Family Movie Guide

This guide includes "family films," potential blockbusters, and movies that might interest young people. Only films with G ratings are tagged as all-family fare by Hollywood. Most have stronger MPAA ratings that call for extra alertness from parents. The Family Movie Guide and the Monitor's more-comprehensive Freeze Frames movie guide appear on alternate Fridays.

Star ratings from Monitor film critic David Sterritt precede the film credits. Those from a staff panel of at least three viewers follow the credits. Our ratings indicate the overall quality of movies, not their suitability for children.

o Forget It

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

* Poor

** Fair

*** Good

**** Excellent

Evita [PG]

** Directed by Alan Parker. With Madonna, Jonathan Pryce, Antonio Banderas, Jimmy Nail. Running time: 130 minutes.

PLOT Eva Peron rises from back-country squalor to fame and fortune as the wife of Argentine leader Juan Peron.

MESSAGE Eva Pern was a controversial but basically well-meaning person who lived a dramatic life in a dramatic period of history.

SEX Some implied sex and innuendo.

VIOLENCE Several scenes of social and political unrest.

PROFANITY Some vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Michael [PG]

** Directed by Nora Ephron. With John Travolta, William Hurt, Andie MacDowell, Bob Hoskins, Jean Stapleton, Robert Pastorelli. Running time: 105 minutes. ***

PLOT Three tabloid reporters visit a rural town where an angel has taken up residence. Taking him back to Chicago, they quickly discover that he's a down-to-earth fellow with a surprising taste for profane pleasures.

MESSAGE Some of life's greatest gifts are ethereal and refined; others are earthy and even sensual.

SEX Several scenes with implied sexual activity.

VIOLENCE A barroom brawl and a comic fight between the angel and a bull.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Much drinking.

One Fine Day [PG]

** Directed by Michael Hoffman. With Michelle Pfeiffer, George Clooney, Mae Whitford, Charles Durning. Running time: 105 minutes. ***

PLOT Two single parents juggle each other's kids during a hectic day of schedule changes, cellular-phone mix-ups, and other complications.

MESSAGE Family responsibilities can bring people together even in the frenetic '90s.

SEX Some innuendo and sensuality.

VIOLENCE Scenes of mild danger or injury.

PROFANITY A few vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL None.

The Preacher's Wife [PG]

** Directed by Penny Marshall. With Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines, Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine. Running time: 124 minutes. ***

PLOT An angel comes to help a minister who's determined to build an imposing new church, and he almost gets sidetracked by his other project of cheering up the clergyman's neglected wife.

MESSAGE People should keep their goals focused on deep-rooted values like compassion, charity, and companionship without getting distracted by more worldly concerns.

SEX, PROFANITY None.

VIOLENCE One scene shows a violent inner-city robbery.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America [PG-13]

** Directed by Mike Judge. With the voices of Mike Judge, Robert Stack, Cloris Leachman, Eric Bogosian. Running time: 75 minutes.

PLOT Wandering into the real world because their TV set was stolen, the snickering teens leave a trail of messy misadventures from one coast to the other.

MESSAGE Teenagers are idiots, and so is everyone else.

SEX A huge amount of innuendo.

VIOLENCE Gunplay and a subplot about hired killers.

PROFANITY Constant crudities and vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking and abuse of over-the-counter drugs.

OTHER A great deal of scatological humor.

The Evening Star [PG-13]

** Directed by Robert Harling. With Shirley MacLaine, Juliette Lewis, Miranda Richardson, Jack Nicholson, Donald Moffat, Bill Paxton, Ben Johnson. Running time: 120 minutes.

PLOT An aging but feisty woman strikes up a sexual relationship with a much younger man while trying to keep her wayward granddaughter under control and cope with other household problems.

MESSAGE To engage fully with life is to embrace a wide variety of problems, adventures, and rewards.

SEX Implicit and explicit sexual encounters, including some near nudity.

VIOLENCE Scenes of illness and emotional conflict.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Ghosts of Mississippi [PG-13]

*** Directed by Rob Reiner. With Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods, Wayne Rogers, Craig T. Nelson, William H. Macy, Virginia Madsen. Running time: 120 minutes. ***

PLOT A young attorney prosecutes an aging racist for the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers more than 30 years earlier, with help from the victim's widow.

MESSAGE Courage and determination can prevail even when evil appears to have triumphed.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Graphic depiction of Evers's murder.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and racist vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Hamlet [PG-13]

*** Directed by Kenneth Branagh. With Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, Kate Winslet, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston, Gerard Depardieu, John Gielgud, Richard Briers, Michael Maloney, Nick Farrell, Brian Blessed, Rosemary Harris. Running time: 242 minutes.

