Joe Brady, founder and president of the new video company Rated Gee!, doesn't doubt his business will be a success. Over the years he's gotten an earful from parents flustered over the lack of quality family videos, a need he thinks he'll fill with Rated Gee!.
"It's tough sometimes to find something that you can sit down and watch with your kids," says Brady. "We don't want to do anything but family films."
In other words, these films will be safer than what the tykes could see on TV. No sexual innuendo, no flashes of violence, no nudity.
Yet Brady doesn't whitewash history to suit politically correct times. In fact, he's been called on the mat for it. In the studio's first release, "Walking Thunder," some viewers who got a sneak peek didn't like the fact that one of the lead characters raises his rifle. "He's a wilderness guy," says an exasperated Brady.
The 42-year-old started producing the films in 1995. With his dogged determination to produce top-drawer family entertainment, he has attracted well-known stars such as the late John Denver, Brian Keith, Mel Harris and Wilford Brimley.
With all the buzz about the dearth of good family videos, Brady admits he's surprised someone hadn't already jumped on the G-rated bandwagon prior to him.
"You know that demand is heard," he says, "but why it isn't filled I just don't know."
Upcoming projects include "Heaven Sent," about a troubled teen-age boy, and "Wind Dancer," which is based on the true story of a girl recovering from a horse riding accident.
"Finding scripts is not our problem," says Brady. Although, he adds, "About a third of the scripts we get are erotic thrillers. Some people just don't get the concept."
"Walking Thunder": Parents, quit that whinin'. There are some good family videos out there, and "Walking Thunder's" one of the best. If you don't demand your video store carry it, then you have no biz complaining. In what could have become a tired variation on "The Adventures of the Wilderness Family," director Craig Clyde brings a sense of authenticity to this 1850s frontier story about the California-bound McKay family (with Denver as the father) who make an unexpected stop in the Rocky Mountains. Awesome photography is just one of the highlights as the teen-age son (David Tom) meets one of his idols -- a genuine mountain man (James Read) -- who shows him the lonely path his life has taken him. Family drama doesn't come better.
-- Randy Myers/Knight Ridder
"Anaconda" PG-13, 1997, 90 minutes, Columbia TriStar.
A documentary film crew (including Eric Stoltz, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson) goes looking for a lost tribe in the Amazon. But evil stranger Jon Voight leads them instead into the lair of a giant anaconda. Make that a 40-foot animatronic snake, a special-effects sucker that can leap through the air and drape you in coils faster than you can say "Michelin Man." The story's terrible. The suspense is restricted to mundane slasher-movie tactics. And despite an impressive array of special effects and shots of real snakes, this monster is never convincing. Slither away before you see this. Contains violence, profanity and minor sexual situations. No animals were harmed during filming, although some human careers were.
-- Desson Howe/Washington Post
"Commandments" R, 1997, 80 minutes, MCA/Universal
Writer-director Daniel Taplitz's appealing feature debut focuses on Seth Warner (Aidan Quinn), a devout doctor whose own darkly humorous story parallels the Old Testament parables of Jonah and Job. The film opens as Seth, despondent over the death of his wife, the destruction of his home and then the loss of his job, decides to get even with God by breaking the Ten Commandments. Courteney Cox and Anthony LaPaglia costar in this cross between romantic comedy and religious experience.
-- D.H./Washington Post
(1) Liar, Liar (Universal). (2) Sleeping Beauty (Disney). (3) The Jungle Book: 30th Anniversary (Disney). (4) Star Wars Trilogy -- Special Edition (Fox). (5) Fleetwood Mac: The Dance (Warner Reprise). (6) Jenny McCarthy: The Playboy Years (Playboy). (7) Diana: The People's Princess (MVP) (8) Oprah: Make the Connection (Buena Vista). (9) Spawn (HBO). (10) Diana: Legacy of a Princess (MPI)
(1) Liar, Liar (Universal). (2) The Saint (Paramount). (3) The English Patient (Miramax). (4) Volcano (Fox). (5) Anaconda (Columbia TriStar). (6) Breakdown (Paramount). (7) The Devil's Own (Columbia Tri-Star). (8) Grosse Point Blank (Hollywood). (9) Donnie Brasco (Columbia TriStar). (10) Sling Blade (Miramax).