Gore Verbinski’s Rango riffs on the West and the Western, never quite escaping the gravity well of genre conventions; it also nimbly dances through the minefields of cheap reductive parody or punch(line)drunken gag-sap-gag-moral-gag-triumph which crowd the children’s animated film market, yet has the stray belch or manic action sequence or bow-wrapped final-reel redemption which keeps things familiar.
Who gives a shit? Look at that picture. This film is so lovingly, unprettily, idiosyncratically lush in its images — that perfect asymmetry of its protagonist’s googly eyes, blinking out of sync with one another, veering off in different directions. I’d watch this again in a heartbeat.
And I’d listen with even greater pleasure: plot be damned, let the critters chatter and mumble and carry on. Depp gets center stage, and is brilliant, but the film is horizon to dusty horizon of stray bits of wonderful crazed poetry. (“If this were heaven we’d be eating poptarts with Kim Novak” is a line that immediately burrowed into my frontal lobe and sat there tickling away, never settling into sense.) The film’s as extravagantly odd as the best of Looney Tunes, and I loved it.