"Hearts in Atlantis" (PG-13, 1 hour, 43 minutes)
"Hearts in Atlantis" mines the deep emotional connection that often exists between young and old in this story of a gifted, secretive man (Anthony Hopkins) who becomes a substitute grandfather to a lonely 11-year-old boy. Based on stories by Stephen King, this isn't escapism for all ages. "Hearts in Atlantis" has menace in it -- anonymous men hunting for someone, as well as a vicious teen bully -- that could unsettle preteens. One scene, though not graphic, implies an attempted rape. Other elements include a speech that could be considered a homophobic slur, sexual innuendo, a girl hit with a baseball bat, and chain-smoking.
"Don't Say a Word" (R, 1 hour, 53 minutes)
"Don't Say a Word" portrays a kidnapped child in mortal danger and parents desperate to rescue her. The movie's intense, anxious tone may strike a problematic chord just now, but it is a pretty good thriller -- handsomely urban, solidly acted, with plot holes that don't gape too badly. It could keep high-schoolers 16 and older involved. The film includes glimpses of the New York skyline -- one that briefly shows the World Trade Center -- and the phrase "ground zero" once in the dialogue. A character is buried alive near the end. Also earning the R rating are violence (including an impaling and an explosion), the bruised bodies of murder victims, verbal and visual sexual innuendo, and profanity.
"Glitter" (PG-13, 1 hour, 44 minutes)
Mariah Carey gets a chance to sing, wear skimpy outfits and act badly, but this movie could also give teen (and some preteen) girls a bit of popcorn-fueled escapism. Even the most forgiving among them will notice the singer can't handle more than a phrase or two of dialogue at a time. The PG-13 reflects a nongraphic sexual situation, mild sexual innuendo, bloodless gun and fist violence, rare profanity, smoking and drinking.
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 estranged granddaughter (Anne Hathaway), an awkward 15-year-old, as next in line for throne. Talk of divorce and death of an estranged parent; teens kissing.
"The Glass House." Leelee Sobieski as teen whose parents die in car crash tries to foil sinister guardians in thriller. Teens smoke, drive recklessly; adults drink, abuse prescription drugs; teen drugged against will; stabbing; hit-and-run; threatening sexual innuendo. Not for preteens.
"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, runnings-through implied; children hit, threatened; mild sexual innuendo; rats, roaches. Not for preteens.
"The Curse of the Jade Scorpion." Woody Allen's caper comedy 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 in 1980s Pennsylvania, his life 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. Lewd sexual slang, strong sexual innuendo; occasional profanity; suggestive dancing; moderate social drinking. 16 and older.
"Jeepers Creepers." Justin Long, Gina Philips as brother and sister harassed by aggressively driven truck. Cliched but clever horror flick works while bogeyman remains faceless. Gut and throat-goring violence; corpses with incisions; rats; profanity. High school horror buffs.
"American Pie 2." Now it's college guys seeking sex -- especially Jason Biggs 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).