First things first, the PG-Rated Rango is not exactly a kids movie. Animals hanging on nooses, arrows through heads, mentions of infidelity, and a crap-load of “hells” and “damn’s” will prevent me from showing this to any of my future kids for a while. But viewing this for myself, without any unsoiled ears, Rango was one of the most unique animated films in recent memory.
Rango, from the little we know about him in the beginning, is a lonely pet lizard, apparently moving to a new house with his owners. However, after a close call, he finds himself alone in the desert with no water and no direction. He eventually lands in the town of Dirt. A place suffering with dirty leaders and a major water crisis. Rango realizes he can be whoever he wants to be, and chooses to be a hero in the eyes of the townspeople. Of course, he eventually finds himself in real danger (Think The Three Amigos). Hijinks ensue.
The animation is what first caught my eye. Things are crazy real. The desert looks hot and dry. The straggly dust-bitten townspeople look disgusting. The humans even look good. When an animated film can go through the whole movie and still have parts at the end where you still say, “That looks so good!” I’d say the animation did a good job.
That wasn’t even my favorite part about Rango. In fact, my favorite part of the film was all of the film references. Right off the bat you have the Johnny Depp- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) connection runs deeper than the actor in the desert. In fact, Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo even make a cameo in the very beginning. And then there are the bats, the flower patterned shirt, and the hallucinations Rango sometimes has. Other homages include High Noon and even a Charlie Chaplin bit. Then finally there is an obvious Clint Eastwood character who gives the lizard the inspiration to carry on.
This isn’t your typical animated movie. Although it doesn’t quite match the sentiment of Pixar, it does a great job a being, not only a great animated film, but a great film period.