updated 07/02/2013 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/05/2013 AT 5:00 PM ET
Skip The Lone Ranger like a stone on a lake, says PEOPLE’s movie critic.
But Despicable Me and The Way Way Back are definitely worth diving into this the holiday weekend.
Despicable Me 2
Gru (Steve Carell) and his crew return, but not to start mayhem. This time the reformed villain teams up with Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), an agent with the Anti-Villain League, to find the thief who pulled off a daring heist of a dangerous goop that rearranges DNA.
Or, rather, Gru would be able to focus on helping Lucy if he didn’t have to deal with Dr. Nefario’s (Russell Brand) career issues, the minions’ mysterious disappearance and Margo’s (Miranda Cosgrove) new boyfriend, Antonio (Moises Arias).
With all that happening you’d think the plot would be a bit more engrossing, but the film is content to keep things light, while Carell and Wiig give their vocal performances energetic verve. But Despicable 2 is still plenty of fun, as it gives kids what they (probably) want: more minions!
The Lone Ranger
There are two ways to look at The Lone Ranger. Either it’s a ferocious satire of the American western that dismantles a revered pop-culture icon by recasting him as a buffoon, while simultaneously indicting white Americans for their savage treatment of the Native population. Or it’s a massive, steaming pile of horse poo.
All I can tell you is that it doesn’t smell like satire.
Armie Hammer plays John Reid, a.k.a., the Ranger, but this isn’t the masked protector of justice your parents (grandparents?) adored. This Ranger is a Harvard-educated twit so warped by textbook notions of morality that he, in effect, lets bad guys get away.
In fact, let’s just call him Reid, because you’ll be sitting on a numb bum for two hours before he turns into anything like the Lone Ranger of yore.
Far more interesting than Reid, of course, is Tonto (Johnny Depp), the sidekick who’s more of a main dish than the supposed star of the movie. This Tonto is trademark Depp, a weirdo covered in war paint and spouting faux-Native woo-woo while “feeding” the dead bird perched on his head. He’s also not entirely decided on how fluent his English is, sometimes speaking in full, complex sentences, sometimes just clipped phrases. (“Dumb white man” comes up a lot.)