This animated story takes place in the Old West, where our hero is abruptly removed from his safe aquarium into the Mojave Dessert by the way of a wise all-knowing armadillo. It’s classic mythology set in the present day for humans, but the Old West for the main characters of this tall tale. Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) is the weak protagonist thrust into being a hero, where the basic story line, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl in the end.
Rango our lizard hero thinks he’s an actor, which is evident from the opening scene. He quickly jumps into “actor” mode when he comes across the town of Dirt, and portrays himself as a “bad-ass” gunslining hombre, who allegedly killed a man just to get his day started. Rango lays it on THICK, and will soon have to live up to his pseudo legend.
As the storyline unfolds we get caught up in the characters and their world which is so well detailed that you forget it’s animated. One needs to remember this is the “Old West”, no pastilles, or cute fuzzy bunnies; their teeth are yellow, clothes taddered, and you can almost smell their stink! Also take note this storyline takes place in the desert where the lack of water and death are the central themes. It’s rare that this theme be targeted toward children, but without it the film would not have the depth it was shooting for.
One of the most unique parts is when Rango talks to a spirit in the desert just like Jim Morrison did in the Doors movie, but this isn’t an indian chief, but an Old West legend! There are also some amusing one-liners that children won’t get but parents will. Basically it’s got the edge for the adults and the animation for the children. I would say it is more 11-year-old and up friendly, any younger than that, they may get bored, or even scared of the characters.
If stars are going to be handed out I would give it 2.8 out of 5. Since it’s not in 3-D it can wait for rental.