Movie Review: Gore Verbinski's Rango, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy and Abigail Breslin (with trailer video)

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If you've ever seen a Western, you'll be right at home during Rango, an odd blending of standard kids-movie elements (i.e., cute critters like lizards, mice and armadillos in the lead roles) with the Wild West. The movie has gunfights, posses, conspiracies and some great action, along with plenty of little touches thrown in, like a clever cameo by Timothy Olyphant as an iconic character straight out of the Old West.

The problem with all of this is that I can't imagine many youngsters have ever seen a Spaghetti Western or know who John Wayne is. (Note: I don't have kids, so I leave it to the parents to tell me if I'm wrong on this.) Children will have to be drawn in by the silly characters, as there isn't a lot of kid-centric humor to be found here. (Everything looks kinda funny, though.) The audience I saw the film with seemed interested the whole time, but I don't remember hearing any kids laughing. It did seem that the adults enjoyed the movie just as much, if not more than, the kids, and I heard nothing but positive comments on the way out.

Rango is flawless from a technical standpoint. The animation is beautiful, the detail work outstanding, and the characters — while uniformly odd-looking — are unique and interesting. During several closeups in the movie you can see the painstaking detail — from their breathing to their wardrobe to Rango’s scales — all of it impressive. The sound is well done, as is the Hans Zimmer-composed soundtrack, which carries the mood better than the main character himself.

Rango is a fun movie I would recommend to anyone. Sure, take a kid if it makes you feel better, but it's not a "kids' movie." It's an adult movie that's pretty enough to keep the young ones entertained, and should make for an interesting family outing. It may be a bit too dark for younger children (I wonder if little kids will like it at all), but anyone familiar with the work of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood will be grinning throughout.

Rango might be most notable for being a new animated film not produced by Pixar or Dreamworks. But the lack of studio pedigree doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention, even if the trailer makes it tough to figure out which target audience this movie is aiming at. You may be even more confused after watching the flick, but you will have probably enjoyed the confusion.

Rango is the story of a lizard voiced by Johnny Depp who, through some crazy animated hijinks, ends up in an Old West town where he must play the part of the sheriff in order to not get killed. Eventually, Rango meets a comely female lizard (voiced by Wedding Crashers' Isla Fisher) and a shadier character named Rattlesnake Jake (the great Bill Nighy), and the lonely little lizard must find a way to be the hero in this interesting spin on the Spaghetti Western.

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