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.
"Paparazzi." Slick but amoral vengeance flick with R-ish violence and seamy tone tells of Hollywood star (Cole Hauser) who gets lethally even with tabloid photographers who dog him and his family after he slugs one of them; Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin as tabloid creeps, Dennis Farina as cop; cameos by Mel Gibson, Chris Rock. Shootings, beatings, man falls to his death; frightening car crash with child injured; sexually tinged assault against wife; sounds of sex video with non-graphic visuals; profanity; drinking, smoking. Not for middle schoolers.
"The Cookout." Painfully forced comedy celebrates African American family values, but also exploits stereotypes in story of top NBA draft pick (Storm P) who starts spending his millions ASAP, buying a new mansion and hosting his hugely varied extended family -- intellectuals, country cousins, unwed mothers -- at a chaotic cookout led by his mom (Jenifer Lewis), who does not like his gold-digging girlfriend (Meagan Good); Queen Latifah as overzealous security guard. Sexual innuendo; crude language; toilet humor; race jokes, gay jokes, fat jokes; dead deer.
"Vanity Fair." Reese Witherspoon takes fine, if unnuanced turn as Becky Sharp, social-climbing protagonist in atmospheric, if episodic, rendering of William Makepeace Thackeray's 1848 novel; she elopes with son (James Purefoy) of her aristocratic employer (Bob Hoskins); family disinherits them, but she becomes notorious for her quest for wealth and status. Understated marital sexual situation; brief, sexually charged skirmish between Becky and older man (Gabriel Byrne); battlefield strewn with dead soldiers, scavenged by dogs and humans; subtle racial slurs. Literary teens into period drama.
"Anacondas: The Hunt For the Blood Orchid." Not all that scary, but kinda fun adventure follows drug company scientists in search of rare orchid with anti-aging properties in jungles of Borneo; computer-generated but convincing giant anacondas soon thin their numbers. Huge snake jaws rear up lightning-fast, but killings are mostly off-camera and implied using little gore; human and snake corpses, skeletons; muted human violence; mild sexual innuendo; rare profanity. Not for reptile or insect phobics.
"Hero." 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; Jet Li as anonymous lawman who tells king (Chen Daoming) how he stopped three would-be assassins; as he tells it, the story changes. Mildly implied sexual situation. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
R's and Unrated Films
"Criminal" (R). Better-than-workmanlike remake of more suave, stylish Argentine caper "Nine Queens" (R, 2000); broke con man (John C. Reilly) takes young wet-behind-the-ears crook (Diego Luna) under his wing and launches elaborate scheme to bilk big bucks selling Irish businessman (Peter Mullan) phony silver certificates. Strong profanity; sexual innuendo; drinking, smoking.
"What the #$*! Do We Know!?" (Unrated). Arresting experimental film asks "Why are we here?" and "What is reality?" -- mixing ideas from quantum physics with nonsectarian concepts of God and spirit; physicists, theologians comment amid flashy computer-enhanced images and real-world plot about unhappy photographer (Marlee Matlin) who heals her troubled spirit; intriguing premise degenerates into New Age-y sermon. Glimpse of explicit sexual situation with implied nudity; other mild sexual innuendo; drinking. 16 and older.