The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D

PG, 2005, 94 minutes, Dimension Films. Contains mildly crude humor.

Robert Rodriguez's 3-D movie, based on the writings of his preteen son, is astoundingly boring. It's about a kid named Max (Cayden Boyd) who daydreams so intensely about his imagined superheroes, Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley), the creations come alive. Max and his superpals find themselves on Planet Drool, where they battle Mr. Electric (George Lopez), a cheaply superimposed head inside a metallic holder. The dreamscape planet, with its cookie mountains and a milky "stream of consciousness," is disappointingly mediocre.

* Extra: Includes four pairs of 3-D glasses, though movie can be viewed in 2-D.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Born Into Brothels

R, 2004, 85 minutes, Thinkfilm. Contains obscenity and footage of a sex trade.

British photographer Zana Briski goes to Calcutta's red light district and teaches photography to the children of prostitutes in this Oscar-winning documentary. As these boys and girls, ages 10 to 14, learn to frame pictures, load film and accept Briski's critiques, they start to see their world differently. Briski never loses her soft-spoken determination, whether she's teaching the children or trying to steer them through India's bureaucracy to get them an education and to a photographic exhibition abroad. The movie, which Briski directed with Ross Kauffman, is really about changing the perspectives of eight children in a hopeless world.

* Extra: Includes deleted scenes and commentary.

-- Desson Thomson

Inside Deep Throat

NC-17, 2005, 92 minutes, Universal Pictures. Contains graphic excerpts from "Deep Throat," other graphic footage and obscenity.

This documentary gives an instructive account about "Deep Throat," a 1972 porn film that was the most profitable movie in history (made for $25,000, earned $600 million). The movie's windfall and instant respectability (suddenly everyone had to see it) became its downfall when federal prosecutor Larry Parrish brought "Deep Throat" co-star Harry Reems to trial. The movie is informative and tells us co-star Linda Lovelace's sad ordeals. But past and recent interviews with Reems, Lovelace and director Gerard Damiano, as well as such diverse figures as Norman Mailer, Larry Flynt, Ruth Westheimer, Parrish and Gloria Steinem are mostly lackluster. This is a fascinating story, not so fascinatingly told.

* Extra: Featurettes include "The Zen of Deep Throat."

-- Desson Thomson

It's All Gone Pete Tong

R, 2004, 90 minutes, Matson Films. Contains drug and alcohol abuse, obscenity, sexual content and nudity.

Described as a faux documentary about a real person, the movie is, in fact, neither. An on-screen title attributes the film's inspiration to a "true story" about popular club DJ and chart-topping dance music composer Frankie Wilde -- who the film's publicity machine insists is a real guy who went deaf after years of exposure to amplified music, drugs and booze, and then disappeared -- but there is no such person. After being saved from the brink of despair by a pretty lip-reading instructor (the luminous Beatriz Batarda), Frankie (Paul Kaye) teaches himself to "hear" vibrations with his feet, producing a miraculous comeback album before vanishing. The movie is neither funny enough to give "This Is Spinal Tap" a run for the money nor serious enough to achieve disability-drama-of-the-week status.

* Extra: Commentary by actors Paul Kaye, Mike Wilmot, Beatriz Batarda and Lol Hammond.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

The Longest Yard

PG-13, 2005, 114 minutes, Paramount Pictures. Contains violence, sexual and drug humor and obscenity.

This remake of the 1974 comedy-drama about a high-stakes football game between vicious prison guards and a ragtag team of out-matched inmates benefits most from the smart-alecky wit of Chris Rock and the smirking slacker humor of Adam Sandler as genial convicts, even as it adds little to the original film. There are no surprises, but a certain satisfaction to sticking it to the man -- again.

* Extra: Deleted, extended and alternate scenes.

-- Michael O'Sullivan


R, 2004 , 105 minutes, Buena Vista Home Video. Contains obscenity, brief nudity, sexuality and grisly murders.

"Not as bad as you might think" sounds like damning with faint praise. Still, considering that it's a murder-mystery update on "Ten Little Indians" -- in which the FBI profiler trainees keep getting picked off by a killer -- and considering that it was directed by Renny Harlin ("Driven"), it's not half bad. James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J) makes a believably ambiguous hero/villain, and the deaths are ickily creative enough to keep the overly familiar plot from putting anyone to sleep.

* Extra: Stunt sequence.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

{sstar} Turtles Can Fly

PG-13, 2004, 95 minutes, IFC Films. Contains some disturbing and violent imagery.

Iranian Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi's third narrative feature is profoundly moving. This cinema verite tale from the director of "A Time for Drunken Horses" and "Marooned in Iraq" is set in a Kurdish village in the days leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, where a 13-year-old hustler nicknamed Satellite (Soran Ebrahim) befriends a sorrowful orphan girl (Avaz Latif) traveling with her armless brother (Hiresh Feysal Rahman), the victim of a land mine, and a blind toddler. The revelation of what has made the girl so sad -- and what she does with that sadness -- affects not only Satellite but also us. In Kurdish with English subtitles.

* Extra: None.

-- Michael O'Sullivan