8 and Older
"Madagascar" (PG). Spottily funny computer-animated feature spends too much time on adult-focused New York jokes, classic rock, silly sexual innuendo to fully entertain younger kids; four pals from Central Park Zoo -- a lion (voice of Ben Stiller), a zebra (Chris Rock), a giraffe (David Schwimmer) and a hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) -- get caught up in a penguin escape plot, fall off a freighter and wash up on Madagascar; the lion gets hungry and nearly reverts to "wild" behavior, briefly viewing zebra pal as lunch before a plot twist saves them; critters drawn in droll, stretchy style, but gags about neuroses and hypochondria won't tickle younger kids, while idea of reverting to predatory behavior could baffle or scare under-8's.
"The Longest Yard." Adam Sandler in occasionally funny but lewd, soulless remake of 1974 Burt Reynolds hit as disgraced NFL quarterback, now in prison; corrupt warden (James Cromwell) insists he lead a prisoners' football team against the guards. Crude sexual innuendo hints at prison rape, other inmate sexuality; fatal explosion, guards brutally beat prisoners; football action shows shattering crotch hits, body slams; white guards use racial slurs; other profanity, toilet humor; frisky games in underwear between Paul (Sandler) and warden's randy secretary (Cloris Leachman); guard unknowingly takes estrogen, gets sensitive nipples, becomes emotional; no stereotype unexploited. Not for middle-schoolers. Should be rated R.
"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith." Long but fast-moving, visually rich, better-written and acted finale to George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequel trilogy explains, finally, how Anakin Skywalker turns to dark side of the Force and becomes Darth Vader. OK for many 10 and older, but some preteens will cringe at the intense, though largely bloodless fist and lightsaber duels and somber themes; implied beheading or throat-slitting (off-camera), a lopped-off limb, the destruction of an exposed beating heart in alien/droid, General Grievous; implication that Anakin kills boys training to be Jedi; his secret wife Padme (Natalie Portman) gives birth to Luke and Leia, then dies, heartbroken; Anakin burns nearly to death on volcano planet. Parents not sure 10-to-12's can handle it should prescreen, or sit with them -- and any under-10's -- for reassurance.
"Monster-in-Law." Jane Fonda's farcical turn as a selfish, neurotic former network TV newswoman lifts this safe, mainstream comedy to a higher level; reeling from the loss of her job to a younger face, she determines to stop her son's (Michael Vartan) marriage to a sweet, arty young woman (Jennifer Lopez); the fiancee gets wise to her mom-in-law-to-be's plot and the battle is joined; (Wanda Sykes adds edge as Mom's wry assistant). Crass, semiexplicit sexual references; other sexual innuendo; rude hand gestures; occasional profanity; drinking, gags about unwed pregnancy, mental illness, prescription drug abuse. Not for preteens.
"Rock School." Infuriating, fascinating, profane documentary about ex-rock guitarist Paul Green, who founded his School of Rock Music in Philadelphia, where preteens and teens -- some troubled, some not, some quite talented -- learn to play the music of Frank Zappa and other bygone rockers he deems worthy; he cusses furiously at even the youngest as he tries to cultivate a mix of rock-style iconoclasm and discipline; the kids in the film seem to survive his tirades; finale takes place at a festival of Zappa tribute bands in Germany. Steaming profanity; tongue-in-cheek threats of violence; jokey references to drug abuse; joke about losing one's virginity; one boy discusses his depression, suicide attempts. 16 and older.