Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rango (2011)

This film kind of freaked us both out. As the credits rolled V said that in truth she hated it, but hate is perhaps a more nuanced verb in her vocabulary than English-as-first-language-speakers might initially expect.

I was impressed by Rango, and I certainly enjoyed it on a number of levels, though whether I actually liked it is another matter. In some ways Gore Verbinski's foray into digital animation is a weird experiment in expectation mismanagement.

We've all heard how the genius of Disney-Pixar manifests itself in the way they fashion child-appealing, character-driven narratives which are nevertheless peppered with plenty of knowing references and gags, even underlying story subtexts to leave the parents wet-eyed in the aisles.

Well, here the polarity has been startlingly reversed. The jokes about prostate examinations are not here for mere decoration so to speak. They are part of its dark, disturbing, downright ugly existential fabric...and the kids get the kinetic stuff to keep them hooked to the end on sheer visual excitement. (Johnny Depp's performance is, as ever, note perfect for all audiences.)

I had assumed this must have been made for 3D, but in fact it looks as if Verbinski has deployed his digimation with a view to showing us just how unnecessary the extra dimension can be. There's an enormous beauty in all this ugliness, and I think this is very much part of the movie'a adult depth. This is a satire which stands some comparison with the classic westerns it is exhuming.

As a young teen I found High Plains Drifter a tad disconcerting...but a decade earlier it was Chuck Jones's bizarre psychedelic animation blend The Phantom Tollbooth (1970) which inserted itself immediately into my dreams, and nightmares. Rango has, I suspect, a similar power to mess with forming imaginations.

Grade: hmmm....B (++).


Begonia said...

I liked it for what it was--an adult parable. I loved the mariachi owls. I loved the simple slapstick scenes between the hawk and Rango. I loved the look of the characters.

I hated it for how it was marketed as a kids movie. I hated the plot references that were thrown in and never went anywhere.

The underlying plot with its Chinatown references was never clearly elucidated. Who was the turtle planning on selling his new development to? More desert rodents? Humans?

Some other plot points get introduced, and are never explained. What was that huge eye in the scene where they are investigating the bank robbery?

Why did the townspeople have to have that weird ritual? It added nothing to the plot.

There are other examples.

GC said...

Agree with all you say. That big eye had me distracted for several minutes too!