FOR LOVE OF THE GAME
(PG-13, 138 minutes)
Kevin Costner plays a great pitcher nearing the end of a long career in this touchy-feely baseball saga that stacks romance, sport and sentiment into its lineup in what seems a blatant effort to attract as broad an audience as possible. Teens probably wouldn't flock to see the simple tale of a 40-year-old guy facing a major life shift, but various among them may gravitate toward the movie's romantic bits, sporty bits or nearly endless soap opera-like story. The script contains profanity, most of it rather mild, even for PG-13. The most mature element is the long, implied affair between Costner's character, Detroit Tiger Billy Chapel, and women's magazine writer Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston), though there's no sex scene. We see them kiss passionately and then it's the next morning. Drinking, smoking and discussion of a teenage pregnancy round out the PG-13 list.
Billy learns that the team's new owners will trade him. He must decide by the end of the final game of the season that afternoon whether to accept the trade or retire. Then his girlfriend announces she's moving to London. In the course of the matchup with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium he flashes back to his career and his rocky relationship with Jane. The premise is simple, perhaps too simple, and the movie (based on a book by Michael Shaara), despite lovely individual scenes and sprightly repartee, feels like a committee created it.
BLUE STREAK (PG-13, 96 minutes)
A genial, occasionally riotous caper comedy spiked with flashes of cold-blooded violence, "Blue Streak" features comic Martin Lawrence in a less profane screen persona than before. The movie has enough edge to attract teen audiences despite its uncool PG-13 rating, which covers a couple of not-overly-bloody point-blank shootings, profanity, crude language, gross hygiene humor, characters who drive like maniacs and others who chain-smoke. Then there's the film's benevolent portrayal of an unrepentant crook who gets away with it, so it's not a great choice for younger kids.
Lawrence plays Miles, a jewel thief involved in a bungled heist and betrayed by a "colleague" who wants the take for himself. Before the police can grab him, Miles hides a huge diamond in the air-conditioning duct of a building under construction. When he gets out of prison, he sees that the edifice has become a police station. He walks in impersonating a hotshot detective from another precinct. Since he's a thief, he proves quite a good solver of burglaries, so he's promoted and admired while forever sneaking off to climb around in the duct work and search for the stone. Complications avalanche when he's assigned a case that involves drugs, the FBI, a bumbling fellow crook (Dave Chappelle) who nearly blows his cover and the return of the murderous traitor. "Blue Streak" can't help but be insidious because Lawrence's character, so likable and funny, remains a burglar and a liar.
6 and Up
"Dudley Do-Right" (PG). Brendan Fraser as dim Canadian Mountie in painfully arch live-action comedy based popular TV 'toons; slapstick may please tots. Final battle unnecessarily violent; some crude language.
"The Muse." Albert Brooks as washed-up screenwriter inspired by Sharon Stone as Muse descended from Greek gods, in smart spoof that sags in middle; perhaps too subtle for teens. Rare profanity.
"Mickey Blue Eyes." Hugh Grant as wan Britisher in New York, co-opted by fiancee's mobster kin in droll comedy. One gory death; profanity; sexual innuendo; ethnic stereotypes; painting shows Jesus with gun.
"Bowfinger." Riotous farce with Steve Martin as sleazy director who secretly films movie star (Eddie Murphy) for cheap horror flick. Lewd sexual references will go over many preteen heads; profanity.
"The Sixth Sense." Bruce Willis as psychologist helps boy tormented by ghosts in subtle, slow thriller that builds to fab ending. Off-camera suicide; ghosts show wounds from violent deaths; rare crude language; drinking.
R's and Art Films
"Love Stinks." Crass, cynical comedy about romance between L.A. couple that sours when girl goes to manic lengths to get engaged. Strong profanity; comically graphic sex scenes. High-schoolers.
"Stigmata." Gabriel Byrne as priest investigates Patricia Arquette as woman afflicted with stigmata in slick thriller made silly by pretentious symbolism, effects; some believers will be offended. Graphic wounds, intercut with portrayal of crucifixion; profanity; sexual innuendo; cigarettes. High-schoolers.
"Stir of Echoes." Kevin Bacon as blue-collar guy contacted by ghost in taut, disturbing tale of crime, obsession. Non-graphic, but strong implication of sexual assault, violent hallucinations; brief nudity; explicit sexual situation; marijuana gag; profanity; drinking. High-schoolers.
"Outside Providence." Serio-comic tale about redemption of 1970s teen pothead. Teens portrayed using drugs, liquor, cigarettes; profanity; sexual innuendo; masturbation joke; talk of parent's suicide. Mature high-schoolers.
"Chill Factor." Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich keep chemical weapon out of villain's hands in silly, cheerful thriller. Non-gory throat-slitting; explosions; mild profanity; chemical victims shown disintegrating. Teens.
"The Astronaut's Wife." Johnny Depp as astronaut whose wife's sure he's possessed by aliens in thoughtful adult thriller. Graphic sexual situations, language; profanity; suicide; violence against woman; wife ponders inducing miscarriage. Oldest teens.
"The 13th Warrior." Antonio Banderas as Arab aristocrat who joins Norsemen to fight barbaric European tribe in romanticized, sometimes silly medieval epic -- based on Michael Crichton's "Eaters of the Dead." Grisly broadsword mayhem; mild sexual innuendo. Teens.