By: Oberst von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
An iguana is left without a home after a car accident, stranded and with a broken terrarium.He loses his closest friend, a plastic toy fish in the process…
After a day’s walk through the desert he finds himself in Dirt, a western town dominated by lizards, birds, amphibians, and small mammals. A struggling actor with a hero complex, this iguana wastes no time making a name for himself as “Rango” the new gunslinger in town, and takes on the task of solving the town’s water problem.
The alternate title for this movie seems to have been Once Upon a Time Fearful and Loathing in Chinatown.This is director Gore Verbinski’s attempt at a Quentin Tarantino movie, delving deep into the canon of classic film history and referencing the crap out of it.
And while the references are all fun on their own, they do serve as a method of moving the story along as well, which thankfully keeps most of the film from feeling too much like style over substance.Verbinski, best known for the Pirates of the Caribbean series, proves with this film that he both intends and is than capable of being more than a big-budget action director.
Make no mistakes, as far as PG films go, this plays less like a family film, and more like a demented fairy tale, full of ugly characters and hard lessons.Raise your glass to Industrial Light and Magic for making their computer-animated film debut with what amounts to a multi-million dollar art film.
Johnny Depp is in his element as Rango, giving him a loveable, but never cutesy demeanor and instilling in him a reckless need for attention.In fact the entire voice cast is fantastic, with Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, and many others lend their voices.The best part is that no single character exists simply to provide comic relief; each character drives the action or the main character’s development in one way or another.
Even if you don’t appreciate the dry humor and sly references, you’ll love the fantastic visuals.This film ups the ante on what CGI can do, easily besting all competitors with beautiful landscapes and expressionistic characters, many of whom might be the ugliest to ever appear in a family film.Pixar, you’ve been called out, and if the trailer for Cars II is any indication, you’re going to have to fight to restore your supremacy.
If Rango can be accused of anything, it is of being simply too dense with references to absorb.There are so many ideas and in-jokes in this film that it can at times become overwhelming.It also may be confusing to the less savvy filmgoer, who may miss the jokes which often require a thorough knowledge of cinema to catch.
This film’s success may make or break the recent trend in adult-friendly animated features.I love a movie that knows its audience, and only time will tell if this audience is large enough to carry the box office for long.
“In the Middle of a fucking Reptile Zoo!”
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Chinatown is directly quoted
Take a Drink: each time Beans freezes
When the secret of the drought is finally revealed; have a Scotch and Water, hold the Scotch (or don’t hold it, entirely up to you).