6 and Older
"Shrek 2" (PG). Riotous computer-animated sequel preaches acceptance of others, skewers pop culture, classic tales, as honeymooners Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) go to see her royal parents (John Cleese and Julie Andrews), who are shocked to see Fiona has chosen to marry Shrek and become a full-time ogress; wicked Fairy Godmum (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 -- Pinocchio in ladies' underwear, cat licking himself -- go over kids' heads; mild sexual innuendo, references to lust; hairball gag; preschoolers might quail as Godmother's goons chase heroes.
10 and Older
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (PG). Beautifully realized third installment has darker themes of death, evil too intense for many under-10s. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts, learns of Azkaban prison escapee Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who may have betrayed Harry's late parents and intend to kill him; with Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), Harry has harrowing adventures, including time travel, to find truth. Images near PG-13 scariness: icy-fingered Death specters in form of soul-stealing demons, dog and werewolf fight, threaten Harry, et al., giant spider and snake, implied beheading of half-eagle/half-horse. Some parents will object to wizardry premise on religious grounds.
"Saved!" Intelligent, often humorous, but not very profound take on teen romance, atypically set in born-again Christian high school; with Jena Malone as girl who has sex with boyfriend to "cure" him of gayness, becomes pregnant and hides it; Mandy Moore as her fake-pious best friend; Eva Amurri, Macaulay Culkin as outcasts she befriends. Strongly implied sexual situation; romanticized view of teen motherhood; profanity, sexual slang; homophobic talk; jokey reference to bombing abortion clinics; drunkenness, smoking. Not for middle-schoolers.
"The Day After Tomorrow." Dennis Quaid in ripsnorting disaster flick as climatologist whose global-warming predictions come true suddenly, with monster storms followed by an ice age; he tries to reach his son (Jake Gyllenhaal), holed up in New York Public Library; good acting, ironic humor make up for many dumb bits. Intense tornadoes, tidal waves; frozen corpses; rare profanity; brief make-out scene with partially unbuttoned shirts; milder sexual innuendo; wounds with hints of blood; fake-looking wolves attack, get clobbered, none of it graphic; self-sacrificing suicide; dying child in hospital. Too intense for some preteens.
"Raising Helen." Kate Hudson in often-diverting but cliched, uneven comedy as New York modeling agency hotshot whose ultra-chic lifestyle changes after she becomes guardian to oldest sister's kids (Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin, Abigail Breslin) after a tragedy; Joan Cusack as busybody middle sister; John Corbett as minister who falls for Helen (Hudson) -- little chemistry in their scenes. Gentle hints of sexual situations between adults; implied teen experimentation with sex; teen drinking, smoking; adults smoke; mild profanity; themes of loss, grief.
"Soul Plane." Ultra-raunchy, occasionally riotous sendup of African American cultural stereotypes in comedy patterned after "Airplane!," with Kevin Hart as guy who uses lawsuit winnings against big airline to start his own, with Snoop Dogg as druggy pilot, Tom Arnold as clueless white guy on board with many partying passengers. Crude, explicit sexual language and situations; tasteless, troubling subplot about proposed sexual initiation of 18-year-old girl; multiple references to sexual organs; strong profanity, racial slurs; drinking, smoking; drug use. No one under 17.