(director: ; screenwriters: John Logan/based on a story
by Mr. Logan, Mr. Verbinski and James Ward Byrkit;
editor: Craig Wood;
music: Hans Zimmer; WITH THE VOICES OF: (Rango), (Beans),
(Priscilla), (Roadkill), (Rattlesnake Jake), Stephen
Root (Doc/Merrymack), (Balthazar), Ray Winstone
(Bad Bill), (Mayor), (the
Spirit of the West) ; Runtime: 107; MPAA
Rating: PG; producers: Craig Wood//;
and Nickelodeon Movies; 2011)
"Oddball existential western animation."
by Dennis Schwartz
eature animation by Industrial Light and Magic is this oddball existential western animation (“Pirates of the Caribbean”/"Mousehunt"/"The Ring"), also directing his first cartoon. The voice of Johnny Depp is used to play the titular cowboy chameleon, giving the pic extra energy. It's written by John Logan and is based on a story by Mr. Logan, Mr. Verbinski and James Ward Byrkit. The characters and images are all too familiar from many Westerns through the years, but the pic moves in its own direction making it seem fresh.
is a pet lizard and wannabe actor who is accidentally released from
his aquarium while the humans are
taking a road trip and winds up marooned in the
Mojave Desert. By chance a wounded armadillo () on the road gives the
lost lizard directions to the dusty bleak frontier
town of Dirt, a place running low on water. Posing in the local saloon
as a gunslinger who killed seven outlaws
with a single bullet, Rango is believed because he
tells his lie so convincingly and the desperate town
is willing to believe him because it's looking for a
savior. When Rango accidentally kills a giant
hawk, who frightens everyone in town, the
re-invented wacko gets appointed sheriff and he
starts to investigate the drought problem and deal
with all the outlaws in town such as Rattlesnake Jake (. Sheriff Rango becomes romantically drawn to the
feisty loner rancher frontier gal named Beans (),
investigates the crooked Mayor (Ned Beatty) for being
responsible for the drought and comes into contact
with other conspicuous Dirt residents such as Ray
Winstone and .
By the end, Rango becomes a real hero, as the film's
quest theme reflects on the plausibility of
reinventing oneself in a time of need.
The family-friendly film has an adult-like clever but shallow spoof, dumb jokes and broad farcical comedy. While the animation is resourceful with rich visuals and the action is almost non-stop like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, because of its mostly sophisticated dialogue the pic remains better served for adults and movie buffs rather than the kiddies. Though the film remains pleasantly weird and is not all that predictable for an animation, it never completely satisfies one's thirst for a more cohesive flick. Thrown into the slight narrative is an apt plot twist from ‘Chinatown’ and a cameo by a Hunter S. Thompson caricature in the beginning segment (a nod to Depp's inspirational writer figure).
A doom-predicting mariachi band of four owls serve as a Greek chorus, announcing the turn in events.
REVIEWED ON 12/29/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