"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, April 29, 2011

Movie Review: Rango

I'm so glad that I could catch this film and see it in theaters.  I kind of always moan that animation films don't get proper respect; they are usually lumped into the category of kiddie films.  But I doubt most people would try to peg Rango as a typical animated feature and for that fact I am most grateful.

Rango is the story of an chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who is thrown into the world of the town of Dirt and its residents from his lonely existence inside of a fish tank.  Rango is good at improvisation and soon a new "Rango" is born, popular and fearless.  In Dirt, Rango gets to be the guy he's always dreamed of in his stories.  Of course, the townspeople of Dirt don't make so easy for him.  They are wary of outsiders and they have a major drought crisis that permeates the mood of daily life.  But when that crisis threatens their daily existence, everyone bands together to find water and leads to the big eventual standoff.  

The film had some weak plot holes here and there and you can find out the main villain easily but Rango rises above the plot holes because of what it attempts to do; present an animated film for grown-ups.  No, this film is not certainly aimed for kids, it's a clever movie about finding yourself and how you can fit in by just being yourself.  It also brings back a genre that is long neglected, the Western.  Back in the 50s and 60s, Westerns were an American tradition, a genre created specifically by the harsh American frontier that had no real rules and survival depended on grit and determination.  Nowadays, you might hardly see a handful of them in a year.  But the fascination of the genre remains, the heroes of these films were called real men who survived when odds where stacked up against them.  You can understand why Rango wanted so much to be like these heroes.  

You root for the underdog here and Rango is a fine, if eccentric hero who goes through the usual cycle of a hero's journey.  I loved the old town of Dirt with its plucky citizens who are basically surviving in the middle of nowhere, these are characters to root for.  I'm so glad to finally have an animated film that was made for grown-ups and no kiddie gags or jokes, just clever humor.  Here's hoping that this will be the first of many such films.  

Directed by Gore Verbinski; Written by John Logan; Story by John Logan, Gore Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit; Music by Hans Zimmer, Edited by Craig Wood; Casting by Denise Chamain

Voice talents of: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone, Ian Abercromie, James Ward Byrkit


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