RANGO : Adult animation is here
Chameleons are pretty much the "geek" choice in pets. No offense to geeks (being a honorary member mysef.) But when people ask you : Does your pet bring you your slippers? you say no. Does it play around with yarn and entertains you with it's purring? you say no. But when you proudly respond: my pet has 160 types of subspecies and changes colors... can yours do that? the conversation usually ends with people walking away or if you're in 5th grade a punch to the nose... so it figures that Gore Verbinski (director of Pirates of the Carribean) choose this noble type of lizard for a hero in this movie.
Animation has always been created for adults to entertain children (while secretly hoping it would entertain some adults too). For years since Walt Disney lifted his gifted pencil animation has been the realm of the 10 and under crowd. But grown ups have always been behind the scenes with its shenanigans making animation with tongue in cheek jokes while never really stepping into adulthood story themes.
Rango I believe changes that.
Rango's story is the typical hero/chameleon with flaw - he wants to be an actor, but can't because he has no friends and is confined to glass box. Again not many other chameleons visit each other's glass tanks for a chat in thespian theory. So what if he's thrown into a world he never knew existed? Be pushed to the limits of his physical and mental strength? Forced to save the day and at the same time forge a place for himself in this world?... and do it against the great backdrop of America's greatest "loner" genre - The Western.
Sorry if I spoiled the story for you but news flash: Nothing that you see or will ever see in a movie theater is new. Every single story you've see has between 30 to 70% stolen from another movie, book or folk tale. If you see something completely original email me and if you have valid proof I'll send you $100.00 , oh and for those thinking of getting their stinky paws on my 100 bucks by saying "INCEPTION" go back and read an obscure Japanese novel from 1954 or if you're lazy a Scrooge McDuck comic, just google it. So there you have it folks nothing is new just meant to look new. Here's a free tip kids, two words studios and producers hate : familiar and different - but they love a story that is familiar BUT different. Yeah I know, this industry is crazy.
Rango is very familiar but again very different, the story is is mishmash or "homage" of Chinatown, Sergio Leone movies, greek tragedy and couple of clever scenes ripped off ..*ehem* inspired by many late comedies. But what makes it different are two crucial things - its look and theme.
It looks like a mixture between CGI, and real life texture all painted over with an edge diffuser brush. I haven't seen anything like it and that tricks the brain to make one feel the story is original. Also helps that, and luckily for us writers, that 80% of the population going to the movies only remembers things from last week and the others who do, don't mind. I will give you that some scenes were very clever for the simple idea of " what if we put an critter with a gun? " hence some mean prairie dogs with Gatling guns. But you'll never get a memorable line from this movie because it's not that type of movie.
I overall loved the visuals and enjoyed the somewhat inspired dialogue. But it's all fun when a lovable chameleon/con artist gets his Shakespeare on with gullible country folks, I mean animals.
The other thing that caught my eye was the serious adult themes in the movie of corruption, greed, manipulation and politics never seen in an animation because... all together class... animation is for children. Hence what I think will be a new sub-genre in animation I like to call grownupimation. The look is certainly for adults, the story is certainly for adults and as soon as some brave directors throws in a couple of F-bombs we're off to the races. Sorry if this doesn't read like your run of the mill movie review, I didn't get a critics job from my dad, nor am I a writer with grudge looking to find tiny holes in every movie but a concerned audience member and writer looking to give props where props are due.
If you're looking for good 'ol American fun at the movies you can't miss with Rango. If you're looking for a clever message in subliminal imagery or setups join the Army intelligence signal corps and if you hate animation don't go. For the rest of us Rango is just fine and is the first salvo in the animation for adults genre that will be popping out everywhere once the other studio execs see they can make money with quirky adult themed CGI movies.