"Riding in Cars With Boys" (PG-13, 2 hours, 11 minutes)
Long, messy, sentimental and directed by Penny Marshall in broad soap-opera style, "Riding in Cars With Boys" may be a movie teen girls can love and even see as a guilty, giggly, weepy pleasure. Those into 1960s nostalgia will find a great dollop of it here, too. Not a great choice for preteens, the film's about a girl who gets pregnant at 15, marries unhappily and raises a child, stifling her own ambitions. The PG-13 also reflects drug use, a back-seat sexual situation, profanity, drinking and smoking.
"Iron Monkey" (PG-13, 1 hour, 30 minutes)
A wondrous, charming martial arts fable, "Iron Monkey" should please teen action fans and even enchant those who prefer character over mayhem. It has high-flying action, easy humor and vivid period atmosphere. The combat is and largely gore-free, though daggers draw blood in one scene. Occasional sexual innuendo and crude language also earn the PG-13.
"From Hell" (R, 2 hours, 2 minutes)
Johnny Depp plays an opium-addicted police detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper in this lurid but absorbing take on the legendary serial killings in London in the 1880s. Not appropriate for high-schoolers under 17, the movie contains graphic depictions of the Ripper's mutilated victims -- all London prostitutes. There are scenes of violent, bloody attacks, drug abuse, explicit sexual situations, strong verbal and visual sexual innuendo, nudity, drinking and profanity. In one scene a mental patient undergoes a lobotomy.
"The Last Castle" (R, 2 hours, 11 minutes)
Robert Redford as a disgraced general sent to military prison takes on James Gandolfini as the prison's inhumane commandant in this drama which borrows moments from "The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)," "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) and everything in-between. The proceedings do pick up emotional steam near the end when pretentious talk gives way to action. High-schoolers may take to the movie's slick, stark look and its macho intensity. There's plenty of violence -- beatings by guards, fights, gunplay -- but none of it graphic for an R-rated film. The script also contains profanity and a crude sexual phrase.
Beyond the ratings game
"Corky Romano" ("Saturday Night Live's" Chris Kattan in farce about sweet veterinarian's assistant, forced by his mobster dad (Peter Falk) to infiltrate FBI. Crime scene implies gross off-screen gore; cocaine joke; comic torture; profanity, homophobic slurs; toilet humor; sexual innuendo; discussion of sexual orientation. Not for preteens.)
"Zoolander" (Ben Stiller as dimwitted male supermodel who becomes unwitting pawn of evil clothing manufacturers. Comically implied evening of group sex with hallucinogenic tea; toilet humor; profanity; comic mayhem. Not for preteens.)