Kam's Kapsules by Kam Williams
Bad Santa (R for violence, pervasive profanity, and strong sexual content). Irreverent holiday flick with Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox as con men disguised as St. Nick and an elf, respectively, who go on a mall crime spree chased by a detective (Bernie Mac) till they get the Christmas spirit from an 8-year-old kid. Includes the final screen appearance of the late John Ritter.
Brother Bear (G). Old-fashioned animated feature from Disney, set in the West before the arrival of the white man, tells the tale of the unlikely friendship forged between a young, Native American brave (Joaquin Phoenix) and an anthropomorphic grizzly bear cub (Jeremy Suarez). Additional voicework supplied by Michael Clarke Duncan and Rick Moranis.
The Cat in the Hat (PG for crude humor and double entendres). Mike Myers morphs into the title character of the Dr. Seuss children's classic about a young brother (Spencer Breslin) and sister (Dakota Fanning) left home alone who get an unexpected visit from a fun-loving feline. Supporting cast includes Kelly Preston and Paris Hilton.
Elf (PG for crude humor and mild epithets). Roots comedy about the search for his biological father by a man (Will Ferrell) raised as an Elf by Santa Claus (Ed Asner) at the North Pole.
Gothika (R for violence, nudity and brief profanity). Horror flick with Halle Berry as a shrink with amnesia who finds herself committed to her own asylum and accused of her husband's (Charles Dutton) murder. With Robert Downey, Jr. and Penelope Cruz.
The Haunted Mansion (PG for frightening images, mild epithets, and adult themes). Fresh on the heels of the phenomenal success of Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney adapts another amusement park ride into a feature film. Eddie Murphy stars in this horror comedy as a workaholic who learns a valuable lesson about life from a ghost that appears during a job interview at a haunted house.
Honey (PG-13 for sexual references and drug content). Jessica Alba stars in this inner-city saga about an aspiring dancer who has to choose between being blacklisted and the casting couch. Street credibility comes courtesy of earthy Mekhi Phifer and rappers Jay-Z, Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott, Lil' Romeo and Tweet.
The Human Stain (R for nudity, sex and expletives). Anthony Hopkins is a distinguished professor posing as a Jew who has hidden his African-American roots for years. Disgraced for making a racial slur, the Viagra-popping poser takes refuge in a steamy affair with a janitor (Nicole Kidman) who has a very jealous husband.
The Last Samurai (R for graphic violence). Tom Cruise stars as a grizzled gun-slinging Civil War vet, who develops second thoughts about wiping out Japan's remaining samurai warriors. In Japanese and English with subtitles.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (PG-13 for battle scenes and scary images). The J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy is completed with Frodo and friends returning for a final showdown for control of Middle Earth.
Lost in Translation (R for sex content). Drama about an over-the-hill movie star (Bill Murray), in Tokyo to tape a TV commercial, who befriends a bored housewife (Scarlett Johansson) neglected by her workaholic husband.
Love Don't Cost a Thing (PG-13 for off-color humor). This blackface remake of Can't Buy Me Love (1987) has Nick Cannon as the high school nerd who pays a cute cheerleader (Christina Milian) to pose as his girlfriend to improve his social status. Cast includes comedian Steve Harvey and rapper Fabolous.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (PG-13 for battle scenes and intermittent expletives). Peter Weir's adaptation of the Patrick O'Brian seafaring adventure, set during the Napoleonic Wars, stars Russell Crowe as the Captain of a British man-of-war chasing a French frigate around Cape Horn.
The Missing (R for violence). A Ron Howard directed Western with Tommy Lee Jones as a father who mends fences with his estranged daughter (Cate Blanchett) in time to hunt the outlaws who kidnapped her child. Val Kilmer, Rachel Evan Wood, and Aaron Eckhart are included in a top-flight cast.
Mona Lisa Smile (PG-13 for sex content and mature themes). Julia Roberts stars as a pre-feminist era Wellesley professor who inspires students played by Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Tori Amos and Maggie Gyllenhaal to aspire to more than marrying well.
Mystic River (R for profanity and violence). Clint Eastwood directed this labyrinthine whodunit starring Sean Penn as a man whose daughter has been murdered. Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne co-star as the detectives handling the investigation, and Tim Robbins surfaces as the prime suspect.
Pieces of April (PG-13 for sensuality, expletives, drug content, and nudity). Katie Holmes stars in the title role of this comedy of errors as a Greenwich Village bohemian from a staid, suburban family who invites her folks to her tiny, dilapidated apartment for a holiday feast with her black boyfriend (Derek Luke).
Shattered Glass (PG-13 for epithets, sexual references, and brief drug use). Illuminating biopic recounts the rise and fall of Stephen Glass, the Washington, D.C. journalist who was later exposed as a fraud.
Something's Gotta Give (PG-13 for profane language and sexual content including brief nudity). Complicated comedy involving a love quadrangle with a young doctor (Keanu Reeves) who falls for the mother (Diane Keaton) of his heart patient's (Jack Nicholson) girlfriend (Amanda Peet).
The Station Agent (R for profanity and drug use). Jersey-based drama about a reclusive dwarf living in an abandoned train depot whose oasis is invaded by an artist mourning the loss of her son and a motor mouthed hot dog vendor.
Sylvia (R for sex, expletives and nudity). Gwyneth Paltrow handles the title role in this biography of Sylvia Plath, the celebrated suicidal poet who lost it after being abandoned for another by her husband Ted Hughes.
Stuck on You (PG-13 for profanity and crude off-color humor). Latest Farrelly Brothers comedy pairs Matt Damon with Greg Kinnear as Siamese twins who find fame in Hollywood but at the cost of their compatibility. Supporting cast includes Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Jessie Ventura, Eva Mendes, and Luke Wilson.
Under the Tuscan Sun (PG-13 for sex and expletives). Romantic comedy, loosely based on Frances Mayes' 1966 memoir, stars Diane Lane as a 35-year-old American lawyer who escapes her cheating husband by vacationing in Italy where she impulsively buys a fixer-upper and gets involved with a tall, dark and handsome stranger.