"Outside Providence" (R, 1 hour, 37 minutes)
A teen on the road to oblivion gets a second chance in this profane but serious-minded comedy about growing up motherless and working class in the early 1970s. Thoughtful high-schoolers may find "Outside Providence" a good yarn and a cautionary tale about drug use and messing up in school. Less thoughtful teens, attracted by the widely advertised fact that the movie was co-written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, creators of the lewd, also R-rated "There's Something About Mary," may miss the point. The rating reflects scenes in which teen characters use marijuana, other drugs, liquor, and cigarettes, bristling profanity, sexual innuendo, a practical joke about masturbation, and talk of a parent's long-ago suicide.
"Chill Factor" (R, 1 hour, 42 minutes)
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Skeet Ulrich make a likable pair of bickering blue-collar heroes in this unoriginal, forgettable, but fun-while-you-watch-it thriller, in which they take on a renegade military man and a lethal chemical-biological weapon. Teens (including middle-schoolers) may find "Chill Factor" a reasonable matinee diversion, and it's a mild R. That means considerable low-level profanity of the "Oh, ----!" sort. The mayhem involves nonbloody, but still shivery throat-slittings, fights, explosions, and chases on mountain roads. Victims of the secret weapon are shown disintegrating to skeletal remains.
"The Astronaut's Wife" (R, 1 hour, 49 minutes)
A stylish, adult-oriented sci-fi thriller, "The Astronaut's Wife" offers pleasures comparable to those in "The Sixth Sense" (PG-13), since much of what happens occurs inside the characters' heads, not in wild action sequences. Contemplative older high-schoolers (it's inappropriate for younger teens) may appreciate the noncommercial pace, while sci-fi buffs can poke holes in the movie's vague logic. "The Astronaut's Wife" contains graphic sexual situations, strong sexual language and profanity, a suicide, violence against a pregnant woman, and a scene in which she ponders inducing a miscarriage.
Beyond the ratings game
6 and older:
"Dudley Do-Right" PG (Brendan Fraser as the dim Canadian Mountie in painfully arch live-action comedy-based popular TV 'toons; slapstick stunts may please youngest. Final battle scene unnecessarily violent; some crude language.)
8 and older:
"A Dog of Flanders" PG (Lovely, bittersweet tale of poor boy in 19th-century Belgium, striving to become artist in well-told, spiritual tale with happier ending than tragic 1872 novella it's based on. Scenes of mother, grandfather dying; dog briefly abused; subtle sexual innuendo; rare mild profanity.)
10 and older:
"Runaway Bride" PG (Richard Gere, Julia Roberts in fresh, quirky, family-friendly comedy about newspaper columnist who writes mean piece about small-town woman who repeatedly bails out on her own weddings. Rare profanity; bawdy jokes; mild sexual innuendo; drinking.)
"The Muse" (Albert Brooks as washed-up screenwriter inspired by Sharon Stone as Muse descended from Greek gods, in smart spoof that sags in middle; perhaps too subtle for teens. Rare profanity.)
"Mickey Blue Eyes" (Hugh Grant as wan Britisher in New York, co-opted by fiancee's mobster kin in droll romantic comedy. One bloody death; profanity; sexual innuendo; ethnic stereotypes; painting portraying Jesus with gun.)
R's and unrated:
"In Too Deep" (Omar Epps as undercover cop, LL Cool J as drug lord face off in excellent drama. Torture scene, mistreatment of women, gun violence, sexual situations, drug use, cigarette smoking, profanity. Older high-schoolers.)