The Family Movie Guide should be used as a supplemental reference for selecting movies suitable for children, along with the Motion Picture Association of America rating system. Only films rated G, PG or PG-13 are included in this weekly listing, along with occasional R-rated films that may have entertainment or educational value for older children with parental guidance.
Films that may not hold the attention of children will be issued a restless alert of varying degrees. Parents should think twice about taking children to these films for their comfort and the comfort of other moviegoers.
Recommended for family viewing
STAR WARS (PG) _ Children deserve a chance to see this landmark space adventure in its sparkling new theater format. They'll be surprised at everything they've missed on closely cropped home video versions. No profanity, sex or nudity. Violence is bloodless and mostly just a lot of superb special effects explosions and flashes, rather than anything graphic or scary.
RETURN OF THE JEDI (PG) _ A close call for this category, since the intergalactic violence factor is a bit higher than Star Wars. Those cuddly plush aliens, the Ewoks, more than make up for it with their cuteness quotient. No profanity or nudity, although Princess Leia's slave-girl bikini is a bit revealing. The revelation that Luke Skywalker is her brother may create some confusion in children who have watched them flirt over the last two movies. Some scary creatures, including slimy Jabba the Hutt.
SELENA (PG) _ A close call, since this biography of the Tejano music superstar contains a couple of profane words, some sexy dance moves and a tragic (off-screen) murder in the final minutes. Writer/director Gregory Nava keeps the material tasteful and inspirational, in a cliched sort of way. Good role models for Hispanic/Latino families, who don't see their culture portrayed often in a film of this scope. Restless alert due to the two-hour-plus running time.
Recommended for family
viewing with reservation
BEAUTICIAN AND THE BEAST (PG) _ Harmless, but joke-starved starring vehicle for TV's favorite nanny, Fran Drescher. No sex or nudity, but Drescher's Bronx-trash flirting has a bit of Mae West's heat. No violence; the PG rating comes from a few rude phrases and double entendres, rather than profanity. Minor restless alert for kids under 10.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (PG) _ No profanity, nudity or sexual situations. Violence is mostly the sci-fi sort, but a couple of light-saber amputations are graphic and the overall dark tone of the film may frighten young children. 10 and over.
JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE (PG) _ Tim Allen manages to maintain his comic respect despite some very crude, lowbrow jokes handed to him in this remake of the French flop Little Indian, Big City. No major profanity, but numerous jokes about body fluids, gastrointestinal distress, animal cruelty and sexual innuendo.
LIAR, LIAR (PG-13) _ Jim Carrey's maniacal mugging gets a workout in this fantasy about a workaholic father who must tell the truth for 24 hours, after his son makes a mystic birthday wish. Much of the humor is sexually oriented, at a variety of maturity levels that could be embarrassing for parents or the kids watching with them. Violence is mostly slapstick knockabout stuff. Profanities throughout, making the PG-13 rating suitable. No nudity, but loads of suggestive humor and rude comments. Recommended for ages 13 and over.
SHINE (PG-13) _ Older children _ especially those with classical music tastes _ will enjoy this true story of David Helfgott, a piano virtuoso emotionally wrecked by his domineering father.
for family viewing
FIERCE CREATURES (PG-13) _ Plenty of sexual innuendo and cheeky humor that borders on bad taste in this semi-sequel to the adult comedy A Fish Called Wanda. Profanity and crude commentary throughout, especially from Kevin Kline's dual roles as the tycoon owner of a London zoo and his oversexed son.
IN LOVE AND WAR (PG-13) _ Young Ernest Hemingway (Chris O'Donnell) falls in love with a caring nurse (Sandra Bullock) in 1918. This film doesn't shrink from presenting war as hell, and squeamish moviegoers may be jolted by bloody recurring scenes of World War I battle casualties. Recommended for ages 15 and older.
MARVIN'S ROOM (PG-13) _ Profanity throughout this bleak comedy about terminal illness, mental illness and emotional illness in a dysfunctional family. Not exactly the stuff that a child usually finds entertaining. No nudity, but a few one-liners that aim below the belt. Recommended for ages 15 and over.
_ STEVE PERSALL