Parents’ guide: November 1992
Along with football and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving ’92 brings a cornucopia of film fare. Dracula, Passenger 57, and Under Siege are stuffed with special effects, but their hijackings and transmogrified Transylvanians may unnerve little ones. Even Home Alone 2, with its young hero abandoned in the big city, could be disturbing. Here’s the scoop on which films are terrific for kids — and which are turkeys.
*What It’s About: A boy and his lamp. This year’s instant classic is , Disney’s most contemporary-feeling cartoon, with Robin Williams exhaustingly entertaining as the Rich Little of genies. Dazzling and tuneful fun. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Would you like to own some Disney stock right now? There’s plenty of action and laughs, and not too much romance — a perfect mix for kids. *MPAA: G. *Sex/Nudity: None, although Princess Jasmine is extremely sexy, in an animated sort of way. *Drugs/Alcohol: None. *Violence/Scariness: There’s a scary cave entrance, a reference to ”slitting a few throats,” and some frightening swordplay, but it’s far less violent than most of the cartoons on TV today. *Profanity: None. *Mature Themes: Don’t pretend to be something you’re not; put others’ needs before your own. Plus, we finally learn whether it’s okay to wish for more wishes.
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA
*What It’s About: Love and blood, not necessarily in that order. Francis Ford Coppola’s gloriously gothic, methodically slow take on the Bram Stoker novel has Gary Oldman playing the bloodsucking prince of Transylvania, Winona Ryder as the reincarnation of his first bride, and Anthony Hopkins as the weird Dr. Van Helsing, who has the worst bedside manner imaginable. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Those expecting Nightmare on Elm Street-type thrills will, but this Drac can’t hold a candle to Freddy for sheer fright value; this is complexly grown-up stuff. *MPAA: R. *Sex/Nudity: Two scenes of three bare-breasted vampire gypsies ravishing a clothed Keanu Reeves; Winona and friend Lucy (Sadie Frost) share a kiss; Lucy is raped by a vampire creature; several shots of Lucy’s bare breasts; some lewd pictures from the book Arabian Nights; a naked woman is shown on kinescope. *Drugs/Alcohol: Just some drinking of intoxicating blood. *Violence/Scariness: Opening battle scene shows four men being stabbed to death and hundreds of bodies impaled on giant spears; Dracula’s bride kills herself; Dracula stabs a giant crucifix and drinks from its flowing gallons of blood; a baby is given to the three gypsies to feed on; a vampire wolf chews up a woman’s neck, spewing forth buckets of blood; three men are shot to death and six more are fatally stabbed; lots of sensual neck biting. *Profanity: Five harsh phrases. *Mature Themes: Just what the poster says: ”Love never dies.”
THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT
*What It’s About: Charming film about a consultant (Anthony Hopkins) hired to cut costs at a quirky moccasin factory in Australia. He becomes a local hero of sorts after learning that people are actually more valuable than money. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Teens will, if they give it a chance; there’s a bit of romance and enough oddball humor to pique their interest. *MPAA: PG. *Sex/Nudity: None. *Drugs/Alcohol: Hopkins gets drunk at a party. *Violence/Scariness: A union worker is clubbed by some cops; a rock is thrown through Hopkins’ window, and his car is vandalized; a boy gets punched in the nose. *Profanity: Just three harsh words. *Mature Themes: As Hopkins is told, ”Work isn’t just about money. It’s about dignity and treating people with respect.”
HOME ALONE 2
*What It’s About: More like Home Alone, Too. It’s virtually the same story as the first time, only now Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is alone away from home, in New York City. He runs into his old foes, ”Wet Bandits” Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, and finds they’re even dumber than the first time. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Kids tend to like films to stick to a familiar formula, which is just about all this sequel does. The vicious, though cartoonlike, violence is even crueler this time around, and that may bother parents more than it does kids. *MPAA: PG. *Sex/Nudity: A man takes a shower, but yo*can’t really see anything. *Drugs/Alcohol: None. *Violence/Scariness: In other words, the whole movie: Bad guys Marv and Harry trip on marbles; Harry is flipped into the air and smashes onto a car roof; Marv is hit in the head with a brick four times; Marv gets shot in the butt and face with a staple gun; both take some serious falls; heavy tools rain down on Harry’s head; Marv is electrocuted; Harry’s head is set on fire, causing an explosion; a bag of cement falls on Marv’s head; Harry falls off a ladder; both get smashed in the face with a metal bar — twice; Harry is crushed into a wall by a tool chest; while the two buffoons are climbing a rope, Kevin sets it on fire; with birdseed glued to their faces, they are attacked by pigeons. Also, they pull a gun on Kevin and threaten to kill him — and who can blame them? *Profanity: None intelligible, though you have to wonder what Pesci keeps mumbling under his breath. *Mature Themes: A pain-in-the-butt family is still better than no family at all.
