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

Shiloh [PG]

*** Directed by Dale Rosenbloom. With Blake Heron, Scott Wilson, Michael Moriarty. Running time: 93 minutes.

PLOT A country boy steals a mistreated dog from its hard-boiled owner, keeping this a secret from his financially strapped and morally upright parents.

MESSAGE Some ethical dilemmas defy clear right-and-wrong answers, but simple compassion is always a good policy.


VIOLENCE A small amount of violence aimed at the dog and the boy, depicted in a very mild way.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL The mean-spirited dog owner drinks beer.

Warriors of Virtue [PG]

* Directed by Ronnie Yu. With Angus McFadyen, Mario Yedidia. Running time: 102 minutes.

PLOT Taunted by bullies, a boy is magically transported to a legendary realm where a struggle between good and evil may be swayed by lore contained in a mysterious book.

MESSAGE One should cultivate skill and maturity in accord with accepted wisdom rather than peer pressure.

SEX A little innuendo.

VIOLENCE A great deal of action-movie violence, sometimes stylized but usually very aggressive.

PROFANITY Vulgar words and expressions.


Anaconda [PG-13]

Directed by Luis Llosa. With John Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube. Running time: 100 minutes. **

PLOT Documentary filmmakers enter the South American jungles in search of native tribes but run into a snake hunter who uses filmmakers' resources to hunt for man-killing 40-foot anacondas.

MESSAGE The quest for money corrupts, but evil is eventually destroyed by evil.

SEX A mild amount of sex talk.

VIOLENCE 20 scenes that range from the snake hunter strangling a woman between his legs to a man being squeezed to death by a snake.

PROFANITY 27 instances, mostly the mild variety.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Some drinking and smoking.

Anna Karenina [PG-13]

*** Directed by Bernard Rose. With Sophie Marceau, Alfred Molina, Mia Kirshner, Sean Bean, James Fox. Running time: 110 minutes. ***

PLOT Two intertwined love affairs take place in 19th-century Russia: one between a married woman and a handsome military officer, which brings tragedy to all concerned, and another between a ditsy princess and a thoughtful but insecure aristocrat.

MESSAGE Human experience is often a tumultuous mixture of satisfaction and frustration, and solidly grounded morality is necessary for things to turn out well in the end.

SEX Some strongly suggested sexual activity with a small amount of nudity.

VIOLENCE Some violence including a tragic railroad accident and a suicide at the climax.

PROFANITY Some vulgar expressions.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking, in keeping with the historical period.

Austin Powers [PG-13]

Directed by Jay Roach. With Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner. Running time: 97 minutes. **

PLOT A spy who was frozen in the '60s thaws out 30 years later and discovers that his swingin' ways and groovy outfits are out of sync in the '90s.

MESSAGE In the '60s, people expressed their freedom, but sometimes it went too far. Today, we have the best of both worlds - freedom with responsibility.

SEX Almost every scene has a reference to sex and there are many scenes with partial nudity.

VIOLENCE Many scenes with shooting and killing - much of it for laughs, but unnecessary.

PROFANITY Lots of crude bathroom humor.


The Fifth Element [PG-13]

** Directed by Luc Besson. With Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Milla Jovovich. Running time: 113 minutes.

PLOT A few hundred years in the future, a cabdriver helps a mysterious woman fulfill her destiny of saving the world from extraterrestrial doom.

MESSAGE Good can defeat evil, but a lot of violence and skulduggery may be needed to do it.

SEX Nudity; a little sexual activity.

VIOLENCE A great deal of science-fiction violence, much of it quite flamboyant and enhanced with special effects.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.


Liar Liar [PG-13]

** Directed by Tom Shadyac. With Jim Carrey, Justin Cooper, Jennifer Tilly. Running time: 86 minutes. ***

PLOT A fast-talking attorney runs into personal and professional trouble when his little boy makes a birthday wish that he won't be able to lie for 24 hours.

MESSAGE Honesty is the best policy, although it may cause problems when a situation calls for diplomacy.

SEX A large amount of innuendo, sex-related dialogue, and a tape recording of sexual activity.

VIOLENCE Some cartoonish violence.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.


