2011 animated Western comedy

Rating: 16/20 (Emma: ?/20; Abbey: 13/20)

Plot: A Chameleon with No Name (well, actually he does have a name) is accidentally abandoned by his human family. The desert he winds up in is not the safest of places, and the Wild West style animal town called Dirt he eventually stumbles into is probably even less safe. He exaggerates his prowess, lucks his way through a fight with a troublesome bird, and ends up the new sheriff of Dirt. He tries to get to the bottom of the town's lack of water.

Well, I like quirky animated movies with talking animals and spaghetti Westerns, and I seem to like a lot of what Gore Verbinski does (the underrated Mousehunt, The Weather Man featuring our summer star Nicolas Cage, that first Pirate movie). Previews for this made it look really good, too. So I wasn't entirely surprised that this is actually really good. It's really got the whole spaghetti vibe down with the wonderfully withered town of Dirt and the ugliest collection of characters you're likely to see. Some grizzled voice work (Ned Beatty should be in every animated movie; it should be a new law or something) gives them personality and color, and although there's not really all that much character development with any of them other than the titular chameleon, they work really well to give the setting the texture it needs. I really like the animation in this. There's a great blend of natural and realistic settings with these strange looking cartoonish animals, and the action scenes have this frenetic energy but still somehow make sense. There are lots of nods, predictably, to Western greats, but this also has a Hunter S. Thompson spotting which I thought was an awesome touch. That, and the protagonist is supposedly modeled after Don Knotts, probably meaning that I should go ahead and give this a Don Knotts bonus point. Oh, and similar to the movie Keoma that I just reviewed, there's an owl mariachi band in this that sings a bunch of songs about what's going on with the plot and how Rango is probably going to die. They work a lot better than the drunken pair in Keoma though. This works as an action movie, a kids movie (actually, maybe not), a Western, a comedy. It's not flawless--the plot's a little sloppy--but it's a wonderful hour-and-a-half of entertainment and definitely something I'd not mind watching over and over if any of my kids had actually liked it. My rating would probably go up, too.


cory said...

I am stunned at your response to this movie. Considering your normally harsh standards for animated films (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda...another 10 I could probably come up with), it blows me away that this is what you really like. I will say it was neat to see the melding of animation with the spaghetti westerns we love (well most anyway), though it mainly just made me want top watch a Leone film. Eastwood's appearance was also fun (though he is still a dick). That's it. That's all I got. EVERYTHING else in this feels by-the-numbers and incredibly predictable (except for the preposterous Vegas plot). I am sick to death of the movie plotline where the hero lies and pretends to be someone. Then after revelation, humiliation, and catharsis, becomes the hero. Depp's voicework is dull, and I'm trying to think of a single laugh-out-loud moment. No LOL's here. "Rango" tries to steal greatness (or cliches) from other movies and genres, but ends up mostly empty and silly. See any Leone film instead. A 12.

Shane said...

Pick a still, any still...the visual spectacle here makes rubbery Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda look like crap. This also isn't the assault on the senses that those Dreamworkz cartoons. Panda takes a genre I dig and uses it in a very commercial way with no real respect for the movies it emulates...I can't even tell if the makers are fans of Kung-Fu movies or if they just saw it as a money-making opportunity. This pays homage in some clever ways. Not sure what your issue with Depp was...the voice.work showed some versatility and I thought his voice matched the character well. The overused tall-telling' hero? Yeah, I can maybe give you that one. How many movies that use that motif are we talking about?