"Here’s one for the grown-ups. Gore Verbinksi (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Johnny Depp reteam for the story of Rango, a household pet that leaves the comfort of home to embark on an extraordinary adventure. It might look like a family-oriented film on the surface, but Rango wallows in waters of death, betrayal, loneliness and prostate glands. John Logan’s script plays it fast and loose with movie references, quirky humour, adult themes and the kind of characters you won’t find on children’s lunchboxes - it’s also very entertaining.
When Rango accidentally winds up in the gun-slinging town of Dirt, the less-than-courageous lizard - who’s mission in life thus far has been to blend in - suddenly finds himself standing out. A smart mouth and good imagination will only get you so far, but when a water shortage unveils a conspiracy of the highest order, the new Sheriff in town is forced to play his role to the hilt. With a cast that includes Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone and Timothy Olyphant as the Spirit of the West, Rango takes the Western genre and gives it a courageously quirky animated spin.
Rango serves up a wide array of slapstick, action and adventure for the kids, but when your animated heroes are too ugly to get served in the Mos Eisley cantina, there’s a good chance you’re not going to make much money on merchandising. Gore Verbinski takes to animation like a duck to water though, serving up a visual feast of frantic fun, high velocity adventure and knowing humour. With rattlesnake killers, spider undertakers, lizard warfare and death obsessed mariachi owls - not to mention a running time that will probably outlive some of its characters – there’s a good chance the little ones might not get it.
At the end of the day though, Rango is a loving tribute to spaghetti westerns that doesn’t feel like an animated adventure at all. A peculiar lizard for sure, one that embraces eccentricity and off- the-wall strangeness, but what did you expect from the reteaming of Johnny and Gore? The refusal to conform could be seen as a deadly misfire, but as any colour changing lizard will tell you, you only really need one bullet. Rango is a cult classic in the making, a mystifying feast for all the family. Well... some of it."