We open with a talking chameleon (Johnny Depp), who’s trapped in a square terrarium and interacting with inanimate objects. (Cubicle life, anyone?)
After an accident, his glass enclosure is knocked out of a car and broken on a desert highway. The chameleon finds himself alone, except for Roadkill (Alfred Molina), who advises our hero to follow his story into the desert.
He comes to a small town “peopled” with creatures who dress like they’re straight out of a “Spaghetti Western.” The chameleon sees the chance to re-invent himself, so he takes the name Rango and bluffs his way into a sheriff’s job.
The town of Dirt is in the middle of a water shortage. Good folks are losing their land. The only critter with access to H2O is the Mayor (Ned Beatty), and he doesn’t seem interested in sharing.
Before long, Rango is asked to back up his bluff and bluster with actual deeds.
To add another trippy twist, our hero is followed by a Hispanic Greek chorus that musically predicts Rango’s doom throughout the movie. The Hispanic Greek chorus gets a bit more confused with each adventure our hero manages to survive.
Written by John Logan, the dialogue has a fast and loose quality, even during a couple of early exchanges that might send some – your reviewer included – to a dictionary. The movie doesn’t talk down to kids, and I think most will understand the context of those scenes.
“Rango” has moles riding bats, a rattlesnake with a machine gun for a rattle and the official golf cart of the Old West. It’s a complete hodgepodge of creativity that somehow works.
Director Gore Verbinski deserves a tip of the 10-gallon hat for this loopy movie about a hero who learns the real world is far bigger and better than he ever suspected.
I give “Rango” an A.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Roadkill Bill with Wizard 106.7 gives "Rango" a C.
"Visually, it was nice to see. It had its moments, but I'm not going to rush out and buy it on Blu-ray when it comes out.