SHREK 2 (PG, 93 minutes)
"Shrek 2" does not disappoint. Deliciously funny, wickedly irreverent and buoyed by genuine feeling, it offers high entertainment for most kids 6 and older. They'll learn that even in a computer-animated fable, the days that follow happily-ever-after can be fraught with difficulties, but still end well. Parents should recall that like the original ("Shrek," PG, 2001), this fractured fairy tale is full of nearly lewd gags aimed at adults while kids laugh at the characters' antics.
"Shrek 2" contains mild sexual innuendo, such as lines about "taut buttocks" and "lust." There's a rude gag about Pinocchio wearing ladies' underwear and toilet humor about "toadstool softener" and a cat licking his nether regions and coughing up hairballs. A strong beverage is consumed at the Poison Apple Inn, too. Slight plot giveaway: Those who choose to bring pre-schoolers may see them quail a bit when favorite characters are pursued by creepy henchmen firing arrows. Later they have to storm a castle.
Chief director and co-writer Andrew Adamson maintains the wit of his original while again showing kids it's bad to judge people by looks or status. He shamelessly skewers popular culture and, more subtly, classic fairy tales whose characters turn up throughout.
That boorish but lovable ogre Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and his princess-turned-ogress, Fiona (Cameron Diaz), are on their honeymoon. When Fiona's parents (John Cleese and Julie Andrews), the rulers of Far Far Away (which looks like Hollywood), summon them to the palace, Shrek knows how they'll react to see she has opted to be a full-time ogress and didn't marry that hunk Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). Nor are they impressed with the blabbery Donkey pal (Eddie Murphy, still a hoot), who tags along. Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas -- a riot), a swashbuckling cat, is hired to eliminate Shrek, and, well, we should stop.
VALENTIN (PG-13, 87 minutes, in Spanish with subtitles)
Every now and again a movie from abroad arrives with great potential for winning over budding teen aficionados and making them lifelong foreign-film fans. Vivid characters and storytelling will override any subtitle aversion and pull them in. "Valentin" can do that. This funny, bittersweet yarn, set in 1960s Buenos Aires, is spun by an immensely likable 8-year-old boy, who narrates the story as we see him live it. Slightly cross-eyed and wearing corrective specs with thick black frames, Valentin (Rodrigo Noya) is a great little man, though he leads a rather sad life at the mercy of flawed adults -- parents divorced, mother long gone, ne'er-do-well father (writer-director Alejandro Agresti), mostly absent, loving grandmother (Carmen Maura) who's raising him in frail health. Indomitable and clever, Valentin schemes to improve his plight. Though Agresti's autobiographical film brims with feeling, it is never cloying. The PG-13 reflects some profanity, a scene in which a parent viciously berates a child, anti-Semitic slurs, adults smoking and drinking and subtle hints of past spousal abuse.
COFFEE AND CIGARETTES (R, 96 minutes)
Only the most avant-garde high-school cinema buffs will tune in to the smoky, caffeinated atmosphere that wafts through this plotless array of conversations. Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (""Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," "Mystery Train") shot them over a period of nearly 20 years. Some of the scenes work, usually on a subtle, comic level -- manic Italian actor Roberto Benigni meets comedian Steven Wright in a silly vignette made back in 1986 for "Saturday Night Live"; Wu-Tang Clan rappers GZA and RZA share wisdom as Bill Murray serves their coffee; Tom Waits and Iggy Pop try to impress each other and brag they've quit smoking, even as they light up. Other scenes fall very flat, so patience is required. Those with ultra-impressionable high schoolers, note this is a black-and-white indie film, and the smoking and coffee guzzling will seem so hip. Intermittent profanity earns the R rating.