Saturday, November 19, 2011


I had heard that Rango was a good animated movie for people besides little kids, but I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. It's probably the best non-Pixar American animated movie I've seen since The Iron Giant, which is a lot of qualifications, but it's still a solid accomplishment. It's definitely not a movie designed to appeal directly to children; I'm sure plenty would like it, but the story and characters have enough maturity and older-skewing references built into them to make it probably appeal more directly to someone with at least more knowledge of the history of film. There's a lot of Western character archetypes and homages to a bunch of different sources, the stuff that's supposed to be fun for parents who brought their kid to the theater. It goes beyond that here, though. The whole movie seems more designed with the parent in mind than the kid.

Again, not that I don't think kids would like it at all. It's a pretty silly movie in places, and not very difficult to follow. I just thought it was aimed at me more than I expected it to be. The cast is pretty outstanding and varied, with the right idea being used when the voices were picked - they do use celebrities you've heard of, but they're cast to play characters, not to be famous and recognizable. I know Johnny Depp at least was moving around on a set to help create the character, and his Rango is pretty loveable. He's a pet iguana who ends up stranded in the desert and meets up with a small community of wild animals who are struggling to find water. There's a love interest played by Isla Fisher, and a cute little girl played by Abigail Breslin, and a wise but suspicious authority figure played by Ned Beatty. It could pretty much have been a live action Western with the same general characters and worked the same, and that's what's interesting about it. The animation enhances the movie though, providing great opportunities for little moments of humor and some pretty spectacular action sequences. There's just something about complete freedom and control of moments of excitement that really brings out the potential of the form. It's kind of a simple and predictable story, but it works because of the solid humor and charming cast. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it dethroning Pixar in the Best Animated Feature race early next year.

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