MICKEY BLUE EYES (PG-13, 110 minutes)
Hugh Grant plays Michael, a proper Englishman living in New York who discovers that his American fiancee is the daughter of a mobster in this buoyant, well-played, occasionally riotous romantic comedy. "Mickey Blue Eyes" is mild enough for most teens, but more likely to entertain adults because of the complexity of the plot. The occasional gunplay is mostly for laughs but there is one bloody death. Other mature ingredients include profanity, sexual innuendo, unflattering Asian and Italian stereotypes and a comically awful painting that portrays Jesus holding a machine gun. (A party pooper could also observe that this is yet another film that trivializes mob crime.)
When the father-in-law-to-be (James Caan) and his cohorts start using the art auction house where Michael works to launder money, Michael's in a quandary. He'd promised Gina (Jeanne Tripplehorn) he wouldn't let her family corrupt him. An intricate -- and quite amusing -- sting operation must extricate the couple from the mob's ever-tightening clutches.
TEACHING MRS. TINGLE (PG-13, 93 minutes)
Mean-spirited, misogynistic and not nearly as witty as it thinks it is, this comedy thriller about high school students who terrorize an evil teacher lacks credibility and panache. That doesn't mean teens won't flock to "Teaching Mrs. Tingle," as it's been hyped widely as written and directed by Kevin Williamson, who wrote the "Scream" films, and features TV stars Katie Holmes of "Dawson's Creek" and Barry Watson of "7th Heaven." The well-deserved PG-13 covers occasional strong profanity and sexual innuendo, understated but clearly implied sexual situations, near-lethal violence, beer and wine drinking, smoking, cheating and grade tampering.
British acting diva Helen Mirren plays the terrible Mrs. Tingle, a history teacher (and frustrated spinster -- such a retro stereotype) who oozes a sarcastic hatred for her students. Mrs. Tingle catches star pupil Leigh Ann (Holmes) with an advance copy of a test that two friends stole to help her raise her final grade. All three go to Tingle's home to explain Leigh Ann's innocence. The chat degenerates into a violent scuffle. They tie Mrs. Tingle to her bed, holding her hostage in hopes that she'll see reason.
ILLUMINATA (R, 95 minutes)
The amorous and artistic adventures of an acting company in turn-of-the-century New York fuel this warm and bawdy but deeply flawed ode to a life in the theater. High school kids of 16 or 17 who've discovered the stage might enjoy the lovelorn antics and dramatic egos of this eccentric troupe, and they'd pick up a few literary references. Still, "Illuminata" is an adult-oriented film featuring a lengthy string of explicit comic sexual situations and attempted seductions, both gay and straight. Other elements include graphic sexual language and innuendo, bare breasts and profanity.
The movie begins charmingly enough, introducing the acting company in its musty backstage milieu, debating whether to do Ibsen's "A Doll's House" or a new play, "Illuminata," by their resident writer. But halfway through, the film sputters into tedium with its weak plot, overwritten dialogue and overripe emotions. John Turturro, who co-wrote and directed, plays the temperamental playwright. Even a fine supporting cast, with Susan Sarandon as an aging star and Christopher Walken as a fey critic among them, can't quite save it.
For Tots and Older
"Muppets From Space" (G). Gonzo meets his alien kin in Muppet tale that starts hilariously, but drags in middle with too many humans. Mean scientist and his sad, talking lab rats may worry tots.
6 and Older
"The Iron Giant" (PG). Boy befriends giant robot from space, circa 1957, in charming animated film based loosely on poet Ted Hughes's children's book. Scary climax may briefly upset youngest when military fires at giant; hunters shoot, we see dead deer.
"Inspector Gadget" (PG). Matthew Broderick as meek security guard transformed into bionic cop in sometimes amusing, more often flat live-action 'toon. Slapstick and special effects will divert kids 6-to-10. Non-graphic murder; fights; car chases; kicked-in-the-crotch gags.
Art Film Teens Might Like
"Autumn Tale" (PG, 112 minutes). Genial, tres French, sophisticated tale of middle-age romance, about 45-ish widow, lonely running her vineyard, and two friends who choose men for her. Mild sexual innuendo; drinking.
"Bowfinger." Steve Martin in riotous farce as sleazy movie director who stalks movie star played by Eddie Murphy, inserting him into cheap horror flick by stealth filming. Lewd sexual references will go over many but not all preteen heads; profanity, sexual language; droll love scenes.
"The Sixth Sense." Bruce Willis as child psychologist helps boy tormented by ghosts in subtle, sometimes sluggish thriller that builds to great ending. Off-camera suicide; we see ghosts who've died violently, even hanging as if executed; rare crude language; drinking.
"The Thomas Crown Affair." Pierce Brosnan as billionaire art thief, Rene Russo as insurance investigator in diverting adult-oriented remake of 1968 hit. Much semi-nudity, but non-graphic sexual situations; muted violence, profanity, sexual innuendo; drinking. High-schoolers.
"The Blair Witch Project." Clever, creepy, near-bloodless fright flick about students who disappear while shooting documentary on ghost legend in Maryland woods. Much profanity; brief shot of bloody human tissue; palpable sense of dread; stomach-churning camera moves. Teens.