6 and Older
"The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" (G). Overlong, overstuffed, more retro, less fun sequel to likable first "Princess Diaries" (G, 2001), this time with Princess Mia (charming Anne Hathaway), a college grad, back at her Euro-mini-kingdom, being groomed to take the throne when grandmother (Julie Andrews) retires; Mia must marry or give up the crown, so she agrees to an arranged match, while falling for the handsome nephew (Chris Pine) of a scheming viscount (John Rhys-Davies). A 12-year-old boy asks Mia to let him blow in her ear; she chastely cuddles all night with a fellow.
8 and Older
"Benji: Off the Leash!" (PG) Meandering tale -- first "Benji" installment in mostly G-rated series since 1987's "Benji the Hunted" -- will please dog-centric kids despite clumsy, home-movie amateurishness; young teen (Nick Whitaker) rescues unwanted pup from his abusive dad's (Chris Kendrick) puppy mill and raises it secretly; once grown, the clever mutt and another stray scheme to rescue the pup's sick mother, fool animal control guys (Randall Newsome, Duane Stephens) and give the bad guy his due; father threatens to hit boy and mother, who has bruises; puppy thrown but unhurt; sick dog mistreated. Parents of under-8s should note parental abuse theme.
"Hero." Spectacularly beautiful, mythic, if somewhat confusing tale about birth of first Chinese dynasty 2,000 years ago, told with balletic, treetop-skimming martial arts, amazing swordplay and little blood, though strongly implied lethal wounds; with Jet Li as lawman who appears before the king (Chen Daoming) to tell how he killed three of the king's would-be assassins; but the story changes as it is told. Mildly implied sexual situation. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
"Without a Paddle." Crass doofus comedy about three guys (Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, Dax Shepard) on canoe trip/treasure hunt in wilds of Oregon, meeting angry bears, gunslinging pot growers, a mountain man (Burt Reynolds) and tree-hugging girls. Crudely comic, non-explicit sexual situations; homophobic humor; verbal sexual innuendo about female anatomy; marijuana; profanity; mild ethnic slur; toilet humor; comic mayhem. High-schoolers.
"Alien Vs. Predator." Inventive prequel to four "Alien" and two "Predator" films is less graphically violent than R-rated predecessors; Sanaa Lathan plays scientist on Antarctic expedition into underground pyramid where shape-shifting Predators battle Alien killer-beasts. Little human gore, but much impalement with razorlike weapons, claws; slimy, reptilian, gut-piercing Aliens, their young popping out of gooey eggs, still turn stomachs; mild profanity; setting may bother claustrophobics. High school sci-fi horror, video game buffs.
"Exorcist: The Beginning." Bloody, violent, but oddly gripping prequel imagines early life of exorcist-priest Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard); embittered by World War II Nazi atrocities, he has left priesthood, but in 1949 is asked to study an ancient church found near an African village; he encounters signs of demonic presence, a possessed child (Remy Sweeney) and an attractive refugee doctor (Izabella Scorupco). Disturbing flashbacks of Gestapo officer shooting children; boy attacked by hyenas; boy cut up in tribal rituals; graphic suicides; stillborn baby covered in maggots; soldiers and villagers massacre one another; crude, explicit sexual language; other profanity; racial slurs. 17 and older.