Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #166 Rango

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Movie #166 Rango

(2011, US, d. Gore Verbinski)

I had heard some mixed reviews about this film going in, mostly positive. By the time I came out, I couldn’t even comprehend how any group of people could be divided on this film. Rango is simply one of the most fully-realized animated films of all time. It does what Dreamworks Animation has tried to do its entire professional career: create a completely unique animated tone compared to its rival, Pixar. But more than anything else, Rango is not the children’s story it was marketed as. Not that there are any overt crude jokes or excessive violence or anything like that, but the thematic core and the existential obstacles Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) must face can only truly be appreciated by a mature audience. In fact, there was only one action sequence in the film that could have been fully appreciated by toddlers – it was the rare moment in the film when brains didn’t matter. To be honest, as much as Up made me cry and Toy Story made me laugh and smile, Rango made me think. From the truly incredible existential opening of the film (an opening that competes with Up‘s wonderful montage), it’s obvious that we are watching something different here. The issue of identity is an issue often faced in animated comedies (Pixar has exploited this theme more than a handful of times) but here it feels different. It’s not “Why do I exist?” but rather “What role do I have?”, “Am I required?”, “Does my existence serve a purpose or am I just the product of chance forced to fight in a survival for the fittest?”  An animated comedy would not seem to be the right forum to field such questions but Gore Verbinski, in my opinion, has singlehandedly highlighted a new functional outlet for the animated film: philosophical thought. Wonderfully combining the sentiment with intelligent humor and existential jabs, Rango also has the benefit of an incredibly talented cast from Depp to Bill Nighy to Abigail Breslin to Timothy Olyphant. This is not a film for the kids, but a film for the adults. And trust me, it will leave you satisfied.

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