The Family Movie Guide should be used along with the Motion Picture Association of America rating system for selecting movies suitable for children. 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 are categorized as "recommended for family viewing," "recommended for family viewing with reservations" and "not recommended for family viewing," with a description of content that led to that categorizing.
Recommended for family viewing
A BUG'S LIFE (G) _ The same computer-animation wizards who made Toy Story a breakthrough in the genre return with a pleasant, eye-popping fairy tale. No nudity, profanity or sexual innuendo, or even any violent tension on the level of Antz. Some images of sinister insects may briefly frighten small children, but nothing that a reassuring pat on the shoulder won't solve.
ANTZ (PG) _ DreamWorks SKG gives Disney a run for its money in this animated delight, which contains more mature themes than the average 'toon. Most of the allegory about the loss of individualism and a political coup in an ant colony will escape young children, who will be too busy marveling at the computer-generated subterranean world of insects and their humorous lives. A handful of mild profanities and a couple of disturbing threats by the villains led to the PG rating. No nudity or sexual situations.
JACK FROST (PG) _ The death of a father (Michael Keaton) leads to his magical transformation into a snowman. A handful of mild profanities. No nudity or sex, and the only violence is a snowball fight. The mortality issue is handled in a style akin to Ghost, without anything overly traumatic for young viewers.
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (PG) _ No sex or nudity here, and only a sprinkling of rude words. Even the violence is toned down several notches from the level of Jurassic Park or Godzilla. A couple of jolts created by a giant ape's rampage through Los Angeles may briefly frighten small children, but not too much. A couple of bone-crunching sound effects and glimpses of blood are outweighed by the film's genial spirit.
THE RUGRATS MOVIE (G) _ Tommy, Chucky, Angelica and the rest of the Rugrats crew take their gently satirical act to the big screen. The Rugrats always pull their humorous punches before going too far, so there is one near-profanity, one intimation of comical nudity, a couple of wink-wink mature references and barely any violent tension.
Recommended for family viewing, with reservations
BABE: PIG IN THE CITY (G) _ No profanity, nudity or sexual references in this sequel to the Oscar-nominated film about a brave talking pig. However, there is a streak of animal cruelty and violent tension throughout the movie that could upset small children. Babe and his pals survive and prosper in the best G-rated tradition, but close calls with drowning, speeding vehicles, electrocution and a greedy, demented clown (Mickey Rooney) are creepy enough.
DOWN IN THE DELTA (PG-13) _ Some commendable messages about personal rediscovery, family traditions and cross-generational cooperation are included in this drama, directed by poet/author Maya Angelou. No violence, nudity or sex, and only a handful of profanities. The MPAA rating is due mainly to some scenes of drug and alcohol usage by the heroine (Alfre Woodard) before she gets her life back on track during a revelatory summer in Mississippi. Recommended for ages 10 and older.
PATCH ADAMS (PG-13) _ Robin Williams is always a big draw for young moviegoers, but some of the topics in this medical drama (especially dealing with terminally ill patients and murder) may be disturbing. A fine humanistic message emerges from the melodrama and Williams' antics, however. Frequent profanity, no sex and one violent act occurs off screen. Nudity is limited to one shot of Williams' derriere for comic effect.
THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (PG) _ A visually and emotionally impressive animated retelling of the story of Moses that serves as a highly entertaining Sunday School lesson. No nudity, profanity or sex. Violence is minor, but sequences in which God turns vengeful with plagues and Passover deaths could prompt concerned questions about theology from small children.
STAR TREK: INSURRECTION (PG) _ Mild profanity, no nudity; sex is limited to some flirt-talk and a discreet bubble bath shared by Commanders Troi and Riker. Violence is mostly limited to outer space explosions and a couple of ray-gun injuries, but one character's death-by-face-lift could be a bit scary for young children. Knowledge of the series and characters is a necessity to understand what's going on.
STEPMOM (PG-13) _ Frequent profanity (including an "f-word") in this tear-jerking drama that maturely deals with issues of divorce, death and step-parenting. No nudity, but references to a child finding her father and his lover in a compromising position and a crude sexual reference intended for humor is unnecessary. No violence. Children of divorce may find the material tough to handle, or locate some positive messages in the way things turn out.
YOU'VE GOT MAIL (PG-13) _ Several mild profanities, no nudity, sex or violence in this romantic comedy that reunites Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (Sleepless in Seattle). Mature themes in the plot (an increasingly impersonal society, business takeovers, middle-age loneliness) may not be of interest to small children. Nothing offensive here, just material more suitable for older audiences.
Not recommended for family viewing
PLEASANTVILLE (PG-13) _ Citizens of a 1950s family-values sitcom have color magically added to their monochrome lives, chiefly because of mass sexual awakenings. No graphic sex on display but plenty of discussion, one masturbation scene and barely discreet enactments of Lover's Lane activities. Nudity is limited to several crucial paintings. One "f-word" amid numerous profanities. Mild violence. Mature themes (taking chances with one's life and freedom, dysfunctional family drama, adultery). Recommended for ages 15 and older.
THE WATERBOY (PG-13) _ Several profanities (including one "f-word") and crude conversations in this college football farce starring Adam Sandler. No nudity, but a couple of suggestive scenes that play the title character's sexual awakening for laughs. Violence is primarily confined to rough play on the football field.
_ STEVE PERSALL