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 movie guide appear on alternate Fridays.

Our star ratings indicate the overall quality of movies, not their suitability for children.

o Forget It

* Poor

** Fair

*** Good

**** Excellent

Mondo [Not rated]

+++ Directed by Tony Gatlif. With Ovidiu Balan, Philippe Petit, Jerry Smith, Maurice Maurin. Running time: 80 minutes.

PLOT As if out of nowhere, a 10-year-old gypsy shows up on the streets of a Mediterranean city, bringing magic and mystery into the lives of the people he meets until he vanishes as abruptly as he arrived.

MESSAGE A sense of wonder and adventure can make life satisfying even when material sustenance is hard to come by.


Ponette [Not rated]

+++ Directed by Jacques Doillon. With Victoire Thivisol, Matiaz Bureau. Running time: 92 minutes.

PLOT A four-year-old girl wrestles with differences between fantasy and reality after her mother is killed in an accident.

MESSAGE Children can be more sensitive, imaginative, and resilient than grown-ups often realize.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE None, although the consequences of a fatal accident are central to the story.

PRofanity None.

drugs/alcohol None

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, but nothing graphic; it's 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 40-foot man-killing 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 frozen in the '60s thaws out 30 years later and discovers that his swingin' ways and groovy outfits are out of sync in the politically correct '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.


Fathers' Day [PG-13]

Directed by Ivan Reitman. With Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Running time: 110 minutes. ++

PLOT A missing son prompts a mother to con two of her old boyfriends with whom she had sex 17 years earlier to search for the boy on the pretext that each is his father.

MESSAGE A parent's love brings out the best in adults, whether or not the grown-up is really the parent.

SEX Many scenes with suggestive jokes and clothing.

VIOLENCE About 10 instances, mostly comic and cartoonish.

PROFANITY 22 instances of four-letter words and other profanity.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Six scenes with beer and other alcoholic drinks.

The Fifth Element [PG-13]

++ Directed by Luc Besson. With Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich. Running time: 113 minutes. u

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 Science-fiction violence, much of it quite flamboyant, enhanced with special effects.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.


The Lost World: Jurassic Park [PG-13]

++ Directed by Steven Spielberg. With Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Richard Attenborough, Pete Postelthwaite, Vince Vaughn. Running time: 128 minutes. +++

PLOT Humans tangle with dinosaurs on a remote island and then in San Diego.

MESSAGE Tampering with nature can bring dangerous results.

SEX/ None.

VIOLENCE Lots of action-movie violence, enhanced with special effects. For instance, people's bodies are torn apart and eaten by dinosaurs; one person is pulled apart like a wishbone.

PROFANITY A few four-letter words and vulgar expressions.


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.

Addicted to Love [R]

++ Directed by Griffin Dunne. With Matthew Broderick, Meg Ryan, Kelly Preston, Tcheky Karyo. Running time: 102 minutes. +++

PLOT Hoping for either reconciliation or revenge on their straying lovers, a man and woman spy on the pair from a neighboring apartment, eventually falling in love with each other.

MESSAGE Romance can become an obsession, and finding the right partner is crucial to a happy ending.

SEX A number of sex scenes, partially viewed but very aggressively and explicitly heard on the soundtrack.

VIOLENCE Scenes of comic fighting and other violence, sometimes resulting in injuries played largely for laughs.

PROFANITY Many vulgarities and four-letter words, as well as explicit discussion of sexual matters.


Breakdown [R]

Directed by Pat Jonathan Mostow. With Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan. 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 Couple of brief shootouts and fistfights.

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

drugs/alcohol None.

Murder at 1600 [R]

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

PLOT A 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.


Night Falls on Manhattan [R]

Directed by Sidney Lumet. With Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss, Lena Olin. Running time: 126 minutes. +++

PLOT A rookie assistant district attorney prosecutes a major drug baron in a trial that exposes police corruption and threatens his relationship with his father, a longtime policeman.

MESSAGE Honesty is the best policy, but sometimes you have to bend the rules for the good of the greater cause.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Police shoot-outs, one suicide.

PROFANITY A fair amount of bad language.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Talk about drugs - one character is a drug dealer; a scene where one of the main characters drinks too much.

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.

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