washingtonpost.com  > Arts & Living > Movies > Reviews > Family Filmgoer

ALSO PLAYING

Friday, March 4, 2005; Page WE42

8 and Older

"Because of Winn-Dixie" (PG). Sweet, well-acted, leisurely told, bittersweet tale with spiritual dimension (based on Kate DiCamillo's book) about lonely girl (AnnaSophia Robb) living in a trailer park with her preacher dad (Jeff Daniels); her life changes when she adopts a stray pooch; the mutt tugs her into life-altering friendships with a librarian (Eva Marie Saint), a recluse (Cicely Tyson), a shy pet store manager (musician Dave Matthews); she learns why her mother left the family, about grown-ups with problems. One swear word; doggy-poop humor; gross, kid-type insults; upsetting scenes when officers try to grab Winn-Dixie, when he gets afraid of thunderstorms, when a surly man remarks he once shot a dog.

9 and Older

"Son of the Mask" (PG). Special effects trump story in unfunny, poorly conceived sequel to 1994 Jim Carrey flick, "The Mask," that could scare some under-9s with mix of live-action and three-dimensional computer-animated, cartoon-style violence; with Jamie Kennedy as Tim, a would-be animator whose dog finds the mask, a powerful source of mayhem belonging to Norse god of mischief, Loki (Alan Cumming), who comes looking for it; Tim's wife (Traylor Howard) later gives birth to a Loki-esque baby boy who can morph into a destructive dynamo, limbs extended, face distorted; dog morphs into cartoon critter who tries to blow up the baby; kick-in-the-crotch gags; undiapered baby urinates torrentially in dad's face; mild sexual innuendo; rare profanity.

PG-13s

"Cursed." Christina Ricci as young career woman fighting a werewolf curse in smart, witty, relatively non-gory (for the genre) tale directed by horror maven Wes Craven; with her teen brother (Jesse Eisenberg), she develops a weird physical power and a taste for blood after they crash into a wolflike creature on the road and see another woman torn apart by it (mostly off-camera); story becomes a droll metaphor for Hollywood. Glimpses of wolflike monster stalking, attacking prey, some bloody aftermath shown; photos of torn-up victims; humans, a pet morphing into werewolf; profanity, verbal sexual innuendo; homophobic slurs; drug references. A strong PG-13, not so much for middle schoolers.

"Diary of a Mad Black Woman." Wildly corny but entertaining tale veers between melodrama, low comedy and religious fervor in story of woman (Kimberly Elise), tossed out of their mansion by her unfaithful lawyer husband (Steve Harris); she seeks comfort with her pot-smoking, gun-toting, outspoken grandmother (Tyler Perry, in bosomy drag, who adapted the script from his play) and meets a great new guy (Shemar Moore), but first must make peace with her yen for revenge. Subtly implied portrayals of drug addiction, infidelity; marijuana use; reference to miscarriages; guns fired; disabled character nearly drowns; mild sexual innuendo; toilet humor; rare profanity. More for high schoolers.

"Hitch." Slick, glib, irresistible, perfectly cast romantic comedy with Will Smith as Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a "date doctor" who teaches shy New Yorkers like Albert the accountant (Kevin James) how to woo women; then Alex meets a smart, gorgeous gossip columnist (Eva Mendes) who makes him forget he vowed never to fall in love himself. A relatively chaste PG-13, but with much verbal sexual innuendo, some of it crude and misogynistic; a man is kicked in the crotch and slammed against an anatomically correct bronze bull; fairly strong profanity; character gets high on antihistamines. Teens.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company