A quartet of disappointing late-summer releases make their way to various discount theaters this weekend. ---
The highest profile -- and therefore perhaps most disappointing -- belonged to Cowboys & Aliens, from director Jon Favreau (Iron Man). The story benefits from Daniel Craig's antiheroic performance as a mysterious stranger who wanders into an Old West town at the same time that aliens attack. But overall, it feels far too grim for something that's so preposterous: too serious to be enough fun, and too weird to be taken seriously.
Another awkward mix of tone and content, 30 Minutes or Less stars Jesse Eisenberg as a slacker pizza-delivery guy who's kidnapped, strapped into an explosive vest and forced to rob a bank by a couple of greedy idiots (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson). While there are funny people here doing funny things -- Aziz Ansari is solid as Eisenberg's best friend -- this proves to be a case where the performers' various comedic shticks clang off one another rather than creating harmonious music.
And the other two weren't even screened for press: The reboot of Conan the Barbarian featuring Jason Momoa as the titular sword-swinger, and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Robert Rodgriguez's latest I-made-it-in-my-basement disposable kid flick. The latter came with a scratch-and-sniff card. Maybe Conan might have done better with one of those.