Yours, Mine & Ours (PG, 88 minutes)
Children 8 and older will not notice -- or at least will be eager to overlook -- the thrown-together feel of "Yours, Mine & Ours." This update of the 1968 film, with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, has fine leads in Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, but many of the 18 kids in the combined family of the title seem to have been cast for cuteness, not acting chops. The film nearly stalls out on its cute quotient. It is also disjointed to a degree that some narrative transitions are whiplash-inducing. Still, the movie's kid-centric silliness, practical joking and slapstick mayhem will give young audiences a good giggle. "Yours, Mine & Ours" includes mild sexual innuendo, a gently implied marital nearly sexual situation, occasional toilet humor, rare mild profanity, adults drinking liquor and teenagers bringing beer to an unsupervised party.
Helen (Russo), a free-spirited widow and arty handbag designer with 10 kids, runs into Frank (Quaid), her high school sweetheart, now a widower and a high-ranking Coast Guard officer with eight kids. Sparks fly and they marry on an impulse, but when they try to merge their families, the offspring become oil and water. Her kids have lived an undisciplined, hippie-ish lifestyle. His adhere to military rules. Fights start over bathroom time in the rambling old home, complete with a lighthouse, and get worse from there. Soon the kids realize they can do more damage by organizing to ruin the marriage. The housekeeper (Linda Hunt) gulps too often from her flask to notice what they're up to. Themes of acceptance and compromise come through loud and clear.
Kindergartners and Older
"Chicken Little" (G). Disney computer-animated feature updates Chicken Little fable with much humor, not so much visual or narrative pizzazz; still smarting from his "big mistake" in claiming the sky was falling, tiny bespectacled Chicken Little (voice of Zach Braff) tries to make his dad (Garry Marshall) proud again; a baseball triumph helps, but then he raises the sky-is-falling alarm again -- it's an alien invasion, but few believe him. Plot giveaways: Space aliens chase Chicken Little and pals in spidery machines with propeller/pincer legs; images of animal organs in jars on spaceship; aliens zap critter-denizens of Chicken Little's town with rays -- scarier in 3-D; all are fine by the end, as is a lost three-eyed alien tot; themes about missing a deceased parent; mild toilet humor.
8 and Older
"Zathura" (PG). Pleasantly ramshackle sci-fi thriller (based on Chris Van Allsburg's book) succeeds with humor, good acting, low-tech effects; bickering brothers -- Jonah Bobo as 6-year-old Danny, Josh Hutcherson as 10-year-old Walter -- still feeling hurt by parents' divorce, play old space-travel board game, Zathura, that gets real. As their house floats through the cosmos, younger kids may jump at (plot giveaways) meteors crashing through ceiling, robot stomping after the boys, reptilian meat-eating aliens (Zorgons) stalking boys, volcanic planet and black hole nearly sucking them in; don't-try-this-at-home trick -- setting a couch on fire; rare mild profanity; crude remark about "time sphincter"; mild sexual innuendo on meaning of "hooking up."
10 and Older
"Pride & Prejudice" (PG). Pleasantly unfusty, non-literary adaptation -- still set in period -- of Jane Austen's 1813 classic of love, obstructed by misunderstanding and class snobbery, between plucky Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley, who could have added more depth to Lizzie) and somber, smoldering Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen); a few too many whirling, MTV camera moves and actors posed and coiffed like Vogue models, but overall a romantic treat with nary a kiss till the mushy end. Mild sexual innuendo. Kids -- mostly girls -- with romantic hearts.
"Just Friends." Lowbrow, slapstick farce -- not infrequently amusing -- about formerly overweight high school outcast (Ryan Reynolds), now a suave pop music promoter on a stopover in his home town; he decides to bed the girl (Amy Smart) he loved in high school but who had rejected him, saying they were "just friends"; his smart-guy, no-feelings act fools no one. Strong profanity for a PG-13; much semi-raunchy verbal, visual sexual innuendo; mildly implied oral sex, other sexual situations; implied toplessness; chaste night together; incest joke; drinking; gross humor. High schoolers.
