TMG Scale 7.0
Starring Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root
I cringed from the start when this movie was introduced by four mariachi band owls. I generally don’t like owls telling a story, and wrapped up as mariachi band singers, that just made it worse. But these little guys sort of grew on me as the movie progressed. All the star voices certainly didn’t hurt this movie but I am not sure they helped it much either. Pretty much any gifted voice over artists could have done the job. I really did not identify Rango with Depp’s personality. That said, this film can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
Some little ones might be grossed out, if not actually a bit emotionally shocked, by seeing a cute armadillo run over on the highway and being split in two. I was and I see more roadkill on a given weekend along Highway 7 in the Missouri Ozarks than most talented buzzards will see in a lifetime. The real problem is the first hour of this film was more disconnected than the poor armadillo.
Once the movie picked up a theme and a story, it excelled. Rango, a hapless and clueless lizard, sort of imagines and becomes the High Plains Drifter of the Wild West of the bug world. He is propelled to legendary status when (much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz to the Wicked Witch of the East) he just by hapless luck appears to kill the evil hawk that stalks the town. The townsfolks (“townsbugs?”) then mistakenly rely upon their new found hero to find who stole their water from their dry “Town of Dirt” in the Nevada desert. The turtle “town mayor” strings the town along on hope. The question is whether the town’s belief in Rango is enough to sustain them or get them through. The story has a good ending, but no spoiler here.
There is enough adult humor to satisfy parents and enough cute bugs to satisfy most kids. When one of the bugs tries to figure out a puzzle clue to the missing water, he shouts, “I get it. It’s like a giant mammogram.” Adults will love the great humor, but it flies right over the heads of the kiddos. And then, the Great Spirit of the West appears in a golf cart with golden Oscars in the back. Clue: When Rango asks if he is in heaven, the Great Spirit replies dryly “Heaven would be like an evening eating pop tarts with Kim Novak.” You can probably guess who but take all the neighborhood kids and enjoy!