Family Movie Guide

FILM CRITIC MONITOR PANEL

o Forget it

+ Poor

++ Fair

+++ Good

++++ Excellent

FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL [Not Rated]

++++ Directed by Errol Morris. With Dave Hoover, George Mendona, Ray Mendez, Rodney Brooks. Running time: 82 minutes.

PLOT This documentary involves interviews with a lion tamer, a designer of computerized robots, a gardener who prunes trees into animal shapes, and the world's leading authority on mole rats.

MESSAGE Some people derive deep satisfaction from unusual, highly creative professions.

SEX/violence/profanity/drugs/alcohol None.

AARON'S MAGIC VILLAGE [G]

++ Directed by Albert Hanan Kaminski with additional material from Buzz Potamkin. With Tovah Feldshuh, Fyvush Finkel, Tommy Michaels. Running time: 78 minutes.

PLOT A 10-year-old boy visits Chelm, a town of well-meaning but silly folks, and helps defeat an evil wizard who's threatening the people with a monstrous golem.

MESSAGE Bravery and faith have no age limits.

VIOLENCE Animated violence involving the monster and other characters.

SEX/PROFANITY/DRUGS/ALCOHOL None.

IN & OUT [PG-13]

+++ Directed by Frank Oz. With Kevin Kline, Tom Selleck, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Bob Newhart, Debbie Reynolds. Running time: 105 minutes. ++

PLOT A high school teacher is called gay by one of his former students during an Oscar awards ceremony, and several people's lives are turned upside down.

MESSAGE Although they may not agree with your lifestyle, people will love you if you're a good person.

SEX A lot of talk about being gay; a scene with Tom Selleck kissing Kevin Kline.

VIOLENCE 3 instances of extremely mild violence: a comic war scene and two single punch scenes.

PROFANITY 6 instances of mild profanity.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL 5 instances of alcohol and beer; 5 instances of cigars; and 2 instances of cigarette smoking.

THE ASSIGNMENT [R]

++ Directed by Christian Duguay. With Donald Sutherland, Aidan Quinn, Ben Kingsley. Running time: 110 minutes.

PLOT Because he bears a resemblance to a notorious terrorist, an American soldier is drafted into a clandestine scheme by an amoral CIA agent and a tough-minded Israeli operative.

MESSAGE Good ends don't justify evil means, and power can corrupt its users unless they are vigilant to prevent this.

SEX Explicit sexual activity.

VIOLENCE A great deal of action-movie violence including fighting, shooting, and killing.

PROFANITY A number of harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

CAREER GIRLS [R]

+++ Directed by Mike Leigh. With Katrin Cartlidge, Lynda Steadman, Mark Benton, Joe Tucker, Andy Serkis. Running time: 87 minutes. ++

PLOT Two women get together for the first time since they graduated from college six years earlier, and spend a weekend in London, where they run into various acquaintances.

MESSAGE Old friends can be the best friends, although some are more successful than others at overcoming problems posed early in life.

SEX Dialogue about sex-related matters; brief but graphic sex scene with female nudity.

VIOLENCE None.

PROFANITY Several harsh vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Many drinking and smoking scenes in pubs, clubs, and their apartments.

THE EDGE [R]

+++ Directed by Lee Tamahori. With Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle Macpherson, Harold Perrineau. Running time: 120 minutes. +++

PLOT A billionaire gets stranded in a snowy wilderness with a companion who may prove a valuable friend or a deadly foe.

MESSAGE Material advantages don't necessarily prepare an individual for the challenge of surviving by wits and courage alone.

SEX Implied sex, and frank dialogue about sexual matters.

VIOLENCE Fighting, killing, scenes of extreme physical injury, and scenes of combat with a huge bear.

PROFANITY 30 expletives, often uttered just before being eaten by a bear.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Several scenes with champagne, whiskey, and beer; four scenes in which cigars or cigarettes are smoked; one mention of cocaine.

THE GAME [R]

+++ Directed by David Fincher. With Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Armin Mueller-Stahl. Running time: 128 minutes. +++

PLOT A wealthy, self-centered man receives a strange birthday present: a gift certificate for a dangerous "game," devised by a mysterious and possibly evil company, and tailored to the history and personality of each individual client.

MESSAGE People who know an individual's past can manipulate that person for good or ill.

SEX Sexual activity very heavily implied.

VIOLENCE Killing, shooting, chasing, and other suspense-movie violence, some of it quite intense.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking, strongly implied drug use.

THE ICE STORM [R]

++ Directed by Ang Lee. With Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Christina Ricci, Joan Allen, Henry Czerny, Jamey Sheridan, Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Adam Hann-Byrd. Running time: 112 minutes.

