• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

The Lone Ranger may be an iconic figure of American TV heroism, but the film version hitting theaters this weekend has been nearly universally reviled.

Nationally syndicated talk show host and sometimes WND contributor Steve Deace, for example, blasted the film on his Facebook page.

“As bad as the film-making is, it’s the story itself that is really offensive,” Deace writes. “It’s as if the people that wrote the script despised the character they were portraying. They took all the altruism, heroism and iconic status of the character and made him a whiny and petulant fool.”

He continues, “All the Christians in the film are treated spitefully. They’re either hypocrites, idiots or corrupt. … I came away surprised Disney put their name on this. It’s like the film-makers set out to sabotage an iconic character on purpose.”

Movieguide wasn’t friendly to “The Lone Ranger” either, concluding the film “is surely to disappoint many media-wise moviegoers.”

Even the clearly not Christian movie-review site RottenTomatoes.com gave “The Lone Ranger” a dismal 25-percent (out of 100) rating, criticizing its “bland script, bloated length and blaring action overkill.”

It’s no surprise, then, that many moviegoers have turned instead to “Despicable Me 2,” the sequel to 2010′s funny, charming and award-winning animated film “Despicable Me.”

The first film in the series introduced America to Gru, a contemptible villain whose heart was softened by three orphan girls. The redemptive tale is much beloved, not only for its heartwarming messages, but for the uproariously funny “minions,” Gru’s not-quite human helpers.

“Despicable Me 2″ brings back the minions with a vengeance, as they steal the show and flood nearly every scene. The filmmakers’ clearly know a solid marketing strategy when they see one.

The sequel, however, falls far short of its predecessor.

Oh, the laughs are there. The minions are just flat-out funny. And even after the film’s trailers thoroughly spoiled the first 10 minutes of the film, there are still enough minion hijinks left over, particularly at the very end of the film, to send audiences out of the theater on a high note with smiles on their faces and laughs to share.

The storyline, however, is thin, there primarily as a vehicle to get more minion jokes in. When the plot takes a swing partway through the film to follow Gru’s daughter on a boy crush, it feels like the scriptwriters lost their way.

And while it’s clear “Despicable Me 2″ doesn’t have the heart of the original, it should be acknowledged that its messages are still positive, even surprisingly values-affirming.

The film, for example, has as few heart-warming moments when it becomes clear Gru’s daughters miss having a mommy. Hollywood and TV are usually far too politically correct to hint at the benefit of a two-parent home (unless those parents are homosexual, of course), but “Despicable Me 2″ doesn’t shy away.

The film lands another positive note late in the film with the pivotal line, “Nobody messes with my family.”

It’s a surprise to hear who says it, so I won’t spoil it.

Suffice it to say, “Despicable Me 2″ is a fairly positive film with a handful of laugh-out-loud moments. Not as good as the original, it’s still a whale of a lot better than its competition in theaters this weekend.

Content advisory:

  • “Despicable Me 2,” rated PG, contains neither profanity nor obscenity.
  • The film’s sexual content, however, is a little thicker than the first time around, as romantic storylines and the comical minions sometimes pick up a few butt, boob and otherwise bawdy jokes. I don’t think it will offend most parents, but those sensitive to it will notice.
  • There’s a significant amount of cartoon and slapstick violence in the movie, though it’s rarely connected to real-life events (one scene, for example, depicts massive, helicopter-mounted Gatling guns that shoot … jelly). Still, the “karate” moves and the minions’ frequent punching and slapping may inspire some younger copycats in the audience.
  • There is no significant religious or occult content in “Despicable Me 2.”

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.