Partner and I saw “Rango” recently. Johnny Depp voices the deeply delusional title character: a chameleon thrown from his terrarium into the depths of the Mojave Desert and into the innards of every movie ever made. “Chinatown.” “Star Wars.” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” “The Lion King.” All of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises.
It's a kids' movie, full of sight gags and physical humor. (I especially liked the cigar-plus-cactus-juice flaming burp, but I'm a very vulgar character. Ask Partner.)
But it's also absolutely beautiful. You see the ripple and shimmer of every scale and feather on these mutant lizards and birds and miscellaneous creatures. There's a scene of a posse riding into the sunset (mounted on road runners, naturally – another Hollywood joke), with their silhouettes shimmering against the horizon, that looks real.
The voices – Ray Winstone as a big ugly toad, Harry Dean Stanton as something like a mole, Ned Beatty as an evil turtle, Abigail Breslin as a possum (although one of the reviewers thought she was a mouse) – are wonderful.
It's flawed, of course. After a rip-roaring opening, it slows considerably. There's a lot of screen time in the middle that could (should!) have been chopped out. Running time is close to two hours, which is awfully long for an animated feature (I know a lot of the kids at our showing were getting bored and noisy after ninety minutes).
But what the hell, kids? It's lizards, and Johnny Depp, and “High Noon.”
Go see it!