Film Review: Johnny Depp Spins Animation Gold in Hilarious ‘Rango’

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CHICAGO – When we first see the chameleon named Lars (Johnny Depp), soon to be ‘Rango,’ he is doing acting voice exercises. He is basically warming up a film that is a real hoot, and has wonderful heart. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

The brilliance of Rango is that it follows a tried and true formula, it is a western that easily could have been made during the 1940s studio era, and it populates that formula with a bizarre collection of desert animals, thirsting for essential life element of water. This makes it both hysterical and heroic, a true gold mine of entertainment that works on many levels.

Lars is a domestic chameleon that lives in a fish tank. His only companions are the various toys that live with him in the tank, which he has adapted to be his personal Broadway stage (he brags of the number of plays he has concocted). This life is shattered by a freak accident, in which the fish tank is throw from a vehicle during a cross country move. Lars survives the crash, but ends up in an unforgiving desert landscape.

He first meets an armadillo named Roadkill (voice of Alfred Molina), who longs to get to the “other side” of the highway, purported to be some sort of nirvana. He directs Lars into the heat of the desert, where he is to find his destiny. This comes in the form of a strange flood, that brings him to the feet of the iguana named Beans (Isla Fisher). She is searching for the elusive water to maintain her ranch, and brings Lars to the similarly thirsty town. Lar’s yarn-spinning braggadocio gets him crowned Sheriff, and he re-invents himself as the lawman named Rango.

Rango’s reputation builds through both the legend that he makes up and the lucky circumstances that makes him tougher than he seems. He clashes with the Mayor (Ned Beatty) of the town, who controls the dwindling supply of precious water. The assignment of the new Sheriff is to somehow maintain order in the face of desperate thirst and find the elusive watery gold.

“Rango” opens everywhere March 4th. Featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy and Harry Dean Stanton. Screenplay by John Logan, directed by Gore Verbinski. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Rango”

Coupling: Rango (Voice of Johnny Depp) and Beans (Isla Fisher) in ‘Rango’
Coupling: Rango (Voice of Johnny Depp) and Beans (Isla Fisher) in ‘Rango’
Photo credit: © Paramount Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Rango”

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