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FEBRUARY 9, 1998: 

THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE. This sweet movie is a sort of Dances With Wolves for the under 12 set. Little Tree is an 8-year-old boy living in West Virginia in the 1930s. When his parents die, he's taken in by his grandparents, who teach him "the way," a new-agey, Native American sort of religion thing. As is fitting in movies for children, there's relatively little conflict, and problems which might cause anxiety in small viewers are quickly dispatched so that Little Tree and his Grandpa can again step out into the early morning light to have delightful adventures. One problem with The Education of Little Tree, though, is that all the caretaker adults die off, relentlessly, one after another, which even some of the grown-ups in the audience found distressing. If your kid was distraught when Bambi's mom died, he or she probably isn't ready for Little Tree. --Richter

SPICE WORLD. Some physicists theorize that there are countless universes in existence. If this is so, then surely the spice girls are at the center of one of them--it just may not be your particular universe. When I saw a matinee of Spice World, the audience was comprised of pre-pubescent girls and lone, adult males with raincoats draped across their laps. Even if you don't fall into one of these groups, you may want to check out Spice World just to see what all the hype is about. The spice girls are five British Barbie dolls who sing, sort of, and change their clothes a lot, definitely. In this movie, they face episodes of slight ajeopardy and overcome them easily, all the while spouting off about "girl power," which appears to be the power to wear tiny dresses in cold weather with no adverse effects. "We're strength and courage in a Wonderbra!" declares brainy Ginger Spice. Who has the heart to tell her she's wrong? -- Richter

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