RANGO is a fun, kid-safe(ish) tribute to the old violent spaghetti westerns

A chameleon with no name wanders into the desert town of Dirt to find water and thus find his self-identity…striking yet familiar story though not what stood out for me.

The first thing I noticed about “Rango” as a film was that it is the first Johnny Depp-starring movie where I actually forget that it is starring Johnny Depp. No jabs against his great talent just when you know, you know – even when I was watching “Pirates of the Caribbean” (and he earned an Oscar nod for the first one). The fact he is a chameleon may have to do with it too.

The voice-overs are very good and distinct from one character to another whether they are an elderly turtle or a vicious rattlesnake, or a blind mole. All the real development is centered on the character “Rango,” and rightfully so in under two hours of movie.

Another part of this movie was its look. If you have ever seen a western by Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, or John Ford then you get how this movie will look, as it is a love-letter to that era of westerns that looked dangerous and attractive at the same time with stylized standoffs and tense moments of building to a quick and violent finale.

With the western look, the film makes kind-hearted parodies of some of the conventions of those types of westerns: a nameless hero, impressionable town residents, a corrupt power monger, the tough lady/love interest, the town of lawlessness and desperation and so on. There is also a generous amount of adult humor and intense edge in this “family film.” I use that term lightly because though this is a Nickelodeon film there are more than a few uses of profanity, alcohol references, and actual deaths—or threat of death. Yep, definitely a western disguised as a family film.

That being such the case this movie pulls off the western themes very well to where anyone who never even heard of a western could enjoy this movie. Great service to the movie is the near photorealism of the animation. The characters all based on desert animals look like their real-life counterparts and not some exaggerated mock-ups. I also tell you the movie is funny? Yeah, it has good humor too. However, some parts of the movie left me less than enthused.

I will say that the movie is a bit too predictable. The storyline of self-discovery is not one you have not heard before so for some it can just seem like we are going the motions. The redeeming feature is that the movie is enjoyable to the point that you can forgive it.

If you are expecting to walk into the one animated film that can rival the Pixar powerhouse you will be disappointed. If you are a fan of westerns, you will be tickled. If you are looking for a good movie, you have struck gold… or in this movie the valuable asset is water.

Final answer:

W I N

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