We think of a lot of the things when we think of Johnny Depp. A filthy yet attractive pirate, zany mad-hatter, Tim Burton's lap dog... but an iron-brandishing chameleon? Now you have my attention. Rango is an adorable animated western featuring a cast of bizzare anamorphic animal characters surrounded by the harshness of the desert. The wild west setting lends itself well to the creatures; possums, toads, hawks, etc all come to life with their own little western features (the hawk has a rather ornate beak).
The plot begins with a chameleon who gets thrown from his ride and must start a new life in the unforgiving wasteland of the Mojave desert. He quickly assimilates himself into the throngs of rough-and-tough customers through thick lies and serendipitous acts. Becoming the sheriff of their small town of Dirt, Rango is tasked with outing baddies and solving the town's water crisis. Sometimes this movie tends to get off track, whether it be giant segments of action eating up time for no reason or something about some legendary Spirit of the West (voiced by Timothy Olyphant by the way) and finding out who you really are on the inside. It's not all bad, a few of these things are actually pretty enjoyable even if they derail the main plot.
While they look entertaining most of the cast is forgetable. Save for Depp's Rango and Bill Nighy's Rattlesnake Jake. The rest are adequate at worst, giving their southern drawl-ed one-liners as well as they're written. Speaking of which, Rango includes a fair amount of slapstick cartoony actions as well as more serious-toned sequences such as a wagon chase featuring machine-gun mounted bats being ridden by homicidal moles. Yeah I said that right. It packs plenty to keep your child entertained but don't think you'll be bored in your seat mom and dad, like Shrek before it Rango has plenty of older jokes that'll give you a chuckle. Strict parents beware however, there is some cursing in this movie. A particular sequence with Rattlesnake Jake is pretty scary. Older fans of cinema (or Johnny Depp fans) may get a laugh out of the Fear And Loathing reference.
The animation is on par with any Pixar or Dreamworks film. Again lending itself to it's western style with sand blanketed horizons and rotten wooden shacks. Dirty desert animals and crispy dehydrated cacti look perfect in this setting.
I give Rango 4 bullets out of 5. Even though it only takes one.