If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Most of the best animated films manage to find a balance that although generally aimed for the larger part at kids, find ways to make concessions to an adult audience. Nobody has been better at this than Pixar, to be sure. But then here comes Gore Verbinski making a movie for Paramount's fledging animation department and he's reversed the entire concept: "Rango" is an adult film (no, not that kind, get your heads outta the gutter) that makes concessions for the kids.
No question that it's an extremely smart film for cinema-savvy audiences, and I suspect a lot of its high-concept metaphysical Western referencing and intelligently verbose dialogue will fly over the heads of many. But then there's the ingenious chase sequences and broad slapstick that work perfectly, despite when being seen out of context (see: reaction to original trailers) it wouldn't seem like they would at all.
"Rango" is the adopted nickname of Johnny Depp's chameleon character, a pet that ended up getting stranded out in the mohave desert. With the help of a seemingly immortal armadillo named Roadkill (Alfred Molina) and an impatient desert iguana named Beans (Isla Fisher) he finds his way to the town of Dirt, a broken down, ramshackle hamlet detailed with every last aspect of the Western genre town, especially in the way of its townsfolk. Rango, a self-styled thespian, 'rolls with it' and sets himself up in the credulous towncritters eyes as a legendary hombre. The town's mayor (Ned Beatty) quickly sets him up as the Sheriff, but there's some low-down water thievery going on and it's up to Rango to figger it out before the entire town dries up,
A sizable array of voice talent (Abigail Breslin, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, etc, etc) back up what are some of the most ingeniously and meticulously detailed characters I have EVER seen in an animated film. All of them have such specific mannerisms, based on familiar Western archetypes, and are so lovingly crafted, that I could watch two hours of them just going about their day-to-day business. Don't let that lead you to believe that the settings are given a short shrift either: Roger Deakins, arguably the greatest living cinematographer, was credited as a visual consultant, and boy does it show.
Sadly, the extended cut only adds one minor scene to the end of the film that's hardly essential, but there's a wealth of bonus material and docs and wow, just the picture and sound ALONE are as perfect as the very best stuff I've ever seen on HD. Whether you're a western fan, an animation fan, or just plain like movies (or why else would you be here at all?) "Rango" is absolutely essential for viewing, and, I'd even go so far to say, for owning. If this doesn't win "Best Animated Feature" at the Oscars this year, something is rotten in Denmark.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Rango (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)