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 +
Christmas With the Kranks C
(PG) _ A married couple (Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to forgo Christmas events and expenses, upsetting their neighborhood in a sitcom-level comedy. A couple of rude words and sexual suggestions aren't enough to keep children away.
Fat Albert B
(PG) _ Bill Cosby's beloved cartoon character and his pals escape from television into modern-day Philadelphia, where changes in social mores create fish-out-of-water comedy. A few rude words and crude jokes won't offend.
Lemony Snicket's A Series
of Unfortunate Events B-
(PG) _ Fans of the popular children's book series know to expect playfully macabre danger from leeches, snakes and locomotives. A hyperkinetic Jim Carrey plays Count Olaf. Some of the images are scary, with mild child endangerment and briefly rude dialogue.
The Polar Express A
(G) _ Nothing objectionable in this state-of-the-art animated treat, based on Chris Van Allsburg's beloved children's book about a child whose faith in Santa Claus is reaffirmed. A few scenes added to the story feature imperiled children but shouldn't be too scary.
SquarePants Movie C
(PG) _ The popular underwater cartoon hero brings his wacky brand of mildly crude humor to the silver screen. If the TV show doesn't offend, this shouldn't.
The Aviator B
(PG-13) _ Martin Scorsese's biography of tycoon Howard Hughes, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, will appeal to some young viewers. The film includes two violent airplane crashes, several seduction scenes and mature themes, such as Hughes' obsessive-compulsive behavior. It's a decent history lesson but too long and socially quaint to thrill young moviegoers in general.
Finding Neverland B
(PG) _ Married playwright J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) creates Peter Pan, inspired by his friendship with a widow (Kate Winslet) and her sons. No infidelity and only a hint of the whispers of pedophilia that followed Barrie in real life. Mature themes include a terminally ill parent. For ages 12 and older.
Flight of the Phoenix C+
(PG-13) _ A pilot (Dennis Quaid) must rebuild a crashed airplane to save passengers from perishing in the Mongolian desert. That spells loud action, occasionally violent acts and moderate profanity under pressure.
National Treasure D
(PG) _ Nicolas Cage leads a hunt for a copy of the Declaration of Independence that may contain a treasure map. Action violence and scary images are reasons for the MPAA rating.
Ocean's Twelve B-
(PG-13) _ More larcenous behavior from the 21st century Rat Pack (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc.), but good-natured enough that amorality isn't an issue. Moderate profanity earned the MPAA rating.
The Phantom of the Opera B+
(PG-13) _ Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular Broadway musical comes to the screen, with more elaborate violence than the stage production allowed. The operatic musical score could turn off young viewers, but teenagers with interest in the theater may be inspired.
(PG-13) _ Young moviegoers love Adam Sandler, but this comedy is more mature than usual for him. Sandler plays an unhappily married man getting close to his new housekeeper (Paz Vega) and her daughter. The film includes sexual content and moderate profanity, and children may be disappointed that this isn't The Waterboy II.
Meet the Fockers B
(PG-13) _ The sequel to Meet the Parents is even more risque, with loads of jokes about sexual behavior and numerous anatomically correct works of art and invention. Profanity is fairly strong, as is the crude humor.
(PG-13) _ A widower (Michael Keaton) hears his dead wife's voice through a radio, and all kinds of creepy paranormal stuff happens. The MPAA rating is due to "violence, disturbing images and language," although the effects also put the man's children in peril, which could upset young viewers.