Saturday, July 23, 2011

the guacamole of his own deception

Imagine, if you will, Jack Nicholson stepping out of Chinatown and Johnny Depp walking off the set of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and both of them getting into Seth Brundle's telepod. Rango seems quite like the result of the teleportation. I am thinking more of the chameleon and the poster, but the film owes a huge debt to Chinatown, among other films, and Nicholson was in it. The film also has a Hunter S. Thompson "cameo" and that's what Depp's film was all about. Even the poster seems to ring a trippy bell.

The film runs high with numerous riffs on and references to films like Star Wars canon, Sergio Leone's westerns and Apocalypse Now and these references zip past your eyes and ears at a pace that respects your attention. The more you know about the movies it quotes from, the more you are likely to enjoy it, but even if you just walked in hoping to be entertained, you are not going to be disappointed.

Johnny Depp turns in a splendid performance behind the microphone and finds able support in the rest of the crew (which includes Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty, Isla Fisher, Harry Dean Stanton, Abigail Breslin and Ray Winstone). If you love Westerns, and especially the ones that Sergio Leone directed, you will find a lot to enjoy here. The narrative sticks to the familiar tale of a hero's journey (see also: A Bug's Life, Kung-fu Panda) mixed with the familiar trappings of a Western. The colours are bright and glorious, the animation detailed and the film itself is a marvel. Where else does one find Mariachi owls, Wagner on banjos, a bank that stores water and a rattlesnake with a gattling gun for a rattle? Gore Verbinski and ILM have made a fine film that really and truly holds its own in a genre that has been dominated by Pixar.

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