8 and Older
"A Cinderella Story" (PG). Vivacious, vacuous Hilary Duff in plastic, predictable fairy tale update plays brainy high school senior who barely has time to study because her nasty, Botox-icated stepmom (droll Jennifer Coolidge) keeps her working at the diner her beloved late father left them; she is tormented by idiot stepsisters (unfunny Andrea Avery and Madeline Zima), bolstered by an eccentric school pal (Dan Byrd), a fellow waitress (Regina King) and her e-mail romance with a mystery classmate (Chad Michael Murray). Mild sexual innuendo; theme about life after loss.
"The Bourne Supremacy." Matt Damon deftly blends innocence and experience as former CIA assassin Jason Bourne, roused from his safe haven and amnesia by folks who want to frame and kill him, in long but satisfyingly jittery, brainy, peripatetic thriller sequel; Brian Cox, Joan Allen as rival CIA honchos. Intense but non-gory mayhem shows a stylized assassination, a gun suicide, naturalistic fights, strangulation, snapped necks; harrowing chases; rare profanity; drinking. Not for preteens.
"Catwoman." Bland, drearily plotted comic-book adaptation saved by Halle Berry's jazzy turn as timid employee at a cosmetics company, murdered for learning a trade secret; resurrected by a mysterious cat and endowed with feline qualities, she becomes Catwoman, who takes on evil cosmetics mogul (Sharon Stone) and charms a cop (Benjamin Bratt). Strong, non-explicit sexuality; dominatrix gear sends odd message about female empowerment; implied overnight tryst; bloodless gunplay; stylized fights with whip; child shown in danger on Ferris wheel. Iffy for preteens.
"I, Robot." Visually stunning but dramatically clumsy combination of cop flick and sci-fi thriller (based partly on stories by Isaac Asimov) mixes live-action and computer effects; Chicago cop (Will Smith), circa 2035, hates polite helper robots that permeate society, suspects one may have killed a robotics expert (James Cromwell); he investigates with help of prim robotics shrink (Bridget Moynahan). Profanity; hint of nudity; fights, bloodless gunplay, robots torn apart; suicide theme; drinking.
"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) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and faces tentacled Doc Ock (Alfred Molina). Action is harrowing, but not bloody. Toughest scenes show Doc Ock killing operating room doctors, implied impalement, car hurtling through cafe window, fight atop speeding train; characters taken hostage, child cowers in burning building. Not for under-10's.
"Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle." Funny, subversive, stereotype-busting stoner comedy, with two guys of Asian heritage as leads, not sidekicks; Harold (John Cho) is an office drudge; roommate Kumar (Kal Penn) is a pre-med who would rather get stoned; they set off on an all-night quest for White Castle burgers with many diversions on the way. Drug use; profanity, wildly crude language, toilet humor; comic operating room scene; explicit sex talk, milder sexual situations; toplessness, back-view nudity. College age and up.