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Family Film Guide: 'Spider Man,' 'Hollywood Ending'

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Post-Gazette critics review movies from a family perspective:


Rated: PG-13.

Best for: 9- or 10-year-olds and up. Younger children may be frightened by the cartoonish violence or put off by the nearly two-hour length, although youngsters at a preview were remarkably attentive throughout.

What you should know: Tobey Maguire stars in the title role as nerdy high-school senior Peter Parker, who is bitten by a "super spider" during a class field trip. He soon finds that he can scale the sides of buildings, shoot webs from his hands and swing through Manhattan streets like an urban Tarzan. He takes seriously his uncle's advice that "with great power comes great responsibility," even as he battles a nemesis dubbed the Green Goblin and falls further in love with the girl next door, played by Kirsten Dunst.

Offensive language: Virtually none.

Sex: None. The raciest this gets: Two characters kiss.

Violence/scariness: Peter Parker is bullied by other students, but most of the stylized violence happens after he becomes Spider-Man and Willem Dafoe's businessman develops his evil alter ego, Green Goblin. Trying to earn money, Spider-Man takes on a wrestler named Bonesaw, as the crowd chants "Kill, kill, kill." Peter's uncle is shot by a carjacker. The Green Goblin wreaks havoc during a festival, firing explosives and killing a couple of his enemies. Other people are put into perilous situations -- balconies that break away, fires, a cable car dangling over a river -- requiring Spidey's help.

"Hollywood Ending"

Rated: PG-13.

Best for: 12 or 13-year-olds and up, although this is very inside baseball when it comes to the movie business. Longtime Woody Allen fans likely will appreciate it the most.

What you should know: Woody Allen wrote, directed and stars in this romantic comedy as a neurotic two-time Oscar winner who is now considered washed up and too much trouble to hire. His ex-wife (Tea Leoni) convinces her studio-executive boyfriend (Treat Williams) to allow Allen to direct a $60 million feature so he can make a comeback. But before the project begins, Allen starts railing again about his ex-wife leaving him and develops psychosomatic blindness.

Offensive language: None, although a character goes by the name of Scumbag X.

Sex: Allen makes a mild masturbation joke and complains about his former wife having an affair before their divorce. A busty actress in her underwear tries to seduce the director, who cannot see her advances.

Alcohol/drug use: Allen takes a couple of pills to calm his anger and later asks for a Xanax. Two characters have too much to drink at a long dinner.

Violence/scariness: None, unless you consider a movie scary in which Allen is the ex-husband of Leoni and is living with Debra Messing, here an air-headed actress.

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