<p>Steve Carrell seems mightily entertained by the Minions in 'Despicable Me 2'</p>

Steve Carrell seems mightily entertained by the Minions in 'Despicable Me 2'

Credit: HitFix

Steve Carrell compares the Minions of 'Despicable Me 2' to the Marx Brothers

One of Hollywood's nicest guys seems happy to be in the sequel business

At some point, when you interview someone enough times, it starts to feel like you're just checking in, like it's an ongoing conversation that you just return to a few times every year.

I met Steve Carrell the first time on the set of "Anchorman." I visited on the day they shot the big rumble between all of the various news teams, and Carrell was having a great time that day pushing the weirdness of the scene. It was such a playful set, and he was certainly in the spirit of things.

Then I spent a long day with him on "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and I really got a glimpse of the Steve Carrell that has become a movie star due in large part to that breakthrough performance. He seemed to me like a guy who was very serious about his craft but who wasn't really playing the big-picture career game at that point. When I saw him on the "Get Smart" set, it was starting to feel more like someone had decided that the Steve Carrell brand was a very big brand, and there was more attention and energy focused on every choice. Carrell was still the same guy, but the energy around him was undeniably different.

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<p>There is a preposterous amount of great material on Shout!&nbsp;Factory's amazing new 'No Pryor Restraint' box set</p>

There is a preposterous amount of great material on Shout! Factory's amazing new 'No Pryor Restraint' box set

Credit: Shout! Factory

The new CD box set 'No Pryor Restraint' offers an amazing record of a great American artist

New and old material alike packs every disc in the set

I got challenged by a few of you for something I wrote in my review of "The Internship," and, in hindsight, you are correct about the way I said something.

I mentioned that I feel like Hollywood failed Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and a number of you pointed out that Vaughn has a co-screenplay credit on "The Internship," which hardly makes him a victim of the system. Owen Wilson has also had

The truth is that Vaughn and Wilson are guys who are still working, even if I think they've been put in certain boxes that are short-sighted in terms of what they are hired to do, and they seem to have made an uneasy peace with what's expected of them. I think there are guys who take to life in the box very easily, and they do it very well, and I think they enjoy what they do. And nobody should be faulted for it. I don't have to enjoy the films, but someone's paying to see them.

If we want to talk about people who Hollywood failed completely, we should look at the case of Richard Pryor. This guy should have been working with great filmmakers from the start. When you talk to people about Pryor, you have to sort of establish up front which Richard Pryor you are talking about. If you judge him by the filmography he left behind, then it's a really unpleasant story. There are some bright spots, and I think Pryor did some very good work at a number of points… but it's really a story of wasted potential.

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<p>Gru (Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) go undercover at a mall to flush out the thief of a special secret formula in 'Despicable Me 2'</p>

Gru (Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) go undercover at a mall to flush out the thief of a special secret formula in 'Despicable Me 2'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: 'Despicable Me 2' offers some big laughs, but the story seems mighty soft

Once again, the Minions steal the show

The original "Despicable Me" is still probably the best overall film that Illumination Entertainment has produced, but they're a young company. I think they tried valiantly with "The Lorax," but they had to add so much busywork to the lean and lovely Dr. Seuss story that it just felt padded. Their live-action/animated hybrid "Hop" is a little too willfully cute for my tastes, but it has more in common with the "Despicable" films, and the ways they're similar sort of define how I think about the company.

Pixar has the best story department in animation, even today, but what Illumination brings to the table is a non-stop joke machine sensibility, and that's what makes their films enjoyable. Even if they don't quite land some thematic point or connect the dots on an emotional arc, the jokes just keep coming, one after another, and way more of them work than don't. "Despicable Me 2" is a less emotionally resonant experience than the first film, but it is positively packed with laughs. There is a sweetness to the movie that works well enough to ground it in something identifiably human, and to be honest, I don't really need "Despicable Me 2" to be as emotionally devastating an experience as something like "The Spectacular Now." The laughs seem way more important to me, and I can't fault the film in that department.

