TARZAN (G, 88 minutes)
Exciting, humorous, poignant and beautifully drawn, Disney's animated "Tarzan" -- though more violent than many parents expect from a G-rated film -- will delight most kids 6 and older. Parents of younger children or those who are easily scared or upset at movies should view the film in advance, or be ready to take kids to the lobby. The Family Filmgoer reiterates our wonderment that the Motion Picture Association of America gives G-ratings to animated films even when the level of scariness or melancholy makes a PG appropriate.
In "Tarzan," a fiery-eyed leopard has killed (off screen) the parents of baby Tarzan and tries to steal him from the female gorilla that would rescue him. The parents are shown dead in their treehouse with blood on the floor. As a grown man, Tarzan fights and kills the leopard off screen; we see the limp body. The pith-helmeted villain shoots a gorilla, which dies in a sad, emotional scene. Caught in the vines of the jungle canopy, the bad guy is hanged.
That said, this is an extraordinarily entertaining romantic adventure, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories. It begins with scenes of the shipwrecked baby and his parents intercut with scenes of the gorilla family that will later adopt the orphaned child. With montages backed by Phil Collins's new songs, the film shows Tarzan grow up and deals sensitively with his fear of not belonging, of being different. As a man (voice of Tony Goldwyn), his life changes with the arrival of people, including a father-daughter primatologist team (Nigel Hawthorne and Minnie Driver). Tarzan must choose where his loyalties lie.
THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER (R, 118 minutes)
John Travolta plays a criminal investigator for the Army in this overproduced, overheated and somewhat pretentious whodunnit. "The General's Daughter" is a melodrama about sexual harassment in the military. Yet the movie exploits this legitimate issue more than it sheds light on it and may simply titillate high-schoolers with its turgid tone. It's a rape-murder story that lingers way too long on the victim's secret sex life and on her nude body. The R rating also reflects profanity and sexual language, gunplay, knife fights, death by outboard motor and land mine, graphic videos of sadomasochistic sexual situations, a suicide, a tasteless joke about race and the graphic depiction of a gang rape. Characters smoke and drink.
Based on a book by Nelson DeMille, the film follows Army sleuth Paul Brenner (Travolta) as he and his colleague (Madeleine Stowe) unravel the murder of a general's daughter, herself an officer with a traumatic past. It's clear from the get-go that the bereaved general (James Cromwell) doesn't want the whole truth known.
GET REAL (R, 110 minutes, at Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle)
A refreshing British film about the trials of being not only a teen but a gay teen, "Get Real" is a mildish R with few sexual situations beyond kissing and gently implied nights together. Still, it's inappropriate for any under high-school age with its comic, sometimes specific, sexual innuendo, brief semi-nudity, occasional profanity, homophobic slurs, a locker room beating, smoking and drinking. Also, the central character, a 16-year-old named Steven (Ben Silverstone), picks up young men outside a restroom in the park. We never see him do anything except talk, but the outcome is implied. Tired of pretending to be straight at school, he finally connects with classmate John (Brad Gorton). The attraction is mutual, but John is closeted and scared. Strong emotions lead to laughs, not self-destruction, in this lightly told tale.
For 8 and Up
"Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace" (PG). First installment of prequel trilogy looks good, plays dull -- leaden characters, murky plot, sterile, computer-generated imagery. Loud, fast, bloodless violence includes light-saber impalement, endless pod race, battles; sad moment when young Anakin Skywalker leaves mother; tots may find aliens scary.
Art Films Teens Might Like
"The Buena Vista Social Club" (G, Cineplex Odeon Janus). Delightful, sometimes melancholy musical documentary follows musician Ry Cooder to Cuba, to record, visit with greatest Cuban musicians, now all elderly, unknown to world until release of 1996 hit album that inspired film. Cigar smoking, some rum. Subtitles.
"Tea With Mussolini" (PG). Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright as ladies in 1930s Italy facing Fascist thuggery, war in sentimental but diverting tale. Rare profanity; drinking, smoking; unwed characters' trysts; illegitimate child; mild sexual innuendo; hint of male nudity.
"Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Mike Myers in sequel about time-traveling British '60s-era spy often as funny as original, but cruder. Continual comic, phallic sexual innuendo; toilet humor; occasional profanity; head-banging, crotch-biting fights; jokes about dwarfs, lesbians; strategic semi-nudity. Worried parents should preview.
"Notting Hill." Julia Roberts as movie star falls in love with Hugh Grant as London bookshop owner in warm, witty romantic comedy. Crude comic language, occasional profanity; sexual innuendo, masturbation jokes; mild sexual situation with unwed couple spending night.
"This Is My Father." James Caan as teacher who returns to Ireland with troubled nephew, learns about his father, played in flashbacks by Aidan Quinn in cliched yet touching tale. Explicit sexual situation; comical sexual innuendo; profanity; suicide; smoking, drinking; negative portrayal of Catholic Church in 1930s Ireland. High-schoolers.