“Rango” is unlike anything you will ever see. It is the strangest, funniest, most warped invention. It’s a Western but with desert critters playing the parts.
“Rango” was created by director Gore Verbinski and writer John Logan. Verbinski is known for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, and this flick features the voice of Captain Jack Sparrow himself, Johnny Depp, as a chameleon that gets separated from his family.
Out in the desert air, he meets an old armadillo (Alfred Molina), who tells him that his destiny lies out beyond him and that he should follow his shadow.
He does so and meets up with Beans (Isla Fisher), who is from a small town called Dirt. She offers him a ride to town.
When they arrive, he goes into the bar. Being a chameleon, his nature is to blend in to the surroundings. So he begins to act like a bad man from the West, telling the locals he killed a group of brothers with one bullet.
When asked his name, he looks down at the bottle of cactus juice he is drinking and sees “Durango.” He tells the town’s folk that his name is Rango.
His tall tale endears him to the people, and the mayor (Ned Beatty) makes him sheriff. Off the bumbling Rango goes to keep law and order in the town.
But law and order isn’t the town’s biggest problem: The town is without water, and the people are losing hope.
Rango knows something is wrong in Dirt, but he can’t figure out what it is.
“Rango” is a self-aware movie, with lots of references to movies, like “Chinatown,” and popular culture. Searching for these “Easter eggs” adds another layer of fun to the movie.
“Rango” is remarkably done. The animation is computer-generated, and the colors are wonderful. It’s also 2-D, not 3-D, and it has more magic than any movie that will require you to wear glasses for an extra price.
Verbinski didn’t employ the standard procedure for putting together this animated film. Typically, directors of animated films will put actors in a sound booth to record their lines without the other actors around.
Verbinski, however, had the actors dress in costumes and act out their roles. He captured their voices that way, and I think it gives the movie a more organic realism.
Some say the Western is dead, but this film proves otherwise. With “True Grit” and now “Rango,” we see that Westerns are still alive. I loved “Rango,” and my 14-year-old son was enchanted by it.
“Rango” carries all the motifs and mores of the Western genre, and we see how one lizard can help a town of misfits overcome and be themselves without fear.
But “Rango” is one of the strangest movies you will ever see.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: John Logan
Cast: Johnny Depp: Rango; Isla Fisher: Beans; Ned Beatty: The Mayor; Abigail Breslin: Priscilla; Alfred Molina: Roadkill; Bill Nighy: Rattlesnake Jake.
The movie’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.