9 and Older
"Sky High" (PG). Funny, inventive live-action flick spoofs both teen dating comedies and comic book superhero movies; young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of world-savers Captain Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston), enters Sky High, a stratospheric high school for superheroes' kids, with no special powers to distinguish himself; he and childhood pal, Layla (Danielle Panabaker), and their friends land in "hero support" sidekick class until a flirtation with the superpowered crowd helps Will find his own strength. Comic book-style mayhem, bullying, but no one ever gets hurt; characters hurtle through walls, burst into flame, fly, melt, shape-shift into rock people or guinea pigs; villains run with blurring speed, stretch to impossible lengths, control technology, but aren't scary; mild sexual innuendo, toilet humor. Older kids will get more of the gags.
"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 boy from a poor family who gets to tour eccentric chocolate magnate Willy Wonka's (Johnny Depp) factory; some themes too dark for under-9s -- grim flashbacks of Wonka as a boy in orthodontic head brace, forbidden sweets by his dour dentist dad (Christopher Lee); bratty kids on the tour get stretched like taffy, swarmed by squirrels, bloated into a huge blueberry -- all survive; kids won't get jokey reference to cannibalism but might not like to see a cow whipped by Wonka's tiny Oompa Loompas (Deep Roy, digitally multiplied) to make whipped cream; Wonka tastes icky green bug goop.
"Bad News Bears." Billy Bob Thornton has subversive fun as booze-soaked, good-old-boy exterminator and major league baseball has-been, coaching a hopeless youth team in droll update of 1976 Walter Matthau classic, bristling with salty PG-13 profanity, used by coach and kids; he casually insults ethnicities, abilities, disabilities among players; takes them on his job (in a convertible, no seat belts) where they're exposed to poisons; gives kids nonalcoholic beer; scatological slang, name of deity taken in vain, threats to shove things up folks, middling sexual slang; verbal, visual sexual innuendo; implied tryst between coach and boy's single mom (Marcia Gay Harden); brouhaha with crotch kicks; gags about protective cups for boys, a girl getting her period; dead rats. Inappropriate for many preteens.
"The Island." Handsome, smart, sci-fi thriller degenerates into silly chase flick in third act but will have grabbed audiences by then; Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, as workers in futuristic indoor city, make a break for it after he learns they are clones in captivity. Disturbing images of cloned adults growing in embryonic sacs, nudity implied; scenes with minor bloodiness show chest surgery, a harvested human liver, tiny metal sensors burrowing into eyeball, a woman receiving a lethal injection after giving birth; violent fights; gunplay; rare profanity; rattlesnake; toilet humor; mild sexual innuendo; brief homophobic humor; drinking; adult clones pushed into an "incinerator" in way that references the Holocaust.
"Fantastic Four." Dull, dumbed-down adaptation of Marvel Comics' tales about four scientists who become superheroes after exposure to cosmic cloud: Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), the elastic Mr. Fantastic; Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), Invisible Woman; her sibling, Johnny (Chris Evans), the Human Torch; and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), the Thing. Their college nemesis, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), becomes a supervillain. Fights, leaps off buildings, non-gory transformations from human to superhuman could scare under-10s; low-grade profanity; mild sexual innuendo; drinking.
"Murderball." Intense, exuberant, macho, eye-opening documentary about quadriplegic guys who play world-class wheelchair rugby; zooms in on key players' personalities, histories, rivalries between U.S. and Canadian teams, leading up to 2004 Paralympics Games in Athens. Strong profanity; excerpts from explicit instructional sex video with nudity on how quadriplegics can have full sex lives; drinking. 17 and older.
"Hustle & Flow." Fresh, atmospheric drama stars Terrence Howard in powerhouse turn as a 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; barely clad young women working as hookers; brief toplessness, 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 bride's sister (Rachel McAdams) while Vaughn's becomes the sexual obsession of another sibling (Isla Fisher). Constant profanity; crude verbal, visual sexual references; toplessness, rear nudity; semiexplicit sexual situations; homophobic slurs; drinking; gunfire; a few gut punches. Wildly inappropriate for under-17s.