Opening This Weekend: Zombies! Roller Derbies! Ricky Gervais! Plus, The Coen Brothers Get Serious

How do we know fall is officially here? Because not only are the temperatures dropping—we needed to pull out shirts with long sleeves this week, people!—but the movies are finally getting good. Four potential gems hit theaters today, and as usual, there is something for everyone. As we do every Friday, here’s a handy guide to the new releases.


What’s the story: Think Shaun of the Dead… but with Americans. Blessed with one of the strongest trailers we’ve seen in quite some time—Van Halen! Snooty British voice over!—Zombieland comes into this weekend with tremendous buzz, great reviews and even a little controversy; stay off the blogs unless you want the big celebrity cameo spoiled for you. Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg star as a pair of mismatched companions trying to survive through life in post-zombie America. Expect buckets of blood, lots of laughs and some major box office. Seriously, there’s no reason why this thing shouldn’t become a huge smash.

Who should see it: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

Whip It

What’s the story: Be your own hero, indeed. We saw Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut last weekend and can happily report that it is as heavy on charm as it is on temporary tattoos. Whip It finds Ellen Page as the ridiculously named Bliss Cavendar, a Texas high school senior who becomes a roller derby sensation named Babe Ruthless. Along the way she falls in love, makes some friends (hey, Kristin Wiig!) and earns the respect of her domineering-but-well-meaning mother, played by Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden. There will certainly be better movies this year than Whip It, but we doubt many will be as much fun.

Who should see it: Diablo Cody.

The Invention of Lying

What’s the story: Another movie we’re dying to see! The Invention of Lying is Ricky Gervais’ latest attempt to become an American movie star—he tried and failed last fall with the wonderful-but-ignored Ghost Town—and this time he’s brought along some major star power in the forms of Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey and Jason Bateman. While Lying looks absolutely hilarious, what the trailers don’t tell you is that a large amount of the film deals with the existence—or lack thereof—of God. Leave it to Mr. Gervais to stick something so serious inside the workings of a studio comedy.

Who should see it: David Brent.

A Serious Man

What’s the story: Say hello to the first serious (pun!) Oscar contender to open this fall. A Serious Man, the new film from the Coen Brothers, can apparently be filed under comedy of the jet-black variety. A cast of no-names—the most recognizable face is Richard Kind; yep, that Richard Kind—help the Brothers loosely tell the story of Job, but transplanted into 1960s Minnesota. The reviews have been what you’d expect—stellar and reverent, though our Rex Reed was mixed—but we wonder if this film is too small for the Academy to really embrace.

Who should see it: The Dude.

Also opening this weekend: Disney releases Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D so your kids can see them all over again, while wearing glasses.

Opening This Weekend: Zombies! Roller Derbies! Ricky Gervais! Plus, The Coen Brothers Get Serious