Not a perfect movie, but I quite enjoyed THE LONE RANGER. I do agree on the framing device having no payoff. I mean, the kid was listening to old Tonto for quite some time. At the end, I was anxiously awaiting the line 'Britt Reid, where are you?'. Tell me that wouldn't have brought the house down for an audience in the know.
If they weren't going to include it, it should've been left on the cutting room floor. But maybe, it was a rights thing. What's more, the production team likely thought, 'we've already paid the make-up guys to make Johnny Depp look like a wax figure that somebody left in the sun. We may as well get our money's worth'.
The Lone Ranger wasn't the worst movie I've seen all year (that would be Olympus Has Fallen), and it did have its moments, but in the end I felt it had just enough bad to make it a disappointing movie.