Rango Review, by guest reviewer Blake Palmer

5 Apr

“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

– Hunter S. Thompson

Rango is filled with references to two subjects that I suspect have been proactively avoided in all children’s movies over the last several years: Death and Hunter S. Thompson.

There was a time when children’s stories were darker than they are now; perhaps too dark, admittedly. There are some things found in Grimm’s fairy tales that give even me the shivers, but I do think that kids are quite a bit tougher than we’ve been giving them credit for. While Rango is hardly a foray into the edgier recesses of the human psyche, it does take topics like death, thirst, loss, lying, and loneliness, and deals with them playfully.

This thing is a western at its core. I’ve not been a big fan of the genre in recent years, but it was a nostalgic part of my childhood, and Rango and True Grit have completely revived the style into something that is, once again, fun, beautiful, and original. All the pieces of the formula are there: The bad guys are really bad, the good guys are deeply conflicted, and the townsfolk just want to go back to leading their simple lives with the ones they love. At the same time, it’s original enough to not be something you feel like you’ve seen several times before under different titles. It’s chock-full of desert wisdom, and delightfully narrated by a mariachi band of owls that feel obligated to constantly remind of you of the hero’s inevitable, forthcoming demise.

Here’s the other thing I love about this film. It’s filled with really, really good actors, and by the time you’re 15-minutes into the film you’ve completely forgotten. They lose themselves in their roles. The problem with A-list actors in animated films is that they often feel compelled to let you know that it’s really them behind the animated character, as if they’re afraid they won’t get properly recognized otherwise. No such issue this time around. Once the movie started rolling all you cared about were the characters. The way it should be.

My advice to you is to think about it before you take a kid to see this movie, and then take them to see it anyway. With so few original storylines geared towards children, this one is a winner.

Oh! And watch out for the Spirit of the West. If you don’t geek out when you see it, you may need to see more westerns. Enjoy!

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2 Responses to “Rango Review, by guest reviewer Blake Palmer”

  1. Susan April 5, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I have been wanting to see this movie for so long because the trailers look like the spaghetti western Django with Franco Nero* (Camelot!). Now I am doubly excited to see it, and it is still at a cinema in Harvard Square. Win. That’s what I will do with my day tomorrow. Soooo… thank you!

    *I’m pretty sure both Django and Camelot! are on Netflix Instant Play right now.

  2. Sarina August 2, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    I knew I wasn’t crazy when I saw Hunter S. Thompson in Rango!!!!!!

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