6 and Older
"Shrek 2" (PG). Riotous computer-animated sequel still preaches acceptance of others, skewers popular culture and old fairy tales, as honeymooners Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) go to see royal in-laws (John Cleese and Julie Andrews), who are shocked to see Fiona has chosen to Shrek and become a full-time ogress; wicked Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) wants Fiona for her son, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett); Fiona's father sends Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to kill Shrek. Semi-lewd jokes go over kids' heads; mild sexual innuendo -- references to "lust"; gag about Pinocchio in ladies' underwear; crude humor, jokes about cat licking himself, coughing up hairballs; pre-schoolers might worry to see protagonists chased by Godmother's thugs.
10 and Older
"New York Minute" (PG). Bankable, perennially perky twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in trifling feature as sibs who resolve differences during Manhattan misadventure. Giggly sexual innuendo iffy for under-10s, with twins in bath towel and robe around cute guys; implied nudity; toilet humor; racial stereotypes; dog put in comic peril; scary snake; fight; car chase; theme about loss of parent.
"Valentin." Bittersweet charmer from Argentina about indomitable bespectacled 8-year-old boy (Rodrigo Noya) in 1960s Buenos Aires who schemes to create a happy family life for himself, despite flawed adults around him. Occasional profanity; scene in which a parent cruelly berates a child; anti-Semitic slurs; adults smoking, drinking; subtle hints of past spousal abuse. In Spanish with subtitles. Great intro to foreign films for teenagers.
"Breakin' All the Rules." Jamie Foxx as guy who writes bestseller about how to end love affairs; romantic confusion ensues between him, a cousin (Morris Chestnut), cousin's girlfriend (Gabrielle Union), a former boss (Peter MacNicol) in cleverly conceived comedy that never quite jells and glamorizes dishonesty in love. Adult sexual innuendo; awful gag about old man asking therapist to touch his privates; couples in bed kissing, modest undress; drinking; rare profanity; dog given booze. No middle-schoolers.
"Van Helsing." Effects-laden monster epic plays like nifty theme-park ride in fairly thrilling, relatively bloodless, if deafening, style; marred by endless finale of monster-vs.-human smackdowns. Hugh Jackman as Bram Stoker's vampire-killer takes on Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley), others; Kate Beckinsale as fighting Transylvanian damsel. Impalings, severed limbs, gross morphings into werewolves; gargoylish vampire babies; muted sexual innuendo. Not for the timid, phobic or preteens.
"Mean Girls." Lindsay Lohan in sunny turn as girl home-schooled in Africa who enters real jungle of suburban American high school in wickedly on-target comedy with heart; Rachel McAdams as evil cool girl queen, screenwriter Tina Fey as math teacher. Abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases, condoms spoofed; tampon joke; nonexplicit sexual situation with partial undress; misogynistic, homophobic slurs; bus-pedestrian accident; drinking. Iffy for middle-schoolers.
"A Slipping-Down Life." Shy young woman (Lili Taylor) comes out of her shell after seeing obscure rock singer-songwriter (Guy Pearce) perform; she cuts his name into her forehead as bizarre act of love, becomes his mascot and muse, then his lover in well-acted but shapeless, unfocused tale of lost souls, from Anne Tyler's novel. Strong profanity, sexual language; implied promiscuity; smoking, drinking. High schoolers.
"Troy." Brad Pitt looks fine but lacks grandiosity as Greek warrior Achilles in occasionally thrilling, but over-long, unpoetic conflation of "Iliad," "Odyssey" and "Aeneid" in epic that makes Greek landing at Troy rival D-Day; Peter O'Toole as Troy's King Priam, Orlando Bloom as his lustful son Paris, Eric Bana as warrior son Hector. Battles show impalings but little gore; Achilles drags body of Hector for all to see; understated sexual situations -- implied nudity; girl threatened with hot poker; mild verbal sexual innuendo. High schoolers into myth.