"Rent." Faithful, heart-on-its-sleeve adaptation of 1996 Broadway rock musical (by the late Jonathan Larson) about close-knit gay and straight friends living bohemian lifestyle as artists, idealists in grungy New York lofts, circa 1989, also dealing with AIDS, drug abuse, romantic troubles; with most of the original stage leads, though Rosario Dawson is new as drug-addicted, AIDS-ailing club dancer Mimi, who falls for musician Roger (Adam Pascal); film feels a bit like a stagebound artifact, but could charm romantic, theater-loving teenagers. Brief non-graphic violence; middling profanity; verbal, visual sexual innuendo -- some of it a bit raunchy; AIDS death; drug abuse, withdrawal; drinking; smoking. Teenagers.
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Harry and friends face puberty, inklings of romance, reality of death, looming challenges of adulthood in lengthy but enjoyable, often gripping adaptation of J.K. Rowling's fourth book. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) competes in Triwizard Tournament, though he's underage, and faces evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Sometimes bloody violence, nightmarish images: huge serpent, creepy spider; pogrom-like siege by Death Eaters on Quidditch World Cup; Harry battles fire-breathing dragon, underwater monsters; Voldemort's servant, Wormtail (Timothy Spall), cuts off his own hand, gashes Harry's arm for blood; Voldemort's creepy, snakelike face; Harry and Voldemort's intense, pyrotechnical battle causes collateral death of a boy, much grieving; mild teen sexual innuendo; adult characters drink, speak of scotch; brief mild profanity. Okay for most preteens.
"Walk the Line." Great lead performances, foot-stompin' music raise traditional biopic to stratosphere; Joaquin Phoenix blazes in stunning embodiment of country music legend Johnny Cash as a young, troubled man; Reese Witherspoon his equal as singer June Carter, with whom he shared a largely stifled passion for years while they were wed to others; both do their own singing. Strongly implied premarital tryst, cuddling on a bed; sexual innuendo involving groupies; early scene shows child dying of wounds from unseen buzz saw accident; drug use; drinking, smoking; rare profanity; Cash's verbally abusive dad (Robert Patrick). High schoolers.
"Bee Season." Affecting, ruminative, if overly reticent film, about travails of a gifted family (based on Myla Goldberg's novel); Richard Gere as professor of religious studies who shifts focus to his preteen daughter (Flora Cross) when she exhibits an uncanny ability to win spelling bees; he teaches her Kabbalistic word games and meditation; his teenage son (Max Minghella) and wife (Juliette Binoche) feel neglected. Very explicit, though clothed, marital sex scene for PG-13; mental illness; child shown in seizure-like state; profanity; smoking. High schoolers.
"The Ice Harvest." Nasty, off-putting (though sometimes darkly funny) tale of corruption, debauchery, violence and betrayal, set on Christmas Eve in Wichita as if it were the far side of the moon; John Cusack as seedy lawyer who conspires with a cohort (Billy Bob Thornton) to embezzle $2 million; Oliver Platt as an innocent, drunken pal. Point blank, bloody gun, knife violence; a severed finger; steaming profanity; graphic, crude, sometimes misogynistic sexual language; anti-Christian slur; graphic porn video; topless dancers; much drinking; smoking. No one younger than 17.
"Derailed." Humorless, predictable wages-of-sin vengeance thriller (based on James Siegel's novel) about mortgaged-to-the-gills executive (Clive Owen) with a dull marriage and a sick child, whose brief liaison with a sexy woman (Jennifer Aniston) turns sour when a thug (Vincent Cassel) invades their illicit hotel room, rapes her, then blackmails him. Rape scene strongly portrayed, with brief, graphic glimpses, intense sounds; bloody gun violence, beatings, stabbings; family threatened; strong profanity; smoking. 17 and older.
"Get Rich or Die Tryin'." Handsomely made but violent, profane, cliched street saga about boy who grows up a drug-dealing thug, then finally realizes his dream of making music; based on life of hip-hop star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, who plays a fictionalized antihero. Fine supporting cast (mainly Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) help Jackson look good. Bloody gun battles, knifings, beatings, torture, asphyxiation; child held hostage at gunpoint; steaming profanity; explicit sexual language; racial slurs; verbal recollection of rape-murder -- flashback to dead victim set ablaze; male, female nudity; explicit sexual situation; drug use, sales. 17 and older.