PLOT A young prince broods over his father's death, his mother's marriage to the late king's brother, and his own desire for revenge.

MESSAGE A thoughtful young person may find much that is rotten in the existing structure of family, social, and political power.

SEX Fairly explicit views of sexual activity and discussion of what the hero considers an incestuous marriage.

VIOLENCE Sword fighting, poisoning, stabbing.

PROFANITY Some vulgar Shakespearean wordplay.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

I'm Not Rappaport [PG-13]

*** Directed by Herb Gardner. With Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving, Craig T. Nelson, Martha Plimpton, Boyd Gaines. Running time: 136 minutes.

PLOT A cranky Jewish socialist and a black worker heading for unemployment sit around Central Park, gripe about their problems, get into potentially dangerous trouble with local ruffians, and develop a relationship based more on their advancing years than any similarity in their backgrounds.

MESSAGE Friendship is valuable in the dangerous modern world, even when one of the friends is a cantankerous person belatedly trying out identities and fantasies that have bypassed him.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Violence and menace related to the urban drug scene.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Scenes about drug dealers.

Mother [PG-13]

*** Directed by Albert Brooks. With Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds, Rob Morrow, Lisa Kudrow. Running time: 104 minutes.

PLOT Wondering where his life took a wrong emotional turn, a twice-divorced writer moves back in with his mother and finds her personality just as inscrutable as his own.

MESSAGE Modern life is emotionally complex, and families may be wonderful but even good ones are far from perfect.

SEX Some very raunchy dialogue with a joking view of incest.

VIOLENCE None.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Social drinking.

My Fellow Americans [PG-13]

* Directed by Peter Segal. With Jack Lemmon, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, Dan Aykroyd, John Heard, Sela Ward, Wilford Brimley, Marg Helgenberger, Everett McGill, Bradley Whitford. Running time: 105 minutes.

PLOT Two former chief executives schlep through the American heartland with assassins pursuing them at their heels.

MESSAGE People high in the American power structure may not understand as much about their nation as they think they do.

SEX Some sexual behavior and a good deal of innuendo.

VIOLENCE Shooting and fighting.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

The Portrait of a Lady [PG-13]

**** Directed by Jane Campion. With Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, Martin Donovan, Shelley Duvall, Shelley Winters. Running time: 144 minutes. ***

PLOT A young woman jeopardizes her bright future by marrying a self-absorbed man despite signs that he regards her as just one more addition to his collection of beautiful things.

MESSAGE Human nature is so complex that emotional snares may lurk where least expected.

SEX Some innuendo, a scene of suggestive sensuality, and brief nudity.

VIOLENCE Brief but jarring domestic violence.

PROFANITY None.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Jerry Maguire [R]

** Directed by Cameron Crowe. With Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding. Running time: 138 minutes. ***

PLOT A sports agent tries to start his own company after losing his job, and he learns about human decency from a family-loving football player who stays loyal to him.

MESSAGE Fundamental values like loyalty and family love are more important than material success, although it's nice to have the latter too.

SEX An extremely graphic sex scene.

VIOLENCE Athletic mayhem on a football field.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL A good deal of drinking.

The People vs. Larry Flynt [R]

*** Directed by Milos Forman. With Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton, James Carville. Running time: 129 minutes.

PLOT A pornographer turns a sleazy magazine into a publishing empire and gets into heated controversies, such as a battle with the leader of the Moral Majority organization, who sues the trash peddler over a vicious parody but loses the case in a unanimous Supreme Court opinion written by one of the most conservative justices.

MESSAGE Free expression is protected by the Constitution even when it's lurid, disgusting, hateful, and published for the most obviously venal of reasons.

SEX A large amount of varied and explicit sexual behavior, and also much nudity.

VIOLENCE Fighting, an attempted assassination, and graphic scenes of injury and illness.

PROFANITY Constant four-letters words and harsh vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL A great deal of hard drinking and drug abuse.

Some Mother's Son [R]

*** Directed by Terry George. With Helen Mirren, Fionnula Flanagan, Aiden Gillen, David O'Hara. Running time: 110 minutes.

PLOT The lives of two very different Irish women are thrown together when their sons are imprisoned for revolutionary violence and join a hunger strike that gains worldwide attention but threatens to kill them both.

MESSAGE One of the most intense moral challenges a person can face is to be a dedicated pacifist caught between parental love and philosophical convictions.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Many scenes of terrorism and revolutionary mayhem.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

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