It’s tax time again, and this month’s movies are right on the money. There’s a fantasy about coming into a quick million (Blank Check), an expose of college teams buying athletes (Blue Chips), a thriller in which environmentalists square off with big business (On Deadly Ground), and one comedy whose title sums it all up (Greedy). Don’t be surprised when your children ask you for a boost in their allowance.
Blank Check What It’s About: Eleven-year-old Preston (Brian Bonsall) helps himself to $1 million from a former convict’s bank account. Will Kids Want to Watch It? You can count on it, and because it’s a Disney film and there are no other movies out for kids, you’ll be tempted to take them. But save your money-the movie sends out a lot of messages your child could live without. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None, though Preston does get a big smooch on the lips from a sexy older woman (MTV’s Karen Duffy). Drugs/Alcohol: Champagne at a party. Violence/Scariness: The Home Alone kind, courtesy of some dimwitted bad guys. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Three. Mature Themes: Although it tries to show that one friend is more valuable than the biggest toys, the movie glorifies money so much that impressionable youngsters will come away thinking there’s nothing more important. Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.
Blue Chips What It’s About: Facing his first losing season, honest college basketball coach Pete Bell (Nick Nolte) gives in and sells out in order to recruit top players Neon (Shaquille O’Neal), Butch (Anfernee ”Penny” Hardaway), and Ricky (Matt Nover). Will Kids Want to Watch It? Basketball fans will give it a shot, but ultimately the movie is as much about corruption as about the sport itself, and kids may miss the righteous message. MPAA: PG-13 Drugs/Alcohol: Drinks in a bar. Violence/Scariness: None. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 135. Mature Themes: Winning becomes meaningless if you’ve cheated; it’s hard to resist temptation when you want something so badly; the big business of sports has taken much of the fun out of playing the game. Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
The Chase With the police on their backs and live television covering the action, car thief Jack Hammond (Charlie Sheen) and hostage Natalie Voss (Kristy Swanson) get to know each other as they hightail it down a California freeway. Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s doubtful. Despite the title, there’s actually a lot more talk going on than action, and the movie runs out of gas pretty quickly. As Jack and Natalie argue and analyze each other, the supposedly high-speed chase often looks more like a leisurely Sunday drive. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: In one long, steamy scene, Jack and Natalie make love while he’s driving 100 miles per hour (though you don’t really see anything). You really don’t want your teenagers trying this one. Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: Natalie burns Jack with a car cigarette lighter; crashes and explosions on the highway; Natalie’s father punches Jack in the face; Natalie holds a hostage at gunpoint. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 75, plus one obscene gesture. Mature Themes: Justice doesn’t always prevail in a court of law; life sometimes makes good guys do bad things. Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
8 Seconds What It’s About: Based on the true story of Lane Frost (Luke Perry), one of the youngest world-champion bull riders inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Will Kids Want to Watch It? Perry fans will be the first in line, but Stephen Baldwin and Cynthia Geary also give strong performances. Aided by the heartbreak of country & western songs, the movie captures the world of competitive bull riding-sort of an Amarillo, 90210. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: Beer drinking. Violence/ Scariness: Lane is gored by a bull. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 35. Mature Themes: Kids need their parents’ approval, no matter how old they are; if you love someone, tell him or her; ”Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
Greedy What It’s About: The money-hungry McTeague cousins enlist the help of Danny (Michael J. Fox), the white sheep of the family, in an attempt to inherit the fortune of rich Uncle Joe (Kirk Douglas). Will Kids Want to Watch It? Fox and Saturday Night Live’s Phil Hartman may bring them in, but — despite some genuinely funny moments — this is basically a one-joke movie. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: A shot of Danny’s tattooed backside; Uncle Joe’s young nurse (Olivia d’Abo) appears barely clothed throughout the movie. Drugs/ Alcohol: One of the cousins is an alcoholic; Danny gets drunk after losing a bowling match. Violence/Scariness: Mostly slapstick. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 55, plus one rude gesture. Mature Themes: People want to feel needed for who they are, not what they have; money can’t buy love. Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
The Hudsucker Proxy What It’s About: In an attempted stock scam, Sidney Mussburger (Paul Newman) promotes mailroom clerk Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) to company president. Will Kids Want to Watch It? No. They won’t have the patience for this Capra-esque fantasy set in 1958 New York City. The quirky direction is too stylized, too arty-kids would have a much better time simply playing with the Hula Hoop and Frisbee, real toys attributed here to the fictionalized entrepreneur Norville. MPAA: PG. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/ Alcohol: Norville and Amy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have a drink in the office; the board of directors have a toast. Violence/Scariness: Mr. Hudsucker commits suicide by jumping out of a 44th-floor window; a stockholder punches Norville in the face. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10. Mature Themes: Even when you reach the top, stay humble and remember your roots. Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
Naked Gun 331 1/2: The Final Insult What It’s About: Bumbling police lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) comes out of retirement to catch a terrorist (Fred Ward). Will Kids Want to Watch It? It’s as humorous — or dumb, depending on your point of view — as its predecessors. Younger children won’t pick up on many of its movie spoofs (like The Untouchables and Thelma & Louise), but teens will find it fun. MPAA: PG-13. Sex/Nudity: Lots of cleavage (Playboy’s Anna Nicole Smith joins the cast), sex talk, sexual jokes (Priscilla Presley wears a light-up nightgown), and innuendo at a sperm bank. Drugs/Alcohol: Prisoners have wine with their meal. Violence/ Scariness: Just parody. Objectionable Words/Phrases: Nine, plus one obscene gesture. Mature Themes: People need to work to feel fulfilled. Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
On Deadly Ground What It’s About: After a preventable oil spill at the rig where he works, outraged worker Forrest Taft (Steven Seagal) tries to shut down a new refinery being built in Alaska by his employer, an evil company president (Michael Caine). Will Kids Want to Watch It? No doubt they’ll want to mush right over to the theater, but don’t let the environmental subject matter fool you into letting them go. The movie’s message — keeping the earth safe — is undermined by its graphic violence. MPAA: R. Sex/Nudity: Bare- breasted Eskimo women in Taft’s mystical vision. Drugs/Alcohol: Barroom drinking and brawling. Violence/Scariness: Deaths by helicopter blade, fire, knives through the head, pipe cutters, grenades, and guns. Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 125. Mature Themes: Oil and water don’t mix; people must respect nature. Appropriate Ages: 16 and up.
Thumbelina What It’s About: The animated adventures of a thumb-size girl searching for a boy her own height. Will Kids Want to Watch It? The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale now seems politically incorrect — the males she meets see Thumbelina merely as a potential wife, and her only concerns are her appearance and marrying a prince. Little girls won’t find a role model in Thumbelina, and boys will gag at all of the kissing and goo-goo eyes. MPAA: G. Sex/Nudity: None. Drugs/Alcohol: None. Violence/Scariness: Very young children may be disturbed when Jacquimo the bird gets a thorn stuck in his wing and when the prince is frozen in ice. Objectionable Words/Phrases: None. Mature Themes: There’s someone out there for everyone; don’t wish to be anything other than what you are. Appropriate Ages: 4 and up.