<preform>The Door in the Floor (15)</br>The Magic Roundabout (U)</br>First Daughter (PG)</br>Mayor of the Sunset Strip (15)</br>SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (U)</br>Son of the Mask (PG)</br>Laura's Star (U)</br>Aliens of the Deep (nc)</preform>

Sorry Kim, but Bob the talking sponge is so much more absorbing
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The Independent Culture

Three years ago, In the Bedroom, a fine adaptation from the short story by Andre Dubus, dwelt on the different ways in which a couple coped with the murder of their son. The Door in the Floor (15) feels reminiscent: another literary adaptation, this time from John Irving's A Widow for One Year; again set in a small community by the sea, the quaint and affluent East Hampton; again charting the emotional ruptures caused by the loss of a child. However, whereas In the Bedroom had the resonance of a modern-day Greek tragedy, this flatters to deceive.

Three years ago, In the Bedroom, a fine adaptation from the short story by Andre Dubus, dwelt on the different ways in which a couple coped with the murder of their son. The Door in the Floor (15) feels reminiscent: another literary adaptation, this time from John Irving's A Widow for One Year; again set in a small community by the sea, the quaint and affluent East Hampton; again charting the emotional ruptures caused by the loss of a child. However, whereas In the Bedroom had the resonance of a modern-day Greek tragedy, this flatters to deceive.

Children's book author Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his wife Marion (Kim Basinger) are a couple falling apart at the seams, after the accidental death of their two sons. It is not the loss that causes their rift, but the resentment each has for the other's handling of the trauma: while Marion is paralysed by grief, Ted struts about town like a Long Island Gauguin, jocular, eccentric and adulterous. When young Eddie (Jon Foster) turns up to work as Ted's assistant, and immediately falls for the older woman, he pushes the marriage towards the finish line.

Writer-director Tod Williams simply takes his eye off the ball: he dwells too much on the ridiculous sexual initiation of the pitiable Eddie, gets lost in Basinger's enigmatic performance, and fails to capitalise on the nugget of the film - the inestimable Bridges. When the actor is gallivanting about in his kaftan or giving the film's key monologue, we have a sense of what might have been.

Whatever your age, The Magic Roundabout (U) is probably lurking somewhere inside your grey matter. With its prehistoric animation, surreal plots and motley group of characters, it was perhaps the most bonkers children's programme ever made.

It's always worrying when classics are given the full-length, hi-tech treatment, but this computer-animated version certainly captures some of the original's spirit. Story is secondary to revisiting the characters - now brought to life by vibrant animation and some famous voices, including Robbie Williams (Dougal), Joanna Lumley (Ermintrude), Ian McKellen (Zebedee) and Jim Broadbent (Brian). Bill Nighy is particularly delicious as the stoned, guitar-playing rabbit Dylan, while former Dr Who Tom Baker gets the best lines as the baddie of the piece; not least when confronted by Brian the snail and instructing his sidekick to "Get out the garlic butter."

The West Wing, in its inimitably witty and well-informed fashion, has covered all the angles on being the child of a US president: pampered, scrutinised, over-protected, under-protected, feted, endangered, living a life not entirely your own. First Daughter (PG) tries another tack: turning White House family politics into a frat-party fairy tale. It not only adds nothing to our understanding of an unusual situation, but makes an early stab for the most excruciating cinema experience of 2005. Katie Holmes plays the boss's daughter, and Michael Keaton is the lowest-rent president you'll ever see, looking terrible in a tux and with the shiftiness of a man who hopes no one is watching.

Fame by association is also examined in the excellent documentary Mayor of the Sunset Strip (15). Rodney Bingenheimer is the eponymous LA resident, who became known in the Sixties as an inveterate groupie and wannabe, but with two saving graces: a genuinely sweet nature and a very real love for music, the latter manifested in his work as a DJ. A gnomish and surprisingly shy man, Rodney nevertheless allows director George Hickenlooper (aided by pals that include David Bowie, Cher and Nancy Sinatra) to show him warts and all - anything for another 15 minutes.

A further three features are aimed at family audiences. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (U) is the film of the American television series; it stars a young sea sponge living in the undersea world of Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob is animated with the craziness befitting a talking sponge - as a sort of Flat Stanley figure who clips on his clothes, surrounded by fish bearing no relation to reality. Finding Nemo this is not - but it does feature Goofy Guber the Dancing Peanut.

Son of the Mask (PG) is a hysterical, derivative, nasty film, ostensibly related to the Jim Carrey vehicle The Mask, but without that actor and his plasticine genius. Alan Cumming plays Loki, the errant god of Norse mythology, who terrorises a family in possession of his beloved mask - only to find the baby has his powers and sense of mischief. Heavy with special effects and the casual violence of a cartoon, it can only frighten the kids - in fact, it serves as an advert against having anyin the first place. Laura's Star (U) is an animation based on the series of illustrated children's books, about a seven-year-old girl's friendship with a fallen star.

Since making The Abyss and Titanic, the director James Cameron has become obsessed with not only imagining the marine world, but exploring it for real. In his fabulous, 3-D deep-sea documentary Aliens of the Deep (nc), he and a team of young scientists explore the ocean bed in funky submersibles, discovering a thrilling world of undersea canyons and ET-like creatures.

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