6 and Older
"Valiant" (G). Witty computer animated 'toon about British homing pigeons serving king and country in World War II; kids will love the humor, adventure, vivid characters; older buffs will get the clever spoofs of 1940s films; Valiant (voice of Ewan McGregor), a pint-size pigeon, signs up for the Royal Homing Pigeon Service; swooping German falcons (Tim Curry as Von Talon) try to attack his unit over France. Harrowing moments -- dodging antiaircraft fire, seeing a plane crash, pigeons downed by falcons (no injuries shown); one pigeon fears falcons will have "our innards spread like jam on toast"; slapstick silliness -- bug-eating, belching the alphabet; mild sexual innuendo.
"An Unfinished Life." Cliched, flat-footed family drama has a few flashes of charm when Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman banter as a pair of geezers; a widow (Jennifer Lopez in a dull, nuance-free turn), fleeing an abusive boyfriend (Damian Lewis), turns up with her 11-year-old daughter (Becca Gardner) at her father-in-law's (Redford) Wyoming ranch; still grieving for his son, he wants nothing to do with them, but his ranch hand (Freeman) urges reconciliation. Middling profanity; deep scars on ranch hand's body from bear attack -- he gets morphine shots in his rump; subtly implied sexual tryst in a car; other sexual innuendo; men acting in subtle but sexually threatening manner toward women; bear growls, rears up; crude language; drunkenness; smoking.
"A Sound of Thunder." Sci-fi thriller based on a Ray Bradbury story is disjointed, confusing, yet modestly entertaining in a comic bookish way with a premise that could intrigue some teenagers; a scientist (Edward Burns) in 2055 studies evolution by leading time-travel "jumps" to 65 million years ago where clients get to shoot a dinosaur; an error on one jump causes changes in evolution that fill the world with dinosaur- baboon hybrids; scientist must reverse the mistake. Fake-yet-scary creatures attack humans, little gore; swarming bugs; toothy sea serpent; a near-drowning; people in wrecked city kill over food; a gun suicide; occasional profanity; mild sexual innuendo.
"Transporter 2." Silly, stuntfest sequel (to "The Transporter," PG-13, 2002) about tough guy/driver-for-hire (Jason Statham) trying to stop a kidnapping plot that puts a child in grave danger throughout the film -- a distasteful and cynical story line. Stylized violence has sounds of bones crunching, guns firing; point-blank shootings, impalings, explosions but little blood; impossible martial arts fights, car and jet ski chases; crass sexual innuendo from female killer in flimsy lingerie; occasional profanity; drinking. Too much mayhem for middle schoolers, some high schoolers. Should be rated R.
"Underclassman." Lame, unhip cops-and-robbers flick about overeager young cop (Nick Cannon) who has to tone down his urban street-smart act to go undercover at a posh high school. Mild sexual innuendo for the rating (including a joke about "getting crabs"); occasional profanity; unfunny, too-frequent toilet humor; implied that teenagers drink beer, but only plastic cups are shown; boy appears to get high after someone spikes his drink; bloodless gunplay, a hostage-taking, chases; themes about drug dealing, car theft. Okay for most teenagers.
"The Brothers Grimm." Occasionally ravishing but mostly muddled, off-putting film imagines Brothers Grimm (Matt Damon, Heath Ledger) in 1800s Germany as phony witch-hunters, ordered to solve mystery of village's missing children; they encounter real magic in the forest, echoing folk tales they collect. Flying witches and wolves; tree roots grab people; bugs, crows swarming; children in deathlike trances; soldiers torture (not too graphically) prisoners; kitten killed by whirring blades off-camera, but with splattering; stabbings, shootings, attempted burnings, severed heads; rare profanity; mildly earthy sexual innuendo; drinking. Not for preteens; iffy for some middle schoolers.
"The Constant Gardener." Terrific multi-layered thriller, based on John Le Carre's novel, about gentle British diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) in Kenya who tries to learn why his improbable new wife (Rachel Weisz), a fiery advocate against exploitation of the poor, was murdered. Relatively understated violence -- beatings, shootings, women and children attacked by marauding tribesmen; bloodied bodies in morgue; hanging victim cut down from tree, remark that he had been mutilated; steamy but nonexplicit sexual situation with partial undress; other sexual innuendo; seminudity; talk of baby dying at birth; strong profanity, drinking, smoking. Revelatory stuff for high school film buffs.