Water for Elephants,” based on a best-selling novel, If you read the book, you will have expectations.

The Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspooon starrer Water for Elephants and Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold are just two of several movies opening Friday.

Water for Elephants” takes place in the 1930s. Films about traveling circuses, and the often daring and dodgy people who worked in them, used to be relatively commonplace in American movies and it could be that the novelty of seeing such a troupe, traveling from one town to another on a train with dozens of performers, workers and lots of animals in tow, might be enough to captivate a fair share of people today, just as Gruen’s 2006 novel did.

There is plenty of drama in “Water for Elephants.” And I will tell you scenes the studio has not released involving violence against the elephant play out in a very disturbing manner, even though they were manufactured with the help of high-tech special effects.

This movie is sometimes sad, sometimes makes you cringe and always makes you hope for a happy ending. I won’t tell you whether or not you get it, but I will say you are likely to tense up more than once watching.

The star attraction of “Water for Elephants” is really the acting. During moments when the story didn’t grab me, the performances did.

Release: April 22 (20th Century Fox)
Production: Fox 2000 Pictures presents a 3 Arts Entertainment/Gil Netter/Flashpoint Entertainment production
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, Paul Schneider, Jim Norton, Hal Holbrook, Mark Povinelli, Richard Brake, Stephen Monroe Taylor, Ken Foree, Scott MacDonald, James Frain, Sam Anderson, John Aylward, Brad Greenquist, Tim Guinee
Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter: Richard LaGravenese, based on the novel by Sara Gruen
Producers: Gil Netter, Erwin Stoff, Andrew R. Tennenbaum
Executive producer: Kevin Halloran
Director of photography: Rodrigo Prieto
Production designer: Jack Fisk
Costume designer: Jacqueline West
Editor: Alan Edward Bell
Music: James Newton Howard
PG-13 rating, 121 minutes

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