May 26, 1995 in Seven

Children In Trouble Has Been A Favorite And Bankable Theme

By The Spokesman-Review
 

There’s nothing more gripping than the theme of kids in trouble. In the recent Best Foreign Language film “Burnt By the Sun,” for example, director Nikita Mikhalkov underscores his story about a Russian hero getting caught up in the Stalinist purges of the 1930s by concentrating on the man’s sweet and incredibly talented young daughter.

The girl has no idea of the horrors the world holds.

Many other kids from movies do, though, including “Richie Rich,” which is now available in the stores (see capsule review below). Following are just a few more:

“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) - Few kids’ films are more effective than this Steven Spielberg classic. At first, we think the kids, headed by Henry Thomas, are in trouble from the alien. Actually, it’s the child-like creature himself who is in trouble - from the government agencies who want to capture and study him. Rated PG.

“Empire of the Sun” (1987) - A second one by Spielberg, which is fitting in that the man’s main obsession seems to be children in peril, this one concerns a boy’s sojourn through World War II by way of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Rated PG.

“The Black Stallion” (1980) - A young boy marooned on a desert island with his only companion, a beautiful black horse, struggles to survive. Then, when they are rescued, civilization poses a whole new threat. Rated G.

“The Journey of Natty Gann” (1985) - The Great Depression split many families, but young Natty wants to be with her father. So she runs away to where she thinks he is, protected both by a friendly stranger (John Cusack) and a not-so-wild wolf. Rated PG.

“Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) - He’s gone now, that strange man who acted like a brat, consigned to adult roles (due to his overpublicized appearance in an adult theater). But Paul Reuben’s debut starring feature is memorable, both for his child-like presence and for the direction of that enfant artiste Tim Burton (“Batman”). Rated PG.

Richie Rich

**

Here is an “Annie”-type offering that stars Macaulay Culkin as the comic-book rich boy. Richie has everything, even parents who are about him (including a father played by Edward Herrmann, the actor who portrayed FDR in “Annie”). All he needs are friend his own age. But when he loses everything, it seems, in a plot concocted by John Laroquette, he naturally finds the buddies he needs to help him get everything back. Thoroughly predictable, “Richie Rich” still may entertain the very young - though Culkin clearly is near the end of his child-acting days. Rated PG.

Low Down Dirty Shame

*

Writer-director-star Keenen Ivory Wayans needs to drop a couple of his hyphenated titles. This minor bit of nonsense demonstrates only a little of the talent that Wayans displayed on his ground-breaking television show, “In Living Color.” And what quality it does have involves Wayans the performer, portraying here a down-on-his-luck private eye named Shame (get the title?) who is hired to find a former girlfriend. Things get complicated, and Shame is eventually bailed out by his able assistant (Jada Pinkett of “Jason’s Lyric”), but not until after a battalion of bad guys are gunned down gratuitously, graphically and in gushingly grim colors. Rated R.

xxxx What’s new to view Available this weekend: “Richie Rich” (Warner), “Low Down Dirty Shame” (Touchstone). Available on Tuesday: “Legends of the Fall” (Columbia TriStar), “Little Kidnappers” (LIVE), “Crazy Sitters” (New Home).


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