AMERICAN PIE (R, 95 minutes)
A lewd let's-all-lose-our-virginity- on-prom-night flick, "American Pie" manages to be a cut above other teen sex comedies in acting and dialogue, and a cut below in sheer crudeness. It's not appropriate for kids under 16 or 17. However, such a bawdy comedy on such an awkward subject can offer a welcome dose of laughter to intense older teens. Graphic sexual situations and outrageous masturbation gags are woven throughout the film. Profanity and explicit verbal sexual innuendo also earn the R, along with gross toilet humor. Teen characters also drink.
The gist of "American Pie" is a pact by four frustrated senior guys to have sex with their dates on prom night so they'll get to college as men instead of geeks. Finding girls who'll go with them, and who'll then go "all the way," is their unholy quest. To its minor credit, "American Pie" has female characters nearly as real and interesting as the guys, and their verbal sparring shows more brains than you'd expect in such a film.
ARLINGTON ROAD (R, 118 minutes)
Paranoia strikes deep in "Arlington Road," and older teens who suffer from anxieties related to the evening news may want to give it a wide berth. Others with an interest in current events may find it a fascinating, if sensational, wake-up call about violent anti-government groups. An intense and skillfully made thriller, the movie still suffers from a dramatic heavy-handedness that exposes the villains way too early. That, however, doesn't detract from the exciting finish. The rating covers two scenes in which children are severely injured or killed, one in a violent shootout. The action also includes fisticuffs, a huge explosion, occasional profanity and an overall sense of looming menace.
Jeff Bridges plays a college professor in Washington who teaches a course on domestic terrorism. He becomes obsessed with his new neighbors (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack) in suburban Virginia who, he comes to believe after a little digging, may belong to an obscure terrorist group. He's still grieving for his wife, an FBI agent who died in a Ruby Ridge-style shootout, so friends think the professor's merely paranoid.
SUMMER OF SAM (R, 142 minutes)
The sex lives and social mores of a group of Italian Americans in the Bronx pulse at the center of this disappointingly unfocused and sexually overwrought film about the long, hot summer of 1977. Inappropriate for any but the oldest high-schoolers, "Summer of Sam" contains the reenactment of several killings in blood-spattering detail, along with beatings, endless profanity and graphic sex scenes including group sex -- all in varying degrees of semi-nudity -- as well as suggestive dancing in strip clubs and discos. Characters use drugs, smoke, drink and hurl ethnic and homophobic slurs.
The movie's most effective moments imagine the so-called Son of Sam serial killer, David Berkowitz, fulminating in his lonely room before going on his murderous forays in the Bronx and beyond. They have far more punch than the movie's turgid, overstuffed melodrama about fictional characters -- all shopworn dese-dem-and-dose types -- worrying about sex and Sam, in that order. Much of the plot focuses on John Leguizamo as a philandering hairdresser and Mira Sorvino as his naive wife. Director Spike Lee offers a few enlightening observations on neighborhood vigilantism in "Sam," but high-schoolers would gain more from his superior "Do the Right Thing" (R, 1989).
Okay for 6 and Up
"Tarzan" (G). Animated tale based on Edgar Rice Burroughs's stories is exciting, lushly drawn, witty, sometimes sad, violent enough to warrant a PG: Leopard kills Tarzan's parents off-screen, stalks baby; gorilla shot, dies in sad scene; villain shown hanged in vines. Special care with preschoolers.
8 and Up
"Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace" (PG). First installment of prequel trilogy looks good, plays dull. Loud, fast, bloodless violence includes light saber impalement, endless pod race, battles; sad moment when young Anakin Skywalker leaves mother; tots may find aliens scary.
Art Films Teens Might Like
"The Red Violin" (not rated -- like a strong PG-13 or mild R). Lush, romantic but pretentious saga traces a violin's owners from 17th century to present. Implied death in childbirth; sick older child; strong verbal sexual innuendo; steamy sexual situation, semi-nudity; opium; gun violence. Some subtitles.
"Wild Wild West." Will Smith as federal agent Jim West, Kevin Kline as inventor Artemus Gordon, save President U.S. Grant in overproduced but amusing update of 1960s TV show. Comic verbal, visual sexual innuendo; scantily clad women; racial slurs; comic near-lynching; fairly graphic violence with guns, knives; rare profanity.
"Big Daddy." Adam Sandler in disappointing comedy about thirty-something slacker who adopts kid. Gags about bed-wetting, nasal extrusions, vomiting, women's breasts; jokes at expense of old, gay, homeless characters; occasional profanity; other mild sexual innuendo.
"Run Lola Run." Trendy German film, with scarlet-haired Lola tearing through town seeking money to save her boyfriend from gangster; she experiences several possible outcomes in jazzy effect that gets old. Occasional profanity; Lola, boyfriend chat in bed, share possible marijuana cigarette. Most teens. Subtitles.
"South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." Subversive, hilarious, tasteless, not-for-kids feature-length version of animated hit cable show in which third-grade heroes mouth obscenities learned at R-rated film. Continuous profanity; graphic verbal, visual sexual images; antisemitic, anti-gay slurs; a suicide. Older high-schoolers, please.