV series (McHale’s Navy), an old tale retold (The Second Jungle Book), and more White House intrigue (Murder at 1600). Even the best bets for kids cover familiar ground, proving before the summer sun arrives that there’s still nothing new under it.
AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY · What It’s About: Thawed out after being cryogenically frozen for 30 years, Britain’s swinging top secret agent (Mike Myers) tries to maintain his cool reputation as he fights his nemesis, Dr. Evil (Myers), and deals with the un-mod ’90s. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe, but children of the ’60s are the ones most likely to appreciate Austin’s grooviness. · MPAA: PG-13. · Sex/Nudity: Double entendres and jokes a-go-go. · Drugs/Alcohol: Austin drinks champagne with sidekick Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley) and sake with villainess Alotta Fagina (Fabiana Udenio). · Violence/Scariness: Mostly slapstick, but one man’s head is severed with a laser, and there are a number of shootings. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 15. · Lesson to Extract: The ’60s were a lot sillier than mom and dad admit. · Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.
8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG · What It’s About: To prove he completed his job, hitman Tommy Spinelli (Joe Pesci) must bring his boss the heads of his victims, but after a baggage-claim mix-up the heads end up with medical student Charlie (Andy Comeau) who’s vacationing in Mexico with girlfriend Laurie (Kristy Swanson) and her parents (Dyan Cannon, George Hamilton). · Will Kids Want to Watch It? They’d have to have their heads examined to sit through this tasteless black comedy. · MPAA: R. · Sex/Nudity: None. · Drugs/Alcohol: Laurie’s mother is an alcoholic; Laurie’s family has tropical drinks at lunch; Tommy has a drink with a meal. · Violence/ Scariness: The ghoulish effects are intended to be funny, but heads literally roll, Charlie’s roommates (David Spade, Todd Louiso) are held at gunpoint, and Laurie’s grandmother is thrown off a cliff. ·Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 80. · Lesson to Extract: Keeping your head(s) is harder than it seems. · Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.
MCHALE’S NAVY · What It’s About: Ex-officer-turned-bootlegger McHale (Tom Arnold) rejoins the service to help his party animal Navy buddies save their Caribbean base when an international terrorist (Tim Curry) takes over the island. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? They won’t fall in line for this one and would have a better time watching reruns of the 1962-66 TV show that inspired this big-screen fiasco. · MPAA: PG. · Sex/Nudity: The token female officer is the subject of much innuendo. · Drugs/Alcohol: McHale samples the ale he brews; the sailors drink on a night out; McHale’s troops steal vodka from the enemy. · Violence/Scariness: Lots of shooting and explosions. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: Seven. · Lesson to Extract: Anyone who thinks old TV series equal new hit movies is way off base. · Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.
MURDER AT 1600 · What It’s About: It’s politics as usual when a woman is found killed in the White House, and tight-lipped officials (including National Security Advisor Alan Alda) try to keep Detective Regis (Wesley Snipes) and Secret Service agent Chance (Diane Lane) from getting too close to the truth. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? No, Snipes is no action hero here, and the convoluted plot won’t keep kids interested. · MPAA: R. · Sex/Nudity: The bare breasts of a woman and the bare backside of a man during sex; that same woman’s breasts during an autopsy. · Drugs/Alcohol: A detective (Dennis Miller) has a drink; White House officials indulge in alcohol. · Violence/Scariness: A cleaning woman finds the dead woman’s body in a bathroom; fatal shootings; one man’s neck is broken. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 30. · Lesson to Extract: Even the highest office in the land is filled with its share of lowlifes. · Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.
ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION · What It’s About: It’s Blond and Blonder as underachieving Valley gal pals Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) attempt to reinvent themselves as successful businesswomen to impress their former classmates at their 10-year high school reunion. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yeah, older kids will think it’s like really, really cute. · MPAA: R. · Sex/ Nudity: Some innuendo and suggestive situations. · Drugs/Alcohol: Cocktails at clubs and at the reunion; one classmate (Janeane Garofalo) smokes cigarettes incessantly. · Violence/ Scariness: The darkest things about this movie are the roots of Romy’s and Michele’s hair. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 35. · Lesson to Extract: Growing up means learning to accept yourself. · Appropriate Ages: 17 and up.
THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK: MOWGLI & BALOO · What It’s About: Circus talent scout Harrison (Bill Campbell) and the mysterious Buldeo (Gulshan Grover) head to the jungles of India to hunt down Mowgli (Jamie Williams), the 10-year-old man-cub raised in the wild in this prequel to the movies based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic story. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe, because of the cool animals and the impish Williams, but fans of the Disney animated classic might wonder why filmmakers decided to fix something that was never broken. · MPAA: G. · Sex/Nudity: None. · Drugs/Alcohol: Flasks around the fire; men sedate Mowgli with whiskey. · Violence/Scariness: Mowgli’s life is threatened by a python, a tiger, and greedy humans; Mowgli’s uncle shoots at monkeys; a knife fight between Harrison and Buldeo. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: One. · Lesson to Extract: Man is the most dangerous animal. · Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.
VOLCANO · What It’s About: MacArthur Park is melting in the dark as Los Angeles is hit with an unprecedented geological event that makes California really hot. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, teens will love this loud, explosive ode to Mother Nature. Tommy Lee Jones, who stars with Anne Heche, is also a force to be reckoned with. · MPAA: PG-13. · Sex/Nudity: None. · Drugs/Alcohol: None. · Violence/Scariness: The lava is relentless, causing great destruction; a geologist is sucked into the earth; workers are burned up in a gas explosion. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 50. · Lesson to Extract: When it comes to nature, you have to go with the flow. · Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.
WARRIORS OF VIRTUE · What It’s About: While trying to fit in with the cool crowd, teenager Ryan (Mario Yedidia) falls into a whirlpool and ends up in the mystical land of Tao, where he joins the virtuous Rooz, kangaroo-like creatures who use the forces of nature to fight against evil. · Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s doubtful. This New Age fantasy is too preachy, and the Rooz just don’t have enough personality to send kids running to the toy store. · MPAA: PG. · Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: None. · Violence/Scariness: Plenty of martial arts but the scenes most likely to frighten young children are the real-life ones in which Ryan is bullied and almost drowns during a gang initiation. · Objectionable Words/Phrases: One. · Lesson to Extract: Your inner strength gives you the power to win. · Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.