“Rango” A Witty Cartoon for Adults

Stephanie Spearman

Rango (Johnny Depp) and Beans (Isla Fisher) in "Rango," from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies.

With intelligent references and fun characters, “Rango” joins the list of cartoon movies that are enjoyable for both parents and children.

“Rango” is the story of a theater-loving chameleon experiencing an identity crisis, who is unexpectedly thrown out into the barren Mojave Desert.

A short journey to the town of Dirt ensues, and a hoard of grimy, rough characters soon fall for Rango’s tall tales of his tough guy reputation and appoint him Sheriff.

Johnny Depp lends his voice to give the titular lizard some depth. His array of accents and passion in his voiceover make Rango a complex character that is enjoyable and relatable for audience members.

Though Rango’s real name is never revealed and his pre-sheriff history is hardly explained—which becomes increasingly annoying through the film—the chameleon still has enough depth in his character to win the hearts of moviegoers.

The rest of the cast almost perfectly portrays a typical Wild West town complete with villains, village idiots, inbred robbers and a mariachi owl band playing music to match Rango’s adventures and foreshadow inevitable conflict.

Of course, no contemporary cartoon movie would be complete without a strong-willed female character.

Beans, voiced by Aussie Isla Fisher, is a headstrong lizard farm owner with conspiracy theories—some of which turn out to be true—and quirky charm that grabs viewers and makes them fall in love.

The town is struck with a terrible drought, and the water crisis causes the townsfolk to lose their minds with fear. Rango, Beans and their band of lovable rough riders ride off into the desert in search of water.

Each cast member brings something unique, funny and ultimately heart-warming to the film as the main villain’s plot starts to fall in place and the town continues to have no water.

The movie appears to be a political statement about water conservation and the notion that the natural resource is not limitless and will eventually run out for the first hour.

However, the ending of the film definitely contradicts this. The town of Dirt ends up being just outside of Las Vegas, which is not exactly the optimal location of water rationing.

For the most part, the film centers on the path to self-actualization, preaching that being yourself is the best way to overcome obstacles.

While “Rango” is an animated film filled with outlandish characters, the film is not for young children.

Gunslingers, sexual references, death and the occasional use of profanity make this a “big kid movie,” not something for toddlers.

The accents and funny characters might be entertaining for children of that age, but parents should use their own discretion as to what they want their children exposed to.

For example, Depp fans will be elated at the brief “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” reference made at the beginning of the film, showing Rango stuck to the windshield of Depp’s character in the movie.

A witty reference for adults, but the jury is still out on the appropriateness of having alluded to a drugged out Hunter S. Thompson character in what is being promoted as a children’s film.

A number of other amusing references are made throughout the film, making the animation an overall win for adults and parents.

“Rango” is a well-developed film that keeps the audience engaged and sends them through a wide range of emotions.

All in all, the film is very enjoyable and is definitely on the must-see list for Depp fans, Wild West lovers and animated film enthusiasts. If you love any of these things, don’t miss out on this heart-warming tale of an unlikely hero.