Director: Preston A. Whitmore II. With Wesley Jonathan, Anthony Mackie, Wayne Brady. (95 min.)
Best friends "Tech" and Cruise (Mackie, Jonathan) both love basketball. Tech plays highly organized "streetball" games supported by heavy betting, but wants to get his life together after a short jail term. Cruise is resisting pressure from the streetball promoter and a new girlfriend to go pro. He hopes to make an athletic scholarship a ticket to medical school. This sanitized version of inner-city life deserves points for its game attempt to create an uplifting tale, but outside some flashy basketball sequences, it rarely comes to life or generates much believability. Grade: C–
– M.K. Terrell
Violence: 7 instances. Profantiy: 19 expressions, including 4 harsh. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 7 scenes with smoking and/or drinking.
Director: Jamie Babbit. With Elisha Cuthbert, Camilla Belle, Edie Falco. (96 min.)
Isolated from her high school classmates, Dot (Belle) has been deaf and mute since losing her mother at age 7. After her father is killed in an accident, Dot finds refuge in the home of her godparents (Falco, Martin Donovan). They, along with cheerleader daughter Nina (Cuthbert), form one of the more dysfunctional families on film. Mom abuses painkillers, Nina makes Dot's life miserable, and Dad – well, imagine the worst. This could be a really dark comedy, but it seems more a heartfelt attempt at healing. The score is good, with lots of Beethoven, who, not surprisingly, is Dot's favorite composer. Grade: B–
Sex/Nudity: 19 scenes of innuendo or implied sex. Violence: 5 instances. Profanity: 53 expressions, including 36 harsh. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 7 scenes.
Director: Kirby Dick. With Kevin Smith, Matt Stone. (97 min.)
Anyone who thinks movie ratings are arbitrary won't be surprised at this attempt to document their inconsistencies. The documentary presents many examples of MPAA bias, including favoritism toward Hollywood-produced movies, by showing differently rated film clips side by side. More examples illustrate the ratings board's greater leniency toward violence – especially violence against women – than sex. The appeals process also comes under fire: Filmmakers are not permitted to cite examples of previous MPAA ratings when protesting the rating their movie received. Most irksome to the makers of this film: MPAA raters, unlike those in 30 other countries, are anonymous and therefore, presumably, unaccountable. Grade: B
Sex/Nudity: 30 scenes, many graphic. Violence: 12 instances. Profanity: 43, including 31 harsh. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 1 scene of smoking, 1 of drinking.