Home on the Range (U)<br></br>13 Going on 30 (12A)<br></br>Spartan (15)<br></br>The Last Victory (PG)<br></br>Infernal Affairs 2 (15)<br></br>Someone Like Hodder (U)

The best Disney cartoon in years (so get it while you still can)
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Disney's last few cartoons have been so poorly received compared to Pixar's and Dreamworks' computer-animations that the company is giving up on its traditional pen-and-ink productions, a state of affairs which turns Home on the Range (U) - the last old-school cartoon Disney will be making for the time being - into a momentous, landmark movie. Luckily, no one told the writer-directors. Home on the Range is a merrily silly Western in which three cows (voiced by Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench and Jennifer Tilly) set out to catch a yodelling cattle rustler. There are no Shakespearean themes, just lots of puns and kinetic action. It doesn't dazzle us with lush, microscopically detailed vistas, favouring instead the sort of wackily angular, 2-D characters that could have trotted out of a Saturday morning children's TV show from the 1960s. And the songs are all about storytelling and wordplay, so there are no power ballads that could be wailed by Celine Dion. Maybe the company is right to call time on its hand-drawn animation. Home on the Range is small beer compared to Shrek and Toy Story. But it's the most enjoyable Disney cartoon in years.

In 13 Going on 30 (12A), an unpopular girl wishes away her teens and twenties, and then wakes up to find that it's 17 years later, and that she's a New York fashion magazine editor with the supermodel physique of Jennifer Garner, star of Alias. Garner plays her woman-child role with endearing, baby-giraffe gawkiness, and most of the film skips along at a sprightly pace. But as the heroine comes to realise that her adult self is a backstabbing bitch, the movie sinks into soul-searching gloom.

Val Kilmer is on commanding form in David Mamet's Spartan (15) as a ruthless secret service agent who uncovers a terrifying - and fairly absurd - conspiracy when the President's daughter is kidnapped. Despite Mamet's preference for twists over characterisation, Spartan is a solid thriller, although 24 covers very similar terrain indeed.

The Last Victory (PG) is a documentary about the Palio, the biannual horse race that's run round the Campo in Siena. Each horse represents one of the city's districts, so the partisanship is as intense as you'd see at any cup final. More intense, in fact. John Appel's film shows us the Palio from the point of view of the people of Civetta, a district that hasn't won for 24 years, and it's astonishing how tightly the honour of the area is bound up in an 80-second stampede. What the film lacks is any history or context. But as a tribute to the power of community, it wins by a nose.

Infernal Affairs 2 (15) is the prequel to the acclaimed Hong Kong gangland thriller about a policeman working as a mole in a triad organisation, and a triad working as a mole in the police force. Spanning the decade prior to the first Infernal Affairs, the new film is a complex, melancholic saga which details the alliances that were forged and broken during the rise of the local kingpin. There are so many tragic ironies and shocking deaths that IA2 bears comparison with its obvious model, The Godfather Part II. But be warned. Unless you've got a very clear memory of IA, you'll spend the first hour puzzling over who's assassinating whom and why.

The main character in Someone Like Hodder (U) is an Amelie-like nine-year-old boy who is visited by a fairy and told he has been chosen to save the world. At the heart of this whimsical Danish children's film is the story of a lonely boy who's coming to terms with his mother's death, but it's buried beneath an inch-thick layer of sugar-coating.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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