FANTASIA/2000 (G, 90 minutes, opens Saturday at IMAX theaters in Baltimore and Richmond)
Disney artists have set a new batch of images to music, using computer-generated animation as well as the old-fashioned hand-drawn kind. As with the original 1940 "Fantasia" experiment, some kids will be bored, others happily hypnotized and very little ones (say, under 6) occasionally frightened.
Happily, Disney has retained "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," that Mickey Mouse classic with music by Paul Dukas, but the rest is new: Whales fly under starry skies to Respighi's "The Pines of Rome"; a nasty (and scary-looking) jack-in-the-box torments a clockwork ballerina to Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2; Donald Duck helps Noah load the ark to Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance"; Depression-era New Yorkers bustle to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."
GALAXY QUEST (PG, 102 minutes)
The has-been stars of a 1970s sci-fi TV show wind up on a "real" alien spaceship fighting "real" alien monsters in this genuinely funny spoof, which kids 8 to 13 should enjoy on a basic adventure level, while teens and adults chortle at the satire. "Galaxy Quest" crackles along, with nary a wrong turn, as it pokes gentle fun at the original "Star Trek" and its cultish fans. It contains rare mild profanity and sexual innuendo, but the littlest kids might shiver at seeing the battles with space alien monsters.
Tim Allen heads the no-longer-young "Galaxy Quest" cast (including Sigourney Weaver as a bimbette and Alan Rickman as a Klingon-like character, bitter about where Shakespearean training got him). Fans who turn out to be from a galaxy far, far away beam them up because they think "Galaxy Quest" was real and the cast can help them fight a murderous enemy.
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (R, 139 minutes)
In this dark, elegantly told tale of envy, sin, betrayal and self-delusion, an ambitious young man from the wrong side of the social register insinuates himself into the lives of wealthy Americans living abroad in the late 1950s. Full of unspoken but clearly implied sexual longing and subtle shifts in emotion, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" isn't for teens under 16 or so. It could, however, intrigue older high-schoolers fascinated by Europe and by sophisticated, character-driven stories. The movie also has several instances of sudden violence, occasional profanity and considerable drinking and smoking.
Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is a penniless, uptight college grad who's sent to Italy to persuade a wealthy American's son, Dickie (Jude Law), to come home. Ripley falls quite in love with Dickie; finding his affection unrequited, he turns to murder and deception.
CRADLE WILL ROCK (R, 133 minutes)
"Cradle Will Rock" combines fact with fiction to tell a ripsnorting tale of freethinking artists vs. Establishment censorship. High-schoolers with an interest in social history and the Depression might find it fascinating and something of an intellectual challenge. The rating reflects a fairly explicit sexual situation, nude artists' models, occasional profanity, smoking and drinking.
The title comes from a pro-labor musical, "The Cradle Will Rock," commissioned by the Federal Theatre Project in the 1930s. A New York acting troupe headed by a young John Houseman (Cary Elwes) and an even younger Orson Welles (Angus MacFadyen) -- both drolly caricatured -- is ready to open the masterpiece by Marc Blitzstein (Hank Azaria) when the FTP locks them out of their theater, afraid the show is too political. Deftly woven into that true story are myriad subplots, some of them fictional. Fresh, smart and entertaining, "Cradle Will Rock" is actually about something.
Okay for Most Kids
"Stuart Little" (PG). Droll, touching, slightly smart-alecky take on E.B. White kid lit classic about mouse who becomes youngest son of nice human family; lacks book's dignified tone, but still mighty entertaining. Tots may jump when cats chase Stuart; cats also swear once or twice.
"Toy Story 2" (G). Clever, touching sequel has cowboy doll Woody kidnapped by toy collector, as Buzz Lightyear and fellow toys go to rescue. Idea that kids outgrow toys, leaving toys lonely could upset littlest; a few kids spooked by idea of toys coming to life. Six and older.
"Sweet and Lowdown." Sean Penn as fictional 1930s jazz guitarist who's a lyin', cheatin' bum when not making beautiful music in Woody Allen's witty, wise pseudo-documentary. Rare profanity; sexual innuendo; unwed cohabitation; muted love scenes; talk of prostitution; drugs, smoking, drinking.
"The Cider House Rules." Tobey Maguire as orphanage-raised innocent off to see the world, while Michael Caine as his mentor worries, in gentle adaptation of John Irving novel. Strong themes about abortion, incest; sick child dies; fairly graphic sexual situation; drug abuse; fighting; drinking; smoking; profanity.
"Any Given Sunday." Al Pacino scores as football coach having hard season in Oliver Stone's long, loud, bone-crunching, macho, semi-profound expose of big-time sports. Profanity; frontal nudity; blood, sweat, vomit; occasional racial, sexist slurs; drugs, liquor, cigarettes. High-schoolers.
"Man on the Moon." Jim Carrey in technically stunning portrait of comedy groundbreaker of "Saturday Night Live" and "Taxi" fame, Andy Kaufman, that fails to find his inner life in emotionally dry bio. Profanity; topless dancers; sexual innuendo; sexist humor. Teens.