Rango brings game to the animation genre. This Gore Verbinski film offers slightly psychedelic laughs for adults and creature comforts for kids. Rango also provides a launching pad for the various voices and talent of Johnny Depp who’s truly in his element here.

You’d be hard pressed to recognize other voice talent like Isla Fisher or Ned Beatty (the new voice villain of modern cartoons) because they blend in so well with their scaly or furry characters. And certainly I didn’t recognize the voice of Timothy Olyphant, playing a character named The Spirit of the West (who’s obviously Clint The Man With No Name Eastwood). Depp does double time himself, as Rango veers into movie homage after movie homage and teams Rango (Depp) up for a moment with his character from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raoul Duke.

But from a metaphysical point of view Rango is hardly El Topo so much as a delightful romp with malapropisms meant for adults that children laugh at. For inst, one hairy critter says instead of telegram, mammogram. The eight year-old tot next to me certainly laughed. By the way, there was a television series in the late ‘60s called Rango about an inept sheriff played by Tim Conway. While hardly a trace of it exists on the internet, and it was never a success, I’ll be damned if you can’t find it on youtube.

Rango toys with conventions of westerns while also lampooning same, and brackets all of this as a voice-over narrative of its lost lead character. Additionally Rango features a Greek chorus that consists of Mariachi owls. Honestly, what more could a person want in an animated film? Rango can compete head to head with Pixar features; it’s that bold.

— Michael Bergeron