Director Roland Emmerich takes up the old but debunked conspiracy theory that William Shakespeare was a fraud, twisting history to suit a screenplay (by John Orloff) that is preposterous, lewd and farcical. We meet the "real" author of Shakespeare's works, Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, as a child prodigy, performing his "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for the young Queen Elizabeth. Time passes, Edward writes dozens of manuscripts in secret, has an adulterous affair with the queen, and enlists playwright Ben Jonson to stage his works. Enter unscrupulous (and illiterate) actor Will Shakespeare, who blackmails Edward and usurps his place in literary history. Several incestuous and adulterous relationships, nongraphic premarital sexual activity, some bloody violence. (L, PG-13)
In Time (Fox)
Though stylish, this sci-fi thriller fails to follow through on its chilling premise of a dystopian society in which everyone is genetically engineered to die at age 26 unless they can add more time to their biological clock. So time becomes the only currency. After receiving a chronological windfall, a previously impoverished factory worker (Justin Timberlake) flees the ghetto and, together with a mogul's daughter (Amanda Seyfried), attempts to redistribute wealth to the have-nots. Writer-director Andrew Niccol tries to distract the audience from analyzing the details of his intriguing scenario, but his film plays like a glossy fashion spread with a social conscience. Nongraphic action violence, including gunplay, a suicide, a glimpse of rear female nudity, several nonmarital sexual situations, at least one instance each of profanity and rough language, several crude terms, some innuendo. (A-III, PG-13).
Paranormal Activity 3 (Paramount)
In 1988 California, a videographer records the ominous doings of a malevolent spirit that has taken up residence in the house he shares with his new wife and two stepdaughters. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's horror sequel follows a tried and true formula to deliver mostly gore-free jolts. But the satanic elements of the plot that eventually come to the fore will make many want to steer clear. Occult theme, brief harsh violence, drug use, some nongraphic marital lovemaking, a couple of uses of profanity, several sexual references, considerable rough and crude language. (L, R)
Puss in Boots (DreamWorks)
Screenwriter Tom Wheeler's exceptionally intelligent and energetic script for this 3-D animated "Shrek" spinoff has the title character --- accompanied by his childhood friend Humpty Dumpty and newfound feline love interest --- going in quest of the goose that lays golden eggs. Director Chris Miller's kid-friendly adventure combines imagery from fairy tales with a story line that makes Puss a mischievous, Zorro-like bandit to present a valuable lesson about the perils of greed and dishonesty. Parents of young children should know in advance, however, that one of the principal characters dies. Intense action sequences. (A-I, PG)
The Rum Diary (FilmDistrict)
Smoke, drink, be hung over, repeat is the lusty refrain of this film memoir, set in 1960 Puerto Rico and based on gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's roman a clef about his early years in the business. Writer-director Bruce Robinson and star Johnny Depp, who plays Thompson's alter ego, don't try to glamorize the abundant substance abuse. Rather, they highlight the origins of Thompson's well-known rages against injustice, corrupt politicians and corporate greed. Still, although sweetly nostalgic at times, this material is strictly for mature adults prepared for its portrayal of drunkenness and drug addiction. Implied premarital sexual encounters, brief partial female nudity, drug and abusive alcohol use, pervasive rough and fleeting profane language. (L, R)
The Three Musketeers (Summit)
Alexandre Dumas' classic costume epic of 17th-century swordsmanship, French patriotism and political treachery is updated with 3-D, slow-motion fighting and two anachronistic airships, one of which has a flamethrower. Director Paul W.S. Anderson downplays the politics to have Athos, Aramis and Porthos, joined by D'Artagnan, fighting mostly for the love of their women. Probably acceptable for mature adolescents. Fleeting crude and crass language, light sexual banter and highly stylized gun- and swordplay. (A-III, PG-13)
Catholic News Service classifications: A-I ---- general patronage; A-II ---- adults and adolescents; A-III ---- adults; L ---- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O ---- morally offensive.