- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more reviews, click on commonsensemedia.org.

‘Premonition’

PG-13 for some violent

content, disturbing images,

thematic material and brief language.

Common Sense Media: Pause. For ages 14 and older.

** (out of five stars)

110 minutes

Even an avid Sandra Bullock fan would have to admit that although it’s slightly original, “Premonition” exemplifies what’s awful about the time-bending thriller subgenre.

Miss Bullock plays Linda Hanson, a newly widowed stay-at-home mom who awakens the morning after the car accident that killed her husband, Jim, to relive the day before his death or maybe it’s the same day. It’s unclear, but all viewers know is that sometimes when Linda wakes up, her car-dealer hubby is dearly departed and other times, he’s still alive.

The problem, of course, is that she’s either insane (or, as a priest suggests, a witch with some sort of “shining”) or, perhaps, imagining everything in a lithium-induced dream. Who can be sure? Halfway through the movie, who even cares?

The point is that Linda uses the days on which Jim is alive to show him that she loves him even though they weren’t really passionate about each other, and eventually she discovers that he crashed on his way to cheat on her.

Ultimately, she may or may not have a living husband, but she sure-as-Hollywood gets a treacly end to her “Groundhog Day” in emotional hell.

For far more satisfying and trippy time-bending movies, try “Groundhog Day,” “Deja Vu” and “Frequency.”

Parents need to know if they’re looking for the usual bright-faced, charming Sandra Bullock, this dark thriller will be disappointing and potentially confusing. As a new widow reliving the week of her husband’s death out of sequence, it’s unclear whether Miss Bullock’s character is insane, in a drug-induced hallucination or living in a parallel universe.

Several disturbing scenes include seeing a car that has just been crushed, a bloody electrocuted bird, a severed head tumbling out of a casket, a woman being committed to a psychiatric hospital and a child’s wounded face after an accident. The film never reaches a “horror” level of graphic images, but it’s certainly too creepy for tweens.

Families can talk about thrillers with plot twists. What’s the appeal of having a big “surprise” at the end of the movie? Are those surprises always satisfying? Why or why not? What do you think really happened at the end of this particular movie?

Families also can talk about life and death and second chances. When given the chance to relive otherwise mundane moments with her husband, how does Linda act differently? What would you do differently if you had a second chance with someone who’s gone?

Linda and Jim kiss and are shown bare-shouldered in bed. Linda discovers her husband was going to have an affair with a co-worker.

There is some cursing, including the F-bomb.

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