6 and Older
"The Santa Clause 2" (G). Tim Allen as accidental Santa from 1994 hit learns he must marry or lose job he loves in wildly uneven, ungainly sequel with long, unfunny stretches but several amusing bits (i.e. Toy Santa who runs the North Pole like a dictator while real Santa's away) too sophisticated and infrequent to amuse tots. Mother Nature warns Santa not to annoy her because she's "pre-El Nino;" Comet has gas.
"I Spy." Pointless, sloppily made buddy comedy with little relation to 1960s TV show stars Owen Wilson as American agent, Eddie Murphy as loudmouth boxing champ he must work with on mission in Budapest to trap dangerous arms dealer (Malcolm McDowell). Understated gun, knife violence; sexual innuendo; crude language; toilet humor.
"The Ring." Naomi Watts in visually arresting but narratively messy ghost story as journalist, drawn into mystery of her niece's sudden death after the girl viewed a nightmarish cult video. Themes touch on murder of a child, mental illness, suicide, parental abuse; horse dies in freak accident off-camera, but blood shown; other violent deaths; an electrocution; mild sexual innuendo. Not for preteens.
"The Truth About Charlie." Mark Wahlberg, Thandie Newton chase around Paris in Jonathan Demme's enjoyable but style-over-substance reworking of 1963 thriller "Charade," lacking crucial Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn panache, yet paying interesting homage to 1960s French New Wave films with camera moves, lightning edits. Semi-nudity; sexual innuendo; stylized non-graphic violence. Not for preteens.
"All or Nothing." British director Mike Leigh's portrait of a poor London cabbie (Timothy Spall) and his family, living in dingy public housing, estranged and lost in a fog of depression, until a near-tragedy reminds them they love one another -- told in Leigh's slow, unglamorous, humane style ["Secrets & Lies," R, 1996]; an acquired taste, but worth it. Sexual situations; toplessness; strong profanity. High school cinema buffs.
"Auto Focus." Director Paul Schrader's well-acted but bleak account of 1960s "Hogan's Heroes" TV star Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) and his eerie descent into sex addiction fueled by fame, friendship with a lowlife named John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe) and tragic lack of an inner life -- ending with his murder. Explicit sexual situations -- more clinical than titillating; nudity; drug use; brief violence; profanity. No one under 17 -- more for college age fans of independent films.
"Ghost Ship." Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Isaiah Washington as members of salvage crew who find long-vanished Italian liner full of treasure and ghosts in initially intriguing, but weakly scripted, visually dull thriller. Flashback of revelers on ship's dance floor sliced in half by cable in stylized but bloody moment; victim impaled on hook; skeleton; gun violence; mild sexual innuendo; toplessness; profanity. High-schoolers.
"Jackass: The Movie." MTV reality comedy show in movie form, showing over-age doofuses with skateboard and other stunt expertise doing dumb, dangerous stuff, destroying property, offending people and laughing at their own brilliance in pointless exercise -- a film signifying end of civilization. Ever cruder, lewder nudity (frontal, backal), toilet humor; sexual innuendo; profanity. 17 and older, we plead, resignedly.
"Frida." Salma Hayek in vibrant portrayal of Mexican artist, feminist icon Frida Kahlo. A glorious, intensely dramatic biography, in which director Julie Taymor injects brilliant bits of magic realism to embody Kahlo's artistic inspiration; with Alfred Molina as her husband Diego Rivera. Explicit sexual situations; nudity; stylized but intense portrayal of bus accident that injured young Kahlo; drinking, smoking; muted violence. 16 and up.
"Comedian." Jerry Seinfeld in authorized documentary (he produced it) following his quest, post-"Seinfeld" to create a new stand-up comedy act from scratch, testing it at clubs in 2000-'01. Mildish R, with profanity, muted sexual innuendo. High-schoolers into stand-up comics, Seinfeldiana.