OPENING THIS WEEK
Friend Request In the real world, a Facebook account holder with no friends has two important things in common with Nicki Minaj: a smokin' rack and no chance whatsoever of being an actual human being. But in the German-made Zuckerberg-era supernatural thriller Friend Request, being the first person to click "accept" on a mysterious user puts you into the orbit of a flesh-and-blood social misfit who's just one suicide attempt away from becoming a vengeful wraith. (Suddenly, Catfish doesn't seem all that unsettling.) If you're thinking this all sounds uncomfortably similar to 2014's Unfriended, you're both correct and setting aside too little of your cranium space for the finer things. "Thoroughly unpleasant and somewhat laughable," says the Times U.K.'s Kate Muir. Friended! (NR)
The Girl on the Train Once you've been divorced, you come to regard happy couples the way Jane Goodall must view the primate world: a fascinating species in some way kindred to your own, but with enough fundamental differences to afford healthy scientific distance. In The Girl on the Train, an adaptation of last year's international best-seller, a jilted Emily Blunt similarly finds her curiosity stirred by a young couple whose relationship appears to be idyllic – a thesis that gets challenged somewhat when the wife goes missing. Critics called the book the new Gone Girl, which I guess means that nobody remembers Rear Window anymore, or even that episode of The Flintstones where Fred begins to suspect his neighbor of spousal homicide. Buncha lowbrows. (Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity – none of which you will actually experience once you're divorced.)
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Normally, when a studio advertises a movie as a cross between Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Home Alone, I respond about as enthusiastically as if they had called it a cross between syphilis and being run over by a Dodge Durango. I reserve a particular loathing for Bueller, whose cast of entitled little liars and cheats in no way resembled anyone I knew or admired as a kid, and whose supporting roster of befuddled grownups were less persuasive as villains than the conniving, condescending adults who had obviously made the picture. Still, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Middle School, since the book on which it's based reportedly presents a more nuanced portrait of the tweener experience in which some of the people who are working for starvation wages in your local educational institution are doing it because they actually want to help you. Plus, the disaffected protagonist's mother is played by Lauren Graham, and I refuse to believe she would willingly be involved with something that was bad for me. (Hey, you gotta hang on to something.) (PG)
ALSO PLAYING: The Dressmaker Kate Winslet stars as a wronged woman who uses her ability to design fabulous fashions as a way to get revenge on her entire town. Working title: What It Looks Like in Your Gay Best Friend's Head All the Time. (R)
Harry and Snowman In this uplifting documentary, a Dutch immigrant rescues a horse that's bound for the slaughterhouse and trains him to become a champion show jumper. Attention, Rocky Horror types: The callback here is "Blucher!" (NR)
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