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TOO MUCH STEAM IN 'LOVE'

"A Lot Like Love" (PG-13, 1 hour, 37 minutes)

"A Lot Like Love" aims to be this decade's "When Harry Met Sally" (R, 1989). Although co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet are not as comically mismatched as Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were, the generic cuteness in this tale of ill-timed encounters between a young man and woman over several years has enough appeal to make it an OK high-school date flick.

In this case the PG-13 rating is misleading. Many parents will judge "A Lot Like Love" to be too sexually charged for middle-schoolers, with its story of sexually active twentysomething singles, pairing off and breaking up in search of fulfillment in love and career. It begins with a strongly implied (nothing graphic shown) mile-high tryst in an airplane restroom. In addition to that opening gambit, the film contains other strong verbal and visual sexual innuendo, a steamy sexual encounter with seminudity in a station wagon (though the film cuts away before it becomes explicit), occasional profanity, crude language, drinking and smoking.

Intermediate string overflow ~
Beyond the ratings game

PG-13s:

"Fever Pitch" -- Jimmy Fallon stars as a Boston schoolteacher and obsessed Red Sox fan and Drew Barrymore plays his high-powered executive girlfriend. Occasional crude language, profanity; funny/gross sequence about vomit; much mild sexual innuendo (by today's PG-13 standards); passionate kissing scenes leading up to implied sexual situations, then morning-after cuddling; subplot about possible out-of-wedlock pregnancy; memories of parents' divorce, childhood depression over it.

"Sahara" -- Matthew McConaughey as macho archeologist/adventurer/tomb raider hunts for a long-missing Civil War-era ironclad battleship with his lifelong pal played by Steve Zahn. Sexual innuendo, profanity; much violence with minimum gore -- stabbings, gunplay, head-banging fights, cannon fire, attack helicopters, powerboat chases.

"Beauty Shop" -- Queen Latifah stars single mom and hairstylist in spinoff of "Barbershop 2: Back in Business" (PG-13, 2004). Strong sexual innuendo, sometimes escalating into explicit slang about sex acts, organs; profanity, homophobic humor, racial jibes; talk of breast implants; drinking. Not for middle-schoolers.

"Guess Who" -- Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac star in comedy that reverses the "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967) concept. Lots of fairly mild sexual innuendo; homophobic humor. Teens.

"Dear Frankie" -- Low-key, nicely acted Scotland-based tale has charm enough to overcome a sentimental plot about a working class single mom (Emily Mortimer) who hires a stranger (Gerard Butler) to play her deaf son's dad. Profanity; smoking; sexual innuendo from preteen bullies; hint of past, nonsexual child abuse.

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