Movie Article

Parents' Guide

Parents’ guide to round one of summer movies -- There’s a bit of everything from ''Casper'' to ''Die Hard With a Vengeance'' as school kids begin their summer vacations

Parents’ guide to round one of summer movies

As schoolkids begin their vacation, Hollywood unleashes its first round of summer movies with hopes of luring them out of the heat and into the triplex. While titans like Batman Forever, Judge Dredd, and Apollo 13 wait on the launchpad, marketers are pushing Pocahontas, Casper, and Fluke as the don't-miss flicks for younger children, and older kids can see everything from action to romance to horror.

Movies Braveheart
What It's About: Medieval mayhem with a vengeance, as noble commoner William Wallace (Mel Gibson) wages a war to free Scotland from England's savage rule.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Only those with a strong heart.
MPAA: R.
Sex/Nudity: Wallace and his bride make love in the shadows; Wallace impregnates the king's daughter-in-law; kilted soldiers flash their bare backsides at the enemy.
Drugs/Alcohol: Some whiskey drinking.
Violence/Scariness: Gory throat slittings, impalings, beheadings; murders by arrows, swords, axes, and spears.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 20.
Lessons to Extract: You have to fight for what you believe in; freedom is worth dying for.
Approximane Ages: 16 and up.

The Bridges of Madison County
What It's About: The grown children of Iowa farmwife Francesca (Meryl Streep) discover that she once had a life-changing affair with roving photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood).
Will Kids Want to Watch It? No, it's strictly a midlife thing.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: Francesca's bare buttocks when she and Robert make love, and her breast in the moonlight.
Drugs/Alcohol: Francesca and Robert drink beer and brandy; Francesca's kids down Jack Daniel's after reading her journals.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lessons to Extract: Inside many a self-sacrificing mother is a woman with dreams.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.

Casper
What's It About: The famed friendly ghost develops a secret crush on Kat (Christina Ricci), the daughter of ''ghost therapist'' Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman), but everyone sees right through him.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? They sure will, and there's not a ghost of a chance you'll be able to keep them away.
MPAA: PG.
Sex/Nudity: Casper proclaims, ''I have a girl on my bed. Yes!''
Drugs/Alcohol: Dr. Harvey gets drunk with Casper's uncles.
Violence/Scariness: Young children may be disturbed by the death of Kat's mother and the fact that Casper died when he was 12 and now wants to come back to life.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 10.
Lesson to Extract: You have to know when it's time to let go.
Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.

Die Hard With a Vengeance
What's It About: Simon (Jeremy Irons) says he has planted bombs all over New York City, so suspended detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) puts his badge back on and teams up with a civilian (Samuel L. Jackson) to catch him.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, unless the Oklahoma City bombing looms large in their minds.
MPAA: R.
Sex/Nudity: Simon and his girlfriend are interrupted in the act.
Drugs/Alcohol: McClane has a constant hangover; Simon celebrates with champagne.
Violence/Scariness: A steady flow of blood and guts as police and guards are shot and slashed; bombs go off in a department store and other public places.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: It would be easier to count the nonobjectionable words/phrases.
Lessons to Extract: The only thing kids are likely to learn is how to steal a car.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.

Fluke
What's It About: The circle of life continues as a man (Matthew Modine) killed in a car accident is reincarnated as a dog.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes. But while the dog is a true star, be warned: There are scenes that will be upsetting to young children.
MPAA: PG.
Drugs/Alcohol: A dog owner drinks whiskey.
Violence/Scariness: Fluke relives the accident in his mind; his homeless owner dies; he's brought to the animal shelter to be put to sleep; he's used as a testing animal in a cosmetics lab; his best four-legged friend dies.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: Four.
Lessons to Extract: Be kind to all living creatures.
Appropriate Ages: 8 and up.

Johnny Mnemonic
What It's About: A 21st-century courier (Keanu Reeves) has too much on his mind after a memory chip filled with confidential data is implanted in his brain.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, but get that idea out of their heads fast. The movie is dark and violent, and they'd be better off in front of a computer screen.
MPAA: R.
Drugs/Alcohol: Drinks in a futuristic bar.
Violence/Scariness: Laser weapons slice off body parts; a doctor is nailed to his equipment; bodies burn.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 70.
Lessons to Extract: Information is power; even in an age of high technology, the simple things in life — family, friends — are the most meaningful.
Appropriate Ages: 16 and up.

Mad Love
What's It About: Straitlaced high school student Matt (Chris O'Donnell) is crazy about new girl in town Casey (Drew Barrymore), and she's, well, crazy.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? They might, lured by ads featuring the attractive young actors going for a joyride, but this is no whimsical romance.
MPAA: PG-13.
Sex/Nudity: Matt and Casey have sex under covers.
Drugs/Alcohol: The couple drinks beer and wine; Casey overdoses on pills.
Violence/Scariness: A dangerous game of ''trust me'' in which Casey covers Matt's eyes while he's driving; Casey is committed to a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: About 30.
Lessons to Extract: True love means accepting someone for who she is; love can't solve all problems.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.

Pocahontas
What It's About: The 17th-century Native American heroine who fell in love with British captain John Smith (voice of Mel Gibson) and helped reconcile the two cultures.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? It's no Lion King, but it's received enough hype to get kids into theaters. Children may be surprised by the film's seriousness.
MPAA: G.
Drugs/Alcohol: The English governor enjoys a glass of wine, and his underlings drink from a keg on the ship.
Violence/Scariness: A Native American is killed; Smith is shot; like practically every other Disney female, Pocahontas is motherless.
Lessons to Extract: One person can make an impact; in order to survive, we must learn to accept one another's differences.
Appropriate Ages: 5 and up.

Tales From the Hood
What's It About: Three hoodlums looking for drugs enter a funeral home where a macabre mortician (Clarence Williams III) deals them four tales from the crypt.
Will Kids Want to Watch It? Yes, but Tales' satire is serious, showing that everyday horrors of the black ghetto are scarier than any ghost story.
MPAA: R.
Drugs/Alcohol: Three boys smoke pot; police deal drugs and drink whiskey.
Violence/Scariness: Child abuse and domestic violence; a policeman is nailed to a cross with syringes; a corpse pulls one cop into his grave and pulls off another one's head.
Objectionable Words/Phrases: More than 200.
Lessons to Extract: You have to take responsibility for your actions; the injustices you inflict will come back to haunt you.
Appropriate Ages: 16 and up.

Originally posted Jun 16, 1995 Published in issue #279 Jun 16, 1995 Order article reprints