"Seven Years in Tibet" (PG-13, 2 hours, 11 minutes)
A thoroughly fascinating and visually breathtaking account of high adventure and enlightenment, this fact-based fable will give thoughtful teens a glimpse at a vastly different culture. (And it has Brad Pitt!) And it will make them aware of political issues surrounding China's annexation of most of Tibet. The PG-13 rating reflects strong scenes of warfare and some bloody injuries.
"Most Wanted" (R, 1 hour, 30 minutes)
Conspiracies abound in this half-baked thriller, which older teens may find laughable, even as they enjoy watching Keenen Ivory Wayans in a grim, macho role. The rating reflects strong profanity, verbal sexual innuendo, point-blank shootings that aren't overly bloody, loud thwacking fights and a scene in which a woman swims topless.
"Playing God" (R, 1 hour, 33 minutes.)
In this gushingly bloody, profane and only intermittently witty thriller, inappropriate for all except mature high schoolers, David Duchovny of TV's "The X-Files" plays a defrocked surgeon who's hooked on prescription drugs. This bit of glitzy, postmodern fluff really does glamorize drug use as practiced by its handsome leading addict.
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" (R, 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Written by the same fellow (Kevin Williamson) who created the recent scarefest "Scream" (1996, R), this slasher flick is far less clever, though nearly as bloody. Its young stars, among them Jennifer Love Hewitt (of TV's "Party of Five"), are bound to attract teen horror fans, and it's probably OK for kids with strong stomachs. The rating encompasses the killer's gut-goring attacks with a large steel hook, as well as profanity and mild sexual situations. The movie's messages about listening to your conscience and not drinking and driving are muted by screams.
Beyond the ratings game
Littlest on up:
"RocketMan," PG (Childlike computer geek goes on NASA Mars mission in dopey space farce that will make kids giggle. Space suit flatulence jokes rule; drinking scene; hazardous, not-to-be-copied stunt shows child spinning in dryer.)
Better fare for teens:
"In & Out," PG-13 (Sweet, riotous comedy about high school teacher who's "outed" as gay spoofs narrow-mindedness, homophobia. Rare crude language, profanity; strong verbal sexual innuendo; men kissing.)
"Kiss the Girls" (Killer-rapist pursued by forensic psychologist in well-acted, creepy thriller. Strongly implied violence against women; non-explicit sexual situations; verbal, visual sexual innuendo; nudity; profanity; severed body parts shown. Older high schoolers.)
"Soul Food" (Well-acted but overly sentimental saga of middle- class African American family. Explicit sex scenes, adultery theme; occasional profanity; brief mild violence. High schoolers, none younger.)
"The Peacemaker" (Nuclear terrorists foiled in entertaining but messy thriller. Nuclear explosion; bloody shootings, suicide, fistfights; children in danger; occasional profanity. High schoolers; younger teens with permission.)
"The Edge" (Two men stalked by bear, self-doubts in fun, brainy action adventure. Bloody bear attacks; profanity; reference to cocaine; mild sexual innuendo. High schoolers.)
"L.A. Confidential" (Chic thriller of corruption, redemption in '50s L.A. Bloody gunplay, fights; rotting corpse, rats; hints of rape, torture; erotic photos; gay subplot; sexual innuendo; rare strong profanity; liquor, cigarettes. Mature high schoolers.)
"The Matchmaker" (Cynical American political operative stuck in Irish town during matchmaking festival in silly but amusing romantic comedy. Strong profanity; mild sexual innuendo; drinking. High schoolers.)