Depp’s Western ‘Rango’ not just for kids
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 16:03
It's being packaged as a kids film, but Johnny Depp's Rango provides plenty of laughs for all audiences.
A lot of the laughs for younger viewers will come from the talking animals running around screaming while waving their hands in the air. For adults, Depp delivers his witty punch lines while talking quickly and uses big words. Some of those words may go over the young childrens' heads, such as them knowing the difference between thespians and lesbians.
Rango is a sheltered chameleon who aspires to be an actor but finds himself in a dried up Western town full of bandits and takes the role of sheriff.
Rango treads carefully to create an original story while taking time to honor classic Spaghetti Westerns from Sergio Leone, some more obvious than others. I'm pretty sure there was also a Three Amigos reference in there. It even pays homage to some of Depp's classic roles, such as Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Director Gore Verbinski (The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) teams up again with Depp. Verbinkski shot the film with the actors together acting out each scene then went back and animated from the real footage.
This film isn't a one-man show from Depp by any means. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead) come together to form the right balance for each scene. This ensemble atmosphere improves the quality of the dialogue and the detail of their facial reactions.
Industrial Light & Magic makes its debut in animation in jaw-dropping fashion. The level of detail given to each character comes out revealing every crack and crevasse of Rango's skin.
The animation medium works better for Depp because people's interest in him distracts from the subject matter. Depp has been known for his crazy, over-the-top characters, such as Capt. Jack Sparrow; but taking away the eyeliner puts the focus on the character instead of the face.
The one gripe I have with the film is the overuse of certain comedy gags. A mariachi band of desert birds act as the narrator reminding us that our titular character is going to die. The problem: the band member had the voice of a Taco Bell commercial narrator. The birds seem to keep popping up every twenty minutes to remind us that Rango hasn't died yet, but will — spoilers.
It's still early in 2011 but Rango is already shaping up to be one of the best animated films of the year.