This holiday weekend, two family-oriented tentpoles will be vying for American eyeballs: Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” and Universal’s “Despicable Me 2.” We recommend both. Plagued by production hiccups, “The Lone Ranger” has received flack from critics, but cinephiles, it’s on the screen for you to savor. Yes, at two and a half hours with a budget of $250 million, it’s too long and pricey, but don’t deprive yourself of the visual and aural splendors of the most expensive western ever made, lovingly and reflexively, by the team that brought you those dreadful “Pirates of the Caribbean” films–and “Rango.” The movie is ironic yet sincere, historic yet fictional, mythic yet comedic. Armie Hammer is well cast as an innocent lawyer who grows into manhood as a Texas Ranger. Depp plays deadpan Comanche Tonto as a sexily athletic warrior.
“Despicable Me 2” brings back the gibberish-burbling taxi-yellow Minions, who provide so much of the physical comedy, and the girls, as they were in the first film, are delightful. Steve Carell completely disappears, vocally, into Gru, and it’s one of the better things he’s ever done. What the movie needs is a villain.
The indie film to see this weekend is “The Way, Way Back” which debuted at Sundance and opens Friday. A coming-of-age comedy that brims with sweetness and bite, this is a showcase for 16-year-old Liam James as Duncan, and the irresistible Allison Janney as the brazen lush next door to the summer vacation home he shares with mom (Toni Collette).
Also in limited release Friday is Michael Winterbottom’s latest collaboration with Steven Coogan — whose voice you can hear in the “Despicable Me” sequel — “The Look of Love,” which met with mixed response at Sundance.
A roundup of the week’s releases below, and trailers after the jump.
The Way, Way Back Dirs. Jim Rash & Nat Faxon, USA | Fox Searchlight | Cast: Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Maya Rudolph | 87% Fresh | Entertainment Weekly: “There’s something slightly formulaic and familiar about Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s coming-of-age film… but not enough to dampen its crowd-pleasing charm.” | Our TOH! interview with Rash and Faxon.
Despicable Me 2 Dir. Chris Renaud, USA | Universal | Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan | 75% Fresh | The Hollywood Reporter: “While the new edition doesn’t quite catch that inspired spark, there’s still plenty to enjoy here courtesy of those zippy visuals and a pitch-perfect voice cast.” | Our TOH! review.
The Lone Ranger Dir. Gore Verbinski, USA | Disney | Cast: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter | 25% Rotten | Variety: “This over-the-top oater delivers all the energy and spectacle audiences have come to expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but sucks out the fun in the process.” | Our TOH! review and roundup.
The Look of Love Dir. Michael Winterbottom, UK | IFC Films | Cast: Steve Coogan, Imogen Poots, Anna Friel | 68% Fresh | The Guardian: “This is a shallow but watchable movie, and it nicely conveys the world of semi-respectable Soho porn…” | Indiewire’s interview with Winterbottom here. | Our TOH review.
Stuck in Love Dir. Josh Boone, USA | Millennium | Cast: Kristen Bell, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman | 57% Fresh | Slant: “The movie aims for an admirable balance, but fatally upsets that equilibrium in its hurried resolutions.”