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Friday, March 11, 2005; Page WE34

8 and Older

"The Pacifier" (PG). Vin Diesel flexes his clumsy but willing comedy muscles in contrived but often amusing tale of a Navy SEAL sent to protect five kids after their dad, a scientist, is murdered; they don't want military rules and he knows no other way; Brad Garrett as nasty vice principal at kids' school, Lauren Graham as the nice principal. Poopy diaper humor, "boob" joke; mild profanity; school bullies; Nazi armband whose meaning is never explained at a kid's level; action sequences with bloodless gunplay, martial arts fights, explosions; kids briefly put in jeopardy; some parents may object to Hollywood's cutesy-fying of military culture.

PG-13s and a G for Teens

"The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" (G). Thoroughly enjoyable, informative, often poignant documentary about Mark Bittner, a ponytailed amateur naturalist and one-time rock musician, hippie and street person, who befriended and studied a flock of gorgeous wild parrots inhabiting San Francisco's Telegraph Hill area -- mostly escaped pets and their offspring; we learn of the birds' habits, emotional attachments, deaths and of Bittner's gradual realization that he had found a profession. Grainy still photo of parrot caught in hawk's talons; footage of sick parrots.

"Be Cool." John Travolta returns as suave ex-mobster Chili Palmer in often hilarious, cleverly filmed and plotted sendup of Hollywood, pop culture -- a slightly sanitized but still highly profane sequel to "Get Shorty"; Chili gets into the music biz, partnering with widow (Uma Thurman) of a murdered music producer; Cedric the Entertainer as a hip-hop mogul; Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000 of OutKast, as one of mogul's gangsta crew; Vince Vaughn as a phony, jive-talking manager; Christina Milian as a singer-songwriter. Fatal beating, loud shootings -- little on-camera violence; profanity; homophobic slurs; sexual references, innuendo; scantily clad dancers; drinking, smoking. High schoolers.

"Diary of a Mad Black Woman." Corny but entertaining tale mixes melodrama, low comedy and religious fervor in story of woman (Kimberly Elise) tossed out of the mansion by her unfaithful lawyer spouse (Steve Harris); she goes to her pot-smoking, gun-toting grandmother (Tyler Perry, in bosomy drag, who adapted the script from his play) for solace, meets a great new guy (Shemar Moore) and gets some revenge. Themes deal subtly with drug addiction, infidelity; reference to miscarriages; guns fired; disabled character nearly drowns; mild sexual innuendo; marijuana; toilet humor; rare profanity. High schoolers.


"Imaginary Heroes." Well-acted family drama, nearly derailed by pretentiously nonlinear script that barely outlines a coherent tale; after the suicide of their athlete son, Sandy (Sigourney Weaver) and Ben (Jeff Daniels) barely talk and their younger teenager, Tim (Emile Hirsch), withdraws even more, until total family implosion threatens. Blood at scene of gun suicide; graphic description of the injury; adult and teen alcohol, drug abuse; graphic sexual situations; implied toplessness; strong sexual language; infidelity theme; sexual orientation theme; hints of physical abuse; strong profanity; chain-smoking. 17 and up.

"The Jacket." Illogical, yet absorbing, bleak hallucinatory thriller stars Adrien Brody as Gulf War vet with amnesia, sentenced to hospital for criminally insane after a police officer's murder; a bad shrink "treats" him by injecting (graphically) strong meds, putting him in a straitjacket and a claustrophobic, morgue-style drawer; he has flashbacks to the war, the cop killing, then sees his future; Jennifer Jason Leigh as good doctor, Keira Knightley as young woman who helps him. Point-blank shootings, blood; child given electroshock therapy; muted sexual situation; semi-nudity; profanity; smoking, drinking. 16 and up.

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