Parents' guide to movies | EW.com

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Parents' guide to movies

From ''Shanghai Noon'' to ''The Patriot,'' a look at the age-appropriateness of what's new on tape

PITCH BLACK (R)
IN A NUTSHELL
Space travelers (including Vin Diesel) try to shed some light on their survival after realizing an eclipse is imminent and the planet they’ve crashed on is home to nasty nocturnal beasties.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Die-hard sci-fi fans might, but there are no big stars to attract anyone else.
SEX/NUDITY
None
DRUGS/ALCOHOL
A man injects morphine into his eye; liquor manages to make the interplanetary trip.
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS
Bloody attacks, both human and alien
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES/STEREOTYPES
An excessive amount of raw language
THE VERDICT
It’s difficult to recommend a movie in which the ”hero” is a convicted and admitted serial murderer.
APPROPRIATE AGES
15 and up

THE PATRIOT (R)
IN A NUTSHELL
Widowed father Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), with his son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) at his side, becomes the local militia’s lethal weapon as South Carolina enters the Revolutionary War.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Yes, and it will have girls and moms debating the cuteness of Gibson and Ledger.
SEX/NUDITY
None, though Martin’s sister-in-law (Joely Richardson) seems to be bursting out of her corset.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL
Some drinking
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS
Graphic slayings by cannonball, gunfire, hatchets, swords, and fires
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES/STEREOTYPES
A couple of mild expletives
THE VERDICT
The movie sends a mixed message as Martin, who’s meant to be Mr. Patriot, joins the fight only when it becomes personal.
APPROPRIATE AGES
15 and up

LOVE AND BASKETBALL (PG-13)
IN A NUTSHELL
Hoop dreamers Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are crazy about each other, but life is no slam dunk for either of them, on the court or off.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
With basketball season coming up, they might be intrigued by this courtly romance.
SEX/NUDITY
A glimpse of Monica’s bare breast as she and Quincy go one on one. (Positive note: At least he puts on a condom.)
DRUGS/ALCOHOL
Parents and partygoers indulge in a drink or two.
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS
None
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES/STEREOTYPES
Minor cursing
THE VERDICT
Instead of merely glamorizing pro sports, the movie does athletes a favor by accurately portraying the tough road ahead.
APPROPRIATE AGES
13 and up

SHANGHAI NOON (PG-13)
IN A NUTSHELL
Chinese imperial guard Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) heads to the Wild West to rescue a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu) and pardners up with slow-on-the-draw gunslinger Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson).
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Sure. They always get a kick out of Chan and upcoming Charlie’s Angel Liu.
SEX/NUDITY
The men hang out in a bordello.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL
Wang gets stoned on a peace pipe and plays drinking games with O’Bannon.
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS
Chan’s usual comic-book-style martial arts.
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES/STEREOTYPES
The mild profanity is not as disturbing as the depictions of Native Americans as savages.
THE VERDICT
Chan’s heart is always in the right place even when his feet are planted in someone else’s face.
APPROPRIATE AGES
12 and up

THE SKULLS (PG-13)
IN A NUTSHELL
After he’s invited to join a secret society on campus, Ivy League student Luke (Joshua Jackson) learns that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Yes, for Dawson’s Creek star Jackson.
SEX/NUDITY
A shower scene between Luke and his girlfriend (Leslie Bibb); one of the Skulls’s perks is their choice of prostitutes.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL
Social drinking
VIOLENCE/SCARINESS
Fatal shootings; a student falls to his death and is later found hanged; new Skulls are branded.
OBJECTIONABLE WORDS/PHRASES/STEREOTYPES
The typical fresh mouths of college students
THE VERDICT
Despite the thriller trappings, this film does have a lot to say about individualism and the perils of blindly following the pack.
APPROPRIATE AGES
13 and up