Best Animated for 2011
Rango (we never really find out his real name) has created a fantasy world inside his little terrarium, being an actor and his stage includes a headless Barbie doll, a wind-up goldfish, a tree and a lake. An unfortunate accident throws him out of his interior world and though he does not know it yet, gives him the purpose he has always craved.
After some chat with a philosophical armadillo, (and several musical interludes with the Mexican owls) he makes it to Dirt, a western town that must copy stereotypical characters from just about every western film you've ever seen, which is a good thing!
I loved this animation! Pixar look out! The attention to detail down to the fire sparks from burned logs, sand and water, even pupils dilating. Amazing detail and all in glorious 2D (remember 2D?)!
The story has a few nods to other films that the older viewers may catch, including a parody of Apocalypse Now, with flying bats playing Ride of the Valkeries as they shoot up the good guys trying to get their stolen water back.
Rango is an actor and convinces the town that he is a hero and through a few lucky breaks such as killing the local hawk that has been dining on the citizens, they all consider him so. The slimy mayor however has other plans and is dealing a vicious hand to the detriment of the whole town. There are some slapstick moments, and a few lines are hilarious:
"Is this heaven?"
"No. Eating PopTarts with Kim Novak is heaven!"
Pretending to be someone you're not may get you aways, but really finding out who you really are is a start to respect for yourself and others. Bad guys are not necessarily all bad and can work with you for a common cause. And finally, those who take advantage of others' needs (the town and its lack of water) will eventually fail. Karma, you know.
The theater was packed with families. When I left, I heard one man exclaim that this is the most fun he has had in a theater in a long time. Quite a testimonial. Clearly this film will be nominated for Best Animated Feature -- but we have the rest of the year to go! Great start!