Hello again my geeky friends! I will say upfront that the title of this weeks Theater Thursday article is misleading. With this being the July 4th holiday, all the major film releases are actually already out, having opened on Wed, the 3rd, but I am just beginning to build this article as a tradition and I wouldn’t want to break with said tradition so soon.
I know that there are hotdogs and hamburgers to be eaten and hopefully a little sun to have fun in, so I will get right to the point. There are only a couple of giant films coming out this week and one small concert film that is in limited release, so this shouldn’t take more than eight or ten thousand words.
I kid! I promise it won’t go on nearly that long, it’s just that since my Man of Steel review went up a couple of weeks back, I have been told by more than a few readers that I should either do away with the preamble or build a coffee break into the article, so I will try to get to the point.
THE LONE RANGER (PG-13 149 Minutes)
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time not too far in the past where Johnny Depp was known as a world-class actor who really just needed that one big film to make him an A list actor. Then 2003 and the first Pirates of the Caribbean happened and Depp became one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood.
It’s amazing what can happen in a decade of time. Now it seems that we can’t get him to star in anything but big franchise films. I don’t know if we will ever get another Edward Scissorhands or Whats eating Gilbert Grape level performances out of him at this point. There have been a couple of interesting characters since (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Rum Diary) but he seems content to keep doing these kinds of event pictures where he can bury himself under makeup, effect an odd accent and go way over the top.
This week brings us just such a film. The Lone Ranger has been on the planning board for a while now. When it was first announced a couple of years back, there was a supernatural element that involved Werewolves and magic. When Disney balked at the budget of 250 million dollars, the filmmakers dropped the supernatural and Werewolves from the story, dropped the budget to 215 million dollars and then eight-months later, cameras were rolling.
The final result is now opening on about four-thousand screens across the Country and we will see if Depp has delivered another Iconic performance as Tonto to Armie Hammer’s John Reid, better known as The Lone Ranger, or if this film will become, as Industry analyst are already saying, this years John Carter.
I have my own thoughts on the film, but I haven’t seen it yet so I will keep them to myself. However it turns out, I’m not sure how you spend 225 million dollars (the final production budget) on a western.
At least it’s not in 3D.
Now Playing at Theaters Everywhere.
Here is an interesting trivia fact. The promotional campaign for the original Despicable Me did not feature any of the Minions in any of the trailers for the film. In fact, the teaser trailer for the film was just an extended sequence in the film where the world realizes that someone has stolen one of the Great Pyramids and replaced it with a look-a-like made of rubber.
The little yellow blobs that babble in gibberish were a nice little surprise hidden in the film itself. I remember when I first saw the film and saw them, I was shocked that they didn’t use them in the marketing for the film.
Now, as you probably know, the sequel’s marketing is almost completely built around them. I saw the film today and I can say that I laughed like a small child at the film. It is just as sweet and gentle at its heart as the original. This time, the hidden surprise in the film is Kristen Wiig’s character, Lucy who teams up with Steve Carell’s Gru (this time working as a good guy) to stop a dastardly plot to rule the world (of course) by a new villain. The plot revolves around discovering just who this villain is, although that’s really beside the point.
The real charm of the film is just watching Carell and Wiig bounce off each other. Yes, I am aware that this is a cartoon and they are just giving voice to these characters, but the film takes a nice turn towards the madcap banter of a 30’s screwball comedy that just made me smile.
In case you were wondering, just as they did in the first film, the minions pretty much steal every scene they are in, but the film actually used remarkable restraint by not putting them front and center the whole time. The filmmakers seem to understand that they are more effective in small doses. In fact, there are several stretches where they disappear from the screen altogether.
The math is pretty simple: If you enjoyed the first film, you will enjoy this one.
If you are interested, the 3D is actually really good in this film. You don’t need to see it in 3D, but if you are inclined, it is worth the extra money.
Now Playing in 2D and RealD 3D at Theaters Everywhere.
KEVIN HART: LET ME EXPLAIN (R 76 Minutes)
Until 2011, the only comedy concert films that had ever had a wide theatrical release were by Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. In fact, Murphy’s best known comedy concert (Delirious) wasn’t a film, it was an HBO special.
In 2011, Hart released Laugh at my Pain and it was a surprising success. Only 2 years later, Hart is back with another concert film and it looks like history might repeat itself.
Like Despicable Me 2, the math is pretty easy on this: You already know if you like Kevin Hart’s brand of comedy or not and if you don’t, Netflix his last film to see if it fits your taste before you go. If you like it (I do) then this is sure to be a blast, if you don’t, this could be torture to sit through.
Now Playing in Select Theaters.
*I know that Louie CK’s Hilarious was a concert film, but it only played a handful of theaters, mostly at festivals, so I can’t count it, although I would love for him to release another one, and if this film is successful, that could happen.
That does it for this week, next week brings us PACIFIC RIM where we build Monsters to fight Monsters!!
Until then, Keep the Projector Threaded.