Rango is a pet chameleon always on the lookout for action and adventure, except the fake kind, where he directs it and acts in it. After a car accident, he winds up in an old western town called Dirt. What this town needs the most is water, but they also need a hero and a sheriff. The thirsty Rango instantly takes on the role of both and selfishly agrees to take on the case of their missing water. Written by
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[after some kids throw rocks at him]
Hey! What was that for?
Well? You're funny-looking too.
That's a funny-looking shirt.
That's a funny-looking dress.
You got funny-looking eyes.
You got a funny-looking face!
You're a stranger. Strangers don't last long here.
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Rango is a creative, dazzling, and funny tribute to classic spaghetti westerns, but it's definitely not a kid's movie.
A couple days ago, I started 2011 off on a solid note with The Adjustment Bureau, but that solid note has now risen to a brilliant note with the release of Gore Verbinski's Rango.
Johnny Deep provides the voice of the title character, a chameleon house pet who gets lost in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and through a series of effective fibs, as well as killing a lethal hawk by accident, winds up the sheriff of the town he wandered into known as Dirt, a town low on water supplies, and on the brink of total drought and dehydration. Rango decides to investigate the mystery surrounding the low supplies, and quite often bites off more than he can chew.
The direction by Gore Verbinski, who garners enthusiastic and terrific performances from his voice cast, is wonderful, and the screenplay by John Logan pays tribute to the classic spaghetti westerns of yesteryear, right down to pre gunfight stand offs, important events happening at high noon, and the decision to have a Mariachi band narrate, and make comment on the film's events. Sure, a couple scenes seem to overstay their welcome, but in spite of that one flaw, the film is fresh, and funny, and the film quite often got a good laugh from myself. I also loved visual references to characters played by Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
I must also praise the technical crew. This is the first animated feature designed by the legendary special effects company Industrial Light & Magic, and John Knoll does a good job at supervising the film's many grand, colorful and photo realistic images. I have just as much praise for the audio crew. Sound editor Addison Teague does a good job at handling classic western sound effects such as gunfire and galloping hooves, and Hans Zimmer (whose music score pays delightful homage to the scores of Ennio Morricone) does a great job at heightening the excitement and wit.
Before I sign off, I must make a final point. I'm normally not too vocal about censorship, but take the facts that the film is animated, and rated PG with a huge grain of salt, because Rango is NOT a kid's movie. The images are quite quirky, and sometimes even trippy, some of the subject material is rather violent and foul mouthed, and some of the jokes may fly way over kids' heads, but that's exactly why I think the film's so special. The film makers stuck to their guns, and didn't wimp out in order to get a bigger audience of children. It's a movie almost strictly for older viewers, and should be treated as such.
Needless to say, I loved Rango. I give it ***1/2 out of ****
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