Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rango. A-

Rango is one of my favorite movies of 2011. Filmed with real actors and then converted digitally, the animation is breathtaking, as good as anything I've seen. The film is a Western, but at heart more of a lover of Westerns and classic cinema. There are some obvious references as well as some sneaky, clever ones. One character screams to a hawk flying away: you son of a--! Then we hear the hawk screech, blocking out the profanity. An ingenious homage to The Good the Bad and the Ugly. The movie takes a plot similar to Chinatown and makes it accessible to kids with a wide array of fun, realistic creatures, led by Johnny Depp's chameleon, Rango. He's an imaginative, lonely, unsure hero who, after a nasty spill out of his owner's car, winds up in a small town just like the ones in classic Western movies. The movie takes plenty of liberties and really doesn't make an effort to please the youngsters. They will likely be scared and confused and too little to understand the humor. The film was naturally advertised as family entertainment and naturally did well on its opening weekend (in fact, it brought the box office to life after a dismal first two months of the year), but I can't imagine the kids left the multiplex enthusiastically. The parents were probably a bit disappointed that Rango wasn't really for children, but also likely beaming on the insides at the sheer intelligence of the movie. Here is a film that celebrates cleverness, wit, craftsmanship, and the movies.

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