Thursday, March 29, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: Rango

2011, Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: 1, 2 and 3) -- Netflix

(kent wanders into the desert here)

OK, first up, today as I looked up the movie on IMDB I realized that Gore Verbinski was not a gray haired man in his 70s.  What alternate reality was this old man a movie director?  But I imagine in both realities he directs exciting and well written movies starring Johnny Depp.  Yeah, I am a fan.  Pirates and Depp.  So, anyway, this time round Gore is doing a not-quite-for-kids animated movie about a chameleon who gets mixed up in an old west style evil land baron story.  Yes, cartoon style talking animals living as humans do but in the world that humans still live in.  But the logic of the situation is not the point, any more than the fact that Sponge Bob lives under the sea but still goes to the beach is the point of that cartoon.

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.