Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rango (2011)

Seen: On blu-ray on our big screen/projector set-up, rented from the Tisch Library at Tufts.

The realization that I had only seen two new animated releases in 2011- and that one of them was Cars 2- made me super depressed. Everyone kept going on about how fun and movie-fan-friendly Rango was so that seemed the best place to start. A lonely, sheltered pet chameleon finds himself thrust into a harsh desert environ, where he puts his self-taught theatrical talents to use by creating a tough-talking lone gunman-type called "Rango". He becomes sheriff of Dirt, a drought-stricken town with corrupt leaders, and takes it upon himself to find their stolen water and save the day, etc, with the help of some goofy desert animals.

Combining elements of classic westerns and animal-centric family films, Rango feels like something of an anomaly within its kid-friendly genre. It's just... I'm not sure this movie is even for kids? Not really little ones anyway. I feel like a lot of the story and references would be over a child's head, though I guess the goofy-looking anthropomorphic animals might be enough to keep them entertained. Regardless, it's a pretty good movie. The script is clever and interesting, though a bit too drawn-out, the characters are varied, and the visual design and animation are solid. A few of the more action-y scenes are especially well done, like the early shot of Rango falling out of the car onto the highway. Very exciting!

With a Hunter Thompson-esque lilt (who gets a cameo), Johnny Depp imbues the character of Rango with a wacky edge, slipping easily into screenwriter John Logan's quick-witted dialogue. Isla Fisher does a good over-the-top Western-y accent, and Ned Beatty basically plays Toy Story 3's Lotso only with more turtle. There are a ton of famous people in the supporting voice cast but I'll admit most of them were unrecognizable to me, which I guess is actually impressive acting-wise. Although I caught Timothy Olyphant, oh yes I did.

I'll be honest here dudes, I liked this movie but don't really have that much to say about it. The main drawbacks were the at-times scattered narrative, some inconsistency in design, and too many characters. Otherwise, good times!


Pair This Movie With: The overall aesthetic and feeling reminded me of A Bug's Life, which also involves imposters protecting a tiny-animal community, plus movie references since it's all Seven Samurai-y.