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. Compiled by St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall.
+ RECOMMENDED +
Monsters, Inc. A
(G) _ Pixar Animation Studios works the same computer wonders with bedtime creatures as it did before with toys and bugs. John Goodman and Billy Crystal give voice to cuddly monsters whose job is to scare children at bedtime. The film, however, should help youngsters overcome those fears rather than increase them. Nothing objectionable. A few jokes aimed at parents may leave young minds puzzled.
+ RECOMMENDED +
+ WITH RESERVATIONS +
Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone A
(PG) _ J.K. Rowling's enormously popular novel is a magical movie entertainment, although some of the supernatural creatures and creepy settings of the story are nightmare material for very young viewers. Minor fantasy violence and the off-screen murder of Harry's parents are included. Two mildly crude words dot the screenplay. Themes of witchcraft that alarm some parents are outweighed by the story's positive child empowerment and the moral that goodness rules.
Iron Monkey B+
(PG-13) _ Martial arts violence is the major sticking point for concerned parents, although it's performed in a mostly bloodless comic book fashion that can't be taken seriously or scarily. One scene includes mild sensuality. Subtitles may be bothersome to many children or else a fun reading tool.
On the Line
(PG) _ Contains mild profanity and some crude humor that shouldn't bother the intended audience, fans of the pop music behemoth 'N Sync. Two of the group's singers, Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, make their movie debuts in this lightweight romantic comedy.
+ NOT RECOMMENDED +
(PG-13) _ Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton make larceny seem like cool fun in this crime yarn. In addition to that dubious theme, the film includes moderate profanity, sexual situations and graphic violence.
(PG-13) _ Saturday Night Live cut-up Chris Kattan plays a gangster's son infiltrating the FBI. Moderate profanity, crude sexual and drug-related humor.
(PG-13) _ John Travolta plays a divorced father who suspects his former wife's new husband is a murderer. Just what stepparents need, a movie to make children distrust them. The film includes violence, profanity and intense scenes sometimes including child endangerment for cheap drama.
(PG-13) _ Kevin Spacey plays a mentally disturbed man claiming to be an alien and convincing everyone he meets. Jeff Bridges is the psychologist unlocking the truth along with some nasty emotional traumas that young children don't need to see. Moderate profanity, including an f-word. Minor sexual humor and the suggestion of rape.
(PG-13) _ Martial arts star Jet Li (Romeo Must Die) plays a time-traveling killer whose latest target is himself in an alternate universe. The rating is due to numerous fight scenes that aren't graphic but are intense. Moderate profanity.
Riding in Cars With Boys C-
(PG-13) _ Promiscuous teenager (Drew Barrymore) gets pregnant, marries badly and matures into a conscientious woman inspired by her son. Based on Beverly Donofrio's autobiography. Profanity. Mature themes include sexual and drug-related activities.
(PG-13) _ Grown-up romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, featuring moderate profanity and one scene of sexuality. No nudity or violence.
Shallow Hal D
(PG-13) _ The new Farrelly brothers movie is just a few off-color gags away from an R rating. A film that seems cute and romantic in preview trailers is a tasteless slap at overweight people disguised as sensitivity. Harsh profanity for the rating and numerous sexually charged jokes.
The Others B
(PG-13) _ This ghost story starring Nicole Kidman doesn't contain any violence, profanity or nudity, and only a brief bit of sensuality. But the plot hinges upon issues of child endangerment and mortality that could upset younger viewers. Slow pacing won't satisfy them, either, in a film that doesn't resort to cheap, crowd-pleasing shocks.
(PG-13) _ The R rating originally bestowed on Ben Stiller's comedy was appealed by Paramount Pictures, resulting in a PG-13 rating. The film still includes sexual content, drug references and a political assassination plot played for laughs.