SUPERSTAR (PG-13, 82 minutes)
Molly Shannon brings her ditzy, pubescent "Saturday Night Live" persona to the screen in a skit painfully expanded to feature length. Teen "SNL" fans who get a giggle out of the boy-and-breast-obsessed Mary Katherine Gallagher may have the strength to watch the thirtyish Shannon gambol through an entire film as a 16-year-old, flashing her white cotton panties and crashing into furniture. In "Superstar," Mary Katherine develops a crush on the school's dance king ("SNL's" Will Ferrell) and vows to win a talent contest to impress him and get the big "Hollywood fireworks kind of kiss" she longs for.
This PG-13 isn't appropriate for preteens. The rating, which could easily have slipped to an R, represents crude sexual innuendo, breast jokes, toilet humor and nasty names kids call one another. There are passionate kisses between human characters and between Mary Katherine and a tree -- just for practice. There are jokes about bulimia, a God character who talks jive and a mildly satiric portrayal of Catholic school.
HAPPY, TEXAS (PG-13, 100 minutes)
A pair of lovable escaped criminals bamboozle a Texas town into thinking they're a gay couple come to coach little girls for a beauty pageant in this implausible but riotous and kindhearted comedy. "Happy, Texas" is weird enough to appeal to teens who scorn the mainstream. A PG-13 that nudges into R territory, it's inappropriate for preteens with its strong, sometimes bawdy sexual innuendo, a couple of non-graphic sexual situations that are comic but steamy, as well as profanity, crude language, gun violence with a child briefly held hostage and a scene in which a smoker offers a child a cigarette. Memories of JonBenet Ramsey's exploitation may give parents pause; only once do the girls do a number that has them vamping in a grown-up manner.
Wayne (Steve Zahn), a dim car thief, and his smarter partner (Jeremy Northam), a specialist in credit-card fraud, escape from a chain gang, steal a camper and roll into one-horse Happy, Tex. Realizing that the vehicle they're in belongs to the beauty pageant coaches, they pretend to be them and rehearse the girls while casing the local bank. Happy confusion and changes of heart ensue.
RANDOM HEARTS (R, 133 minutes)
Rambling as a beach novel (in fact, "loosely" based on a book by Warren Adler), "Random Hearts" tries to be a sophisticated tale but plays more like a handsome but interminable soap opera. High-schoolers who enjoy tales of romantic betrayal and unspoken longing may glom onto protagonists Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas.
A very mild R, "Random Hearts" does deal with adultery and its aftermath, and includes a couple of clothed, choreographed, understated sexual situations, one of which teeters on the edge of explicitness. The movie also contains profanity, a murder victim, a nasty fight, gunplay and drinking. Kids who've recently lost a loved one may find the story upsetting.
Ford plays D.C. cop Dutch, and Scott Thomas is first-term congresswoman Kay. As the film takes eons to explain, their respective spouses die in a plane crash and apparently had been carrying on an affair. Dutch's maniacal determination to learn the details of the betrayal draws Kay reluctantly in. Of course they're attracted to each other through grief, anger, chemistry -- and script writing.
Fine for Tots on Up
"The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" (G). Cuddly "Sesame Street" monster Elmo chases his beloved blanket down Oscar the Grouch's trash can into Grouchland and faces Mandy Patinkin's selfish villain in an adorable variation on "The Wizard of Oz." Bert and Ernie reassure at scary moments.
"Drive Me Crazy." Melissa Joan Hart plays a dateless teen who asks a hippie neighbor to be her pretend-boyfriend in this offbeat comedy. Kissing, verbal sexual innuendo; drinking, smoking, stashing marijuana; rare profanity; subplot about divorced, dead parents. Not for preteens.
"Jakob the Liar." Robin Williams plays a widower in a Jewish ghetto who makes up news stories to raise morale in this touching, funny fable. Dead bodies, deprivation, suicide; Nazis torture Jakob; characters smoke.
"Blue Streak." Martin Lawrence in an amusing comedy as a thief who impersonates a cop. Non-gory shootings; profanity, crude humor; maniacal driving; chain smoking; implication that crime pays. R's
"The Limey." Cockney ex-con (Terence Stamp) hunts down a sleazy L.A. music producer (Peter Fonda) who he thinks caused his daughter's death. Tense, witty, noirish crime tale. Gun violence; fights; sexual innuendo; profanity; smoking. High-schoolers.
"Three Kings." George Clooney leads renegade U.S. soldiers after the Gulf War, helping villagers terrorized by the Iraqi army, in an exciting, cynical, savvy action flick. Graphic violence; slow-motion gunplay; mother killed in front of child; torture; profanity. Older high-schoolers.
"Mystery, Alaska." Earthy, likable comedy about a small Alaskan town turned upside down when its hockey team takes on the New York Rangers. Explicit sexual situations, some adulterous; sexual innuendo; profanity; smoking, drinking, fighting. Older high-schoolers.
"Plunkett & Macleane." Irreverent, fact-based account of 18th-century English highway robbers mixed with modernisms in splashy, music-video style. Graphic violence, hangings; explicit sexual situations, rape; profanity; squalor; prostitution. Oldest high-schoolers.
"American Beauty." Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening in an exquisite, cynical-spiritual comic tale of suburban family angst. Graphic sexual situations, innuendos; man's non-explicit sexual fantasies about a teen girl; semi-nudity; marijuana; father beats son; violent death; profanity. Mature high-schoolers.