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Family Movie Guide

This guide includes family films, potential blockbusters, and movies that might interest young people. Only films with G ratings are tagged as all-family fare by Hollywood. Most have stronger MPAA ratings that call for extra alertness from parents.

The Family Movie Guide and the Monitor's more-comprehensive movie guide appear on alternate Fridays.

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Our star ratings (below) indicate the overall quality of movies, not their suitability for children.

o Forget It

+ Poor

++ Fair

+++ Good

++++ Excellent

Hercules [G]

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++ Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. With James Woods, Danny DeVito, Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, Rip Torn, Paul Shaffer, Lillias White, Charlton Heston, Amanda Plummer. Running time: 87 minutes. +++

PLOT After being stolen from his parents as a baby, the superstrong Greek god battles a villain named Hades, discovers his Olympian origins, and finds time to romance a damsel in distress.

MESSAGE Knowing who you are depends on accomplishing things and building good relationships as well as discovering your family history.

VIOLENCE A large amount of cartoonish fighting and other strong action, much of it involving villains drawn to look as scary and menacing as possible.


Contact [PG]

+++ Directed by Robert Zemeckis. With Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, William Fichtner, Angela Bassett, James Woods. Running time: 140 minutes. ++++

PLOT After years of dreaming that humans aren't alone in the universe, an astronomer detects a purposeful signal from outer space and decodes its meaning, which leads to construction of a spaceship.

MESSAGE We humans are not alone in the cosmos, but even though some of us are dedicated and conscientious, it will be a very long time before we are ready to join superior beings and understand their ways of life.

SEX Two main characters are seen in bed together.

VIOLENCE A scene in which a huge technological apparatus is destroyed with much loss of life, and a space-travel scene with some harrowing moments.

PROFANITY 10 profanities, mostly mild.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Three or four instances of people drinking beer and/or wine; at least three instances involving cigarettes or cigars.

Shall We Dance? [PG]

Directed by Masayuki Suo. With Koji Yakusyo, Tamiyo Kusakari, Naoto Takenaka, Eriko Watanabe, Akira Emoto. Running time: 127 minutes. +++

PLOT A Japanese businessman decides to break from his usual routine and take ballroom dancing lessons, his interest initially piqued by the attractive instructor.

MESSAGE Success is not only in mastering a new hobby; one can meet a number of people along the way and learn a lot about oneself in the process.


PROFANITY 2 instances.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL There is alcohol served at a restaurant, but no one is shown drinking.

Masterminds [PG-13]

+ Directed by Roger Christian. With Patrick Stewart, Brenda Fricker, Brad Whitford, Annabelle Gurwitch, Jon Abrahams, Matt Craven. Running time: 106 minutes.

PLOT A smart-alecky student saves a school from an extortionist who's holding kids for ransom.

MESSAGE Talents that cause mischief when misused can be helpful when turned to a good end.

SEX Innuendo in one scene involving a pornographic video.

VIOLENCE A great deal of shooting, fighting, chasing, and similar action.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and other vulgarities.


Picture Perfect [PG-13]

Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron. With Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Jay Mohr, Illeana Douglas, and Olympia Dukakis. Running time: 113 minutes. +++

PLOT An advertising exec wants to prove to her boss that she's a dedicated and stable worker, so she turns a near-stranger into her fianc. In the process, she attracts a co-worker who only likes unavailable women.

MESSAGE Lying about your life can only create more problems, and what appears to be the perfect guy may turn out to be a disappointment.

SEX A few sexual situations, but no nudity.

VIOLENCE Kevin Bacon's character accidentally hits his date in the eye with his elbow, which causes a black eye.

PROFANITY A number of vulgarities.

drugs/alcohol Some drinking in a restaurant.

Air Force One [R]

++ Directed by Wolfgang Petersen. With Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Dean Stockwell, William H. Macy, Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews, Paul Guilfoyle. Running time: 125 minutes. ++

PLOT Terrorists hijack the president's plane, threatening to kill hostages until a tyrant is released in the former Soviet Union, and the chief executive has to pitch in against the villains.

MESSAGE Cold-war terrorism is alive and well in the former USSR, but American savvy and determination can still defeat it.

SEX Some implied threats of sexual violence.

VIOLENCE A great deal of killing, shooting, and fighting.

PROFANITY A number of harsh four-letter words.


Career Girls [R]

+++ Directed by Mike Leigh. With Katrin Cartlidge, Lynda Steadman, Mark Benton, Joe Tucker, Andy Serkis. Running time: 87 minutes. ++

PLOT Two women get together for the first time since they graduated from college six years earlier, and spend a weekend in London, where they run into various old acquaintances.

MESSAGE Old friends can be the best friends, although some are more successful than others at overcoming problems posed early in life.