The Saint [PG-13]

** Directed by Phillip Noyce. With Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, Rade Serbedzija. Running time: 110 minutes. **

PLOT A hero with many disguises thwarts a nasty Russian schemer trying to capture a gifted American scientist who thinks she's discovered a phenomenal new energy source.

MESSAGE Inner satisfaction comes more from understanding oneself than from triumphing over shady enemies.

SEX Mildly explicit sexual activity.

VIOLENCE About 12 scenes of action-movie fighting, shootings, and killings.

PROFANITY Five instances, mostly the harsh type.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Drinking; one instance of cocaine use.

Breakdown [R]

Directed by Pat Jonathan Mostow. With Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan, J.T. Walsh. Running time: 105 minutes. ***

PLOT A couple runs into trouble when their car breaks down on an empty stretch of desert road.

MESSAGE Beware of strangers and accepting their help. However, dogged determination can rescue a seemingly hopeless situation.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE A couple of brief shootouts and fistfights.

PROFANITY Some bad language, but nothing overly offensive or excessive.


The Devil's Own [R]

** Directed by Alan J. Pakula. With Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Margaret Colin. Running time: 110 minutes. **

PLOT A member of the Irish Republican Army comes to New York and moves into the home of an Irish-American police officer, who doesn't know his guest is assembling a deal to buy heavy weaponry for his organization.

MESSAGE Moral issues and personal relationships can grow very complex when people close to each other are pursuing different goals that they strongly believe in.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE At least 10 major scenes of extreme and often gruesome violence.

PROFANITY At least 39 instances.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL A good deal of drinking.

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag [R]

* Directed by Tom Schulman. With Joe Pesci, Andy Comeau, David Spade. Running time: 93 minutes. *

PLOT A hit man chases a medical student who accidentally picked up the grisly package he was delivering to a mob chief.

MESSAGE Idiotic people can be found in all walks of life.

SEX Some sexual activity played for laughs.

VIOLENCE Fighting, shooting, torture, and killing, much of it played for laughs; much slapstick humor revolving around severed heads; and the story begins with a horrible massacre, not shown but strongly suggested.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words and vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Much drinking; a secondary character is an alcoholic.

Murder at 1600 [R]

** Directed by Dwight Little. With Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Alan Alda. Running time: 108 minutes. ***

PLOT A homicide cop tries to find out who murdered a young woman after a sexual rendezvous in the White House, and gets temporarily stymied when government insiders block his path.

MESSAGE Washington skulduggery runs frighteningly deep, but honest investigation can uncover and correct it.

SEX A very explicit sex scene.

VIOLENCE Much fighting, shooting, and killing.

PROFANITY Many four-letter words and vulgarities.


Paradise Road [R]

** Directed by Bruce Beresford. With Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Pauline Collins, Cate Blanchett, Julianna Margulies. Running time: 120 minutes. **

PLOT Held in a brutal prison camp during World War II, a group of women lift their spirits by forming a "vocal orchestra" that sings great musical works re-created from memory.

MESSAGE Musical inspiration can help people survive the most horrible ordeals.

SEX Dialogue about sex and sexual violence; nudity in nonsexual contexts.

VIOLENCE Scenes of wartime destruction, including the sinking of a crowded ship, and harrowing prison-camp violence including beatings, torture, and a person being burned alive.

PROFANITY A few four-letter words.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Some drinking.

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion [R]

Directed by David Mirkin. With Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo. Running time: 101 minutes. **

PLOT Two bubble-headed slackers try to show they've made something of their lives at their 10th high school reunion.

MESSAGE Being popular in high school doesn't always guarantee success in life; sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

SEX Mild talk about sex; no nudity.


PROFANITY Some vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Some drinking; one character is constantly smoking cigarettes.

Volcano [R]

Directed by Mick Jackson. With Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche. Running time: 105 minutes. **

PLOT Plates beneath Los Angeles crack and a volcano erupts; an emergency city director and a geology expert are forced to save the city.

MESSAGE Perseverance in the face of grave danger will end in success, and extreme situations bring out the heroes in all of us.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Most of the violence is caused by natural disaster. For example, seven city workers are burned to death in a tunnel and one geologist burns and falls into a fiery fissure.

PROFANITY 44 instances, mostly the mild variety.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Hospital scenes; two instances of cigarettes.

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