Quentin Tarantino fails to do for slave owners what he did for Nazis in this, his long-awaited western (southern?) follow-up to the epic war comedy Inglourious Basterds. Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz returns to the Tarantino fold as Dr. King, a German dentist-cum-bounty hunter hot on the trail of a pair of nefarious outlaws. Once again, the connivingly charismatic Waltz is well mannered to the point of achieving a near-Oliver Hardy sense of nirvana. He also offers a crash course in mentorship to uppity slave Jamie Foxx, eager to save his wife from ruthless plantation lord, Leonardo DiCaprio. For its first third, Django Unchained plays like an agreeable cross between Blazing Saddles and Mandingo. (There is a hilarious bit about proper eyehole placement in KKK cowls.) Once they reach Leo’s Candyland, however, the film becomes talky and set-bound, and the third act is little more than an excuse for bloodletting. Still, politically speaking, there’s more truth told here about money and its ability to buy miscegenation than anything on display in Lincoln. Worth seeing, but not a good enough romp to justify its 165-minute running time. With Kerry Washington, Don Johnson, Franco Nero, and Samuel L. Jackson as the spitting image of cotton-haired Woody Strode in Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. (2012) — Scott Marks
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