TOY STORY 2 (G, 85 minutes)
There's no reason to doubt that kids 6 and older will delight as much in "Toy Story 2" as they (or their older siblings) did in the 1995 original. This time around, cowboy doll Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) is kidnapped by a sleazy seller of vintage toys, so space doll Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the playthings in Andy's bedroom go to the rescue.
Woody accidentally lands outside during a yard sale, and the toy collector steals him, setting the external plot in motion. Internally, "Toy Story 2" grapples with the idea that when kids outgrow their toys, the toys lose their reason for being. Though treated lightly and with a happy ending, the notion could make younger children sad and might require a talk about whether dolls are really alive. Some kids, by the way, are spooked by the idea of toys coming to life.
Amazing and quite hilariously harrowing sequences occur inside a toy store, on an airplane and on a busy street (which Buzz and company scurry across while hiding under traffic cones, causing vehicular chaos -- a stunt little ones mustn't imitate). Yet it's the strong, funny story, not the computer-animation wizardry that'll hold kids' attention and allow parents to forgive the well-placed commercial toy names.
MANSFIELD PARK (PG-13, 112 minutes)
Teens may like this revisionist adaptation of Jane Austen's 1814 novel simply because it isn't the decorous period piece we've come to expect in Austen-inspired films. It's gritty and unglamorous, but handsomely shot, well acted and totally absorbing. Director-screenwriter Patricia Rozema uses excerpts of Austen's personal letters and other writings to make the central character, Fanny Price (Frances O'Connor), spunkier than she is in the novel. She also adds grim detail to the implication that Sir Thomas Bertram (Harold Pinter), the rich uncle with whom Fanny has lived as a poor relation since childhood, is in the slave trade. Add a fleeting but fairly explicit semi-nude sex scene between adulterous partners to drug use and considerable subtle, sexual innuendo and you have an envelope-pushing PG-13.
Fanny grows up in love with her cousin (before such things were taboo) Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller), waiting for him to realize he loves her, too. Then a seductive visitor from London (Embeth Davidtz) distracts Edmund while her playboy brother (Alessandro Nivola) pursues Fanny. Moral questions about marrying for money and social status, as well as the racial issues, make "Mansfield Park" relevant and fresh for teen audiences.
END OF DAYS (R, 122 minutes)
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an embittered ex-cop who takes on Satan in this grossly violent, pseudo-religious thriller. Even high schoolers who like the always-R-rated genre, including "The Exorcist" (1973), "The Omen" (1976) and all their spawn, may find "End of Days" exceptionally crass. Bullets, knives and Satan do gory damage to people, impalements, explosions and fire being especially popular. That, along with semi-explicit sexual situations, partial nudity, profanity and themes of loss and suicide, make "End of Days" inappropriate for younger teens and especially preteens.
A prologue set in 1970 shows a baby girl who's been designated to mate with Satan at the turn of the millennium and give birth to the Antichrist. Now a young woman, Christine (Robin Tunney) has no idea who she is, until people try to kill her to derail Satan's plans. Schwarzenegger plays a security expert who vows to protect Christine from the devil, chasing after her in the body of actor Gabriel Byrne. Catholic believers would have far more reason to be insulted by this heavy-handed poppycock than by the controversial, faith-inspired comedy "Dogma" (R).
Better for 6 and Up
"Pokemon: The First Movie" (G). Pokemon trainer Ash and his cuddly Pokemon (short for Pocket Monster) Pikachu confront cloned Mewtwo in bland animated feature based on TV show, computer game, etc. Pokemon have huge fistfight before learning fighting's bad; tots may worry when Ash or Pikachu in danger. Cute Pokemon vacation short precedes feature.
Fine for 10 and Older
"Music of the Heart" (PG). Meryl Streep in warm, entertaining fact-based tale of violin teacher in East Harlem schools. Themes of divorce, loss; sadness over child killed in offscreen shooting; rare mild profanity.
"The World Is Not Enough." Pierce Brosnan's Bond goes after mad terrorist in fast, funny 007 adventure. Understated bedroom scenes; verbal sexual innuendo; action sequences seem to endanger bystanders too much; fistfights, gunplay.
"Felicia's Journey." Haunting story of Irish girl in trouble, befriended by seemingly harmless Englishman, played by Bob Hoskins, who's actually a killer. Reference to murders, but no violence shown; suicide; out-of-wedlock pregnancy; abortion theme.
"Anywhere but Here." Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman as free-spirited mom, sad teen daughter in crackling dramedy about kids accepting parents, parents letting go. Profanity; sexual innuendo; mild teen sexual situation; smoking; theme of loss.
"Sleepy Hollow." Johnny Depp as eccentric Ichabod Crane chases murderous Headless Horseman in darkly comic, terrific Tim Burton adaptation of Washington Irving tale. Nightmarish scene with boy hiding while Horseman kills his parents, comes after him; graphic beheadings; gunfire, fights, semi-explicit sexual situation. High-schoolers.
"The Legend of 1900." Charming, dreamlike fable about jazz piano prodigy who's born, lives and dies aboard ocean liner in first half of 1900s, afraid ever to set foot on land. Strong language; smoking; drinking. Teens.