10 and Older
"America's Heart & Soul" (PG). Uplifting, sometimes too-sugary documentary ode to American individualism and freedom occasionally preaches but at its best lets people tell their own stories in short, pithy profiles -- steelworkers, cliff dancers, jazz-playing brothers, a dairy farmer/folk musician, an ex-convict/Olympic boxer, a Mississippi gospel singer, a Colorado cowboy, an Appalachian rugmaker, a San Francisco minister -- visionaries, eccentrics, all pursuing their passions. References to drinking.
"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, 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.
"Spider-Man 2." Great sequel artfully blends spectacular action with poetic poignancy as Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) struggles with sense of duty vs. love for Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and pal Harry (James Franco) as he faces a new villain, tentacled Doc Ock (Alfred Molina). Action is harrowing, so loud it vibrates, but not bloody. Toughest scenes show Doc Ock killing operating-room doctors, an implied impalement, a car hurtling through a window, a fight atop a speeding commuter train; characters are taken hostage, a child cowers in a burning building. Okay for some tweens, not for under-10s.
"White Chicks." Comics Marlon and Shawn Wayans in cheesy comedy about doofus FBI agents posing as whiny rich white girls; racial stereotypes cleverly spoofed at times but premise is never convincing. Graphic sexual language and innuendo; implied semi-nudity; crude toilet humor, drug joke; understated gun violence, loud fistfights; pooch in comic danger; profanity, racial slurs; drinking.
"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; many crotch jokes; humor targeting gays, overweight people; verbal innuendo about group sex; characters hit with hurled wrenches. Not for middle-schoolers.
"The Clearing." Fine cast can't enliven pretentiously sedate kidnapping drama, sure to put high schoolers to sleep. Robert Redford as financier, Helen Mirren as his loyal wife, Willem Dafoe as down-and-outer who holds the rich man for ransom as secrets, sadnesses about their lives emerge. Profanity; understated violence; references to extramarital affair.
"Fahrenheit 9/11." Michael Moore's one-sided but gripping, funny, heart-rending polemic against the Iraq war and what he deems tainted Bush administration motives. Graphic footage of war wounded, including dead babies, video of public beheading (shown from a distance), corpses burned by mob, sexual language, profanity, slurs spoken by soldiers, some directed at Iraqi prisoners; audio montage of 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Mature high schoolers.