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Movie Guide

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Staff *** Small-time pimp and drug pusher DJay (Howard) is given to philosophizing, but he can't rationalize his lowly life style. When an old schoolmate (Anderson, in a serious role for once) takes him to a recording session in a church, DJay catches the vision of a better life. As his dream of being a rap artist turns to reality, he finds ways to give a hand up to others around him. Viewers who can wade through the thicket of sordidness and foul language will find this self-financed "indie" a labor of love and hope. By M.K. Terrell

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The Island (PG-13)

Director: Michael Bay. With Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** The year is 2019, the heroes are escapees from a clone-making operation, and the villains are sinister agents tracking them down. The first half is high-quality science fiction, the rest is a high-tech chase adventure with a gleeful yen for destructive thrills.

Staff **1/2 Snappy, derivative, conscience-tweaking

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes. Violence: 23 instances. Profanity: 11 profanities. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking.

March of the Penguins (G)

Director: Luc Jacquet. With plenty of penguins, voice of Morgan Freeman. (80 min.)

Sterritt ** Documentary about the mating and chick-raising routines of Emperor Penguins, whose Antarctic habitat makes almost every activity hazardous to their health and even their lives. As a zoological spectacle, the movie is riveting. But the narration tries to make us think of these adorable animals as if they saw the world in human terms, which they obviously don't, and the images have been enhanced by digital effects, as if they wouldn't be impressive enough on their own.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: None. Profanity: None. Drugs: None.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (PG-13)

Director: Doug Liman. With Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington. (120 min.)

Sterritt * Pitt and Jolie play secret agents who don't know each other's line of work when they get married, then become rivals and eventually partners in the licensed-to-kill game. The movie is a mishmash of action-adventure clich├ęs, book-ended with lame attempts at psychological interest. Written, directed, and acted with ham-fisted heaviness.

Staff ** Charmingly cast, surprisingly slow, poorly edited.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with innuendos, 2 sex scenes. Violence: 16 scenes. Profanity: 29 strong profanities. Drugs: 12 scenes with drinking, 3 scenes with smoking.

War of the Worlds (PG-13)

Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin. (117 min.)

Sterritt *** Earthlings battle alien invaders who wreak deadly havoc until they're stymied by ... you know what, if you've read H.G. Wells's influential 1898 novel. Spielberg gives the story his full high-tech treatment, building great scariness with help from first-class music and camera work. The picture gets repetitive, though, since its terrors are pretty much the same from start to finish. Cruise is in good form and Fanning is still the best child actress around.

Staff **1/2 Believably acted, made for TV, wait for the video

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 27 scenes. Profanity: 27 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 instance of drinking.

Wedding Crashers (R)

Director: David Donkin. With Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Christopher Walken. (113 min.)

Sterritt ** Wilson and Vaughn play immature Washington lawyers who get their kicks by crashing weddings in search of fun and sex, only to find their nuptial horseplay going sour when they agree to spend a weekend with a powerful politician and his attractive daughters. There are a few good laughs, but not nearly enough clever ideas to keep things hopping for almost two hours.

Staff **1/2 A guilty pleasure, juvenile, nutty.

Sex/Nudity: 24 instances. Violence: 7 scenes. Profanity: 78, ranging in severity. Drugs: 39 scenes.