Directed by Gore Verbinsky
Reviewed by Marion DS Dreyfus

An amiable though inexperienced lizard (a fabulous Johnny Depp) who finds himself in a spot of complicated Old West townspeople trouble tells some villagers that they ought not be afraid of a huge, malign rattler who threatens them all with death.

He assures them the humongous serpent, larger than the entire wadi gulch not-even-one-hoss-town outpost (called, yes, DIRT) is his “brother.” Some insightful critter listening asks how a skinny-cat little lizard (a cuz, no doubt, of the adorable Geiko gekko we see every three minutes on TV) like Rango could possibly be related to a massive snake that terrorizes their little pit-stop of the desert.

“Ah, uh, mother had a very active…social life…”

Not many kids get that, nor the Kierkegaardian response to a question of how Rango expects to get to the ‘other side of the road’ with huge trucks bearing down on him and his new friend. Says the armadillo wise elder he hitches up with temporarily, with a clear touch of asperity, “Look, forget it! It’s a metaphor.”

Zing! Right over their little keppelach.

A film about water scarcity and allocation hits many of today’s buzz-word consciousnesses, but cannot really be said to be a child’s movie.

Afterwards, a couple of child-sized respondents answered my question, Did you like the movie? They answered slowly, a bit hard-put for words. One little girl, maybe 7, told me, “That was a s-t-ra-nge movie…” Another testimonial, from a boy: “Um, well, yeah…I guess.”

Not ringing endorsements. But for grown-ups, it is an hilarious spot of whoops and chortling in the popcorn aisle.

And so it goes. The script here in this hilarious animated story, one of the best and most entertaining among a batch of marvelous such animated features by Disney and Pixar et al., is far over the little tiny headies of the tots sitting making messes in the movie theatre. But the parents seem to love it. It is in fact not 50:50 kid-parent based. It is probably closer to 80% targeted for the big people dragging along their tykes. The coloration and set pieces, bar-scenes and desert scenarios are outstanding, the product of amazingly gifted cartoonists and designers.

The single cavil, well, make that two, are that, first, the ‘bad guy,’ though it is not too heavily pressed, is the corporate-style big-buildings city—always the people in capitalism-land, huh, guys? Nice to pollute the kiddies’ minds with that suggestion.

And two, I have never seen a theatre so filthy at the end of a screening as after RANGO. So bad, in fact, that the clean-up crew that was did KP as I searched for my missing sunspecs kept remarking how they had never seen such an unholy mess before.

marion ds dreyfus . . . 20©11


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