Autumn is a time of falling leaves, harvest moons, and risky, offbeat movies. Though a surfeit of scary films surround the Halloween season, it also is a time of family films, comedies and dramas that take a slightly skewed look at their subjects. USA TODAY looks at some from this year's crop.
'I Can Do Bad All By Myself' (Sept. 11)
Director: Tyler Perry
Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, Adam Rodriguez
Story: Henson (supporting-actress Oscar nominee for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") stars as an alcoholic nightclub singer who finds herself taking care of three troubled kids. Perry's signature heroine, the geriatric-in-drag Madea, appears as the woman who discovers the teenagers ransacking her house one night.
'Bright Star' (Sept. 16)
Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw
Story: "Bright star, would I were as steadfast as thou art." So wrote 19th-century Romantic poet John Keats (Whishaw) about Fanny Brawne (Cornish), who inspired some of his greatest writings. Their love plays out in rich period detail as the poet struggles to find his voice, then finds his life fading from illness.
'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' (Sept. 18)
Directors: Chris Miller and Phil Lord
Stars: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Mr. T, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell
Story: Inventor Flint Lockwood (Hader) concocts a machine that turns water into delicious, fully cooked meals! There's only one problem — the machine was launched into the stratosphere and now when it rains, it rains breakfast, lunch and dinner upon the besieged townsfolk. Think of a Roland Emmerich disaster film by way of Julia Child. Based on the children's story book by Judi and Ron Barrett.
'The Informant!' (Sept. 18)
Stars: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Tony Hale, Joel McHale
Story: The exclamation point in the title is a clue that things here are slightly askew. Matt Damon (with a potbelly and mustache covering his Bourne identity) plays the whistle-blower in a true-life agri-business price-fixing scam. It might sound like a snore — except this true story is played as dark comedy, with the investigation spiraling out of control and the informant revealing himself to be a deeply disturbed narcissist.
'The Invention of Lying (Oct. 2)'
Directors: Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson
Stars: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill
Story: Gervais, star and co-creator of the original, British version of "The Office," plays a frustrated loser living in a fantasy world where everyone, always, tells the absolute truth. He becomes the first person to start telling lies. And everyone believes him, no matter how outlandish, because they've never had to deal with anything untrue before. Thus, Garner falls in love with him, and he becomes the most powerful man in a very gullible world.
'Capitalism: A Love Story' (Oct. 2)
Director: Michael Moore
Star: Michael Moore
Story: The documentarian provocateur sets his sights on Wall Street corruption and corporate manipulation of the government in this film. He has described it as a kind of monster movie in which vampires feed on their victims' money instead of their blood. After "Bowling for Columbine," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko," Moore — love him or hate him — has proven himself to be a formidable box-office draw in addition to a reliable stirrer of national debate.
'A Serious Man' (Oct. 2)