Dave White
Rango Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

Not for the very youngo.

Who's In It: The voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Harry Dean Stanton, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone

The Basics: Rango is a lopsided chameleon who wishes he were an actor, and he gets his chance when he winds up stranded in an Old West desert town filled with a really thirsty animal population and a corrupt mayor who controls the water supply. Rango assumes a heroic pose and takes on the role of their new take-no-prisoners sheriff but soon realizes he's in over his head. Of course, you'd have to be a child not to know what happens next, but this isn't a children's movie. Kids won't get that what could have been a standard-issue find-the-hero-within story is really a crazy mashup of classic Western genre references (spaghetti and otherwise), desert hippie stoner mysticism, animal death and pessimistic 1970s defeatism. In other words, it's too cool and weird for them.

What's The Deal: Cleverly written and directed, and way more visually detailed than we're used to getting from non-Pixar animated features, it's the perfect left-field setting for its star. And if The Tourist hadn't hammered this point home strongly enough, here's more proof that Johnny Depp (in an animated, motion-captured performance) is at his best when he's not playing a regular human being. Sometimes, especially lately, it seems like he's coasting on lucrative-pirate-franchise-opportunity autopilot or guys-in-zany-top-hats roles. But this performance is one of the best he's given in a while and you never even see him on screen. In a way it's the ultimate makeup/costume, one that erases him visually but keeps his strange energy pumping directly into a cartoon amphibian. Even the ads assert, "Johnny Depp IS 'Rango.'" And they're not wrong.

Spot The References, Kids! Any serious, dark-minded child who's up on High Noon, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Chinatown, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the writings of Carlos Castaneda will really find their precociousness rewarded. So this isn't exactly Shrek-style low hanging fruit, the kind where all the jokes are about stuff like American Idol. Most of it flies by, not even drawing attention to itself. In fact, adults who aren't aware of those cultural touchstones won't know what just happened either. They'll just wonder why everything feels so not normal. And though I won't be spoiling it here, this movie contains what may be my favorite line of dialogue so far in 2011 and I wonder if it'll be topped in the remaining 10 months. You'll know it when its spoken.

Get A Babysitter: I can't stress this strongly enough. I spent the whole movie thinking about my little six-year-old nephew and how terrified he might be by the giant menacing snake character who terrorizes the other animals. And then I thought about his mom, who wouldn't exactly be thrilled to have taken a small child to a movie with this much violence, where the animals tell each other to "Go to hell" when they're angry. Older than 9 or so, sure. But not really for anyone younger than that. Know what your kid can deal with before you go.

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Comments (11)

md - 3-11-2011 12:24 PM
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I just read Dave's review and not sure about his comments with regard to young kids. I went with my six year old daughter and she laughed herself silly. She thought the huge snake was the best charachter and was not frightened a bit. I think smart kids with a little more depth will love it.

BABY K - 3-12-2011 4:12 PM
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My husband and I went to watch the movie and WE LOVED IT! Its a greta plot and story as well. One fellow who became a hero to many and standing alone to make a difference in the world. I think its a great movie to watch and learn a lot about one self.

Gina - 3-12-2011 7:41 PM
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I Love Dave's reviews. They crack me up!

cutie 101 - 3-13-2011 7:13 PM
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i think that this was a excellent story for kids what are u talking about Dave lol no affense

Ryan - 3-14-2011 9:25 AM
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Hey Dave, great review and I agree that it isn't suited for young children unless they have irresponsible parents...which, sadly, is all too common these days. One question regarding "your favorite line of dialogue so far in 2011": I listened intently based on your comment, but nothing really juimped out at me. Was it when Depp stated that he was "one of the few men with a maiden name?? Please do tell, the suspense is killing me!

Worst Movie Ever Seen - 3-17-2011 7:45 AM
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I took our 9 yr old son. About an hour in he asked to leave. Before we went, he couldn't stop talking about seeing this movie. Then gets there and was completely dissapointed. I agreed with him. We didn't like the characters, the bird with the arrow through his head and no eye is good for kids how? It is just disgusting and to think that they want to gear this towards kids is just wrong. We thought the humor was lame, and overall we left the theatre which was empty except for us without seeing the entire movie. My son couldn't watch anymore because he disliked it that much which I thought was surprising for him to ask to leave. Save your money and movie makers should be ashamed to put this movie out.

Manny - 3-19-2011 10:46 AM
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@Worst Movie Ever Seen. First of all, who ever said "animation = kids movie"? Second of all, this review clearly states that it is not a kid centric plot, dialouge ect. Lastly, Clearly you have not seen Tomb Raider, Transformers, or Ecks Vrs Sever, just to name a few.

Jennifer S. - 4-02-2011 3:08 PM
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My 10 year old daughter was so bored, she fell asleep! It was surely the worst movie we ever saw. After the movie, me and her were talking about how it was not appropriate for young kids, like the part they say, "go to hell" when they are mad. (Agreed, David) Don't go - save your money.

Susan Grant - 4-15-2011 9:33 AM
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I loved the movie and found it fresh, intelligent, funny and beautiful. But help me out Dave...(forgive me, I'm old)... what was the most original line of dialogue? It could be I recognized it at the time but have forgotten. This would be in keeping with my deteriorating brain! Thanks.

Peter - 6-26-2011 9:49 PM
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Stupid movie.

Maryann - 7-19-2011 7:04 PM
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