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The Cricket
Sean P. Means
Sean is the movie critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket.

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Josh Wiggins plays Jacob, a 13-year-old boy with a world of problems in the drama "Hellion." Courtesy Sundance Institute
Friday movie roundup: ‘Obvious’ alternative

While "Transformers: Age of Extinction" is decimating audiences this weekend, two offbeat takes on romantic comedy will charm moviegoers who appreciate quality over brain-killing idiocy.

Director Gillian Robespierre’s "Obvious Child" is a witty, brutally honest take on romance. Jenny Slate, in a no-holds-barred performance that’s funny and heart-warming, plays Donna, a stand-up comedienne who loses her boyfriend and her job — and, after a one-night stand, becomes pregnant. Donna decides to have an abortion, and as she holds by that decision she finds the guy with whom she had the one-night stand (Jake Lacy) could, under other circumstances, be The One. The movie deals truthfully with the choices of being a modern woman. (Read The Cricket’s interview with Robespierre.)

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"They Came Together" is a sharp-elbowed spoof of the romantic-comedy genre, as director David Wain and his writing partner Michael Showalter (who made "Wet Hot American Summer") skewer the cliches of movie characters falling in love. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler play along perfectly as the movie’s central couple.

Also worthwhile this weekend is "Hellion," a family drama that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. A teen (Josh Wiggins) gets in such trouble that his little brother (Deke Wilson) is taken away to live with his aunt (Juliette Lewis), leaving the teen to come to terms with his detached father (Aaron Paul). The performances, particularly by Wiggins, are outstanding, and writer-director Kat Candler shows a keen ear for the rhythms of teen boys.

Less successful is "The German Doctor," a heavy-handed Argentine drama about a family in Patagona, 1960, who meet a mysterious new neighbor (Àlex Brendemühl), who turns out to be the fugitive Nazi butcher Josef Mengele. Writer-director Lucía Puenzo gives an intriguing look at post-World War II pro-Nazi sympathizers, but within an overwrought and overplotted melodrama.

A couple theaters in Salt Lake County will screen the documentary "Irreplaceable," a look at the family’s role in society that’s bankrolled by the conservative group Focus on the Family. It was not screened for critics.

Also not screened for critics, at least not in Utah, is "Transformers: Age of Extinction." The Cricket will be seeing it today, and will post his review this afternoon.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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