2011, Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: 1, 2 and 3) -- Netflix
(kent wanders into the desert here)
This is brilliance. This is a chameleon who acts out his own one man plays inside a terrarium that is populated by a dead cockroach, a headless Barbie and a wind-up fish. That is, until a bump on the road sends him flying into the desert. And into a story not quite of his own creation. You see, in the desert there is a town full of the afore mentioned talking animals. They have trouble not only with red tailed hawks but the town's mayor (and his scaley cronies) and apparent water robbers. Rango, self named, is chosen by the townsfolk to recover the water and save the town. He gets to become the hero he has been faking all his life.
If you thought that because it is a computer animated movie it was for your kids, you sure thunk it wrong. This might have some slapstick and some funny talking animals but really, are the kids going to catch the film references? Are they going to snicker over the armadillo playing Don Quixote? They definitely won't recognize the Sergio Leone style but they might recognize the grizzled old Spirit of the Desert. Hint hint, I think you can guess which human the spirit is modeled after, even if he is voiced by Timothy Olyphant. Along with the lovely "cinematography" and composition, these references made me love this movie. I love in-jokes, comments to the audience drawing upon your love of cinema with a nudge nudge wink wink. And of course, the story is tight and well told. And with that, you can consider this as "almost" the third time Depp has played Hunter S Thompson. Cuz this movie sure is a trip.