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<p>Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey)&nbsp;and Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)&nbsp;bond as part of Justice Forever in 'Kick-Ass 2'</p>

Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) bond as part of Justice Forever in 'Kick-Ass 2'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Director Jeff Wadlow talks about the challenges of being the new guy on set for 'Kick-Ass 2'

We discuss the way real life and fiction collide in the sequel

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - For the first half of my stay on set, I catch glimpses of Jeff Wadlow, but from a distance only. The soundstage I'm on is taken up largely with a rooftop set, and it's on the rooftop that Wadlow is busy staging and shooting the intense final fight between Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and The Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), something that's been brewing for two full films now.

It's not until lunch that I got the chance to really sit down and talk with Wadlow, and while he and I were unfamiliar with each other, he seemed immediately ready to discuss anything. I talked to him first about how many familiar faces I saw in every department, and how most of them had a fairly strong sense of what a "Kick-Ass" film should be since they were there for the first one. From Wadlow's script, I got the sense that he had an equally strong idea about what a "Kick-Ass" movie should be, and I asked him how he'd found the process of working with this full company as the newcomer.

"It's been great," he began. "I mean, I've been very lucky in that once they read the script they were in. And I think as you said, that was everything.  When there's talk of the sequel happening without Matthew directing… I heard from my agent, you know, that nothing was a done deal, and he didn't have options on the cast, which was not typical. Normally you have options so it's not really that much of an issue."

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<p>Johnny Depp makes a persuasive case for his approach to playing Tonto in the new film incarnation of 'The Lone Ranger'</p>

Johnny Depp makes a persuasive case for his approach to playing Tonto in the new film incarnation of 'The Lone Ranger'

Credit: HitFix

Johnny Depp discusses playing Tonto and 'Rango' for 'Lone Ranger' director Gore Verbinski

The actor talks about what he gets from this particular partnership

It was about 113 degrees outside in Santa Fe when i sat down to talk to Johnny Depp about his role as Tonto in Gore Verbinski's 'The Lone Ranger,' which opens tomorrow.

I didn't realize how much altitude is also an issue in Santa Fe, and I found myself drinking about a full bottle of water between each interview and still drying out in the middle. I'm not sure how Depp managed to sit there all day and still look like… well, like Johnny Depp. Considering he just turned 50, I'm pretty sure he had the real Fountain Of Youth built into his contract for "Pirates Of The Caribbean 4" as a rider. As always, he seemed soft-spoken and incredibly serious about his work, a good interview because you know that he's really thinking about his answers.

I love "Rango." I think it is so jam-packed with Verbinski's obvious fondness for Westerns that it feels almost giddy, and Rango is a great character for Depp to give voice. There's something perfect about his weird exaggerated appearance and Depp's dry Joe Friday-like delivery that makes me laugh right away. When that film came out, we spoke to Depp about it, and I even asked him at the end of that interview about when we might be able to expect Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man" on Blu-ray.

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<p>Miranda Cosgrove seemed pleased to play the struggles of her character in 'Despicable Me 2'</p>

Miranda Cosgrove seemed pleased to play the struggles of her character in 'Despicable Me 2'

Credit: HitFix

Miranda Cosgrove discusses the pains of young love in 'Despicable Me 2'

The 'iCarly' star talks about building the bond with her young co-stars

My exposure to the work of Miranda Cosgrove is very, very limited.

For example, I could tell you that I think she does lovely work in "Despicable Me 2" as Margo, the oldest of the girls that were adopted by Gru at the end of the first film. She is at that age where she's starting to notice boys, and they're starting to notice her, and while I'm sure every teen (and every father of every teen girl) has trouble during this period of transition, not all of them have a former evil genius for a father.

Watching Gru's frustration as he sees Margo make those first fumbling steps towards adulthood is very funny, but I have to admit… I can only laugh because I have sons. I think I would be a total catastrophe as a dad if I had two girls. Overprotective hardly even begins to describe how I'd handle things. Yesterday, someone ran a photo of Eminem's daughter on Twitter, who was so much a presence in his lyrics when she was basically a baby. She's a pretty teenage girl now, and I can't imagine being the poor teenage kid who goes to pick her up for a date and then has to face Eminem before he can leave the house again. I would have absolutely no problem being a menace if some kid showed up to take my daughter on a date, and "Despicable Me 2" gets a lot of comic mileage out of showing how Gru handles it.