SEX Dialogue about sex-related matters; brief but graphic sex scene with female nudity.


PROFANITY Several harsh vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Many drinking scenes in pubs, clubs, and their apartments; characters are constantly smoking cigarettes.

Conspiracy Theory [R]

+++ Directed by Richard Donner. With Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts. Running time: 135 minutes. +++

PLOT Convinced that modern America is crawling with conspiracies, an eccentric taxi driver teams with a government official to fight some very real enemies who want to kill him.

MESSAGE Fighting for what you believe in can be difficult and dangerous, but good will defeat evil in the end.

SEX None.

VIOLENCE Several violent scenes including torture, killing, and fighting.

PROFANITY Foul language and vulgar expressions.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL Medications used for wicked purposes.

Cop Land [R]

+++ Directed by James Mangold. With Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Annabella Sciorra. Running time: 105 minutes. +++

PLOT In a town across the river from Manhattan, populated largely by police officers and their families, a local sheriff gradually realizes that his neighbors are up to their badges in conspiracy and corruption.

MESSAGE Appearances of honesty and other human qualities can be deceiving, and slow but steady honesty can eventually conquer covert evil.

SEX Innuendo; brief nudity.

VIOLENCE At least a dozen violent scenes which include death, maiming, burning, and shooting.

PROFANITY 107 instances of mostly harsh profanity.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL 8 instances of beer, 10 instances of hard liquor, and 13 instances of cigarette smoking.

Event Horizon [R]

++ Directed by Paul Anderson. With Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones. Running time: 97 minutes. u

PLOT Astronauts explore a spooky rocket ship that entered a terrifying new dimension by "folding space" with a portable black hole.

MESSAGE Scientific exploration can cross the line into supernatural horror.

SEX Brief nudity.

VIOLENCE Numerous scenes of and killing and fighting, often involving grotesque and explicit violence.

PROFANITY 40 mostly-harsh four-letter words and other vulgarities.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL 4 scenes of cigarette smoking.

The Full Monty [R]

+++ Directed by Peter Cattaneo. With Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, Steve Huison, Hugo Speer. Running time: 90 minutes.

PLOT Four unemployed men become so desperate for work that they decide to explore the male-stripper profession.

MESSAGE Unemployment can be so humiliating that people may consider solutions they would instantly reject in other circumstances.

SEX A little discreetly filmed sexual behavior; a small amount of nudity.

VIOLENCE A little fighting, not intense or serious.

PROFANITY Some vulgarities; anatomical humor.


G.I. Jane [R]

+++ Directed by Ridley Scott. With Demi Moore, Viggo Mortensen, Anne Bancroft. Running time: 120 minutes.

PLOT A woman becomes the first female to enter a rigorous Navy SEAL training program, hoping for adventure and more control over her career, but she becomes a pawn manipulated by politicians and others who want to see her fail.

MESSAGE Fierce determination can overcome the most severe physical and psychological challenges; brutal, sadistic military training is a good route to strength of character.

SEX One scene of physical intimacy; brief nudity.

VIOLENCE A huge amount of bone-crunching violence in physical-training and war-game scenes.

PROFANITY Many harsh four-letter words and other vulgarities.


In the Company of Men [R]

++ Directed by Neil LaBute. With Aaron Eckhart, Matt Molloy, Stacy Edwards. Running time: 95 minutes. +++

PLOT Stung by romantic problems, two self-centered yuppies decide to woo and flatter a vulnerable young secretary, then deliberately dump her as revenge against all women.

MESSAGE Men in today's business world can be despicable.

SEX Scenes of seductive behavior and some sexual activity.


PROFANITY A number of harsh expletives.


Mimic [R]

++ Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. With Mira Sorvino, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeremy Northam, F. Murray Abraham, Josh Brolin. Running time: 105 minutes.

PLOT A brave scientist battles a hostile life form that invades New York, able to change its form and attack when least expected.

MESSAGE Science can play a role in both creating and overcoming new dangers to humanity.

SEX A small amount of sexual activity.

VIOLENCE A great deal of extremely violent action, much of it enhanced with special effects.

PROFANITY Four-letter words and vulgar expressions.


A Smile Like Yours [R]

+ Directed by Keith Samples. With Greg Kinnear, Lauren Holly, Joan Cusack. Running time: 99 minutes.

PLOT A young couple seeks fertility treatments when the wife fails to become pregnant, and the husband faces a romantic temptation at work.

MESSAGE Married life isn't always a smooth road, but fidelity pays off in the end.

SEX No explicit sex, but most of the dialogue relates to sex, pregnancy, and related matters.

VIOLENCE A slap in the face.

PROFANITY One harsh four-letter word and a few vulgar expressions.


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