A busy weekend at the movies, with something for everyone.
The controversy of the week comes from "Bully," Lee Hirsch's documentary about the problem of school kids getting harassed or hurt by their bullying classmates. Hirsch gets some compelling footage of bullying in progress, but the movie is more concerned about pushing its agenda than telling a story.
The big studio movie of the week is "The Lucky One," another Nicholas Sparks romantic melodrama - this one about a Marine (Zac Efron), searching for the woman whose photo he found in the Iraqi rubble and kept as a good-luck charm. She turns out to be a single mom (Taylor Schilling), dealing with a nasty ex (Jay R. Ferguson) in a Louisiana town. Director Scott Hicks ("Shine") captures the romantic entangling in sun-streaked beauty shots, and serves up the hammy melodrama that Sparks fans love.
Two nature documentaries debut this weekend: "Chimpanzee," the latest DisneyNature production, which takes stunning footage and grafts it to a dumbed-down storyline (narrated dopily by Tim Allen); and "To the Arctic," a beautifully shot (in IMAX) look at polar bears and other animals trying to survive the effects of global climate change.
The highlight of the art-house list is "The Deep Blue Sea," director Terence Davies' gorgeous and stately adaptation of Terrence Rattigan's play in which a woman (Rachel Weisz) abandons her husband, a prominent judge (Simon Russell Beale), for her lover, a former RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston), in 1950 London. Davies' well-composed scenes, and the powerhouse acting (particularly by Weisz), bring out the raw emotions of Rattigan's tale of love and loss.
"Footnote," one of this year's nominees for the foreign-language Oscar, is a wry comedy from Israel about a rivalry between father-and-son Talmud scholars (Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi) - and what happens when the father, long neglected by the establishment, receives a major award. Writer-director Joseph Cedar finds gentle laughs and some genuine pathos in this story of pride and resentment.
Brewvies Cinema Pub is screening the comedy "Goon," which boasts a delightful performance by Seann William Scott as Doug "The Thug" Glatt, a Beantown bar bouncer whose talent for beating people up gets him a slot as enforcer on a minor-league hockey team. The script -- by Jay Baruchel (who co-stars as Doug's profane friend) and Evan Goldberg ("Superbad") -- is a mess, but the performances by Scott and Liev Schreiber (as a veteran bruiser) are solid.
Lastly, there's "Think Like a Man," an ensemble romantic comedy inspired Steve Harvey's self-help book. It was not screened for Utah critics.