New in theaters
Director: Elizabeth Allen. With Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts. (109 min.)
Hailey and Claire are, like, so crushin' on lifeguard Raymond, and summer's nearly over without significant contact. Then teenage mermaid Aquamarine washes up on the beach. If Aqua can land Raymond and prove that love is more than a myth, her sea-god dad will let her out of an arranged marriage. The girls agree to help. This big-screen after-school special may not appeal to adults, but it'll make a splash with preteens. Grade: C+
- M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: some mild innuendo. Violence: 2 massive storms at sea. Profanity: 5 mild theological expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: None.
Director: Michel Gondry. With Dave Chappelle, Kanye West. (100 min.)
In 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle's massive fete in Brooklyn brought together several major hip-hop artists, including a reunion performance by the Fugees. The film opens with Chappelle in his old Dayton, Ohio, neighborhood handing out free passes for bus and hotel accommodations for the party. He even takes along an entire marching band, all expenses paid. The R rating is solely due to language. Still, it's a joy fest. Grade: B-
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo anf frank talk. Violence: None. Profanity: At least 116 expressions, most strong. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 3 instances of smoking, 1 of drinking.
Director: Marshall Curry. With Cory Booker, Sharpe James. (83 min.)
If you didn't already realize that politics can be a dirty business, then Marshall Curry's Oscar-nominated documentary will set you straight. It's about the 2002 Newark mayoral race between four-term incumbent Sharpe James and 32-year-old Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law grad Cory Booker. James is an old-school pol who will stoop as low as it takes to win. The lowest blow comes when he accuses Booker (who ultimately lost) of being "not really black." As one of Booker's supporters notes, it's a sad day when academic success is used to denigrate an African-American. Grade: A-
- Peter Rainer
Director: Rupert Murray. With Doug Bruce. (88 min.)
Sometime between the evening of July 1 and the morning of July 3, 2003, Doug Bruce, a photographer and former stockbroker, lost his memory. Riding alone that morning on a New York subway bound for Coney Island, he came to the realization that he didn't know who he was. Bruce's friend Rupert Murray has made a documentary about Bruce's bewildered quest to find out who he is - or was. A number of medical experts are queried as to the cause of what is clinically termed retrograde amnesia, but nothing conclusive is uncovered. While I don't entirely rule out the possibility that Bruce is a hoaxster, it seems more likely that his story is one of those weird scientific anomalies that more frequently turn up as an Oliver Sacks case history. Grade: B+
Director: Tyler Perry. With Lynn Whitfield, China Anderson, Tyler Perry. (107 min.)
Madea Simmons (Perry) is in trouble with the law for her tough-love means of dealing with family problems. Her sentence is to take in a foster child. As in last year's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," she must also help a niece in an abusive relationship, and another who, having sworn off love-'em-and-leave-'em men, is reluctant to begin a relationship with Mr. Right. Like "Diary," it feels as if we're watching three movies in one, with vast shifts in tone - though toning down the slapstick episodes helps. Grade: C
- M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo, plus two reports of rape. Violence: 13 instances. Profanity: 26 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 8 scenes of drinking, 1 of smoking.
Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer. With Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell. (83 min.)
Julia Jones (Hannigan) waits tables in her African-American-Indian-Japanese-Jewish family's Greek cafe, doubting she'll ever find her Prince Charming. But she does. And he still loves her after she sheds 270 lbs. in a makeover. Hannigan's spirited performance is one bright spot in this tasteless and sophomoric spoof of more than a dozen movies, which also features Jennifer Coolidge's brief spot-on impersonation of Barbra Streisand in a "Meet the Parents" bit, and Valery Ortiz as a wedding planner named Jell-O. Some of the nonstop gags actually work. Grade: D+
- M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 18 scenes on innuendo or distasteful acts. Violence: 14 scenes. Profanity: 38 expressions, mostly mild. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 4 instances.