"The Glass House" (PG-13, 1 hour, 47 minutes)
"The Glass House" borrows from many a thriller and nearly foreshadows itself to death with ominous music. Still, it's slickly made and teens hungry for a cinematic shiver could find it sufficiently jump-inducing. Note, however, that the story is about two kids (played by Leelee Sobieski and Trevor Morgan) who lose their parents and wind up living with, and trying to escape from, evil guardians (Stellan Skarsgard and Diane Lane). A tale of kids seeing their world fall apart may not be just the emotional ticket right now. In fact, "The Glass House" may be too intense and upsetting for preteens at any time. In addition, there's a stabbing, a gun, a character hit by a car and over-the-cliff car crashes, rare profanity and subtly threatening sexual innuendo. Kids drive carelessly and smoke cigarettes; adult characters drink, abuse prescription drugs, drive even more wildly and sedate a teen against her will.
"Brother" (R, 1 hour, 53 minutes)
Blood-spattering, head-cracking violence is mostly what "Brother" offers and what makes it inappropriate for all but the oldest high-schoolers. Scenes of mayhem are stylized at first - fast and witty - and the characters are vivid. But in the final third of his movie, Takeshi Kitano, the Japanese star who wrote, directed and plays the lead gangster, escalates on-screen brutality until the film becomes unwatchable exploitation - a pair of chopsticks shoved into an enemy's brain via his nostrils, a finger chopped off, a severed head. (The Family Filmgoer was upset to see a woman with a child no older than 4 at a preview of "Brother.") Other elements include nonstop profanity, ethnic and homophobic slurs, and smoking.
Beyond the ratings game
8 and older:
"The Princess Diaries" G (Julie Andrews as queen of tiny Euro principality comes to San Francisco to recruit her gangly estranged granddaughter (Anne Hathaway) as next in line for throne. Talk of divorce and death of an estranged parent; teens kissing.)
"Hardball" (Keanu Reeves as gambler who grudgingly coaches Little League team from the projects. Street profanity used by 10-year-olds could be viewed as stereotyping; lethal gun violence, kids in danger; fights; liquor, cigarettes; drug humor; mild sexual innuendo. Not for preteens.)
"The Musketeer" (Adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' "Three Musketeers," with Justin Chambers as d'Artagnan. Bloodless sword, gunplay; children hit, threatened; mild sexual innuendo; rats, roaches. Not for preteens.)
"The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" (Woody Allen's caper comedy set in 1940 New York about grumpy insurance investigator (Allen) and efficiency expert (Helen Hunt) he hates. Muted sexual innuendo; jokey use of word "pederasty"; drinking; heavy smoking. Not really for preteens.)
"Rock Star" (Mark Wahlberg as heavy metal fan singing with obscure band whose life is altered when he replaces lead singer of hot group. Relatively mild profanity; implied sexual situations; toplessness; bawdy sexual innuendo; fights; drugs, liquor, cigarettes; nipple-piercing scene. High-schoolers.)
"Two Can Play That Game" (Vivica A. Fox, Morris Chestnut play mind games in comedy of manners about dating mores of successful African American singles. Lewd sexual slang, strong sexual innuendo; occasional profanity; suggestive dancing; moderate social drinking. 16 and older.)
"O" (Mekhi Phifer as basketball star and lone African American at prep school, Julia Stiles as his girlfriend, Josh Hartnett as coach's jealous son. Gun deaths, strangulation; sexual situations, one rough and explicit; drug use, drinking; racial slurs, profanity. 16 and older.)
"Jeepers Creepers" (Justin Long, Gina Philips as brother and sister harassed on highway by aggressively driven truck, in cliched but clever horror flick. Gory violence; corpses with incisions; rats; profanity. High-school horror buffs.)
"American Pie 2" (Now it's college guys seeking sex - especially Jason Biggs again as clumsy Jim, with Eugene Levy as his nerdy dad. Masturbatory high jinks, explicit sexual situations, innuendo; crude sexual language; homophobia; toplessness; toilet humor; profanity. 17 and older, in ideal world.)