LOVE POTION #9
*What It’s About: That old gypsy Madame Ruth (Anne Ban-croft) gives a nerdy biochemist some magical potion that will make him fascinating to women, and it works all too well. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? There is a sexual undercurrent to most of the laughs in this surprisingly funny film, which makes it more suitable for teens than it is for little ones. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: A man and a woman have sex, though nothing is revealed; a prostitute visits the nerd but nothing happens; a woman straddles our nerd in a bar in a most suggestive fashion. *Drugs/Alcohol: Just some social drinking in a bar, plus the addictive nature of a love potion. *Violence/Scariness: One guy slugs another in the face. *Profanity: Eleven curses. *Mature Themes: Naturally imposed love is the best love of all.
*What It’s About: The still-controversial black leader and his eventful evolution from hoodlumish thief to charismatic hero. Spike Lee’s inspired direction and Denzel Washington’s uncanny portrayal forcefully bring this enigmatic figure to life. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? The buzz about this year’s ”event” film will surely draw them to theaters, though they certainly shouldn’t take Lee’s advice and skip school to see it. *MPAA: PG-13. *Sex/Nudity: A guy dies of a heart attack while in bed with a woman, but no sex or body parts are shown. *Drugs/Alcohol: Some cocaine snorting and a couple of drinking scenes. *Violence/Scariness: The Rodney King video is shown; the KKK terrorize young Malcolm and his family and then set his house on fire; Malcolm breaks a bottle over a guy’s head; Malcolm plays a game of Russian roulette with another man; prison guards beat up Malcolm; his house is firebombed; a bloody finale ending in one murder and several injuries. *Profanity: About 49 obscenities. *Mature Themes: The deep-seated intolerance that keeps the racial fires burning; the challenge of finding one’s true mission in life; how one person can truly change society.
*What It’s About: Die Hard on a jet. After being captured, the world’s deadliest hijacker is transported to justice — on a plane. Of course, he takes the airliner’s crew and passengers hostage. Fortunately, security expert Wesley Snipes is on board to kick some serious butt. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Kids love action, but parents should be aware that some of this film’s violence is graphic. *MPAA: R. *Sex/Nudity: None. *Violence/Scariness: This one has 13 fights and moments of pain infliction, including 16 deaths — by shooting, throat-slitting, and being pushed out of a plane. *Profanity: About 38 curses. *Mature Themes: None.
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
*What It’s About: Robert Redford’s beautifully photographed but slowly developed tale of two sons of a minister, their divergent lives, and their enduring love of fly-fishing. The heavily symbolic film was based on Norman Maclean’s autobiographical novella. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Only those fascinated by fly-fishing. There’s far too little action to keep them hooked. Despite the film’s quality, its subject matter will sail right over kids’ heads. *MPAA: PG. *Sex/Nudity: Two naked butts, one male and one female. *Drugs/Alcohol: Teens getting drunk in a field; a couple passed out drunk; the brothers drink boiler-makers in a bar. *Violence/Scariness: Three fistfights; a scary ride in a rowboat down a waterfall; a car is driven on the railroad tracks. *Profanity: About seven words. *Mature Themes: The innate tensions of family life, particularly within a religiously strict household; racial prejudice; the death of a family member.
*What It’s About: Die Hard on a ship. When terrorists take over the about-to-be-decommissioned U.S.S. Missouri, they learn that the ship’s cook, Steven Seagal, can dish it out pretty good. The fact that he’s an ex-Navy SEAL doesn’t hurt. Well, actually it does. Tommy Lee Jones’ delightfully manic terrorist more than makes up for Seagal’s monotone stoicism. *Will Kids Want to Watch It? Same story as Passenger 57, only the violence is even more grisly in this film. *MPAA: R. *Sex/Nudity: One shot of a woman’s naked breasts and G-stringed bottom. *Drugs/Alcohol: None. *Violence/Scariness: There are about 9 fights, resulting in some serious injuries and more than 60 killings, most of them via Seagal’s martial arts, guns, rocket launchers, explosions, knives, and even a table saw. *Profanity: About 39 seaworthy profanities uttered. *Mature Themes: Don’t mess with the U.S. Navy — and certainly not with its cooks.