A chameleon finds himself in Dirt, a tiny Old West town plagued by bandits, and pretends to be a swashbuckling hero in order to protect it.  Extraordinary amalgamation of film references is an absolute celebration of classic Hollywood westerns.  All of this appropriating might have felt like unoriginality, but it doesn’t come off that way here.  This is not about trendy pop culture references, but an intelligent blending of movie history.  Any avid moviegoer will be in cinematic nirvana with this creative mashup.  In one scene, Rango’s phony overconfidence recalls Don Knotts in The Shakiest Gun in the West and the homage is the funniest thing I’ve seen in quite a while.   Even the Rango theme song by Los Lobos is a catchy little ditty that recalls the theme to the 60s television series Rawhide.

The picture is a cinephile’s dream come true, but I think what pushes Rango to the next level is the subversiveness of it all.  This cartoon is atypically irreverent.  I wouldn‘t recommend the story to anyone under the age of 7.  Most of it will sail right over their heads and I suspect many adults won’t “get it” either.  The script alternates between jokes only a knowledgeable film buff would get and those no child could possibly understand.  At one point Rango tries to convince people that he and a snake are brothers, explaining, “Mama had an active social life.” Oh and make no mistake, these desert animals are ugly.  Not a cuddly cutie in the entire motley bunch.  One of the members of Rango’s posse is a bird that has an arrow struck through his eye.  But they’re beautifully animated, and the supporting cast has real character depth.  My favorite was “Spoons” a grey bearded mouse.  Tough and grizzled like an old prospector, he’s hilariously expressive.  It’s the kind of creative story that demands repeated viewings.  Just see it for the many lines of laughably quotable dialogue.   I won’t spoil them here.  OK, maybe just one: “If this were heaven, kid, we’d all be eating pop tarts with Kim Novak”.

9 Responses to “Rango”

  1. This review says it all. Very well written. I comletely understood all the jokes and references. I feel sorry for people who took kids, this is NOT for them.


  2. Agree with the kids thing. As I was watching, I thought “would any kids actually enjoy this”? I really don’t think so. I mean, besides the intricate plot, the characters are seriously ugly. I loved some of the dialogue, and I wanted to like this movie so much, I just wasn’t very entertained.


    • Wasn’t entertained?! I’m surprised. You’re such a film fan. I figured you’d enjoy the references to classic westerns from Sergio Leone and others, even Star Wars was in there.


  3. Yeah, it was fun noticing the film references and the many nods to Chinatown (a film I adored), I just didn’t dig the film so much. Didn’t resonate with me.


  4. I enjoyed Rango and its cleverness but it did not keep the attention of my three year old grandson who loves movies and animations in particular. With the various animations that are being made for teens or older movie goers, the posters and advertisements for them should clue parents in to the age or ages the film is suited to.


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