“The Lone Ranger” — There’s a limit, it turns out, to how much Johnny Depp and a bucket of makeup can accomplish. Gore Verbinski’s flamboyant re-imagination of the hokey long-running radio show and ’50s cowboy TV series, Depp eagerly attempts to recreate the extravagant magic of his similarly farcical Jack Sparrow of Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.” One would think that a so-costumed Depp careening through the Old West with Buster Keaton aplomb would make “The Lone Ranger,” at worst, entertaining. But Verbinski’s film, stretching hard to both reinvent an out-of-date brand and breathe new life in the Western with a desperate onslaught of bloated set pieces, is a poor locomotive for Depp’s eccentric theatrics. For 2 ½ hours, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Lone Ranger” inflates, subverts and distorts the conventions of the Western until, in an interminable climax set to the William Tell Overture, the big-budget spectacle finally, exhaustingly collapses in a scrap heap of train wreckage. A talented filmmaker of great excess, Verbinski’s ricocheting whimsy here runs off the rails. Flashback-heavy plot mechanics, occasionally grim violence (bullets land in bodies with the loudest of thwacks, a heart gets eaten) and surrealistic comedy add up to a confused tone that seems uncertain exactly how to position Depp’s Tonto in the movie, to say nothing of Armie Hammer’s wayward Lone Ranger. When Verbinski was last directing and Depp was a cartoon lizard, they crafted a far better Western in “Rango.” PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. Running time: 149 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer
“The Way, Way Back” — There’s something inherently formulaic about summer coming-of-age movies. A quirky, awkward, misunderstood kid finds a way — at the beach or by the pool — to, well, come of age, often with the help of an equally quirky adult. And that’s precisely what happens here. Luckily, the film, written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash — screenplay Oscar winners for “The Descendants” — is done with enough skill and delicacy that its adherence to formula doesn’t matter so much. Fourteen-year-old Duncan (newcomer Liam James) reluctantly heads for a beach vacation with divorced mom Pam (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend, Trent, an unlikable character played by the likable Steve Carell. At a water park, the lonely boy finds companionship with wise-cracking manager Owen (a terrific Sam Rockwell). Back at the beach, Carell manages to make Trent interesting even as you hate him, and Collette is heartbreaking as a single mom desperate to give her son a stable life. Also noteworthy: Allison Janney as a neighbor with an absurdly dark tan. The movie ends up feeling a bit like summer itself: A little lacking in structure, but full of small memorable moments — and you’re sad when it’s over. PG-13 for thematic elements, language, sexual content and brief drug material. 103 minutes. Three stars of four.
— Jocelyn Noveck, AP National Writer