8 and Older
"Shark Tale" (PG). Fresh-yet-salty animated fish story set in colorful coral reef where sharks rule; big-talking little fish (voice of Will Smith) who pretends he's a shark slayer befriends timid great white (Jack Black) scared to tell his dad (Robert De Niro) he's a vegetarian; the new pals hang out happily till their secrets catch up with them; droll story's subtext will resonate with kids facing different-drummer issues. Sharks bare teeth, chase fish, talk tough; one shark slams into ship's anchor and dies; whale poop joke; mild sexual innuendo.
"Shall We Dance?" Likable, if not brilliantly danced American remake of 1996 Japanese comedy (rated PG); Richard Gere as lawyer who finds new lease on life taking ballroom dance, Jennifer Lopez as instructor who tutors his tango, Susan Sarandon as wife who fears he's cheating. Sexual innuendo includes jokes about a male dancer afraid of being perceived as gay, women in skimpy outfits, sexually charged dance moves; drinking; occasional profanity. Teenagers.
"Friday Night Lights." West Texas high school football team strives for state championship in well-observed, well-acted sports film that falls into cliches, but also examines how fanatical high school sports culture can rule kids', parents' lives; Billy Bob Thornton as coach, Derek Luke as key player. Occasional midlevel profanity, crude language; one nasty racial slur; implied sexual encounter between teenagers; implied toplessness; teen and adult drinking; drunk dad (country star Tim McGraw) verbally abuses, hits son (Garrett Hedlund). Teenagers.
"Taxi." Queen Latifah as speed-happy cabdriver, Jimmy Fallon as barely competent, driving-challenged New York cop chase gorgeous female bank robbers in silly but enjoyable crime farce; with Ann-Margret as his tipsy mom, Henry Simmons as Latifah's beau. Occasional crude humor, profanity; sexual slang, innuendo; scene with female criminal frisking a female cop she's taken hostage in highly suggestive manner; wild car chases; rare, understated gun violence. 15 and older.
"Vera Drake." Slow-building, but brilliantly realized, heart-rending social drama by Mike Leigh stars Imelda Staunton as loving, uncomplicated wife and mum in 1950s working-class London who cheerfully works several jobs and, in her spare time, quietly helps girls "in trouble" by using a home remedy to induce miscarriages (abortions were illegal); one girl gets a bad infection and the police come knocking at Vera's door; public devastation follows. Scenes with Vera using a rubber syringe to induce miscarriages are not clinically graphic; implied date rape; ethnic slur; drinking, smoking. 16 and older interested in social issues, history.
"Head in the Clouds." Silly, sentimental, pseudo-serious beach novel of a movie, set in London, Paris and Spain of 1930s and '40s; Charlize Theron is badly miscast as millionaire French American playgirl, Stuart Townsend as earnest Irishman she takes as her lover, Penelope Cruz as her best pal (and also occasional lover); fascism and war loom and affect the lives and fates of the three. Several sexual situations, some rather explicit, with partial nudity; gratuitously seamy subplot about sadomasochistic man's comeuppance; battlefield violence; one bloody point-blank killing; drinking; smoking. High schoolers.
"Team America: World Police." Guffaw-inducing spoof of post-9/11 world and Hollywood hooey by makers of Comedy Central's "South Park" using marionettes on little sets; anti-terrorist team begins by laying waste to central Paris in pursuit of terror cell. Searing profanity; highly explicit montage of sexual situations (all with marionettes); repeated, unfunny oral sex jokes, homophobic slurs; bloody gun violence; shameless ethnic stereotypes of Arabs, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. 17 and older.