Director: Emilio Estevez. With Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood, Demi Moore, William H. Macy. (120 min.)
Writer-director Emilio Estevez casts a frankly idolatrous eye on the late Robert Kennedy in this surprisingly moving and deftly made film that takes place entirely on June 4, 1968, inside the Ambassador Hotel, the day the senator was assassinated. Estevez includes news clips of Kennedy on the stump, but the film is taken up entirely with the personal stories of the guests and hotel and campaign workers. It's a sideways view of a national trauma. The large cast includes standout performances from such unlikelies as Demi Moore, playing an alcoholic crooner, and Estevez himself, as her long-suffering husband. Everyone in this film is powerful. Grade: A–
– Peter Rainer
Director: Richard Linklater. With Patricia Arquette, Bobby Cannavale, Luis Guzman, Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear. (106 min.)
Richard Linklater brings his lyrically digressive style to bear on this dramatic adaptation of Eric Schlosser's nonfiction exposé of the fast-food industry. Greg Kinnear plays an executive for a big burger chain who travels to the company's meat-packing plant to investigate findings that cow manure is present in the meat. Bruce Willis is his adversary. The plant is also a magnet for Mexican illegal immigrants. Their work environment is shockingly unsavory. Viewers expecting a blistering attack on the fast-food business, or an Altmanesque panorama, will be disappointed, but it's a sensitive and humane piece of work. Grade: A–
Sex/Nudity: 14 scenes, including nudity and 4 sex scenes. Violence: 3 scenes, including graphic slaughter of cattle and a gory accident. Profanity: 114 harsh profanities. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 8 scenes with drinking, 3 scenes with smoking, 1 scene with cocaine.
Director: George Miller. With the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy. (108 min.)
Dropped on his head while still in the egg, Mumble the emperor penguin (Elijah Wood) is "differently abled." He tap dances, but he can't sing the pop tunes that will attract a mate. His dancing is such a break with custom that the flock's elders claim it's driving fish away. Mumbles thinks that humans' overfishing of the seas is the cause and sets out to get them to stop. Much indebted to last year's "March of the Penguins," this computer-animated feature ranges from cartoon cute to spectacularly beautiful to environmentally aware. Scary encounters with predators may be too intense for some younger children, though. Grade: B
– M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 2 scenes of mild innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes of penguins in peril. Profanity: None. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: None.