Updated 7/14/2011 (Released to DVD)
Originally posted 3/18/2011
New on DVD & Blu-ray this week is “Rango”, an animated film from Nickelodeon Movies (a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures).
The film is the story of an unnamed chameleon stranded in the desert.He finds his way to a town (appropriately named “Dirt”) inhabited by an assortment of desert creatures.While there, he takes on the false name “Rango” while telling tall tales to the locals about his heroic past.The town is short on water, and with no rain in sight, everyone begins to panic about their predicament.Things get worse when someone steals the last water reserve they had, and Rango is assigned the role of Sheriff to solve the case.
On the surface, this may seem like a children’s film, but it’s not.Maybe marketing should’ve clarified that fact, as the theater I attended was FILLED with children (at 8pm, no less).
The creatures are all a little bit scary, especially lead villain Jake the Snake (no, not the drunken ex-wrestler).There’re also a handful of deaths on-screen, another topic children might have a hard time with.And, no, I don’t mean “He’s pretending he’s dead”, but rather flat out morbidly deceased CGI animals.
In addition, all of the humor is way over the head of little children.From memory alone, I can recall a mammogram joke, a jab involving the showing of “private parts”, and the inference that Rango’s mother is a whore.Who doesn’t love some good ole fashioned slut humor at a kids movie?I know I do!
I’m not the political correctness police, and I’m glad the film wasn’t for kids.I’m simply relaying this fact to interested parties…bring the kids, and be prepared for awkward questioning.
With that aside, “Rango” looks awesome.The creatures on-screen are startlingly real.It’s almost as if they took real porcupines, opossum, armadillos, and assorted lizards, then dressed them up in cute clothing and taught them how to talk.Even if the film’s story bores you to death, there’s at least plenty to look at.
Oh, and about that story?Yeah, well, it pretty much bored me to death.There were several noticeable low points during “Rango” where my mind started drifting to the thoughts of others in the theater.Are they wondering why I showed up at least 10 minutes late?Are they wondering why I’m sitting all alone in an auditorium full of families?Are they concerned that I’ve been loudly coughing non-stop for the last hour and might get them sick?Are they bothered that I’m checking my cell phone every 5 minutes to determine how much longer the film is?You get the idea.Surely, these are the types of thoughts that go through everyone’s head when they attend the movies…
“Rango” is not a bad film.It’s actually an above-average animated feature, and it’s BY FAR the best thing Nickelodeon Films has ever done (the studio responsible for “The Last Airbender”, “Hotel for Dogs”, and “Nacho Libre“).It’s better than most of what Dreamworks has put out recently, though not quite on par with Disney/Pixar (the gold standard of animation).
The voice cast, led by Johnny Depp, is stellar.All too often, the animation is overpowered by celebrity voiceovers that detract from the film.With “Rango”, every piece fits well within the context of the film, and even superstar Depp’s voice is perfect for the personality of the main character.
You could do much worse at the theaters this week.When the choices boil down to an alien attack or a wicked wolf, “Rango” just might be your best bet at the box office.