That’s what we call a malapropism and it’s the backbone of Rango (2011). I love a pun. Preferably a pun that is as close to the “intended” word as possible–orange in “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” sounds nothing like “aren’t” while mammogram does sound like anagram. Puns aren’t all Rango has to offer, it does physical comedy, poop jokes, and much much more. It’s flat out hilarious.
A chameleon (Johnny Depp) is without an identity. He does some acting, has a one act play, and a musical he’s working on, but still he can’t quite answer that old existential quandry–who am I? After “an ironic, unexpected event, propel[s] the hero” onto the highway and into the city of Dirt, an improvisational response to an awkward bar scene gives him a name, Rango, and a colorful history. Soon, as is wont to happen, he’s sheriff of this dusty old town with the tycoon turtle (Ned Beatty) as its mayor and he’s got a mystery on his hands–there’s a water shortage and we aren’t sure what’s causing it. Beans (Isla Fisher) knows there’s been some water being dumped in the desert, but she can’t figure it. Off they go to find the answer, but our villains are crafty and Rango has to find out who he really is.
The dialogue is great, but the soundtrack is wonderful. Finally, a movie that has a pitch-perfect sense of music. Perhaps this is in major part due to its magpie collection of the best sounds westerns have offered. I flatter myself that I heard Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Magnificent Seven (1960), and obviously Ride of the Valkyries, to my infinite pleasure they played for longer than ten seconds. But I almost cheered when they played Harmonica’s Theme at the climax of the movie. Chills, just thinking about it (well, thinking about it to the youtube link I just put there–DIE SOPA DIE!). It’s a travesty that the song Rango didn’t get nominated for Best Original Song, but I imagine that particular category has seen more travesty than equity in its existence.
Oh yeah, this is an animated movie. Freaking amazing animation. It’s dry and realistic. The sun burns into your eyes to show that it’s pretty hot in the desert. Rango, which they obviously put the time into, is a scalychameleon but he doesn’t glisten like a dinosaur in Jurassic Park (1993)–after all, it’s raining at the park, but it’s dry in the desert. This bad boy’s getting all ten on IMDB. At the climax, I did want some heavily repeated close-ups on the eyes of the duelists, but hey, you can’t get everything.
This movie was made (with others, I’m sure) by Gore Verbinski who is responsible for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) and the two pale imitations–but not the worst offender, at least. He’s also doing the Lone Ranger movie slated for 2013. Not a devotee of the Ranger, I hadn’t invested that much emotion into the idea of its success or failure, but whatever doubts I had have evaporated after seeing Rango. Verbinski is well versed in the western–or at least its greatest incarnations–but should stop fooling around and bring John Logan in to rewrite the thing. Looking at Logan’s credits makes my jaw drop. Some crap, to be sure, but a number of excellent films including the upcoming Bond movie, Skyfall. Hehehehe. That’s how I feel right now.
Drawbacks? Hmm. Let’s see… None. Go see it, go buy it. Now. Go.