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'Strings' too strong for teens

"No Strings Attached" (R): Ashton Kutcher finally exhibits some subtlety and emotional depth in his acting in this romantic comedy. Alas, the sexual content makes the movie questionable for most teens under 17.

Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Kutcher) met as adolescents, when she rebuffed his advances. As young adults, they meet again, fall into bed for a one-night stand, then decide to continue the relationship as a sex-only fling with no attachments. She's a medical resident who works ridiculous hours and he's a would-be Hollywood screenwriter trying to live down his famous actor dad's (Kevin Kline) party-guy reputation.

The sexual situations, though not frequent or with nudity, are quite explicitly played. Characters also drink, make condom jokes and drug references, and use strong profanity. The movie deals intelligently with the idea that most people can't have long-term sexual relationships without an emotional anchor.


"The Rite" (PG-13): High schoolers who find occult thrillers fascinating on multiple levels may be drawn into "The Rite." Based on a nonfiction book by Matt Baglio, it's about Michael (Colin O'Donoghue), a skeptical American seminarian who doubts his own faith. A professor/priest (Toby Jones), who believes Michael still shows promise, sends him to Rome to train as an exorcist. Though it incorporates all the cliches of the genre, "The Rite" also benefits from fresh, intelligent writing and a uniformly excellent cast that underplays the lurid aspects of the story. And once Michael starts to work with an aging exorcist, Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) in Rome, and meets a journalist (Alice Braga) interested in exorcism, the repartee and action pick up nicely.

Exorcism scenes show a young pregnant woman (who we learn was raped by her father) contorting and writhing and spitting out iron nails. A boy who has nightmares about a demon mule has hoof marks and bite marks on his torso. The film implies a fatal hemorrhage later on. The faces of characters possessed by demons go through veiny transformations. The script includes occasional midrange profanity. A couple of lethal crashes are depicted, and Michael has flashbacks to his childhood, seeing his mother dead and laid out in his father's mortuary.


"The Mechanic" (R): Teens 17 and older who love to observe the always-watchable Jason Statham do his tough-guy thing won't be disappointed in "The Mechanic," in which he plays a by-the-book hit man caught up in a scheme not of his making.

Arthur (Statham) usually takes his orders from the genial Harry (Donald Sutherland). Then one day the head guy (Tony Goldwyn) at the murky organization for which Arthur and Harry both work (a crime syndicate? the CIA?) tells Arthur he must kill Harry, who has become a loose cannon. Things get more complicated when Harry's bereft son Steve (Ben Foster), unaware of Arthur's involvement and another loose cannon himself, asks Arthur to train him as a hit man.

Victims die by drowning, strangulation, stabbing, point-blank gunfire, beating, and the inevitable explosions. The script contains strong profanity and a couple of very explicit sexual situations with partial nudity, one between actual characters and one a porn video.

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