When I sat down to watch Rango I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I’d seen some teasers but not a full trailer, or if I had they’ve done a good job at not spoiling anything and consequently I knew very little about what to expect.
Rango begins with a chameleon acting out scenes in terrarium to his wind up goldfish and body of a Barbie doll, and while discussing that his story needs an ironic accident to shake things up, a car accident throws him out of the car. He finds himself in the middle of the Nevada desert with no knowledge of how to survive, until an armadillo in the middle of the road tells him if he wants to find water he needs to find dirt and tells him to follow his shadow in to the desert. So off he wanders in to the desert alone. Along the way he runs in to a lizard named Beans who is travelling in to town to make a deposit at the bank, so he catches a ride with her until he finds the town of Dirt, a town populated entirely by desert animals.
Once in the town he finds the water is running dry and enters the saloon for a drink, only to spin a tale of how he killed 7 brothers with 1 bullet. The towns folk take a liking to him and after managing to kill an Eagle with 1 bullet, although this is just luck, he impresses them enough to be made Sheriff. Along the way he compounds lie after lie in his act of being a hero and gunslinger until he’s expected to find the towns stolen water and return it. I’m trying to be vague in the story here, because I went in with little expectation or knowledge of the film and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Although going in, it being animation and all, I expected a kids film. What I found was it’s not really a kids film at all, it may be kid friendly but I’d say it’s aimed squarely at the adults enjoying it. The story is straight up western with many of the cliches, and many jokes and homages you’d only get if you knew westerns, even vaguely from Sunday afternoons. There are many knowing nods to various films and genres, very literate of the pop culture of films, and a lot of adult jokes that will go over kids heads, such as a joke about chasing someone riding side saddle because of an enlarged prostate, while “Doc” pulls on a rubber glove off to the side. Just one of many jokes that made me laugh throughout the film, along with Wagner’s Ride of the Valkeries playing on the Banjo as the Hillybilly types chased our heroes on bats, not things that will amuse a child but certainly did me.
The animation is superb, many scenes impressed me and the attention to detail is very high, though I suppose this is pretty much a given nowadays. Not really a classic film, not really a kids film, but very enjoyable nonetheless.