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.”