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.
INSPECTOR GADGET (PG) _ Agreeably juvenile live-action version of the popular cartoon hero. Only a few mildly suggestive phrases. Violence is elaborate slapstick, heightened by extravagant computer-generated effects. No nudity. Inspector Gadget should make a lot of kids and parents happy in a summer movie season that has been lacking family-friendly entertainment.
THE IRON GIANT (PG) _ A boy living in 1957 discovers a robot from outer space and both learn valuable lessons in loyalty, mortality and choosing what they want to be. No nudity or sex, although some bathroom humor is used. A couple of very mild profanities. Violence occurs when paranoid Army troops open fire on the robot and he retaliates with space weapons, but nothing graphic. Some mature themes and troubling dramatic twists for sensitive children, but attentive parents can make it all better with a hug and a discussion.
MUPPETS FROM SPACE (G) _ Gonzo searches for his roots in outer space, while Kermit and Miss Piggy keep nosy UFO trackers out of the way. No nudity, profanity or sexual innuendo and only a dash of slapstick violence. Clever puns, a lively disco soundtrack and the usual Muppet charm.
TARZAN (G) _ No nudity, profanity or sex in Disney's animated version of the jungle legend. There is, however, a level of tension and implied violence in some scenes that may briefly disturb very young children. One fairly graphic scene involves death by hanging, and others feature some gunplay. The savage nature of jungle wildlife leads to some tense moments.
Recommended for family viewing with reservations
RUNAWAY BRIDE (PG) _ Julia Roberts and Richard Gere attempt to strike Pretty Woman sparks again, with lackluster results. There isn't much objectionable material in Garry Marshall's film, except some mildly suggestive sexual references played for laughs. Violence is limited to one punch in a fight. No nudity, and very little profanity. There also aren't many laughs in this 2-hour movie, so it deserves a restless alert for younger viewers who have nothing to relate to in the plot.
Not recommended for family viewing
DROP DEAD GORGEOUS (PG-13) _ It's surprising that this movie evaded an R rating, since the sick fun it makes of teenage beauty pageants is comparable to films such as There's Something About Mary and Jawbreaker. Jokes are aimed at mentally, emotionally and physically disabled persons, with some suggestive sexual humor. No nudity. Violence is mostly off-screen, including a tractor-explosion murder. Numerous profanities, but the cruel tone of the film is more offensive.
THE HAUNTING (PG-13) _ Not as graphically violent as most horror movies these days, but the tension level and a subplot about murdered children could upset young viewers. One decapitation is quick and bloodless. Several profanities that easily fit within current PG-13 standards. No nudity, but some suggestive bisexual dialogue. Teenagers may enjoy the old-fashioned feel of Jan de Bont's movie, but it's nightmare material for youngsters.
MYSTERY MEN (PG-13) _ Underground comic book gets the Hollywood treatment, but these guys aren't Superman or Batman. The movie takes a cynical stance against such superheroes, preferring crimefighters with more irreverent powers, including deadly flatulence. Action sequences pale next to previous films that Mystery Men spoofs. The humor plays better in the minds of the cast than it does on screen. Several profanities, no nudity or sex, and violence is relatively tame.
THE SIXTH SENSE (PG-13) _ A young boy is terrorized by ghostly apparitions, some of whom died messily. A subplot concerns the worst horror a parent can imagine. Some profanity, but nothing that exceeds PG-13 boundaries. No nudity or sex. Violence is limited to two shootings (one off-screen), but several scenes possess a sense of dread that could upset small children. Occasionally sluggish pacing won't help their enjoyment, either. Restless alert.
WILD WILD WEST (PG-13) _ The opening scene features a decapitation, the next one contains a skinny-dipping tryst interrupted by violent gunplay. It doesn't take long for Wild Wild West to prove it's for mature audiences only. Numerous profanities, plus references to sexually themed topics. Brief nudity beyond the nude swim already mentioned. Lots of violence and gross visual effects.
_ STEVE PERSALL