‘Rango’ (2011) reviewed ★★★★★

Rango is one of the few commercially accepted animated films that introduces us to a world full of surrealistic qualities while remaining within the confides of the genre it pays respect to. The film pays homage to an era-defining Spaghetti Western from 1966, similarly titled Django. Along with this film reference, the movie pays homage to several other flicks of which I shall not mention here, but does leave the mood of the story with an enriched sense of surrealism. We are left to see the movie as a film within a film. The lizard, self-titled Rango, pretends to be a heroic figure to a town unfamiliar of his cowardly traits and lack of self-idtnetity. He, henceforth, puts on this persona of the deadly dangerous and heroic Sheriff Rango. However, his efforts are not all in vein. Rango puts on this performance so that he may ignite the hope of the town once again. The citizens of the small town of Dirt have given up all faith for the coming of water and are in desperate need of salvation. Rango sees his opportunity to reinvent himself. As the film escalades, the town requires Rango to be more than just an actor but to actually fulfill the role he has given himself. In doing so, Rango becomes who he always wanted to be: someone who matters.

Many audiences, thus far, have left the theaters proclaiming how Rango is not a film for children. However, I disagree. Though there are quite a few disturbing images proceeded by serious topic matters presented in the story, the film is humorous enough that most children will lay subject to its charming wits and comical qualities as opposed to its Shakespearean allusions and religious connotations (which there are quite a few). When viewing Rango, the most rewarding aspects filmmaker Gore Verbinski brings to the table is perhaps the acknowledgements he makes to his viewers. This film knows it’s a film. We are constantly being spoken to as well as referenced to. Our companions are the band of mariachi Owls, seemingly by our side throughout the entire story, walking us through Rango’s journey. Besides this, the constant homages to Westerns with borrowed soundtracks, characters, and even clearly stated lines of  how important it is for the character to not leave the “story” resonates throughout the entire work. Aspects such as these are what brings the film together from a puzzle of disorientated pieces with historical landmarks of cinematic history dating back from Spaghetti Westerns from the 1960s all the way to the 1990s with works from Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, back to the masterpieces of Sergio Leone, all with the intent and success of creating a bizarre, yet stunning, portrayal of the journey to self-discovery.

Thank you for reading,

Omar Antonio Iturriaga

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