THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT (G, 115 minutes)
Yes, the first "Princess Diaries" (G, 2001) was a tad 1950s, but it was cheerful good retro fun. This installment, at nearly two hours, is a rambling, overstuffed mess. The good humor of the first film becomes forced, and the originally charming tale of an awkward San Francisco teenager who finds out she's a princess becomes ponderous and contrived. (Both films are based on characters from the books by Meg Cabot.) The G-rated "Royal Engagement" aims to please girls 6 and up, and though its flaws can't help but evoke fidgets now and then, there is much to please the kids -- cute guys, dressy clothes, flirting, scheming, slapstick, cuddly pets, a pop score and mattress surfing. The most scandalous moments involve a 12-year-old prince asking tall Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway), "May I blow in your ear?" Mia also cuddles all night on a blanket with a guy, but in a chaste manner.
We meet up with our heroine as she graduates from Princeton and jets to her ancestral European kingdom of Genovia (where local accents seem to hail from Italy, France, Germany -- and Brooklyn). Her grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), grooms Mia for the throne, but a scheming viscount (John Rhys-Davies) invokes an old law that requires women in line for the throne to marry or step aside. Of course, his nephew, Nicholas (Chris Pine), is next in line. Though not keen on his uncle's power play, Nicholas tries to charm Mia, who suspects his motives. She and her grandmother choose a nice young English lord (Callum Blue), but he and Mia have no spark, and oh, that Nicholas!
YU-GI-OH! THE MOVIE (PG, 91 minutes)
Ooooh, this is going to be a painfully long sit for parents, even if they're familiar with the internationally popular "Yu-Gi-Oh!" TV series, trading cards, comic books, etc. At least half the dialogue seems merely to reiterate the rules of the mystical card game at which the zigzaggy-haired teen hero of the title excels. Example: "So, the Pyramid of Light is not only an artifact -- it's a GOD CARD!" Ahhhh, now I get it! The whole movie seems geared to market "Yu-Gi-Oh!" stuff.
There is plenty of mayhem to nudge the film's PG boundaries, mostly involving the skeletal, hollow-eyed mummies chasing our hero and his friends and losing their heads and arms while fighting humans. In the playing of the game, dragon- and dinosaur-like monsters materialize to demolish one another. The animated violence may be too intense for some 6- to 8-year-olds. Giggling female monsters wear sexy gear and do little for girl empowerment in this comic-book-style universe.
While shy Yugi and his super-confident alter ego, Pharaoh, play the game of their life with Yugi's longtime nemesis, a more dangerous cosmic game is going on in an ancient pyramid that has been somehow transplanted from Egypt to Yugi's home town. Yugi and friends must defeat the reawakened Egyptian lord of the dead, who aims to destroy the world with his mummy army. Most boys'll like it anyway.