I think if Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Pale Rider and the toy animals from Toy Story all got together, Rango would be their baby.
Rango is the story of a domesticated lizard who dreams his life is a stage filled with rich characters. Given a shot of freedom he uses the opportunity to create a new personality, while on the path to finding himself.
In the comic western style of Blazing Saddles and followed by a Greek Chorus of Owls in a Mariachi band, Rango assumes sheriff duties of western town and tries to help them solve their water crisis. Not only is this a tip of the 10-Gallon hat to westerns, Rango also pays homage to films across the board including Apocalypse Now and the aforementioned Pale Rider and Fear and Loathing.
Johnny Depp lends Rango his voice, but is just one of a dozen beautifully defined characters. They look real, and they feel real enough to make a human connection to them.
One of the characters is the amazing desert backdrop where the story takes place. At times I wondered whether the film was merging real life footage with the CGI. Possibly a great sign of advanced animation movie making?
Even though it’s animated and rated PG, I can’t really say this is a kid’s movie. The dialogue is often complex, there’s a lot of deep existential thought and there’s a focus on artistic beauty. No groin shots, no animal farts, no princesses. OK, some animal farts.