The animated family film has become quite a force over the last few years, with their financial successes promoting the creation of more animated fare, the genre can be pretty much split into two camps: Films that as a parent you have to endure for the sake of your children, and films that you actually enjoy taking your children to, anticipate even.
Rango is firmly in the anticipate and enjoy camp. It’s one of those rare family films that the entire family will enjoy, even a cynical jaded father.
It’s a fairly simple tale, a cautionary parable about honesty, greed and destiny. It of course stars a pet chameleon who through fate is thrown into the wild and given the opportunity to decide what kind of a chameleon he is going to be.
Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp yet curiously devoid of any Depp-ness, is for the most part a bumbling fool who through a chain of accidents ends up being the hero, at least for a while.
In the same way that Rockstar found success in re-visiting the Western genre with Red Dead Redemption, Paramount have found a suitably original looking backdrop for their own spin on what is essentially a recycled story-line (don’t all animated family films have essentially the same story-line?).
The beauty of Rango however is found in a couple of places, the first being the attention to detail. The character models and animation are incredibly detailed, yet cartoony enough that you know they’re not trying to be realistic. It’s a careful balancing act between producing recognisable animals and giving them their own character. To put it simply, Rango is a visual feast.
The second appealing factor that makes Rango appealing to parents is in the referencing of pop culture throughout the film. In it’s most blatant form it’s the ripping off of the whole Western genre, more specifically
Sergio Leone’s infamous character The Man With No Name where in once scene we see a Clint Eastwood style character driving a golf cart full of Oscars. But Rango goes much further, referencing films as diverse as The Three Amigos, Star Wars and bizarrely Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s in these moments of recognition that the film elevates itself giving the adult cinema population something to chuckle about whilst the kids laugh at the slapstick humour.
It’s still early in the year, but I suspect that Rango will hold it’s own and remain one of the best animated films of 2011.
Reviewed by: Jonathan