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Videotapes: PG-13 rating for movie doesn't always apply to previews, too

Sunday, October 29, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Even if you feel virtuous when your teen plucks a PG-13 movie from the Blockbuster shelves, that's no guarantee the previews will be for movies rated the same. "Center Stage," for instance, advertises: "Charlie's Angels," "Vertical Limit," "Loser" and "Beautiful," all PG-13, plus "Urban Legends: Final Cut" and "Groove," both R.

Teen title of the week among Tuesday's new video crop, "Center Stage," is rated PG-13 for "language and some sensuality." It's about a group of young dancers accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Academy, where they struggle with: bulimia, loneliness, a stage mother, being overweight by ballerina standards, lacking the "ideal body type" or great feet, rejection, a broken heart and jealousy.

"Center Stage," with a handsome and racially mixed cast, has some good messages about persistence and following your dreams. The mother of one girl, bounced for weighing too much, insists: "I want you girls to promise me you won't let anyone make you feel bad about yourself, OK? You're perfect the way God made you."

On the flip side, a couple of the dancers smoke and several are shown drinking beer, margaritas or wine, and one couple tumbles into bed after what could barely be considered a first date.

The language? Scattered throughout are bits of dialogue such as this: "Jesus, she heard you! Anyone can see she's working her ass off." One dancer is called a member of the "bitch academy," and other mild expletives are used.

Other popular teen picks:

"Where the Heart Is": Natalie Portman is an abandoned, unwed 17-year-old who secretly takes up residence in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart and gives birth there. This movie is PG-13 for a number of reasons, including the dinner-table prayers of Stockard Channing, who asks God's forgiveness "for the fornication that Mr. Sprock and me have committed again this afternoon." She asks forgiveness a lot.

Ashley Judd's sweet, sisterly nurse has a passel of children by different men and unknowingly takes up with a child molester who goes after her daughters and batters her. In the end, love and mature relationships triumph.

This tape has seven previews, ranging from the PG-13 "Here on Earth" to the R-rated "Woman on Top" and "Me, Myself & Irene."

"The Skulls": Joshua Jackson from "Dawson's Creek" is a sure teen draw. Here, he's an Ivy League student accepted into the secret Skulls society that he suspects of murdering his journalist roommate. This PG-13 rating is largely for violence, although women are procured for a party and Jackson and his girlfriend strip to bare chest and bra as a prelude to sex. The camera cuts away as a bathroom fills with shower steam.

Other provocative elements: A dangerous prank of stealing a rooftop weathervane; the Skulls insignia is branded on members' wrists; a suicide is staged to cover up an accident and murder; lies are told to the police; an innocent person is committed to a psychiatric institution; a car chase turns brutal; a man is shot to death; and an old-fashioned duel is staged.

"Final Destination": This thriller's cast includes such teen favorites as Devon Sawa and Kerr Smith, but it's rated R for violence, terror and language. A Paris-bound plane turns into a fireball and those who seemed to have "cheated" death meet grisly ends. Typical: A boy slips and strangles on a nylon cord in the bathroom, and we watch as his eyes hemorrhage.

"The Patriot": This also is rated R but for strong war violence. Cannonballs fly and take off heads and legs. Boys are shot, innocents are rounded up in a church which is set ablaze and Mel Gibson, wielding a tomahawk, hacks at a British soldier until he is drenched in blood.

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