Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rango: A Film Review...

Took my five year old to this film today.

Far better than the last movie I saw with my son as it was immeasurably more enjoyable than Yogi Bear 3D.

Pairing the Pirates of the Caribbean efforts of director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp in an animated world sounds a bit odd but it mostly works here.

Depp is able to maintain his typical (typecast by now?) oddball character through the very odd Rango--a made up name by the chameleon who plays the protagonist in the film.  The fact that we never learn his real name is one of many oddities contained herein.

Others include a very blatant reference to Depp's earlier work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, of which I'm thinking I'm the only one in the theater today who caught.  There is also an extended cameo by Clint Eastwood as himself representing the "Spirit of the West".

The animation for Rango is good, not great.  Particularly in the first half of the film the animation seemed washed out and undetailed.  As the action moved into the town of Dirt and more characters and varied scenery came into being, the visuals became much more impressive.

The story itself is typical as it takes Rango from unknown misfit through being mistakenly installed as Sheriff of the town of Dirt, to discovering the evil plans of the town Mayor, to being uncovered as a lying coward and cast out, to his triumphant return.  Less typical is the subtle environmental critique of Las Vegas and California--nothing overt, just enough to make you pause.  Also is atypical was the language.  There were enough "hell"s and "damn"s to make me wonder how that will translate into my son's vocabulary.

For adults, the inside jokes here are not of the kind found in Shrek or other recent animated films, they are a bit more nuanced and less of the potty variety--though there are the typical fart sounds to make the five year old in all of us giggle.

Here's to hoping more kids movies in the future are a lot more like Rango and a lot less like Yogi Bear 3D.

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