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Friday, March 18, 2005; Page WE46

6 and Older

"Robots" (PG). Delightful, witty computer-animated fable set in a robot world with Fiestaware colors, Rube Goldbergesque design; inventor-hero Rodney Copperbottom (voice of Ewan McGregor) leads fellow robots (voices of Robin Williams, Amanda Bynes, Halle Berry, others) in uprising against evil executive (Greg Kinnear) who aims to eliminate spare parts and old robots so he can sell new models, reversing policy of company founder Mr. Bigweld (Mel Brooks). Occasional mild sexual innuendo about making robot babies; flatulence jokes; robot pierced with screws has "Got Screwed" sign; Aunt Fanny 'bot has huge derriere; hellish underworld Chop Shop, where old robots are melted down, could briefly scare younger kids.

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.


"Dear Frankie." Low-key, nicely acted, Scotland-based tale has charm enough to overcome a sentimental plot about a working-class single mom (Emily Mortimer) who allows her sweet, deaf 9-year-old, Frankie (Jack McElhone),to believe his absent dad still loves him, by telling him his father is a merchant seaman and sending the boy letters that she writes; when the ship his dad supposedly sails on docks at their city, she hires a handsome stranger (Gerard Butler) to play Frankie's dad. Profanity; smoking; sexual innuendo from preteen bullies; hint of past, nonsexual child abuse.

"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 jive-talking manager; Christina Milian as a singer. Fatal beating, loud shootings -- little on-camera violence; profanity; homophobic slurs; sexual references, innuendo; scantily clad dancers; drinking, smoking. High schoolers.


"The Upside of Anger." Kevin Costner shines as likable oaf in otherwise stilted, clumsily contrived comedy-drama about suburban wife (Joan Allen) who feels abandoned by her executive husband; she starts drinking; the ex-baseball star (Costner) who lives down the street drops by to drink with her; her four teen and adult daughters (Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt) start acting out. Liquor, marijuana; strong profanity; sexual innuendo, mildly crude sexual language; muted sexual situations; out-of-wedlock pregnancy; violent comic fantasy with gunshot, splattered blood. 16 and older.

"Hostage." Bruce Willis as another tortured hero in absorbing but exploitative, overwrought thriller that shows children at grave risk; he's an LAPD hostage negotiator who quits after a tragic incident and becomes a small-town police chief; then a rich widower (Kevin Pollak) and his kids (Michelle Horn, Jimmy Bennett) are taken hostage by local delinquents (Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker, Marshall Allman) outside his town; plot thickeners involve masked gunmen and threats to his own family. Bloodied body of child shot (off-camera) by berserk father in prologue; deafening gun violence, stabbing, flash fires; murdered pet's body; sexual innuendo; lurid hint that female teen hostage, tied fully-clothed to a bed, is in danger of rape; profanity; marijuana; implied nonsexual seminudity. 17 and up.

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