PLOT In a well-to-do New England suburb in 1973, members of various families find their complex relationships becoming even more tangled when an ice storm causes last-minute changes in their social and sexual arrangements.

MESSAGE Youngsters can learn highly dubious values when their parents behave in morally hypocritical ways.

SEX Several sex scenes, including sexual seduction and experimentation among teenagers.

VIOLENCE Some intense domestic conflict.

PROFANITY A number of four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking and drug abuse.

KICKED IN THE HEAD [R]

++ Directed by Matthew Harrison. With Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport, James Woods, Linda Fiorentino, Lili Taylor. Running time: 97 minutes.

PLOT A young Manhattan roughneck needs to do some growing up in a hurry, but he gets stymied by ill-chosen companions and an uncle who keeps suckering him into criminal schemes.

MESSAGE Maturity is hard-won when you live in a hard-boiled and often hardhearted neighborhood.

SEX Fairly explicit sex scenes.

VIOLENCE A great deal of shooting, fighting, and other violence associated with inner-city crime.

PROFANITY Many harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Much drinking and drug use.

KISS THE GIRLS [R]

++ Directed by Gary Fleder. With Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Bill Nunn, Cary Elwes, Tony Goldwyn, Jay O. Sanders. Running time: 117 minutes.

PLOT A police psychologist tracks down two psychopaths who abduct, torment, and murder women.

MESSAGE Some people are capable of incredibly sick activities, but good detective work can catch up with such individuals.

SEX Strongly implied deviant sexual behavior and vivid descriptions of such behavior.

VIOLENCE A large amount of explicit fighting, abducting, and killing, as well as photos showing such violence and dialogue graphically describing it.

PROFANITY Harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking; criminal use of drugs in abducting and holding hostages.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL [R]

+++ Directed by Curtis Hanson. With Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger. Running time: 140 minutes. +++

PLOT During the 1950s, an honest cop and a tough cop become involved with an egotistical colleague, who conspires with a tabloid journalist to get the goods on headline-making crimes.

MESSAGE Concepts like guilt, innocence, corruption, and ulterior motives may become intricately intertwined in a modern city.

SEX Sexual activity, some lurid and some strongly implied.

VIOLENCE Killing, shooting, fighting, chasing, and other police-movie violence.

PROFANITY Many harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking, drug use.

THE MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS [R]

+++ Directed by Bart Freundlich. With Julianne Moore, Blythe Danner, Roy Scheider, Arija Bareikis, Noah Wyle, Hope Davis, Laurel Holloman, Brian Kerwin, James LeGros, Michael Vartan. Running time: 93 minutes.

PLOT A family spends Thanksgiving together for the first time in three years, using the occasion to confront lingering conflicts and revive old quarrels.

MESSAGE Family life is very complex, especially when different generations get together.

SEX Several sex scenes, some fairly explicit.

VIOLENCE Some fighting and quarreling.

PROFANITY A number of four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking and drunkenness.

THE PEACEMAKER [R]

+ Directed by Mimi Leder. With George Clooney, Nicole Kidman. Running time: 122 minutes. +

PLOT After greedy terrorists hijack a trainload of nuclear missiles in the Russian countryside, a brainy atomic scientist and a brawny intelligence officer track down first the evil gang and then a lone psychopath stalking New York with a bomb in his backpack.

MESSAGE Nuclear blackmail is a horrible crime but can be defeated by vigilant and courageous authorities.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE A large amount of action-movie chasing, shooting, and killing, plus a harrowing scene of nuclear explosion.

PROFANITY Many harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking.

SOUL FOOD [R]

Directed by George Tillman Jr. With Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long. Running time: 115 minutes. +++

PLOT Tillman's directorial debut revolves around an African-American family whose lives fall apart when their matriarch, known for bringing the family together for Sunday dinners, becomes ill.

MESSAGE Families stick together through thick and thin.

SEX Two sex scenes; one is extramarital.

VIOLENCE A fistfight and some shoving.

PROFANITY Mild profanity.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Some mild drinking.

U-TURN [R]

++ Directed by Oliver Stone. With Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight, Claire Danes, Powers Booth, Julie Hagerty, Joaquin Phoenix, Bo Hopkins, Billy Bob Thornton. Running time: 121 minutes.

PLOT Running from loan sharks, a small-time gambler gets stuck in a small Arizona town where the women are seductive and some of the men are deadly.

MESSAGE Sleazy behavior can backfire and bring potentially lethal consequences.

SEX Explicit sex scenes.

VIOLENCE A huge amount of graphically portrayed fighting, killing, and other mayhem.

PROFANITY A large number of harsh four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking and drug abuse.

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