22 Mar 2011 2:07 pm

I began the movie-watching year with True Grit (a bit late, true) then last week, the TNMC went and saw Rango. It’s probably one of the most fun movies I’ve watched all year. It’s almost too earnest to be a kids movie, but this fact is disguised by the comedy and by the meta-references all throughout. I mean, a movie starring Johnny Depp as the Chameleon-With-No-Name (sorta) gets a cameo of Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson? That’s…. deliciously loopy. Oh, yeah, so here be spoilers, of a sort.

A lot of the movie’s musings on the nature of the West will probably be lost on a majority of its officially-intended audience, but I found it a truer meditation on westerns than the aforementioned True Grit (which, while technically competent and masterfully told, was about more straightforward than you could usually get from the Coen brothers). Rango’s homages, comedic asides, and heroic journey (which is made even more telling by its use of the Mariachi Greek-chorus) harkens to the whole of the western oeuvre, not just Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, but every Sunday afternoon Black Hat / White Hat cowboys-an-injuns serial. This really shouldn’t be so surprising, considering that Gore Verbinsky directed the whole shebang, and he does seem to have a talent for lovingly deconstructing and re-integrating the best things out of a genre (see also: the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie).

It’s interesting to see how Verbinsky chose to direct this project by sticking all the actors in  a skeletal mockup of the town of Dirt and environs letting them have at it. I’d love to see a side-by-side view of the animated movie with the actor’s reference in the director’s cut DVD, but for now, this Youtube video will have to do.

Is it me, or do I keep hearing a bit of the Hunter S voice coming outta Johnny Depp?

They got a lot of really recognizable voice talent out for Rango, and overall it was nice to see it used appropriately, though it was criminal how few lines we actually heard out of Claudia Black. Still, Bill Nighy as Rattlesnake Jake was an inspired bit of casting. The movie’s done pretty well for itself, but I’m kind of hoping we don’t see a sequel. Some things are more complete when it’s had its moment, and then wanders off into the sunset.


Have some bonus music from Rango — Ride of the Valkyries, with Banjos!

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