After spending the last hour and 50 minutes in a state of alternating awe and nausea, I could safely say that Rango is not your average animated staple.
Produced by Nickelodeon Movies, Rango, a lonely but imaginative house lizard finally gets his chance to live his own adventure in the Wild Wild West after his aquarium gets thrown out of the family truck in the middle of the desert. Leaving behind his array of toys, he sets out for the great unknown and gets caught in the middle of a drought in a town called Dirt, where an assortment of critters, amphibians and reptiles hail him as a hero after accidentally defeating the Hawk that preys on them.
Dirt, probably named so because there people who lived there were dirt poor, and were suffering from the worst dry spell in ages, was foreign territory to Rango. So, being the ham that he is, he finds himself posing as a tough gringo in the midst of townspeople who were losing hope as quickly as their supply of water dwindles and disappears. Being an innate actor, as well as a smart and intuitive city slicker, Rango makes the townsfolk believe that he is some sort of hotshot who makes a habit of killing off posses of scoundrels with a single bullet. However, when he gets appointed sheriff of Dirt, the bank (where the town’s remaining water was stored) gets robbed, leaving him no choice but to lead a group of gun toting trigger happy Westerners to go after the suspects. Armed with his natural ability to lead, act and analyze the case strategically, Rango, who once thought of himself as a nothing, learns that no man can walk out of his own story, owns up to his mistakes, atones for them and becomes the hero that he always wanted to be.
Johnny Depp, as always, did an excellent job in voicing the lead character, who got his name from a bottle of Durango Beer. While the Hawaiian shirt wearing reptile reminded me a bit of Kermit the Frog at first, Johnny’s voice gave the character the charm and the wiles to endear the scaly, gangly, crooked necked protagonist to the audiences. Isla Fisher stars as Beans, the daughter of the town drunk (who still remains missing until the end of the movie) and Rango’s love interest. Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty and Timothy Olyphant, also lent their voices to the various characters which made the film come alive.
The story in itself is a blend of old Western cowboy movies/ whodunit mystery with an underpining of a political/industrial conspiracy, which makes me think that while I had a hoot sitting through the movie, the plot may be too complicated for children below 8 years old. While there wasn’t much bloodshed, there was just too much exposure of guns and ammunition in the movie to be safely called a kiddie flick, even though it lent to the authenticity of being a Western. There were also some characters in the movie that were just too gross for words (case in point — wounded bird with an arrow stuck on one eye which went through the back of his head, Spoon, whose nose reminded me of 3 Fingers of Wrong Turn fame, and other extras who were just too crumpled and scaly for my tastes). The good news is that the script was just so great and wacky that you just find yourself going with the flow, despite these obstacles and enjoying the movie. Kids and adults alike will be surely entertained by the great punchlines scattered throughout the film.
As I have said before, I found myself alternating between awe and disgust throughout the movie. And the weird part is that I was mostly awed about the things that disgusted me the most. The animation was technically flawless. The textures of both the human and animal characters held a lot of details, as did other elements of the movie, and this has caused me to greatly admire the team that worked on this movie. However, since the subjects were mostly rodents, and scaly amphibians, who are far from being my favorite members of the animal species, I also found myself cringing at every closeup. So, if you aren’t big fans of the aforementioned species, or find yourself being squeamish in the face of such creatures, I would not suggest this movie to you.
The film had its ups and downs, but I liked the conversations with the double entrendes between Rango and the crooked mayor. I also liked the Mariarcchi Owls who musically narrated Rango’s journey. The aerial chases and the Hillbilly family scene was also awesome, and reminiscent of the Star Wars Empire Strikes Back aerial battle, especially with the musical scoring.
Rango is a one of a kind movie in the sense that it paid interest to details — from the story, to the cinematography, to the cast, and to the animation itself — the dedication of the director, screenwriters, cast, crew and animators was evident with each frame. Such obvious pride in the quality of one’s work is a rare gem indeed in this day and age where originals have taken a back seat to remakes and developing stories and amazing pieces like this hardly ever take off because of budget cuts. Kudos to the makers of Rango. Two thumbs up 🙂