At some point, we all want to be someone bigger than who we are. We catch our main character – who later names himself Rango – at that point in his life. Living life as a pet chameleon, he certainly is making the most of his sparse surroundings, but he longs for something more. His big break (so to speak) comes when his tank crashes to the asphalt somewhere just outside of Las Vegas (a fact that becomes known later in the movie – and which I’m sure is meant to make a social commentary. I’ll let you make your own conclusions when you watch it) and he must make his way in the desert.
Our cheeky chameleon, voiced by Johnny Depp, finds his way to the dehydrated town of Dirt. This rodent sized, wild west town is in desperate need of water and is looking for a hero. Our naïve but well-meaning chameleon sees this as just the life changing opportunity he’s been looking for and he enthusiastically steps in to help.
What Rango doesn’t know is that a lot of bad guys and evil things lurk around the town and they are all vying to halt his quest of getting his newly adopted town water. But, with the help of the town’s residents – including the “lovely” iguana they call Beans – Rango takes each adventure head on as he strives to save the day.
I think if Hunter S. Thompson had wanted to write an animated western, this might have been the movie he churned out. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing may very well depend on whether you like Hunter S. Thompson, but in either event, I think this movie is worth a watch. It’s a fun nod to the classic Western genre with characters that are complex but likeable and entertaining. Although it’s an animated flick, I felt like the writing made it a bit more of a grown-up film – which is a big plus in my book. I loved all the references to movies new and old – which again added to that adult feel. Oh – and the mariachi owls are hysterical!
Overall, I’d give this movie an A-. It’s good fun with some quirky characters and a little moral at the end. If you want to get deep, you could watch it again and debate all the subtleties (like what does The Spirit of the West really represent and why does the doll have no head?), but for me, once was good enough.