Who's In It: Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Breslin, Harry Dean Stanton
The Basics: When a nameless chameleon with a penchant for live theater falls out of the family car, his terrarium is shattered along with his sense of self. Wandering through the Mojave desert, he stumbles upon natural predators, a lack of water, and eventually the town of Dirt. Everyone there is parched, grizzled, and suspicious of the newcomer, so to survive, the chameleon creates a persona named Rango who is swiftly elected sheriff. From there, he and the creepy townspeople try to solve the mystery of the missing water, all while avoiding getting eaten by snakes.
What's The Deal: Like most people in these uncertain times, I live my life perched on the edge of delightful insanity. It weirded me out that I related so much to a little reptile like the one in those car insurance commercials. This film is the result of direction by Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean and Mousehunt fame, and a script from John Logan (Any Given Sunday,Sweeney Todd). Going into it, I expected the film to have whisperings of esoteric humor and quirkiness, but nothing prepared me for what I actually got. This movie is all kinds of nutty, and I was into it. I found myself wondering who else would be into it though, since I don't expect most people to be fascinated by a chameleon that constantly ponders its own existence, or jokes about immersive theater experiences.
Fantastic Mr. Rango: This movie really reminds me of Wes Anderson's 2009 adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox. Both films have quirky senses of humor, wonderful animation and delightful subtleties. Although Rango seems long and lags in spots, when I left the theater, it had me giggling and quoting and shaking my head in dizzy delight just like Fox did two years ago. Who did they make the movies for, though? Most adults dismiss any animation that isn't labeled Pixar, and kids won't get the nuances. Ultimately I would say the film is one part Fox, one part Brazil, a dash of Chinatown, and Blazing Saddles in a crunchy animated shell.
Canta y No Llores: I am going to live the rest of my life disappointed when I see a mariachi band that is made of up of humans…because the birds in Dirt's mariachi band were really magical. Even if they were harbingers of Rango's demise, they sure were cutie patooties.