Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or intolerable this week at the movies. Another competitive fall weekend yields perhaps the season's biggest blockbuster alongside David Wain's studio breakthrough, not to mention choice candidates for the weekend's biggest disappointment and must-see indie gem. As always, our opinions are our own, but what can we say? We're just in a giving mood!WHAT'S NEW: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa revives the DreamWorks zoo-animal-on-the-loose franchise this weekend in the hopes of pulling down as much as $60 million — which it might manage, considering High School Musical 3's slowed box-office pace in its third week. Universal deftly counterprogrammed David Wain's R-rated comedy Role Models, featuring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott as would-be mentors to McLovin and a black kid whose best jokes you've probably already seen in the commercials. That shouldn't stop it from pulling down around $12.6 million while the screeching Madagascar throngs tear down the multiplex around it. Also opening:Stranded: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains, the reenactment-heavy doc about cannibal survivors of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes; the Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; and the goth horror-musical Repo! The Genetic Opera. THE BIG LOSER: Maybe "loser" is too harsh an estimation of Soul Men's fate, but let's face it: If it weren't the final entry in both Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes's filmographies, it wouldn't likely fare in the top five on any weekend outside the dumping grounds of January or August. But as cynical, posthumous curios go, it'll draw, coaxing up to $9.5 million and possibly cracking the top three. Whatever sells, we suppose.
THE UNDERDOG: The documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father defies conventional review, if only to preserve the mystery that makes it one of the year's most gripping and extraordinary films. The less you know about it, the better, but: Director Kurt Kuenne originally set out to chronicle the legacy of his childhood friend Andrew Bagby, who was murdered in 2001 by his ex-girlfriend Shirley Turner. When Turner fled to her native Newfoundland, pregnant with Bagby's child, Kuenne's personal film suddenly inherited a true-crime narrative laced with extradition battles, custody haggles and, ultimately, unbelievable tragedy. That it must be believed (and reckoned with, if you can) makes Dear Zachary an infuriating, devastating, graceful and utterly essential theatrical experience. Bring Kleenex. FOR SHUT-INS: If you've managed to plow through last week's box-set bounty, reward yourself with last summer's Get Smart updating, Waterworld: The Extended Edition (!!!) or another complete-series windfall: The Wild Wild West, The Outer Limits, I Dream of Jeannie and/or Batman: The Complete Animated Series. So after you check out Dear Zachary, what's next? Is anyone actually contemplating going, ahem, 2 Africa? Are you paying final, $10 respects to Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes? Or are you the one American in the market for an extended edition of Waterworld? Go ahead, be honest — we're all friends here.