Rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking, 107 minutes
“Rango” is a unique, oddly charming animated adventure
“Rango” is not your typical animated film. It’s strange, dark and filled with some bizarre creatures that aren’t your typical lovable animated creatures, but still oddly engaging enough to hold your attention. With that said, it’s seems a perfect project and reunion for mega-star Johnny Depp, who voices title character, and his “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski. Unconventional but colorful, much of the humor is above the level of younger kids, who may not find this as entertaining as their parents will.
Rango (Depp) is a chameleon who lives in a terrarium and constantly seeks to fit in with his surroundings. He finds himself removed from his contemporary American southwest surroundings and ends up in an Old West town in the middle of the Mojave Desert called Dirt, which is populated by various desert critters such as Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy), an iguana named Beans (Isla Fisher), and a mouse named Priscilla (Abigail Breslin). Thinking himself a hero, Rango establishes himself as the town's Sheriff, not knowing that people who have held that title do not fare very well in Dirt. In "an existential crisis", Rango comes to question everything about himself.
Original, atypical yet lively, “Rango” is certainly a smart animated adventure, maybe too start and unconventional for its own good. Many of the critters here may actually scare some of the younger kids, who also won’t understand a good bit of the plot or action that occurs in the movie. There are some fun moments (mainly involving a snake, turtle and hawk, which gets his due midway through the film) and most of the animation, which is clearly the highlight of this expensive film, is clean, colorful and detailed.
Depp is inspired casting as the titular tiny green character, a lizard who questions the meaning of life. While that sounds arresting, most of it will be over the heads of the young ones this is geared for and is probably hoping that the audiences who enjoyed “Shrek” will also enjoy this same brand of humor, except much of it is the cerebral type of humor expected from Depp and company.
“Rango” finds time to sneak in that homage’s to old cinematic Westerns (another aspect that kids won’t pick up on); watch closely and you’ll notice some sly references to Gary Cooper, Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, among others, which adds to some of its unconventional, eccentric charm. Some may enjoy this odd ride, many others may just think it’s weird (and some it is).
“Rango” is an enjoyable, if not unusual ride, for older children and above.
Wes's Grade: B-