Rango is the story of a (potentially unstable) chameleon who goes from being a house pet to the sheriff of a town called Dirt. Beginning with falling out of the back of his family’s car, his journey is a very unique comedy, blending slapstick, witty banter and dark humor with ease. It’s truly difficult to summarize some of the plot to tell you what you’re going to see. Not that it doesn’t have a plot, but each plot point seems to blend into the next, creating one fluid story that flows together. It’s something that I really enjoyed about Rango, it’s not presented as a movie, but a story.
First of all, Rango looks amazing. Hands down, one of the most beautifully animated films I’ve ever seen. Instead of seeing sand shift when characters step in it, you can see each grain slide and fall in sync from the weight. While it has an overall stunning quality of sharpness, the design of the characters kind of makes me wish it wasn’t so sharp. Now, in westerns, you want grizzled, weathered looking characters, spitting tobacco and dirty looks. Yet, in Rango, they almost make a few of the characters a little too grizzled and it transfers over into gross. Remember how Jim Henson had a handful of creepy puppets? Rango is somewhat similar, with a few normal or funny looking animals, the rest just look a little disturbing. The sounds of Rango, from the music to each small sound of footsteps and water pouring, is incredible. On a technical level, Rango surpasses almost every animated movie previous to it’s release.
In keeping with the animation, all of the voice acting is phenomenal. Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher give outstanding performances, but the best part is that all of the smaller, supporting characters gave equally impressive performances. It’s so great to hear every actor giving their best, really adding another level of enjoyment to the movie. At first, I was afraid that I would only hear Johnny Depp, instead of hearing a character in a movie; I was pleased to find that between Rango’s added accent and punctuations, Depp creates a very relatable and believable character in the little lizard. Also, I think that Bill Nighy did a great job as one of the more sinister villains, Rattlesnake Jake. He hit that perfect tone of cold, calculated and still completely unhinged.
I have to say that the story of Rango is much different from any Nickelodeon movie I’ve seen. It was a great story, being well thought out and full of fun twists and turns, but I do have something to point out about it: it was shockingly dark. Now, please don’t think that I’m just going to gripe about how this ruined the movie, but there were certain parts that made me question how this movie could possibly be for kids. I promise I’m going to try not to give anything away, alright? Here are some examples of what I’m talking about: there is a fairly long scene where one of the characters attempts suicide, another scene has one of the main characters being crushed and the bad guy says, “I want to watch you die”, in the opening scene, there is an armadillo that had just been run over and they show it in two halves talking to Rango (Yuck). There are plenty of other examples of how dark this movie got, but I think you get the point. Now, please don’t think that I didn’t enjoy the movie because of it’s dark feel. I just feel that it’s marketed a little incorrectly. From the trailers, I thought it would be a goofy, family movie, but instead I was met by a dark comedy with a fairly adult storyline. I know that kids probably won’t pick up on some of the darker points in the movie, but kids’ movies didn’t used to be so dark! While walking out of the theatre, I overheard other audience members talking about how they weren’t sure if they would let their kids watch it.
Overall, I really liked Rango. I think that it was smart, interesting, and most importantly, fun. I just want you to know that it might not be the best choice to take your kids to. Take your friends or your significant other, but think carefully before you bring a child. With genre bending humor, well written dialogue and exciting action scenes, Rango is an odd, but fantastic movie. I really wish that it had come out a little faster, so that they could have been in time for the Oscars this year. I hope that it’s not forgotten by the time the next Oscars roll around, because, in my opinion, Rango could be a strong competitor.
I give Rango 4.5 “Bat Countries” out of 5