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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW
Rango
Bet He'd Never Challenge The British Gekko To A Duel...


Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) is the star of his own urban legend, and, oh yes, the animated film "Rango". 
Paramount

by Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Busy, vigorous and entertaining, Gore Verbinski's animated "Rango" connects itself to numerous films including Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, Hitchcock's "North By Northwest" and Polanski's "Chinatown", doing so hilariously.  By itself it stands as mostly light-hearted, easily digestible 100 minutes.

Starring Johnny Depp in the title role, Rango is a lizard caught out of his element in the Mojave Desert after a mishap.  Circumstances force him to reinvent himself as an urban legend, perhaps the Schofield Lizard (who did NOT appear in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven".)  Before he can say "Geico", Rango becomes the central figure in the town of Dirt, a place where water is a scarce resource and some malevolent, corrupt forces are at play. 

"Rango" distinguishes itself as a well-crafted, high-concept comedy that goes as far as a fun, frenzied ride is expected to.  Its underlying messages about the environment and water preservation are more discreet than relentless.  There's enough of a shout-out to the film's values to qualify its own conscience and self-awareness. 

"Rango" looks beautiful, its animation detailed and pristine, and Mr. Depp's vocalizations are delightful.  This sweet, smart, appealing film is definitely for mid-teens and adults; a PG-13 rating should have been applied.  Headless female torsos are a troubling appearance in any film be they real or mannequin, and the sight of one here is disturbing.  You wonder what such an image is doing in a PG-rated film.  Some images will frighten young children, though they are doled out with discipline.

Mr. Verbinski gives the film zeal and punch.  As written by John Logan "Rango" has a seamless transition from skit to skit and homage to homage.  Done cutely enough, the writing and the visions merge fluidly while the story flows without many hiccups, even if some of the film's rougher edges are a little too intense for younger viewers.

A hired hand at this type of work, Mr. Depp ("Willy Wonka") has become a virtuoso at vocal dexterity and swift-talking smart-asses, whether in live-action films like "Pirates Of The Caribbean", which Mr. Verbinski directed, or Tim Burton's animated  "Alice In Wonderland".  (I remain convinced Mr. Depp would have given Michael Keaton a run for his money as "Beetlejuice".)  Mr. Depp gives Rango a sly, cheeky tone, reflecting the film's overall tenor.  "Rango" benefits from Ned Beatty's gravely vocals as Dirt's mayor, while Isla Fisher gives strength and energy to Beans, a character who often freezes for no apparent reason.

"Rango" has its adorable Greek chorus narrating throughout and making the most of the film's musical numbers.  In this vein "Rango" is as adept at celebrating the mastery of Ennio Morricone's movie scores as it is the majesty of Mr. Leone's westerns.  Though the film lacks the emotional connection to its audience that other, differently-situated animated films ("Up", "Toy Story 3", "Coraline") boast, "Rango" is a worthwhile endeavor for fans of Mr. Depp specifically and of animation in general.  The all-purpose casual observer can enjoy this film without suffering. 

"Rango" may not be as ripe as a mango, but it's pretty darn close.

With the voices of: Abigail Breslin, Gore Verbinski, Lew Temple, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant.

"Rango" is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association Of America for rude humor, language, action and smoking.  Some images of peril may scare young children.  The film's running time is one hour and 43 minutes. 


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