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Posted at 3:26 a.m. EST Friday, January 28, 2000



George Thomas

Akron Beacon Journal entertainment writer
Harrison Ford returns to action and a Shaker Heights native puts in her bid for superstardom with this week's releases.

Ford was last seen in Six Days, Seven Nights portraying a lovesick pilot. The movie didn't set the box office afire, but he's treading the romantic ground again with Random Hearts. It's a movie the younger set (kids in their mid-teens and above) will want to see simply because of Ford's presence.

Molly Shannon brings her comedic talents to the film Superstar, another movie where a character from Saturday Night Live takes the center stage. Here's hoping that Superstar fares better than the last SNL film -- A Night at the Roxbury -- to hit the screen. This is one kids and teens may be begging to go see.

'Random Hearts'

Ford stars as a man who discovers that his wife is leading a double life and has been cheating on him with a congresswoman's husband. Unfortunately, he learns of the betrayal after her plane goes down in a crash. Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient) co-stars as the congresswoman who was married to the male half of the cheating couple.

The R rating for Random Hearts has more to do with the film's overall theme of adultery. The language is relatively mild, although the F-word is used once. There are two scenes of sexuality that are more erotic than exploitative and nudity is negligible.

There is one instance of gunplay and someone does get shot. If you have a mature younger teen, this movie wouldn't be too much for them to handle.

'Superstar' All Mary Katherine Gallagher wants out of her dreary teen life are two things -- a first kiss from the school hunk, Sky (Will Ferrell), and to win her Catholic school's talent contest so that she will get a walk-on part in a movie.

That sums up the latest cinematic entry from the producers of Saturday Night Live.

Given the popularity of the character on the TV show, parents can expect plenty of requests to see this one, and for kids 11 and older it's pretty safe.

There is some sexuality (Mary Katherine practices her kissing technique on a campus tree) and a few minor expletives, but for the most part this is a pretty tame affair. Superstar is rated PG-13.

'Three Kings' George Clooney stars as Army Maj. Archie Gates, a disenchanted career soldier on the verge of retirement, serving his last tour of duty during the Persian Gulf War. When three of his foot soldiers find a map that could lead them to gold that Saddam Hussein plundered from Kuwait, Gates drafts them and they set out to find it.

During their quest for wealth, they also find a lot more and land right in the middle of a refugee situation involving Iraqi rebels.

This film will probably attract teens 15 and older because of co-stars Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg. It's a tough call whether parents should let teens younger than 17 see it.

There's the obligatory language (the F-word, other four letter words) that accompanies most films that deal with the military. However, there are some violent scenes with which parents may take issue.

In one scene, a sergeant kills an Iraqi soldier even when it's quite evident that he's trying to surrender. Another scene shows an Iraqi woman, who's pleading for her husband's life, being executed by gunshot at point-blank range.

What will make parents cringe is a brutal torture scene where an Iraqi soldier electrocutes an American in an effort to extract information from him.

Although the violence in Three Kings is far from gratuitous, it is rated R and deservedly so. Keep anyone under the age of 17 out.

'Mystery, Alaska'

A Sports Illustrated article by a former resident of a small Alaska town wreaks havoc on the lives of the entire town. The article, describing the exploits of a four-on-four hockey game that takes place every week in Mystery, leads to an exhibition game between the local team and the National Hockey League's New York Rangers. This familiar Rocky-like theme has a decidedly adult tone to it.

Although the studio probably intended the movie for those 17 and older, the sports angle and the comedic element will pique the interest of younger teens.

There's plenty for parents to keep a watch for here.

Of course, you can't have a hockey film without the mandated swearing and the F-word, which, along with other four-letter words, gets a workout here.

There are a couple of sexual scenes, although not graphic, that parents may not deem appropriate. There is also one scene where a member of the Mystery team describes in graphic detail what happened with his latest sexual conquest.

Mystery, Alaska's R rating is appropriate.

'Drive Me Crazy' Melissa Joan Hart is a teen-ager without a date for the big dance in this latest teen release.

When the star basketball player disses her for a cheerleader at another school, she's forced to take desperate measures. She enlists the aid of her recently dumped next-door neighbor to grab the player's attention.

Drive Me Crazy is rated PG-13 for several reasons.

It's filled with sexual innuendo. There is a scene where two teens make out in a school broom closet and another where a video camera focuses on a girl's cleavage. There's also a game of Truth and Dare, where sexual situations are prominent.

Although drugs are mentioned only in passing, there is a substantial amount of drinking. The teens in this flick slam beers, tequila shots and whiskey without batting an eye.

This one is definitely for those 13 and older.

'Elmo in Grouchland' The red-haired little guy finally gets his due as he lands a starring role in his first feature film. Elmo relentlessly searches for his blue blanket, lost after he and his friend Zoe fight over it.

As you might guess, the G-rated film is suitable for the entire family and features some toe-tapping songs.

It's something that any parent can enjoy with younger children because there are moments where the audience is asked to participate.

There's nothing objectionable here, unless parents have an aversion to their children having a good time in the theater.

'Jakob the Liar' Robin Williams definitely has cachet with the young set. However, there's some question as to whether this Holocaust flick will draw that younger set to theaters. Williams stars as Jakob Heym, a cafe owner in Nazi-occupied Poland who keeps the hopes of his people alive by faking radio broadcasts of Allied successes against Hitler's troops.

This film is rated PG-13 and would get that based upon thematic material alone. Hitler's extermination of millions of Jews isn't exactly a lightweight subject. There are other reasons for the rating, however. Death lingers in the air like stale cigarette smoke.

There is a nongratuitous execution. There is profanity -- although most of it is in Yiddish or Polish, and there is a non-explicit, implied premarital sexual relationship. The rating says PG-13, but some parents may want to raise that limit just a tad to 14-year-olds.

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