A parents’ guide to entertainment
Finding movies suitable for kids is never easy, but it’s even harder during the summer, when Hollywood heavies up the hype, and critics brush up on their tut-tuts. Is Batman Returns really for small fry? Is Encino Man as actively heinous as its many detractors say? Here is the summertime skinny on these films and other new movies and videos.
What It’s About: The darkest Dark Knight ever saves Gotham City again, this time from the mutated flippers of Penguin and the psycho-erotic claws of Catwoman.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? All those McDonald’s tie-ins aren’t for nothing. But be forewarned: Returns has more unnerving violence and more sophisticated sexuality than its predecessor, so it might be a bit much for most kids under 10 or 11.
Sex/ Nudity: A woman in a ripped cat outfit licks a guy in a rubber bat costume on the face. Now that’s kinky.
Violence/Scariness: This pretty much doubles as a plot synopsis: Skeleton-clown creatures attack Gotham City, two guys catch on fire, a woman stun-guns a bad guy, a severed hand is shown, bad guy Max pushes his secretary out a window, Penguin has the mayor’s baby kidnapped, Catwoman slices up somebody’s face, Penguin bloodily bites a guy’s nose, Batman beats up and blows up some more bad guys, Penguin knocks out a woman who falls to her death, Penguin opens fire on a crowd, Penguin plots to murder children in their sleep on Christmas Eve, Penguin kills a clown, a major electrocution results in one charred body.
Profanity: About three harsh words, plus several lewd sexual innuendos from Penguin.
Mature Themes: Good versus evil — in the same person.
What It’s About: Rappers Kid ‘N Play (House Party) play a genius and a hoodlum, respectively, whose school records somehow get switched. Comic bedlam ensues.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably, considering how rap culture has filtered into middle-American grade schools. But most of this rowdy material isn’t suited for preteens.
Sex/Nudity: Several butts are grabbed; there’s a lot of sexual talk, a girl in her underwear, and two sex scenes in bed and a car (no nudity).
Drugs/Alcohol: Four guys drinking on a couch in the street.
Violence/Scariness: It’s all stylized slapstick, but here goes. A student shoots a gun, a big bully tosses the guy out a window, the bully gets beaten up several times, Play uses wood-shop tools on Kid, there’s a violent football game and lots of gunfire, Kid knocks out the bully.
Profanity: About 25 words that could get you detention.
Mature Themes: A solid antidrug message.
What It’s About:Two high school dweebs discover a caveman buried in one of their backyards and turn him into a Valley Guy.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Really lame stuff has been doing well at the box office lately, so there must be something here that appeals to young teens. Could be the scantily clad Brendan Fraser or the annoying but popular Pauly Shore. In any event, Encino Man is harmless, dumb fun.
Sex/Nudity: A guy grabbing a girl’s butt, Fraser’s semirevealing loincloth.
Drugs/Alcohol: Getting drunk on tequila in a bar.
Violence/Scariness: A frightening earthquake/avalanche. Sean Astin and Shore punch each other a lot throughout.
Profanity: About eight offensive words.
Mature Themes: Friendship is more important than being cool.
What It’s About: Compulsive liar Goldie Hawn cons her way into Steve Martin’s dream house, hometown, family, and eventually, heart.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Probably not. It’s cute and sweet but too slow for young ones, and Martin just isn’t sufficiently jerklike here to keep their attention.
Sex/Nudity: Martin and Hawn shown postsex (nothing revealed); Martin gently pokes a brassiered Dana Delany.
Drugs/Alcohol: A guy gets stinking drunk at a party.
Violence/Scariness: Martin punches a guy in the face.
Profanity: About 16 harsh words.
Mature Themes: Not that any of this should be taken seriously, but Hawn’s lying is shown to reap some benefits.
What It’s About: Lounge singer Whoopi Goldberg witnesses a rubout by her mobster boyfriend, then hides from the mob in a nunnery, where she disguises herself as Sister Mary Clarence.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? It may not be a religious experience for them, but things move at the quickened pace youngsters love, and the songs alone will have them jumping around like maniacs.
Sex/Nudity: No whoopy, just Whoopi.
Drugs/Alcohol: Some drinking in a bar. Whoopi doesn’t drink, but she’s the wildest sister in there, bar nun.
Violence/Scariness: There’s a brawl in a bar, Whoopi punches two goons in a most painful area, cop shoots a bad guy.
Profanity: Only three unheavenly phrases.
Mature Themes: Spiritual grace comes in many forms.