Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: -1 1/2

When Sheriff Barnum (Lance Henricksen) is called to a farmhouse to check on the death of an elderly man, he is told there is a "strange" boy in the house. He calls Jessie Caldwell (Mary Steenburgen), director of a home for troubled boys. Together, they discover Jeremy Reed (Sean Patrick Flannery), called "Powder" because of his white skin. Jessie discovers Powder has unusual intelligence and sends him to school with the other boys. During class, science teacher Donald Ripley (Jeff Goldblum) discovers Powder has other unique talents, like attracting, absorbing and discharging electricity. He also "hears" thoughts from others, including animals. Although he is kind and gentle, other people fear Powder because of his strange appearance and powers. But those few who get to know him discover his tolerance and need for friendship. With just enough action to keep mid-teens involved, POWDER is a powerful, emotional rollercoster of a film dealing with prejudice and acceptance. But younger teens may find it boring.

Unlike the previews, which emphasize the action, this is a thought-provoking film about overcoming fear of someone different. Local people, including kids, at first make fun of Powder's appearance. He is taunted by the boys in the home, but it turns to angry fear when Powder reveals his powers. In one scene, the boys notice Powder's reaction to an approaching storm. Thinking he's afraid, they drag him into the open yard, strip him and push him into a mud pit. Brief male rear nudity is seen. There appear to be several New Age concepts which include equating animals' spirits with humans and the universality of the soul. When Deputy Duncan (Brandon Smith) shoots a deer on a campout, Powder makes him feel the dying animals' thoughts. Powder also helps the sheriff "talk" to his wife who is dying of cancer and later tells him she hasn't gone but is part of everything. He also tells a girl that everyone is a part of everyone else, which is visually emphasized at the climax of the film. But the importance and power of the human touch is also taught. Tolerance for others and overcoming prejudicial fear caused by differences are also strong messages. Many mild crudities and profanities with some obscenities prevent our recommendation.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking
Distributor: Buena Vista (Touchstone/Disney), 350 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521

Crude Language: Many (19) - mild 14, moderate 5
Obscene Language: Several (7) - F-word 1, s-word 6
Profanity: Many (19) - Exclamatory 4, regular 15 (GD 9, J 3, C 3)
Violence: Few mild (lightning strikes woman, electric experiment shocks Powder, threats with gun, property destruction, push into mud, wrestling, Powder shocks boy after heart stops)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Male rear once
Homosexual Conduct: Referenced in comment
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Deputy gives up guns, New Age concepts espoused
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Older teens & Adults

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)