06 March 2011


With Rango, Paramount Pictures, director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp have come up with a worthy parody of the Western genre since Mel Brooks did it with Blazing Saddles back in 1976.

The script, by John Logan (story by Logan, Verbinski and James Byrkit), mines every trope of the western genre, from the films of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood through the halcyon days of the TV format that featured many of the same plot devices used in this film and gives it a new spin in an often clever and humorous way. While not a kiddie film (it features some slapstick humor to keep them amused), it is none the less, and entertaining commentary on the genre itself. Which begs the questions, do kids understand the importance of the western to their parents and grandparents, after the format virtually vanished from film and TV over 4 decades ago?

Sure, we’ve seen the genre from time to time, but it no longer holds the mystic it once did. And I’m not saying this CGI film will resurrect the format -it went away for a reason- but it is nice to revisit it from time-to-time.

The voice casting is good, with the always reliable Johnny Depp bringing a tone of weirdness to even this film. Isla Fisher is wonderful, and brings a conviction to the role as the voice of Beans. Ned Beatty, who had a turn in Toy Story 3 as (villainous) Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, gives another great performances as the Mayor of Dirt. And while Bill Nighy and Abigail Breslin are getting the kudos for scene stealing, for me it was Harry Dean Stanton and Timothy Olyphant who stole the picture.

With Rango, Industrial Light and Magic -know mainly as a visual effects company- doing the CGI in this film, they may now compete with DreamWorks Animation and even Pixar for photo-realistic CGI animated films. It’s eye-popping and brilliant to look at.

And maybe, with its $38,000,000 opening weekend, it will show that not all animated films have to be in 3D. This is a glorious film that uses the standard 2D to great effect.

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