THE PERFECT MAN (PG, 96 minutes)
Hilary Duff fans 10 and older will find enough of her perky charms in "The Perfect Man" to keep them entertained as she embodies yet another near-perfect teenager. In this sanitized trifle, she plays a 16-year-old who is tired of moving to a new city every time her single mother breaks up with another boyfriend and wants to flee the scene of her humiliation. The film contains mild sexual innuendo, including a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend who implies he had a fling with two women, and Carson Kressley of TV's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" as a bartender flirting with hard hats. Duff also wears those teen jeans that start near the bikini line.
She plays Holly, whose beautiful but insecure mom (Heather Locklear) works as a gifted cake maker, but whose taste in men is serially awful. (It is subtly implied that Holly and her 7-year-old sister, Zoe [Aria Wallace], were born out of wedlock.) When they move to Brooklyn, Holly makes a friend (Vanessa Lengies) and wins the heart of a boy (Ben Feldman). To save her mom from marrying a loser at the bakery (Mike O'Malley) and keep the family in Brooklyn, Holly invents a mystery man who sends orchids and romantic e-mails to her mom. She bases him on her friend's uncle (Chris Noth). Dubious hilarity ensues as she tries to keep the secret from them.
BATMAN BEGINS (PG-13, 140 minutes)
It is possible that adults, more than teenagers, will appreciate the slow-building but highly satisfying dramatic thriller that is "Batman Begins." Moody in tone and expressionistic in style, the film's engine runs as much on psychology and good acting as on comic book mayhem (though there is a good bit of that). It is a happy combination. Like "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," it is a prequel. It recounts how wealthy Gotham City bachelor Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) evolved into the crime-fighter Batman. In two disturbing flashbacks, Bruce as a boy (played by Gus Lewis) falls into a bat cave and is swarmed by the creatures, then soon after witnesses his parents' mugging and murder. Traveling in Asia after college, the grim-faced young millionaire takes martial arts (and overcomes his bat phobia) with the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neeson). Back in Gotham, Bruce mulls over the question of vengeance vs. justice. The fate of his parents' killer, teeming poverty, corruption, a vicious mobster (Tom Wilkinson) and an evil court psychiatrist (Cillian Murphy) all help him choose, as does his childhood sweetheart Rachel (Katie Holmes), now a prosecutor. With butler Alfred (wonderful Michael Caine) and inventor Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), he creates Batman.
In addition to childhood traumas, the movie features non-gory, spectacularly filmed martial arts battles, gunfire, swordplay, wormy hallucinogenic images, rare mild profanity and social drinking. It is not for preteens and might be too slow or intense for some middle schoolers.