Rango (PG) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Gore Verbinski , US , 2011, 107 mins

Cast.  Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Timothy Olyphant

Unlike so many of the animated movies that have graced out screens so far this year, the computer-animated comedy Rango does not use 3D technology, which is a relief.

We are introduced to the story by four musical Mexican owls, who jump in throughout the movie with explanations or comments about events. The plot revolves around a pet chameleon, who is accidentally thrown from his terrarium while on the road with his human owners. He must consequently adapt to the desert – in the form of a small town called Dirt in the Old West – which is populated by various strange looking creatures presented as the cast of a Western. He establishes himself as Rango, a strong, dangerous and very hot-headed character who becomes sheriff and must investigate why the town’s water supply has stopped.

At times the movie seems to forget its target audience. Rango, as well as several other characters, uses some long words which might well be incomprehensible to some children, as well as words and expressions which are far to adult for the very young. There is much talk for example of characters being dead, dying or wanting to kill each other, expressions such as “trollop” and “go to hell” and Rango’s explanation as to why the snake is his brother although he looks very different – “my mother had an active social life”.

The film features the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty and Timothy Olyphant but if you didn’t know this, there would be little evidence to reveal the individuals behind the voices. Although Depp is known for his talent in portraying a range of characters, it’s Fisher’s accent as Beans which astounds – an Australian actress with a South West accent. The characters themselves look bizarre. Consider Rango and his crooked neck and imagine a plethora of small desert dwelling creatures in costume and carrying weapons.

The visual comedy is the film’s plus point but it is unfortunately not as funny as other recent releases. The fight scene between two groups over the water supply is fast-paced and keeps the audience on its toes and another funny moment comes when Rango eats a bad guy’s cigar, drinks, then burps and sets the bad guy on fire.

Rango is less enjoyable than other recent releases like Yogi Bear Gnomeo and Juliet and Tangled , mainly due to the lack of really good humour. However if, like many children, yours have worked their way through all the U and PG rated movies currently released then this one will be a worthwhile addition to their viewing. But if a trip to the cinema is a rare family day out, then maybe Rango shouldn’t be on the top of your ‘to watch’ list.

Review by Michelle Moore