{sstar} Caterina in the Big City

Unrated, 2003, 106 minutes, Empire Pictures. Contains obscenity and sexual references. In Italian with subtitles.

High school movies about not fitting in are a dime a dozen, but this Italian offering from filmmaker Paolo Virzi gets something right that's not so easy to do. It knows that it isn't a question of whether the title character (beguiling Alice Teghil), a girl from the sticks adjusting to life in downtown Rome, ultimately aligns herself with the rich, preppy kids, led by spoiled brat Federica Sbrenna, or the alternative crowd, led by hard-drinking grunge queen Carolina Iaquaniello, but whether Caterina figures out that life isn't a label. "Who are you really?" Caterina keeps getting asked. Virzi's delightfully open-ended coming-of-age film would rephrase that as, "Who are you becoming?"

-- Michael O'Sullivan

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

R, 2005, 77 minutes, Sony Pictures. Contains obscenity, partial nudity, crude and sexual humor, drug use and comic violence.

Was there really that much demand for a sequel to "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," a crude comedy about a male prostitute with a heart of gold? If there's any justice in the world, this entry in the franchise, which stoops even lower than the first film without bringing anything new to the table, ought to put an end to thoughts of a third "Gigolo" vehicle for star Rob Schneider. It's not that I don't want to see the guy get work. I actually think Schneider's kind of funny in a stupid way. Just not when his material, like some paid sex, is this tired, joyless and perfunctory.

* Extra: "Infomercials."

-- Michael O'Sullivan

{sstar} Lila Says

Unrated, 2004, 89 minutes, Sony Pictures. Contains obscenity, sex talk, sexuality, partial nudity and some violence.

Set in a predominantly Muslim inner-city French neighborhood, "Lila Says" is a startlingly sexy and surprisingly touching story of the relationship that develops when a shy aspiring writer named Chimo (Mohammed Khouas) befriends a dirty-talking young Frenchwoman (Vahina Giocante). Though there's little actual physical contact (beyond some initial heavy petting), the film is as hot as a sauna, which shows that the most important sex organ is not the one between your legs, but between your ears.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

{sstar} March of the Penguins

G, 2005, 80 minutes, Warner Home Video. Contains penguin slapstick.

In this charmfest of a movie, narrator Morgan Freeman tells us about the habits and tremendous resilience of the emperor penguins, whose procreation quest takes them on an incredible journey on the frozen continent, where on a good day, the temperature is 58 degrees below zero. We're talking journeys of about 70 miles to the most frigid chunk of land on Earth. The film is full of wonderful moments and spectacles, including thousands of penguins huddled en masse, nursing their eggs. The wind moans (sometimes those gusts are 100 mph) and peppers them with snow. But they hold on to those eggs, which would crack and kill the baby inside if they touch the ground. But when those fluffies are born, you understand why the parents go to all that trouble.

* Extra: Two documentaries.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Mr. & Mrs. Smith

PG-13, 2005, 112 minutes, 20th Century Fox. Contains obscenity, violence and sexual content.

The premise is admittedly slight: Husband-and-wife hit men (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are hired to kill each other as bullets and romantic sparks fly. Nevertheless, Pitt and Jolie's monumental charisma makes this allegory of modern love and marriage a diversion that's fast-paced, fun and sexy enough for the multiplex crowd and blackhearted enough for those with a taste for something more acidic. It's a grown-up popcorn movie.

* Extra: Commentary by the director and producers.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

{sstar} Murderball

R, 2005, 86 minutes, Velocity/Thinkfilm. Contains sexual content and frank discussion, sports violence and obscenity.

This isn't just the best smash-mouth rugby documentary featuring muscular dudes in wheelchairs ever made. It's also a powerful movie by any standard. Actually, the sport, played on basketball courts, is "quad rugby." Four players per team, most of whom suffered injuries to the spine or neck, roll around in "Road Warrior"-style chariots and throw a ball around. We watch likable Mark Zupan and his national teammates take on the world's best, but the movie isn't just about sports. It's an emotional visit with some determined young men (and one middle-aged guy in major denial) who refuse to accept limitations in every aspect of their lives.

* Extra: Deleted scenes.

-- Desson Thomson

Sky High

PG, 2005, 99 minutes, Walt Disney Video. Contains comic book-style mayhem in which no one appears to get hurt, rare mild sexual innuendo and toilet humor.

In this slight but sure-footed, live-action comic fantasy, director Mike Mitchell deftly blends two genres -- the high school romance and the special-effects-laden superhero comic book adaptation -- and manages to spoof yet salute both with a refreshing lack of pretension. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of Captain Stronghold (former Disney kid star Kurt Russell in blustering, eye-crinkling form) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston), knows his parents expect him to follow in their world-saving path. Will arrives at Sky High, a school for superheroes' kids, without powers, but that begins to change. The younger actors all avoid ham-acting, and their more seasoned colleagues have fun with the witty material.

* Extra: Alternative openings.

-- Jane Horwitz