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Nato's Weekly New Release Roundup

by Photo of Matt Donato

This week sees the return of an animated supervillain, Johnny Depp being crazy, again, and more!

Nato's Weekly New Release Roundup

In this article…

Picking myself up from defeat yet again, I have a good feeling about this week. I don’t know why, as the last two weeks have laughed at my predictions mercilessly, but I’m a pretty optimistic dude, so let’s give this another shot, eh? We’ve got a few pretty substantial releases this week, and one lesser-known release more should see than are probably going to.

Despicable Me 2

Yup, everyone’s favorite lovable supervillain is back in action this weekend, but this time without the whole evil façade. Instead of battling with another rival villain to be the evilest of them all, Gru (Steve Carell) is called upon by the Anti-Villain League to stop a powerful new supervillain who has emerged. All your favorite characters are back including Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and our three adorable girls, but joining them are Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, and Ken Jeong. After Despicable Me, who wouldn’t want to jump on the animated sequel to one of the best non-Pixar titles to ever be released? I am still a tad bit bummed though, because Al Pacino was supposed to be Gru’s adversary. It would have been a real treat to have this living legend as part of the cast. But who cares. Why? MINIONS!!!

If you didn’t love Despicable Me, then I would seriously examine your soul and make sure your heart hasn’t frozen over with an icy coating of curmudgeon-y lifelessness. The gentle story of Gru turning from a moon-snatching baddie into a loving single parent is only made more adorable by our innocent orphans, as Universal Pictures tugged on our heartstrings through lovable family bonding. To balance all that emotional mumbo-jumbo out were our minions though, delivering slapstick laughs every step of the way. You laughed, I…I mean…*some* of you probably cried, and overall we had another perfect example of an animated film having something for every possible viewer.

Fast forward to this year’s sequel and you can expect the laughs, but you’ll also notice a definite lack of emotional tugging. Parents who were touched by Gru’s antics the first time around won’t be granted the same pleasures, as some are complaining that Despicable Me 2 relies too heavily on shallow comedy – ignoring the nurturing nature of the original. That’s just for adults though, as younger audiences will still have all the silly jokes necessary to make Despicable Me 2 a laugh-filled watch – along with most adults I’d say as well.

The Lone Ranger

Well it wouldn’t be summer blockbuster season without exploding trains, epic set-pieces, updated adaptations of previous works, and Johnny Depp playing another quirky character. Wonder who is going to fill that quota this week? Enter Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, starring Armie Hammer as the titular hero and Johnny Depp as his Native American sidekick Tonto. Think of the beautiful atmospheric work that Verbinski was able to accomplish with The Pirates Of The Caribbean – one would think The Lone Ranger was in good hands, no?

Well, um, considering The Lone Ranger is about two and a half hours worth of plot holes, abundantly overbearing action, and little substance, it pretty much defines what a summer blockbuster is. Critics hate it for being a mindless waste of time that squanders two lead characters who otherwise might have been enjoyable to watch, yet non-critic audiences are digging every minute of loud, intense, explode-y action which is created to make viewers forget there’s a script that looks like Swiss cheese somewhere responsible for the final product.

But again, f#ck it, shit blows up, who cares, right? (I feel like I’m going to be saying that line a ton this summer) Not everyone is digging Depp’s role as the bird-wearing Tonto though, so don’t expect Johnny to have the same impact he had with that rum-drunk scallywag Captain Jack Sparrow. But hell, if you’re just dying to get your Western fix in this weekend, The Lone Ranger is your only option – just don’t expect a five star film.

The Way, Way Back

What happens when Dean Pelton from Community (Jim Rash) and The Milkshake (Nat Faxon) from Reno 911! team up and write (adapt, actually) a movie? They win an Osacar (The Descendants). What happens when they write and then direct a film together? You get this summer’s second best coming-of-age story (sorry, The Kings Of Summer was absolutely gorgeous) and the most expensive purchase out of Sundance this past festival: The Way, Way Back. Fox Searchlight saw something special in this charming cast and lovable summer story, and I have to say, every penny they spent was worth it. The young and talented Liam James leads us on one boy’s journey as he attempts to break out of his shell while staying at his mother’s new boyfriend’s shore house, battling awkwardness, a bitchy step-sister, a dickish step-dad and a mother that won’t let him grow up.

With a cast that includes Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, the times we have at Water Wizz waterpark are funny, full of life lessons for up and coming teens, and stage a perfect setting for self discovery. Back in the home setting though, we get a much more serious tone despite Rob Corddry and Allison Janney, as Steve Carell plays an out of character asshole of a father figure and Toni Collette plays James’ mother. While this was necessary for the story, I found the tonal imbalance frustrating at times, making me wish we spent more time splashing about the water park.

Still though, there’s so much to love about the second effort from Faxon and Rash, although I don’t see it winning any Oscars this time around. From the moments of camaraderie between James’ character and Sam Rockwell’s pool manager to the feel-good comedy, I personally believe The Way, Way Back offers the most stimulating watch this weekend. Check this one out for sure if you have the chance!

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Ah, the stand-up comedy movie event. I’m actually impressed when comedians can reach this kind of status, so I give Kevin Hart kudos for amassing such an audience that he not only got his own CD, TV Special, and Madison Square Garden gig – but his own flippin’ Hollywood movie. Good for you Kevin Hart, seriously. I may not be super into his comedy like some people are, but I can only imagine the spectacle of a show audience members got who attended.

This one is simple though – if you like Kevin Hart’s stand-up, you’re going to absolutely love this film. That’s all it is. His stand-up. If you haven’t liked any of his specials to this point, why do you think paying $12.50 to see him on a bigger screen will change anything? Not to compare quality, but it’s pretty much the Tyler Perry effect. There’s an audience that will show up no matter what, making his films profitable, but he’ll never win over a new viewer doing what he’s doing. But, honestly, he doesn’t have to.

The Verdict:

1) Despicable Me 2

2) The Lone Ranger

3) Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

4) The Way, Way Back

White House Down didn’t perform like I thought it would last week, so I’m not so keen on the big-budget-explodey-action-blockbuster this week. With that said, I may be kicking myself for not following Johnny Depp on this one, but remember – he’s not Captain Jack Sparrow. The Tomatometer also has The Lone Ranger at 23%, and while I don’t think the general population will let that stop them, I think the early negativity will keep some potential sales from catching this one in theaters, opting to wait for the DVD rental of Verbinski’s bloated thrill ride. Plus, last week proved the youngest demographic of viewers are still heavily invested in their animated films, as Monsters University absolutely dominated. Despicable Me 2 is primed to take charge this weekend, no matter how many times Johnny Depp tries to bring his runaway trainwreck back to life. Who knows though, maybe Kevin Hart can emerge as a surprise sleeper? I mean, he did sell out two nights at Madison Square Garden. If people are willing to shell what I can only imagine is a ridiculous amount of dough to see him in person, that $12.50 (depending on your location) ticket price looks awfully damn good to everyone else. But please, I beg of you, if you get the chance, go see The Way, Way Back!

Whatever choice you make, I hope you enjoy it. Happy watching this weekend everyone! I'll be out supporting Jim Rash and Nat Faxon again this weekend myself most likely, and it'd be fantastic if I wasn't the only one. No one likes being in the theater alone! No screaming babies, no annoying people checking their cell-phones, no obnoxious movie goers throwing comments out every two minutes...umm...actually...

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