BACK TO SCHOOL -- The profoundly strange presence of Rodney Dangerfield triumphs over sloppy writing and lumpy editing in this sometimes raunchy farce about a middle-aged dad who joins his son as a freshman at college. The theme of father-son loyalty is attractive, and the supporting cast is strong. There are also some pretty diving scenes, for some reason. Otherwise, the triviality quotient is sky-high. Directed by Alan Metter. (Rated PG-13) BELIZAIRE THE CAJUN -- The setting is Louisiana more than 100 years ago. The hero is a self-anointed ``healer'' who prides himself on his innocence and religious faith, but finds himself branded ``undesirable'' by the local non-Cajuns, who envy his handsome looks and fear his virile manner. Although the movie is rough-hewn in many respects, it's fervidly acted by Armand Assante in the title role, and sincerely directed by Glen Pitre, with help from ``creative consultant'' Robert Duvall and the innovative Sundance Institute of Robert Redford.(Rated PG-13)

THE CRAZY FAMILY -- Screwball comedy about a screwball family that moves into a new house and promptly loses its collective mind. Sogo Ishii directed this grim Japanese farce, which grows more dark and violent with every reel. (Not rated)

CRIMEWAVE -- Very broad, very brash ``film noir'' satire about a mild-mannered young man vs. a pair of crudely comical thugs who want to kill him and his new girlfriend. The action is fast, flashy, sometimes funny, always noisy. Directed by Sam Raimi, who also wrote the screenplay with Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; all three, especially the Coen brothers, are considered hot new prospects on the movie scene. (Rated PG-13)

FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF -- The title character is a teen-ager who sees high school as a pesky obstacle in his path to a nonstop good time. The action takes place between dawn and dusk, like that of ``The Breakfast Club,'' and shows our hero playing hooky with a couple of friends. Written and directed by John Hughes, a teen-movie specialist who identifies more with the whims and frivolities of young people than with their deepest problems and concerns. Matthew Broderick is as charming as ever in the leading role, though. (Rated PG-13)

FRENCH LESSON -- David Puttnam was the executive producer of this ordinary sexual-awakening yarn about a young Englishwoman who falls for a young Frenchman while attending the Sorbonne and living in a dull Parisian suburb. Brian Gilbert directed. (Rated PG)

THE MANHATTAN PROJECT -- Partly to protest a secret atomics lab in his neighborhood, and partly to show off by winning a big science fair, a high-school student steals a bottle of plutonium and joins the ``nuclear club'' by making his own atom bomb. The story is basically a teen-age science-fiction adventure like many others, but it raises valid points about nuclear safety and military secrecy. And there's a good cast, headed by John Lithgow as a sneaky scientist who's eventually forced to reassess his motives and priorities. Directed by Marshall Brickman, who wrote the screenplay with Thomas Baum. (Rated PG-13) RATINGS: Films with ratings other than G may contain varying degrees of vulgar language, nudity, sex, and violence.

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