I'm sorry I missed this one in the theater, as this is one enjoyable and very funny movie. Not for little ones. Even though it's animated, the humor here is more adult, is a bit crude in a few places, and most of what makes this movie so funny would fly right over my nephew's head. Rather existential searches for self are not exactly on a five-year-old's radar. Though there is plenty of action that will keep him happy... when he's a few years older. But I loved it and immediately bought a copy after I returned the Neflix DVD.
The plots concerns a sheltered and lonely Chameleon lizard who ends up unexpectedly in the Mojave desert, in the animal-populated town of Dirt. It's a town that pays homage to the towns of old classic Westerns, complete with the usual complement of Western characters, from good guys to bad guys. The town is suffering from extreme drought, and if they can't find out what happened to the water soon, they'll all die. The lizard (who is really on a quest to find his own identity) embraces his sudden shift in his fortune and accepts a position as the new sheriff of the town. But can he truly become his new identity?
As a huge Western fan, this movie delighted me with all its references (subtle and overt) to the Western genre. I love the brief bit of the Magnificent Seven theme that plays through one scene. I love the mariachi band owls who serve as narrators and Greek chorus. I love the Spirit of the West, whose appearance made me clap outloud with delight. Too perfect.
And by far the best part of this movie is simply watching the character of Rango (voiced perfectly by Johnny Depp) as he makes up stories, tries to blend in, has multiple adventures in this animal-version of the Old West on his quest to find himself. Rango may be just an animated lizard, but he's one of my top favorite Johnny Depp chracters. Just love him, his crazy dialogue and antics, in this movie.
The first forty minutes are definitely my favorite part of this film, though I love the rest too. The rest is more plot-driven and serious, the first half is just plain laugh-out-loud fun.
The animation is pretty eye-poppingly amazing. This one is by ILM, and wow, it is outstanding. I've had to pause it on certain parts, like the hawk, just to study the details and ooh and ahh over how amazing it looks. There is so much detail to these characters, to the landscape, to the swirls of dust. I don't know how they do it, but I'm hoping they do another animated movie, cuz this one was first-rate.
This movie is also extremely quotable. My current most quoted lines are:
"Crunchy creamy cookie candy cupcake."
"I think the metaphor broke my spleen."
"Stay OUT of my peripheral vision!"
"Get your slimy webbed phalanges off my boots!"
I think every one of those gets said at least once a day. I've watched the whole movie three times already, and the first half at least six times -- and that's just in the last two weeks. It just doesn't get old.
Just wish I'd caught it in the movie theater! I'll bet that animation would have looked even more spectacular on the big screen.