A parent’s guide to entertainment
Obviously, The Rescuers Down Under is fine for children to watch unattended. Just as obviously, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is not. Okay, now what about everything in between? A PG-13 rating can mean one F-word, two bare bums, or several severed limbs, so parents may want to screen the movie beforehand, watch it with the kids — or forbid it for them altogether. Following is Entertainment Weekly’s first Parents’ Guide to movies, which will appear monthly to tell you what the ratings don’t: exactly what new movies and videos contain, whether the under-13 set will sit still for a feature in the first place, and whether you should let them. We hope you find it useful.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
What It’s About: Freddy lures his lost daughter into his dreamworld so she can bring him new victims.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Bragging that you saw one of these movies goes over big on the playground-but a kid really should get better things to brag about.
Drugs: Two pot-smoking scenes.
Violence/Scariness: Are you kidding? An endless parade of heavy-metal violence, blood, and gore. Cameos by Roseanne and Tom Arnold.
Profanity: About two dozen expletives.
Mature Themes: Child abuse and molestation.
The Man in the Moon
What It’s About: Two teenage sisters fall for the same boy, a rivalry that threatens to tear their family apart. It’s a bittersweet coming-of-age story.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Girls should love it. Boys will gag.
Sex/Nudity: Two rear views of naked 14-year-old girl, older sister in underwear, nonexplicit lovemaking sequence.
Violence/Scariness: Boy forcing himself on girl, pregnant mother falling and ending up in hospital, father beating daughter with belt, gory tractor accident.
Mature Themes: Adult coming on to young girl, the pain of love and death.
What It’s About: Football comedy in which a team of losers pulls together for that big game.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? If they’re jocks or jock wannabes.
Sex/Nudity: Naked male butts, an innocuous bed scene.
Violence/Scariness: The usual gridiron body slams, several painful injuries, a barroom brawl.
Profanity: About 20 obscenities.
Mature Themes: Corruption in college football, sexual harassment.
What It’s About: Intergalactic warrior Hulk Hogan befriends a family on earth.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? You bet: action, comedy, sugarcoated life lessons, and Hulk Hogan as role model. Scary, huh?
Violence/Scariness: Star Wars-style laser-gun fights, several other fights and shoot-outs, bounty hunter crushed by elevator.
Profanity: Only two mildly harsh words.
Mature Themes: None.
Don’t Tell Her It’s Me
What It’s About: Shy Steve Guttenberg, recovering from cancer, gets personality make-over from sister Shelley Long to snare beautiful Jami Gertz.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Like everyone else, they’ll think this is pretty dumb.
Sex/Nudity: Naked male backside, sexy novel read aloud, lessons in human sexuality using a dummy, relatively chaste post-lovemaking bed scene.
Violence/Scariness: One holdup scene.
Profanity: Only one curse word in entire film.
Mature Themes: Aftereffects of radiation therapy.
The Five Heartbeats
What It’s About: Story of Temptations-style singing group’s rise to fame and plummet back to obscurity.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? If they’re teens and into music. Otherwise, overloaded plot will confuse.
Sex/Nudity: Sexual act with only feet visible, couple in bed covered by sheets.
Drugs: A couple of coke-snorting scenes, a band member strung out on drugs.
Violence/Scariness: Guy gets shot in the leg and hit by car, several fights, man run down by truck and killed.
Profanity: More than 30 expletives.
Mature Themes: Racial prejudice, drug use and rehabilitation.
The Hard Way
What It’s About: Hard-nosed New York City cop James Woods goes after maniacal killer while saddled with twit Hollywood star Michael J. Fox.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Definitely. Fast, loud action comedy starring one of their favorites (Fox, not Woods).
Sex/Nudity: Bikini-clad women and a male mooning incident.
Drugs: One drug-buy scene.
Violence/Scariness: Lots of people getting shot, violent car chase, gang terrorizing subway riders, much fighting.
Profanity: 90 uses of harsh language.
Mature Themes: Some insight into psyche of cop constantly putting his life on the line.
What It’s About: American slob ascends via quirk of fate to the throne of England.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes; funny fat guy from Roseanne in extremely simple situation.
Sex/Nudity: Seminude dancers, lascivious but not nude striptease, some sexual double entendres.
Violence/Scariness: Accidental mass electrocution that’s played for laughs.
Profanity: Not counting John Goodman’s hair, about seven obscenities.
Mature Themes: Bribery, owning up to one’s shortcomings, accepting responsibility even if it’s no fun.
What It’s About: Jean-Claude Van Damme resorts to underground kickboxing circuit for money to support dead brother’s widow and daughter.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Cartoonish plot is as easy to get as one of Jean-Claude’s flying kicks; but beware of pummel-for-peace double message.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of tame sexual encounters, some bikini-clad women, Jean-Claude’s bare butt.
Drugs: One drug-buy scene.
Violence/Scariness: Brutal opening in which brother is set on fire; total of 11 fights showcasing Jean-Claude’s martial-arts skills, a couple of which are pulverizingly bloody.
Profanity: More than 50 expletives.
Mature Themes: Homelessness (touched upon very briefly), single parenthood, life in the French Foreign Legion.
Look Who’s Talking Too
What It’s About: Mikey learns to coexist with baby sister, who sounds just like Roseanne Arnold.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Silly idea really clicks with kids, although apartment-on-fire climax may possibly freak the younger ones.
Sex/Nudity: Unseen lovemaking, cute scene of sperm on mission to fertilize egg.
Violence/Scariness: Imaginary monsters in Mikey’s room, blood during cesarean, scary talking toilet, fighting with burglars, apartment catching fire with kids in it.
Profanity: About 10 expletives used (in front of the kids).
Mature Themes: Parents fighting over how to raise children, separation of parents.
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
What It’s About: Aging, battered rodeo cowboy Scott Glenn finally comes home, tries to rekindle romance and fix family relationships.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably not, despite title. Muted drama may go over only with older children and the horsey set.
Sex/Nudity: Woman in bra, lovemaking scene with nothing shown.
Violence/Scariness: Some rodeo violence.
Profanity: About 12 harsh words but no discouraging ones.
Mature Themes: Poor treatment of the aged, senility, burying the hatchet.
What It’s About: Gangster Sylvester Stallone tries to go straight in zany farce.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? They may not think so at first but are actually the best audience for this broad live-action cartoon.
Violence/Scariness: A couple of slaps in the face.
Profanity: Two minor slips of the tongue.
Mature Themes: None.
The Perfect Weapon
What It’s About: American kenpo master Jeff Speakman seeks vengeance after his friend is killed by Korean Mafia.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Lots of boys love this junk, but expect some backyard fractures if you let them see it.
Drugs: Only mentioned.
Violence/Scariness: 17 fights resulting in several deaths.
Profanity: About 15 obscenities.
Mature Themes: Controlling one’s violent tendencies — really.