Friday, March 4, 2005; Page WE42
"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.
"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.
"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.