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

* Poor

** Fair

*** Good

**** Excellent

Evita [PG]

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

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

MESSAGE Eva Peron 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 Scenes of social and political unrest.

PROFANITY Some vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Michael [PG]

** Directed by Nora Ephron. With John Travolta and Andie MacDowell. 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. 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 Evening Star [PG-13]

** Directed by Robert Harling. With Shirley MacLaine, Juliette Lewis, Miranda Richardson, Jack Nicholson. 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 variety of problems and rewards.

SEX Sexual encounters and some near nudity.

VIOLENCE Scenes of illness and emotional conflict.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Hamlet [PG-13]

*** Directed by Kenneth Branagh. With Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, Kate Winslet, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams. 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 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.

In Love and War [PG-13]

* Directed by Richard Attenborough. With Sandra Bullock and Chris O'Donnell. Running time: 115 minutes.

PLOT The on-and-off love affair of young Ernest Hemingway and a slightly older nurse, who helps him recover from World War I injuries. The nurse must then decide whether to marry him or an Italian doctor she greatly admires.

MESSAGE Love and war can challenge one's happiness in different ways, and artists may draw special inspiration from them.

SEX Fairly discreet sex scene with brief nudity.

VIOLENCE Battlefield mayhem in the World War I portion of the story; explicit views of injured and mutilated people; medical and surgical material.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Kolya [PG-13]

*** Directed by Jan Sverak. With Zdenek Sverak, Andrej Chalimon, Ondrez Vetchy, Irena Livanova. Running time: 110 minutes.

PLOT Not long before the fall of the Soviet bloc and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, a middle-aged Czech musician agrees to a marriage of convenience with a Russian woman. He then finds himself caring for her five-year-old son after she unexpectedly leaves the country.

MESSAGE Major social and political events can influence the everyday lives of ordinary people, including artists and children.

SEX A relatively restrained sex scene, and some innuendo; very brief nudity.

VIOLENCE, PROFANITY None.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Some drinking.

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. 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.

The Portrait of a Lady [PG-13]

**** Directed by Jane Campion. With Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, 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 and brief nudity.

VIOLENCE Brief but jarring domestic violence.

PROFANITY None.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Prefontaine [PG-13]

* Directed by Steve James. With Jared Leto, R. Lee Ermey, Lindsay Crouse, Ed O'Neill, Amy Locane. Running time: 106 minutes.

PLOT The life story of Steve Prefontaine, a talented three-miler who set many records, reached for Olympic greatness, and helped amateur athletes gain more control over their careers before his untimely death.

MESSAGE Maturity is an important ingredient in any field, including sports, but it may take time to acquire.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Scene depicting the violent takeover of the Olympic Village in 1972; a fatal car accident.

PROFANITY Some harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Everyone Says I Love You [R]

*** Directed by Woody Allen. With Woody Allen, Goldie Hawn, Edward Norton, Julia Roberts. Running time: 101 minutes. ***

PLOT A lovelorn author woos a beautiful woman he's admired from afar; members of a Manhattan family have various interrelated adventures.

MESSAGE Even talented and privileged people can have their share of misadventures.

SEX Innuendo, sometimes quite strong.

VIOLENCE None.

PROFANITY Some vulgarities and one burst of extremely foul language.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Social drinking.

Metro [R]

** Directed by Thomas Carter. With Eddie Murphy, Carmen Ejogo, Michael Rapaport, Michael Wincott. Running time: 117 minutes. **

PLOT A police-force hostage negotiator trains a new partner, romances his girlfriend, and duels with a psychopath who develops a personal hatred for him, solving the problem with lots of violence and very little negotiation.

MESSAGE Some occupations invite both personal and professional dangers, but a brave and resourceful person can rise to the challenges involved, especially if that person has no hesitations about resorting to violence.

SEX Brief nudity.

VIOLENCE A large amount of explicit killing, fighting, and shooting; hostage situations; and a scene involving dismemberment.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

The People vs. Larry Flynt [R]

*** Directed by Milos Forman. With Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love. 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-letter words and harsh vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Hard drinking and drug abuse.

The Relic [R]

* Directed by Peter Hyams. With Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore. Running time: 105 minutes. **

PLOT A monster is terrorizing Chicago's natural-history museum, and an evolutionary biologist tries to save the day without mussing her makeup.

MESSAGE Scientists must grapple with the supernatural to solve some problems.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Extremely graphic mayhem, including views of dismembered bodies.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL A drug-smoking scene.

Shadow Conspiracy [R]

* Directed by George P. Cosmatos. With Charlie Sheen, Donald Sutherland, Linda Hamilton, Gore Vidal, Ben Gazzara, Sam Waterston. Running time: 103 minutes.

PLOT A government worker and a journalist uncover a Washington plot to kill the president and prevent his progressive policies from becoming reality.

MESSAGE Evil may lurk in high places, but alert citizens can defeat it.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE A great deal of killing, shooting, fighting, and other action-movie mayhem.

PROFANITY Some harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

Some Mother's Son [R]

*** Directed by Terry George. With Helen Mirren and Fionnula Flanagan. Running time: 110 minutes.

PLOT The lives of two different Irish women are thrown together when their sons are imprisoned for revolutionary violence.

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 Terrorism and revolutionary mayhem.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

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