Movie Review: Rango (2011)

Posted: December 4, 2011 in Comedy

Rango (Johnny Depp) is a family’s pet chameleon, he’s an actor who dreams of the perfect role.  Rango gets his wish when he’s thrown out of the family car and lands in a dry desert town called Dirt.  Soon he’s telling tall tales about killing a Western gang called the Jenkins Brothers, with one bullet.  After getting rid of the town menace, a hawk, Rango is made the town’s sheriff.  The townsfolk tell Rango that the town is running dangerously low on water, they only have a five day supply left in the bank.  A pretty ranch owner, named Beans(Isla Fisher) says she has seen water in the town, and wants to know where it’s gone.  Suddenly, the bank manager Mr. Merrimack (Stephen Root) is killed and the rest of the water in the bank is stolen.  Rango goes on the trail of who robbed the water and stumbles onto something much bigger.  Does he get to the bottom of where the water is going?  Does he get the girl of his dreams, Beans? Is Rango a hero or a zero?

This is the classic Western movie, that’s been animated. Rango is an unlikely hero, who steps into a sleepy Western town which is desperately in search of a hero, complete with a damsel in distress.  But this movie troubles me for several reasons.  This is a movie marketed to kids, but it seems more like an animated adult Western, than a kids movie.  There is more violence than I am comfortable with, and musical references to Apocalypse Now and 2001 a Space Odyssey.  Moreover the movie is slowly paced and the story takes forever to get from point A to point Z.  Would a kid understand all the plot twists and turns and the complex characters and their motives?  I don’t think so.  There were some scenes that were funny to adults, like the character named Wind of the West. Kids will see a bug-eyed chameleon named Rango, and laugh, but that doesn’t mean Rango is a kid’s movie.  Depp is perfect as a creature who sincerely wants to be the hero, but who also has a sincere instinct to run away. Isla Fisher is sweet and spunky as Beans, she has a quality about her that makes her eminently watchable in whatever she does.  The story should have been shorter, and simpler, and the direction should have had quicker cuts.

Rango.  Wrongo for kids.



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