6 and Older
"Garfield: The Movie" (PG). Surprisingly droll, slightly edgy family film shot in live-action, with only tubby tabby Garfield computer-animated (voiced by Bill Murray). Owner Jon (Breckin Meyer) adopts cute pup Odie to please pretty vet (Jennifer Love Hewitt); jealous Garfield tosses Odie out and he's dognapped, so guilty Garfield goes to the rescue. Youngest may cringe at scary-looking Doberman, or to see Odie jolted by electric collar, Garfield with mouse tail hanging from mouth in pretend kill; rats; mildly crude language; suicide joke little ones won't get.
10 and Older
"Around the World in 80 Days" (PG). Disneyfied take on Jules Verne novel has a few moments of charm, humor, droll references to Victorian-era art, science but is long, confusing and dumbed-down. Eccentric British inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) and the mysterious Chinese traveler who becomes his valet (Jackie Chan) go on 'round-the-world trip to win wager against the Royal Academy of Science. Kung-fu fights against blade-wielding villains are bloodless but violent for a PG; mild sexual innuendo.
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (PG). Beautifully realized third installment has darker themes of death and evil too intense for many under-10s. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts wizard school, learns of Azkaban prison escapee Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who may be a threat to Harry. Images nearing PG-13 scariness include icy-fingered specters, fight between dog and werewolf that menaces Harry and friends, giant spider and snake, implied beheading of mythical beast. Some parents may object to portrayal of witchcraft as force for good as well as evil.
PG-13, PG for teens
"The Terminal." Steven Spielberg's ode to American diversity stars Tom Hanks in cuddly turn as man from a former Soviet bloc nation stranded at JFK International Airport after coup makes his passport invalid; top airport official (Stanley Tucci) wishes he were gone, but the traveler learns English, befriends airport workers, romances Catherine Zeta-Jones in cliched role as flight attendant. Mild PG-13 with profanity, sexual innuendo; intense scene showing man arrested.
"Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story." Surprisingly hilarious sports spoof with Ben Stiller as egotistical, muscle-obsessed owner of fancy gym, Vince Vaughn as shlumpy owner of bankrupt gym, facing off on dodgeball court at big Las Vegas tourney. Profanity; gross verbal toilet humor, crotch jokes, humor targeting gays, overweight people; verbal innuendo about group sex; characters hit with hurled wrenches. Not for middle-schoolers.
"Napoleon Dynamite" (PG). Inventive, often very funny tongue-in-cheek indie comedy about gawky, uncool Idaho teenager (Jon Heder) whose miserable life takes hopeful turn when he helps a new friend (Efren Ramirez) run for class president, learns a few good dance moves and finds a girl (Tina Majorino) who likes him. Implied off-camera shooting of a cow; mild sexual innuendo, crude humor, profanity. Not for preteens.