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

The Beautician and the Beast [PG]

** Directed by Ken Kwapis. With Fran Drescher, Timothy Dalton, Lisa Jakub. Running time: 100 minutes. ***

PLOT A brassy young woman moves from the beauty shops of New York to the castle of an Eastern European dictator who thinks she's a well-educated tutor, and she teaches him how to bring himself and his country into the modern world.

MESSAGE Good advice may come from unexpected quarters, and tyrants can be tamed.

SEX Some innuendo.

VIOLENCE Scenes with a man held captive in a dungeon.

PROFANITY A few four-letter words.


Evita [PG]

** Directed by Alan Parker. With Madonna, Jonathan Pryce, Antonio Banderas. 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 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.


Star Wars [PG]

*** Directed by George Lucas. With Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, David Prowse. Running time: 105 minutes. ****

PLOT Heroic rebels battle an oppressive empire, and the Force is with them all the way.

MESSAGE The struggle of good against evil is an exciting and ultimately triumphant adventure.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Fighting and killing, including the destruction of an entire planet; bloodless but enhanced with high-impact special effects.


DRUGS/ALCOHOL Characters consume what appear to be drinks, drugs, or other intoxicating substances in the cantina scene.

Dante's Peak [PG-13]

* Directed by Roger Donaldson. With Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton. Running time: 112 minutes. **

PLOT A volcano blows its top near a Pacific Northwest town, and a handsome volcanologist tries to escort the lovely mayor, her adorable children, and their feisty grandma to safety.

MESSAGE Disaster is fun to watch but can be deadly unless you have a skillful protector.

SEX Some innuendo, and a nude-swimming scene.

VIOLENCE A huge amount of disorder, destruction, and death caused by the volcano eruption.

PROFANITY Some four-letter words and vulgarities.


Fools Rush In [PG-13]

* Directed by Andy Tennant. With Matthew Perry, Salma Hayek, Jon Tenney, Jill Clayburgh, Tomas Milian, John Bennett Perry, Siobhan Fallon, Carlos Gomez. Running time: 105 minutes.

PLOT A yuppie from New York spends a night with a Latina from Las Vegas, marries her when she announces that she's pregnant, and then faces the huge differences in their habits, backgrounds, and lifestyles.

MESSAGE True love can overcome great differences between people, but this may take time to accomplish.

SEX Implied sex in a morning-after bedroom scene; sex-related dialogue; passionate necking.

VIOLENCE The hero is menaced by rattlesnakes that are then killed, and threatened with a gun by an angry father.

PROFANITY Several four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking, sometimes to excess.

OTHER A brief scene of scatological humor.

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 Two drinking scenes.

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.

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 Smoking popular - one scene where two characters roll cigarettes and a couple of other cigarettes lit throughout. One scene with brandy, another with gin.

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.


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 Raunchy dialogue; joking view of incest.


PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Social drinking.

Absolute Power [R]

** Directed by Clint Eastwood. With Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Judy Davis, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Scott Glenn, E.G. Marshall. Running time: 121 minutes.

PLOT A jewel thief witnesses the killing of a woman by Secret Service agents during a tryst with the president, then runs from federal and local authorities while devising a way to blow the whistle yet retain his own safety.

MESSAGE Government officials are capable of great evil, and a common criminal may have a higher moral code in some respects.

SEX Violent sex in the opening scene. Rough, kinky sex during president's bedroom encounter.

VIOLENCE Much killing and fighting, a harrowing car accident, brutal sex in the president's bedroom scene.

PROFANITY Many harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking, sometimes to excess.

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.


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.


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; harsh vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Hard drinking and drug abuse.

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.


subUrbia [R]

** Directed by Richard Linklater. With Parker Posey, Jayce Bartok, Steve Zahn. Running time: 118 minutes.

PLOT A motley crew of generation Xers hang around a strip-mall parking lot, talk about whatever pops into their heads, and dream of when their lives will take a turn for the better.

MESSAGE Contemporary suburban youths have great potential that is often dissipated by anomie, alienation, and self-destructive behavior.

SEX Some furtive sexual activity.

VIOLENCE Fighting and a possible suicide scene.

PROFANITY Many harsh four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Great deal of drinking and drug use.

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