Rango: a Recommendation from Steve

If you love westerns, you’ll love this movie.  Actually, if you love movies, you’ll probably love this movie, but maybe not.  It does have some drawbacks that I’ll get to later.  Rango pays homage to westerns, but also makes reference to many other movies, such as Pirates of the Caribbean (not a surprise given the presence of Depp and director Gore Verbinski), Star Wars (which is really just a western set in outer space, isn’t it?), Chinatown, and even Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  The animation is marvelous, rich and detailed, and, thankfully, NOT in 3D!  Although this is an animated movie, it is not for children, not younger ones, anyway.  My guess is younger children will alternate between being bored and scared.  If you bring a younger child to the movie, let me know how it goes.  Actually, if you see the movie, let me know how it goes.

This is not quite a love it or hate it kind of movie, but I can easily imagine a number of folks being underwhelmed by it.  As much as I liked it, I was not drawn in by it.  A plot line that includes a character trying to discover who he is and finding out what it truly means to be a hero will usually have me crying my eyes out by the end, but this one evoked barely a mist.  My 13 year old son knows me and knows movies well enough that I noticed him leaning over to look at my eyes at the point in the movie when the floodgates should have opened.  Sorry, no water (which is actually a key element in the movie).

A related problem is that, despite the requisite shootouts and chases, much of the movie is quite subtle.  The best of its humor is found in little details and tossed off lines.  I found myself laughing at times when the most of the nearly full theater remained silent.  I won’t claim greater intelligence or wit.  I think I just caught references that others missed.  I’m guessing I missed some, too.  For instance, when Rango first goes to the saloon, the camera shows the cards one of the poker players is holding, revealing an ace and an eight.  A wonderful little detail, if you know the place of aces and eights in western lore.  I look forward to seeing this again to see what else is revealed, but maybe I’ll rewatch a few of the old westerns first.

With those drawbacks in mind, I still do highly recommend Rango.  My son, who hasn’t seen many westerns, and didn’t even know what a spaghetti western is, still thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Since seeing it, we have enjoyed imitating the voices and tossing lines back and forth.  This is one of those movies that I appreciate more after thinking about it for a few days than I did right after leaving the theater.  That, too, fuels a desire to see it again.

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