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 +
The Santa Clause 2 B-
(G) _ Tim Allen returns as a divorced father contracted to be Santa Claus, with a codicil for the sequel: He must get married. Nothing objectionable to report, because Disney keeps things squeaky-clean.
WITH RESERVATIONS +
Bowling for Columbine A
(R) _ Rarely does an R-rated film make the Family Movie Guide, but Michael Moore's provocative documentary about America's gun violence is an exception. (Previous ones include Schindler's List and Get on the Bus.) Parents would be wise to see the film with teenagers and discuss Moore's slanted views on teen violence and gun control, offering contradictory information. Harsh profanity, mature themes and real-life footage of gun violence, including the Columbine High School shootings.
Die Another Day A-
(PG-13) _ James Bond returns for his 20th "official" film adventure (Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again were renegade productions outside the loop). This one contains the usual amount of sanitized sex and violence, but the fantasy elements and popularity of Agent 007's long career have probably taught parents what to expect. Moderate profanity, blow-'em-up action and seductive women such as Halle Berry.
The Emperor's Club
(PG-13) _ Kevin Kline stars as a prep school teacher whose passion for classic literature makes a connection with a rebellious student (Emile Hirsch). The PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America is due to "sexual content."
Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets B
(PG) _ Everyone's favorite junior wizard returns in the second film based on J.K. Rowling's popular book series. This time, Harry and his friends endure a scarier adventure than in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, including nightmare-inspiring creatures and malevolent adult authority figures. The film contains more intense violence, including Harry's bloody duel with a monster and an attacking tree. Harry's involvement with occult practices may concern some parents. The movie will also test the patience of small children with its 161-minute running time.
Sweet Home Alabama C+
(PG-13) _ Reese Witherspoon's popularity in the youth market will be a major draw for this romantic comedy. Parents shouldn't worry about the film's content, including minor profanity and crude humor; a few jokes are aimed at a gay character. Sensual tension is mild in Witherspoon's love triangle with Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas. Southerners may be offended by the film's Hee Haw attitude, an overused screen stereotype.
+ NOT RECOMMENDED +
Far From Heaven B+
(PG-13) _ Julianne Moore plays a 1950s housewife discovering that her husband (Dennis Quaid) is gay, then developing a close relationship with a black gardener (Dennis Haysbert) at a time when interracial friendships were uncommon. The mature themes of Todd Haynes' film are obvious and addressed with candor that movies 50 years ago _ a thematic inspiration here _ weren't allowed. Profanity, including one f-word. Strong sexual situations.
I Spy C
(PG-13) _ Young viewers won't appreciate that this is a remake of a 1960s television show starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp. The update features Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson as agents up to their holsters in action violence, seductive women and sexual banter. Moderate profanity.
The Ring B+
(PG-13) _ This creepy horror flick is definitely not for children, with its nightmarish images and an unsavory subplot about child endangerment (and worse). Only minor profanity and brief sensuality, but this film might deserve an R rating.
The Truth About Charlie B-
(PG-13) _ Young viewers probably won't realize this is a remake of the 1966 movie Charade, which starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. (How many of them even know Grant and Hepburn?) Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton take over the roles as a widow learns that her late husband had criminal ties. The MPAA rating results from violence, sexual content and brief nudity.