SHALL WE DANCE? (PG-13, 106 minutes)
What are the odds teenagers will flock to a movie about middle-age people who find new happiness learning ballroom dancing? Even with Jennifer Lopez in a lead role and teen star Nick Cannon in a small but amusing part, the odds are slim. This movie is for sentimental grown-ups and those teenagers who can identify with such a yen. "Shall We Dance?" is a mild PG-13 by present-day standards, but it still contains sexual innuendo (jokes about a male dancer afraid of being perceived as gay, women in very skimpy outfits, sexually charged dance moves), drinking and occasional profanity.
Lopez and Richard Gere seem miscast as a reserved ballroom dance instructor and a supposedly fusty lawyer. Yet the film harnesses their starry personas to a great supporting cast, and despite unimpressive footwork among the leads, it becomes a likable stateside remake of the 1996 Japanese hit of the same name. Gere plays a happily married lawyer riding the El through Chicago's Loop who spies a wistful young woman (Lopez) in the window of a dance school. He signs up for lessons, though not with her, as he's a beginner. Later she gives him a tango tutorial. His wife (Susan Sarandon) fears he's cheating, but he's only dancing up a storm.
TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (R, 98 minutes)
No one -- jingoistic hawks, peacenik movie stars, rabid terrorists, nutty dictators -- escapes derision in this lewd, profane, politically incorrect, hilarious sendup of the post-9/11 world. Created by the iconoclasts who make "South Park" on Comedy Central, it is performed with marionettes, strings and all, on miniature sets. It opens with American heroes leveling Paris landmarks to stop a terror cell. "Team America: World Police" also spoofs "Mission: Impossible" and "Charlie's Angels" to wicked perfection. The film's outrageousness will allow audiences 17 and older to drown fear of terrorism, at least briefly, with guffaws.
The Family Filmgoer cannot recommend "Team America" for under-17s because it contains searing profanity, an explicit montage of sexual situations (though with marionettes), endlessly repeated (and not very funny) oral sex jokes and bloody marionette/gun violence. Add shameless stereotypes of Arabs and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
STAGE BEAUTY (R, 105 minutes)
High schoolers 16 and older who have fallen in love with English literature or theater will embrace this vivid, atmospheric tale of life on the stage in 1660s London. It takes place decades after the era of "Shakespeare in Love" (R, 1998) and explores other themes, taking an imaginative leap into the mystery of how culture evolves. The rating reflects crudely explicit sexual language, less graphic sexual situations, partial nudity, issues of sexual orientation, as well as profanity and non-lethal violence.
All the key characters portrayed in Jeffrey Hatcher's script (adapted from his play) are based on real people and played by a gifted cast. Charles II (Rupert Everett) has been restored to the throne after years of exile during Puritan rule. He reopens the theaters and decrees that female roles, formerly played by male actors, will be played by women. This is a lightning bolt to Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup), famous for his Desdemonas and Ophelias. His dresser, Maria (Claire Danes), who secretly adores him, gets her chance upon the stage and copies his stylized gestures. He feels betrayed, confused about his role in life. Scribbling notes of all the goings-on is diarist Samuel Pepys (Hugh Bonneville), a benign busybody. 'Tis cool.