9 and Older
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (PG). Tim Burton's delicious, edgy fun house adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic about Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), a nice boy from a poor family who gets to tour factory of eccentric chocolate magnate Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp); some themes too dark for under-9s, portraying poverty of Charlie's family, showing grim flashbacks of Willy Wonka as a boy in orthodontic head brace, forbidden all sweets by his dentist dad (Christopher Lee); one bratty kid on the tour gets stretched like taffy, another swarmed by squirrels, another bloated into a giant blueberry -- all survive; kids won't get jokey reference to cannibalism and might not like to see a cow whipped by Wonka's miniature Oompa Loompa workers (Deep Roy, digitally multiplied) to make whipped cream; Wonka tastes green caterpillar goop in flashback.
"War of the Worlds." Tom Cruise stars as blue-collar divorced dad who must grow up and save his children (Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin) after aliens invade Earth in Steven Spielberg's claustrophobic, emotionally muted adaptation of H.G. Wells's classic novel. Intense lightning bolts, towering alien war machines destroy neighborhoods, vaporize people; their huge metallic tentacles also find humans, suck them up and spit them out; father and kids flee northward, see survivors rioting, killing, dead bodies floating in river, pools of human blood, wreckage of a passenger jet; they spend time in cellar with a crazed man (Tim Robbins); nongraphic gun violence; battle scenes; strong profanity for a PG-13. Not for preteens.
"Fantastic Four." Dull, dumbed-down adaptation of Marvel Comics' tales about four scientists who become superheroes after exposure to a cosmic cloud: Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), aka the elastic Mr. Fantastic; Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), aka Invisible Woman; her sibling, Johnny (Chris Evans), the flying Human Torch; and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), the Thing. Their college nemesis, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) becomes their superhuman enemy. Fights, leaps off buildings, transformations from human to superhuman are not gory, but could scare under-10s; low-grade profanity; mild sexual innuendo; drinking.
"Hustle & Flow." Fresh, un-cliched, atmospheric drama stars Terrence Howard in powerhouse turn as Memphis pimp and street hustler obsessed with making it as a rapper-songwriter; he gets help from a sound engineer pal (Anthony Anderson), a geeky church musician (DJ Qualls) and two of his "girls" (Taraji P. Henson, Taryn Manning). Much profanity; scenes of drug dealing, drug use; strong verbal and visual sexual innuendo involving barely clad young women working as hookers or club dancers; brief toplessness and bare derrieres; brief violence includes a beating and a shootout; characters drink and smoke. 17 and older.
"Wedding Crashers." Overlong but mostly very funny, if lewd, farce stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as best friends whose hobby is to crash weddings as a way to bed pretty women; at a society wedding hosted by a cabinet secretary (Christopher Walken) Wilson's character falls for one of the bride's sisters (Rachel McAdams) while Vaughn's becomes the sexual obsession of another (Isla Fisher); film makes clear that these guys are jerks who need to get serious. Constant profanity; crude verbal and visual sexual references; toplessness, rear-view nudity; semiexplicit sexual situations; homophobic slurs; drinking; brief gunfire; a few gut punches. Wildly inappropriate for under-17s.