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<p>Armie Hammer may be wearing the mask of 'The Lone Ranger' this summer, but he almost played Batman in a George Miller version of 'Justice League'</p>

Armie Hammer may be wearing the mask of 'The Lone Ranger' this summer, but he almost played Batman in a George Miller version of 'Justice League'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Armie Hammer wigs out as he describes his 'Justice League' Batman suit

'The Lone Ranger' almost wore a different mask a few years ago

I always enjoy a good game of "What if?"

For example, there is an alternate dimension somewhere that is almost exactly like ours in every detail except instead of "The Lone Ranger," Armie Hammer played Batman in "Justice League." After all, it almost happened.

The thing is, George Miller's "Justice League" was going to be perhaps one of the most radical takes on superhero mainstream iconography so far. That's awesome, and I think George Miller is one of our truly great underrated filmmakers. He never gets enough credit or respect, in my opinion. I think he's got a great eye, I think he gets the strangest things out of his actors, and I love his taste in terms of film-craft.

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<p>Pharrell may be popping up everywhere this summer, but he seems pretty calm and cool about it all</p>

Pharrell may be popping up everywhere this summer, but he seems pretty calm and cool about it all

Credit: HitFix

Pharrell talks about his summer of Daft Punk, 'Man of Steel' and 'Despicable Me 2'

Talk about trying a little bit of everything

Someone's having a very big summer.

Pharrell's music was a big part of the charm of the first "Despicable Me," and it gave the film a sound that wasn't just a knock-off of every other animated movie out there. That's hard to do sometimes, and there was something so lovely and sunny about his "Despicable Me" songs that perfectly complimented the film.

I'm sure it was an easy decision to have him back for the second film, but honestly, timing must have been a nightmare. In addition to this movie, he also contributed to the Hans Zimmer score for "Man Of Steel," and of course, he's all over the latest record by Daft Punk, including the vocal track for the ridiculously catchy "Get Lucky."

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<p>Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer manage to make it out of 'The Lone Ranger' with their dignity intact... barely.</p>

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer manage to make it out of 'The Lone Ranger' with their dignity intact... barely.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Review: Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski fail to bring 'The Lone Ranger' back to life

One of the summer's worst films is a misfire on every level


I've written at length about why I admire Gore Verbinski as a filmmaker, and I maintain that there are very few guys working in the blockbuster world who have his skill set when it comes to establishing and maintaining a sense of geography during an action scene. He's also great at laying out gags and paying them off, and I think he has constructed some truly marvelous moments over the years. While I agree that both of his "Pirates" sequels are overstuffed, the things that they are overstuffed with are so much fun that I don't care. All you need to do is look at the horrifying mess that is the fourth film to see how much Verbinski's touch matters with that material.

His last film, "Rango," revealed a true love for the Western genre, and a willingness to tweak that genre while also paying homage to it. I think "Rango" is a marvelous little movie, strange and surreal at times and visually witty from end to end. It served as a promising glimpse at what Verbinski might be up to with "The Lone Ranger," particularly with Johnny Depp attached to play Tonto.

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<p>Dannis and Bobby Hackney seem thrilled with some long-overdue attention in the powerful new documentary 'A Band Called Death'</p>

Dannis and Bobby Hackney seem thrilled with some long-overdue attention in the powerful new documentary 'A Band Called Death'

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Review: 'A Band Called Death' tells a moving documentary story that also rocks

Why aren't the Hackneys a household name?

One of the things that we lose when we lose physical media is the thrill of discovery.

Yes, you can browse a streaming media site, and yes, you can still see things that are new to you, and there are ways to encounter things you're not already familiar with in our new media age, but anytime you're relying on something that makes licensing deals for content, you're going to be browsing a much smaller overall pool of possibility than you could in the old days, when record stores would stock things from labels both major and microscopic. There was something amazing about that feeling when you'd spend an afternoon going through bins, only to stumble across some album cover that looked like it had been hand-made, a recording of some band you'd never heard of, on a label you'd never seen before. The feeling of taking something like that home and throwing it on and suddenly having the top of your head cracked open by the sound of the genuinely new… that's something we're losing today, and I think we're poorer for it.

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