The Strange Case of Rango

(Comedy, Cult, Best of 2011) Permanent link

Produced by Nickelodeon studios – which gave the world SpongeBob and slime – Rango was heavily promoted on Nick’s cable channel (and elsewhere) just prior to its theatrical release last March. Why not? The film is populated by talking animals, its lead character (voiced by Johnny Depp, star of Rango director Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean series) is naively charming and quirky, and, hey, it’s animated! Must be a kids’ flick.

Not so fast. It’s not that kids won’t enjoy Rango – my first-grader did – it’s just that Rango may really be a cult film for adults disguised as a kids’ flick. (Yes, my kid enjoyed it, but didn’t talk about it much past the day we saw it.) While most decent kids’ films in the last decade have plenty of references kids may not get, the entirety of Rango will make the most sense to adults who have grown up with, well, films for grown-ups.

Our hapless title hero, a domesticated lizard who, like Bolt and so many other animated big-screen pets, gets separated from his cushy lifestyle in the film’s opening moments, is thrown into a gritty western scenario more evocative of Anthony Mann than Woody’s Roundup. Townspeople are terrorized by villains who control the town’s water supply (shades of Chinatown), so when the goofy stranger arrives on the scene, they look to him as their last great hope (echoes of High Noon). Nothing here the kids can’t enjoy, but what’s up with that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference?

Rango’s classic western types are thoroughly engaging characters that should have their audience really caring about their fates, whether or not it cares about westerns. That said, familiarity with the western genre should make the film even more enjoyable. If that sounds like your kind of film, then don’t wait for the kids to pick it up from our collection.



Posted by Karl Knack at 11/01/2011 01:31:02 PM | 

You can watch Rango and enjoy popcorn at the Oshtemo Branch Library on Tuesday, July 26th, at 6:30 pm - part of KPL's Summer Movie and Popcorn Series.
Posted by: BillC ( Email ) at 7/21/2011 12:38 PM

although it is a cartoon a bit dark for a child, I liked very much
Posted by: Juan - Peliculas online audio latino ( Email ) at 8/6/2011 8:02 PM

Agreed... I think I enjoyed it more than my girls, especially when "The Man with No Name" showed up.
Posted by: Linda ( Email ) at 8/23/2011 3:59 PM

I was prepared not to like it. I was cracking up. The Mariachi owls were my favorite.
Posted by: Angelina Rodriguez ( Email ) at 9/7/2011 1:43 PM

Leave a comment
Name *
Email *