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JINGO ALL THE WAY

"Air Force One" (R, 2 hours, 5 minutes)

Most teens (and many pre-teens, if they're allowed to go) will probably love this feverishly patriotic action fantasy, a sinfully slick and entertaining thriller about the hijacking of Air Force One by Russian terrorists and a brave U.S. president (Harrison Ford, who else?) who saves the day. Perhaps the most negative reaction to watch for in kids would be a sort of undiplomatic "America kicks butt!" jingoism. The film may be too intense for certain younger teens and preteens, not so much because of the violence, which is well within the midrange of R-rated films, but because some of them may already harbor nightmarish fears about war and terrorism. There are more than a few close-ups of foreheads or chests pierced by bullets, and the lead terrorist (a frightening Gary Oldman) disturbingly intimidates the president's wife and 12-year-old daughter. Stress-induced profanity crops up, but infrequently. The rating reflects the movie's overall intensity, which rarely lets up. Older teens into the subtleties of world politics may find the premise intriguing: A U.S. president announces a new moral imperative to fight terrorism and genocide with force, and some ultranationalist Russians take him on.

Beyond the ratings game

Safe choices for 6 and up:

"Hercules," G (Humorous, tuneful toon inspired as much by vaudeville as by Greek myths, but never mind, it's fun. Multiheaded monsters, scenes in underworld may scare tots.)

"George of the Jungle," PG (Funny live-action remake of 1960s cartoon hits the right tree. Rare crude language; ape flatulence, elephant poop; mild sexual innuendo. Odd animals may scare some tots.)

"A Simple Wish," PG (Martin Short as male fairy godmother in disappointing comedy, low on energy, emotion. Scary scene with shotgun; father turns into statue, kids worry they'll lose him; rare crude language.)

Safer for 8 and up:

"Wild America," PG (Teen brothers film wildlife in solid truth-based adventure. Bears, alligators may scare tots; doe killed, no blood; rare crude language, humor; mild sexual innuendo; implied skinny-dipping.)

More appropriate for 10 and up:

"Contact," PG (Occasionally thrilling, more often tedious sci-fi epic. Mild profanity; unwed couple spend night together; child's father dies in scary flashback.)

PG-13s OK for 10 to 12s, with permission:

"Out to Sea" (Pleasurably seedy comedy with grumpy gramps Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau as dance hosts on cruise. Crude language; sexual innuendo. Kids, grandparents would enjoy together.)

"Batman & Robin" (Batfans guano see it, no matter that it's long, dull and bloated. Monsterish creature's birth, death may frighten under-10s; rare mild profanity; sexual innuendo; bloodless violence.)

PG-13s for good reason:

"Men in Black" (Government agents spar with space aliens in fine 1950s sci-fi spoof. Weird creatures may scare younger kids. Colorful alien gore; squished cockroaches; crude language; mild sexual innuendo.)

"My Best Friend's Wedding" (Career gal tries to stop male pal's wedding in entertaining but unenlightened comedy. Crude verbal, visual sexual innuendo; gay jokes; profanity; adults smoke, drink; kids inhale helium.)

R's:

"Face/Off" (Terrorist, FBI agent switch identities in fabulous thriller. Bullet-in-guts close-ups; shot child shown dead; death by knives, harpoons, electric shock, fire; strong sexual innuendo; profanity; drugs; toilet humor. High schoolers.)

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