‘Tis the season for young moviegoers, as Hollywood spreads its own share of holiday cheer with a toy story (Jingle All the Way), a puppy-dog tale (101 Dalmatians), loony ‘toon hoop dreams (Space Jam), and a parable of peace (Star Trek: First Contact). And for more grown-up kids, Shine’s yarn of a misunderstood musical genius is an inspiring tribute to the kind of gifts money can’t buy.
What It’s About: Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) and her friends set off the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 when they’re found dancing and claim the devil made them do it.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Maybe. Ryder’s presence may attract teens to Arthur Miller’s tale.
Sex/Nudity: The bare breasts and buttocks of a dancing girl; Abigail’s affair with John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) lies at the heart of the story.
Drugs/Alcohol: Raising of goblets.
Violence/Scariness: Innocent people are hanged; Abigail drinks blood; a girl is beaten.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Three.
Lesson to Extract: Hysteria can overpower common sense and compassion.
Appropriate Ages: 13 and up.
What It’s About: A live-action (and nonmusical) version of Disney’s 1961 animated feature about fur-loving Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close) and the pups she wants to make into coats.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, and you’ll be seeing spots for months thanks to all the tie-ins.
Violence/Scariness: Familiar scenes from the animated video — the dognapping and Cruella’s heartless tactics — may seem much scarier to youngsters.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: None.
Lesson to Extract: Don’t be cruel to animals.
Appropriate Ages: 4 and up.
JINGLE ALL THE WAY
What It’s About: Tycoon Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) takes on his toughest job yet — competing with every parent in town (including Sinbad as psycho postman Myron) to procure the hot Turbo Man action figure he promised his son (Jake Lloyd) for Christmas.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, but you may regret it when the nonexistent toy shows up on their wish list.
Drugs/Alcohol: Champagne at a party; Howard imagines his son hitting the bottle and drinks spiked coffee with Myron; Howard fills a reindeer’s bowl with beer.
Violence/Scariness: Howard fights a sleazy Santa (Jim Belushi), knocks out a reindeer, and sets a house on fire.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lesson to Extract: Do your shopping early.
Appropriate Ages: 6 and up.