With his first animated feature, Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski shows ambitions considerably beyond producing the usual standard of most children's fare. To put it plainly, Rango is one weird movie.
Rango's not just a kiddie-flick (though it has enough silly slapstick to qualify as a pretty good one). It's a real movie lover's movie, conceived as a Blazing Saddles-like comic commentary on genre that's as back-lot savvy as it is light in the saddle.
Every other week, it seems there is some new creation full of fantastically realized creatures engaging in eye-tricking action. The ironic effect of this... is a so-what-else-you-got state of jaded exhaustion. And then along comes Rango.
A rollicking, surreal, and existential kids' Western that worships at the altars of Sergio Leone, Hunter S. Thompson, and Chinatown, Rango drowns under the weight of discordant objectives and influences.
Johnny Depp isn't the sort of star to blend in, so it's saying something that his turn as the world's most conspicuous chameleon in Rango is so full-bodied, you forget the actor and focus on the character.