{sstar} Happily Ever After

Unrated, 2004, 100 minutes, Kino International. Contains sex scenes, nudity, obscenity and brief drug use. In French with subtitles.

A French comedy about love and sex and marriage -- what's not to like? As a plus, this film from writer-director-star Yvan Attal ("My Wife Is an Actress") has a rockin' soundtrack (featuring the likes of the Velvet Underground, Radiohead and Elvis Presley) and a cameo appearance by Johnny Depp, who makes everything he's in just a little bit better. Too bad that it doesn't have an actual ending. Oh, the heck with it.

* Extra: An interview with Yvan Attal.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

High Tension

R, 2003, 85 minutes, Lions Gate. Contains very twisted violence, obscenity and sexual content. In French with subtitles.

Director and co-writer Alexandre Aja's horror film is a prolonged, strangely plotted bloodbath in which a terrifying man (Philippe Nahon) rips, tears and shreds his way through a family. When he chains the family's oldest daughter, Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco), and takes her away in his van, house guest Marie (Cecile De France) jumps aboard to save her. A terrifying ride begins. Because of a plot twist, the so-so gorefest is somewhat intriguing.

* Extra: "Makeup FX" featurette.

-- Desson Thomson

Kicking and Screaming

PG, 2005, 87 minutes, Universal. Contains crude humor and language.

Never one to let weak material stand in the way of getting laughs, Will Ferrell manages to come up with a few great comic bits playing the inept coach of a youth soccer team. Ultimately, though, his anarchic genius is wasted in a kiddie comedy in which everybody learns something in the end -- about teamwork, about how having fun is more important than winning and about the kind of movie not to put someone with Ferrell's slyly subversive humor in.

* Extra: "The Yellow Card" outtakes.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

Kingdom of Heaven

R, 2005, 138 minutes, Fox Home Entertainment. Contains graphic battle violence.

Ridley Scott's epic, about the battle of wills between Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a 12th-century French crusader charged with protecting Jerusalem from Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud), is a powerful visual experience. Scott and screenwriter William Monahan have assembled a thoughtful (if flawed) antiwar scenario about the religious divisions that pit one great people against another. But the movie's reduced to a backdrop for a boy toy with good hair and excellent backlighting. The real star is Massoud as Saladin, an Islamic hero of deep integrity.

* Extra: The History Channel's "History vs. Hollywood: Kingdom of Heaven."

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Me and You and Everyone We Know

R, 2005, 90 minutes, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Contains obscenity and momentarily disturbing content involving children.

Miranda July's brilliant, quirky film is far too complex and precious to render here. But it hums with compassion for its outlandish, lonely but always sweet characters. There are 7-year-old Robby (Brandon Ratcliff) and his 14-year-old brother, Peter (Miles Thompson), who find themselves caught in an uncomfortable, but increasingly hilarious e-mail encounter with a stranger; Richard Swersey (John Hawkes), who wants to light up his hand in a dramatic gesture of closure to his divorce but doesn't seem to realize lighter fluid really burns; and July herself, who plays a sweetly kooky performance artist.

* Extra: Deleted scenes.

-- Desson Thomson

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

PG, 2005, 120 minutes, Warner Home Video. Contains thematic material related to teen sexuality and the death of loved ones.

Four teenage girls. One pair of secondhand jeans that could not possibly fit four very differently sized derrieres. What might have worked on the pages of Ann Brashares's best-selling novel, about the life-changing experiences of four friends who share a single pair of pants as an emblem of their friendship, emphatically does not in living color. While America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively are fine actresses, I never bought that they could all squeeze into the same trousers, let alone be friends with each other.

* Extra: Behind-the-scenes gags and laughs.

-- Michael O'Sullivan


R, 2005, 103 minutes, Universal. Contains strong violent content, language, some sexuality and nudity.

Martial arts star Jet Li plays Danny, a kind of human pit bull belonging to Bob Hoskins's vicious loan shark in a drama that, despite some spectacularly intense fight sequences, has more conversation than action. Li, who finally took some acting lessons for this film, plays a man who seems, by turns, a short-fused lethal weapon and a vulnerable child. Interestingly, it isn't Li's character who saves people. Instead, he is saved by a blind, old piano turner (Morgan Freeman) and his stepdaughter (Kerry Condon).

* Extra: RZA's "Unleash Me" music video.

-- Richard Harrington