Opening in New York, Weekend of July 5, 2013

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4th of July weekend is always a big one for moviegoers–things were hopping at my local multiplex at 10:30 this morning.

Two major Hollywood features open this weekend. The first is Despicable Me 2 (61), a sequel to the popular film about a villain (Steve Carell) who softens after caring for children. I didn’t see the first one, but it certainly has its devotees. Stephen Holden: “the new movie — concocted by the same hands (the directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and the screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul) who were behind the first “Despicable Me” — is consistently diverting and so cute you’ll want to pet it. Yet it is also weightless and lacks a center.” Early returns show this to be a smash.

Not so with The Lone Ranger (37), an attempt by the team that brought us The Pirates of the Caribbean to recapture that kind of box office with the once-popular radio and TV character that wore a mask and rode a white horse. As A.O. Scott points out in his review, you have to be pretty old to remember the Lone Ranger, certainly not the age group they are looking for. Only the presence of Johnny Depp can possibly attract a youthful audience. Scott: :Someone in the Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer corporate suites has decided that today’s kids need their own version of the white-hat western hero with his laconic Indian sidekick, and so now we have “The Lone Ranger,” a very long, very busy movie that will unite the generations in bafflement, stupefaction and occasional delight.”

Steve Carell does double duty this week, his second film the limited release The Way, Way Back (65). A coming of age film set during a summer vacation at the shore, it is brought to us by the Oscar-wining screenwriters of The Descendants, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Scott: “The Way, Way Back” has the charm of timelessness but also more than a touch of triteness. Its situations and feelings seem drawn more from available, sentimental ideas about adolescence than from the perceptions of any particular adolescent.”

To be honest, I had never heard of Kevin Hart until he hosted Saturday Night Live this spring. He seemed somewhat amusing, but he’s popular enough to get his own concert film, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (56). It’s interesting that these things are still made, as stand-up comedy is so easy to find on TV. Neil Genzlinger: “His fans will love it; their main complaint may be that it ends too soon. Amateur psychologists in the audience, meanwhile, may be asking why such a successful guy seems so defensive.”

Finally, among other indies opening this weekend, I will have to search out The Look of Love (no score), a biography of British porno king Paul Raymond, played by Steve Coogan, one of my favorite actors. Holden: “The Look of Love” demythologizes its subject to the extent that any envy you might initially feel quickly drains away. Its nudity and sex feel stale and humdrum. The difference between the erotic mystique of Playboy and that of its London equivalents is the difference between Marilyn Monroe and Diana Dors.”

 

 

 

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

10 responses »

  1. The first Despicable Me was solid. Well-animated, fairly amusing and surprisingly warm. Should be checking out the sequel tomorrow.

  2. As for The Lone Ranger – is there anyone on the planet, outside of Depp, Verbinski and Bruckheimer, who thought a 250M Lone Ranger film was a wise investment?

    What was the last successful western action/comedy? Back to the Future 3?

  3. As for The Lone Ranger – is there anyone on the planet, outside of Depp, Verbinski and Bruckheimer, who thought a 250M Lone Ranger film was a wise investment?

    I bet the horse wranglers were on board.

  4. Yeah, that whole era of Western comedies including Back to the Future and Young Guns and Young Guns 2, et. al. was pretty successful. I had no idea BTF III made upwards of 87 million.

  5. Yeah, they had a good run up until about Maverick in 1994 (forgot about that one earlier). But in the last 10-13 years you’ve had: Wild Wild West, Cowboys & Aliens, Jonah Hex, Texas Rangers, American Outlaws. All of which were big, big money losers. The only “kinda” exception would be Django Unchained…but that’s Tarantino, which plays by a completely different set of rules.

    I’m not counting 3:10 to Yuma, The Alamo or True Grit because they’re more traditional westerns rather than Western/Action pictures.

  6. I *loved* Maverick when it came out. Can’t count how many times I watched it.

  7. With the exception of the Pirates films, Bruckheimer has felt like a relic of the 1980s & 1990s – a lot of projects that have a ‘been there, done that’ feel and generally underachieve at the box office.

  8. About 40 minutes into The Lone Ranger right now and I’m pleasantly surprised. While a little repetitive, the first major action sequence is terrific.

  9. The Alexa is astounding.
    Other than that, Lone Ranger isn’t exciting, it isn’t funny, it isn’t engaging, and while the opening 30 minutes is really pretty great stupid action, the ending of the action sequence is so absurd, and the rest of the movie, also and-does a man cut out…and subsequently eat…another man’s heart in a PG-13 movie aimed at kids (obviously, since there’s a drinking horse and Depp puts his head in a cage)?
    I would let a kid watch True Grit before this nonsense that places troubling situations and actions in the guise of a children’s story that they also want adults to enjoy. A horse simply falls over and dies? This is funny?

  10. Yeah, that opening 40 minutes is about all I enjoyed. I was desperate for it to end by about the 1:30 mark (and obviously knew I was nowhere near that point).

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