For years, Johnny Depp has made a living out of playing a lone, unconventional hero with plenty of quirks and oddities. In his newest movie, his character is a sheriff who has all these characteristics dropped in the middle of the Wild West.
However, this newest movie is one where he doesn’t make an appearance at all. Instead, he lends his voice to the title character in the CG-animated movie “Rango,” a film directed and produced by Gore Verbinski.
Though Depp is the main draw of the movie, the rest of the cast is just as star-studded. Other vocal talents include Isla Fisher as Beans, Abigail Bresilin as Priscilla, Alfred Molina as Roadkill, Bill Nighy as Rattlesnake Jack and Ned Beatty as the mayor of the aptly-named town of Dirt.
The film’s plot is as colorful as the cast. “Rango” tells the story of a lonely chameleon, half-crazed with occasional delusions of grandeur who lives in a terrarium where he acts out dramas with the help of a busted-up Barbie and a wind-up fish. Then suddenly, the car that contains his terrarium spins out of control, sending Rango spinning across a dusty Nevada highway. As he wanders across the desert, directed by Roadkill and accompanied by a mariachi band of Mexican owls, he comes across the town of Dirt.
The remainder of the movie takes place in and around Dirt, where Rango experiences a genre-crossing, hallucinogenic escapade of newfound purpose and lost identity. The movie is quirky, weird, and unlike any animated movie before. Once you see a character called The Man With No Name giving life advice to a chameleon in a Hawaiian shirt, you know that you’re in a very strange place.
Verbinski is an expert filmmaker — the movie never feels out of control, or stranger than it should. The characters seem human, even though they’re not (moles, mice and crows abound), and the dialogue is just campy enough to bring you back to the Westerns your Dad made you sit through as a child.
The movie takes an occasional dark turn but never for the worse. “Rango” has the rare distinction of appealing to adults and children. It’s the kind of cartoon you might not want to take your five-year-old brother to, but a cartoon you and your Dad will love.
“Rango” is now playing in theaters everywhere.